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Subject: What is this 'Culture' you speak of? rss

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Josh
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I am an admirer of rhetorical chicanery and well crafted weaponized prose. And so, tongue in cheek shall we have a looksee at something I at least consider newsworthy.

Mr. Mitt Romney has been making a brief tour of nations, speaking and being generally political as is his profession. There have been gaffs in the news here and there, but everyone needs to give the 'new guy' some leeway on the world stage. A little ribbing while impolitic is to at least be expected of us backwards little brothers to our English friends overseas. Then I heard about some remarks in Israel. My initial impression was 'nah, that can't be. Has to be out of context.' The suggestions seemed so over the top that I figured they had to be spun like a tilt-a-whirl. I hunted down news stories, finding a few articles I found credible, The Christian Science Monitor being one that couldn't at least be called 'wildly left' I even hunted Fox's own webpage, though it lacked much on the story at all, I did find a little. Eventually I got a transcript... not of the speech in question, but of another speech also given in Israel which had to my mind a worse, yet apparently unreported/analyzed gaff.

So to give the low down: The News is reporting how he(Mitt) went to Israel and gave a rousing speech which seemed(he has since denied it, he hasn't tried to explain what it was at all just said 'nope, that's not what I was saying') to boil down the differences between the economic states of Israel and Palestine to 'culture' implying superiority of one over the other. Now, I'm not going to take a stand on if one is better and if so why, but it doesn't seem to me you enter into a tense diplomatic situation in which you hope to one day broker peace by insulting one of the two belligerents. In a situation as messy and delicate as the IvP conflict, it should be a non-starter that care should be taken; unless you just don't care about a negotiated peace. That's fine if that's your stance, just be clear on it ^^


I'm going to give Mitt a pass on calling Jerusalem the capitol of Israel, as it seems to be a pattern for presidential candidates to make, then backtrack from, that statement(Obama in 2008 I'm looking at you)

The more alarming thing(for me personally) comes from a speech he gave earlier, in public. The full version of which can be found here:http://www.whatthefolly.com/2012/07/29/transcript-mitt-romneys-speech-in-israel/

In it is some fairly decent speechifying. It's mostly 'feel good' sort of stuff, with some hawkish(but I won't judge justifiable or not) saber rattling towards Iran. Then amongst some praises for Irseal is this:

Finally, we both believe in freedom of expression, because we are confident in our ideas and in the ability of men and women to think for themselves. We don’t fear open debate. If you want to hear some very sharp criticisms of Israel and its policies, you don’t have to cross any borders. All you have to do is walk down the street and into a café; there you’ll hear people reasoning, arguing, and speaking their mind. Or pick up an Israeli newspaper – you’ll find some of the toughest criticism of Israel you’ll read anywhere. Your nation, like ours, is stronger for this energetic exchange of ideas and opinions.

That's good flag waving freedom defending stuff. But then we bounce down just a few more lines and we get this:
“We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries."

Weren't we just talking about the power and goodness of allowing dissenting opinions? There's a fundamental disconnect here. If you want to say we can't stand by while people blow up busloads of Israeli's as a substitute to discourse, then yes. But if Israel's enemies are voicing criticism, with words, I think we can stand idley by and let them have their turn. Then we can calmly state what we believe, and let people make up their minds. That is called discussion.
There is every possibility I am making more out of this one bit than it should be, but it's just something that worries me. 'I encourage free discussion of opposing viewpoints s long as they don't oppose what I want' is a very slippery slope.

Back to the original point Mitt's team put out this to explain the 'gaff' vis a vis the Palestinians:
I realize that there will be some that in the Fourth Estate, or in whatever estate, who are far more interested in finding something to write about that is unrelated to the economy, to geo-politics, to the threat of war, to the reality of conflict in Afghanistan today, to nuclearization of Iran. They'll instead try to find anything else to divert from the fact that these last four years have been tough for our country.

I'm not sure what the IvP conflict is, if not Geo-politics. The Middle east is kind of a 'thing' right now. This is from the guy who called Russia our greatest enemy, so many he's using old textbooks, idk. I'd also think that the whole situation is very related to the threat of war since he seemed to tacitly endorse a preemptive strike on the part of Israel into Iran over the nuclearization issue.

But hey lets not let thousands of years of bloodshed, the nucleus of oil production, and the potential emergence of the first direct armed conflict between nuclear armed countries get in the way of the fact that we haven't' been able to buy quite so many shiny things as we used to. (though Apple seems quite able to sell out of each damned iteration of icrap it cranks out with the Reliability of Madden football)

In the end, I'm poking fun at Mitt, not 'hating' on him with any great passion. His world tour has been almost comedic, you almost have to feel bad for the guy. It feels almost like he was pushed out onto the world stage an election too early because no one else was ready. Like a student who's presentation was moved up through no fault of his own he's left fumbling with his note cards and stumbling through. It could be that some of his ideas are good, but it is very hard to see that with how they're being conveyed. I've posted in another equally long-winded post my concerns about his platform, but no one wanted to pick that apart with me. Chicken and Shirts make for better headlines.
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William Boykin
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Romney really made a mistake when he tried to argue that the reasons for the economic disparity between Israel and the Palestinian Authority come down to 'cultural' reasons.

Given that the Palestinian Authority has been under occupation from Israeli forces for decades now, its really not a fair comparison to make in the slightest. In making that argument he demonstrated the extent to which Romney is willing to say something that he knows will gain the support of those paying attention at the moment, but isn't really all that terribly truthful, or useful.

He was playing to a particular base that he feels he needs to have the support of, as opposed to demonstrating that he had any particularly interesting thing to say about US-Israeli relations and the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians.

Darilian
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Lynette
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Shadrach wrote:


Finally, we both believe in freedom of expression, because we are confident in our ideas and in the ability of men and women to think for themselves. We don’t fear open debate. If you want to hear some very sharp criticisms of Israel and its policies, you don’t have to cross any borders. All you have to do is walk down the street and into a café; there you’ll hear people reasoning, arguing, and speaking their mind. Or pick up an Israeli newspaper – you’ll find some of the toughest criticism of Israel you’ll read anywhere. Your nation, like ours, is stronger for this energetic exchange of ideas and opinions.

That's good flag waving freedom defending stuff. But then we bounce down just a few more lines and we get this:
“We cannot stand silent as those who seek to undermine Israel, voice their criticisms. And we certainly should not join in that criticism. Diplomatic distance in public between our nations emboldens Israel’s adversaries."


I am missing what you find distressing.

Everybody has a right to criticize Israel but we as her allies shouldn't "stand silent" after they are done if the goal of those criticisms are to undermine Israel's support. Note that silence often implies concurrence and/or consent. So when they are done voicing those criticisms we should reaffirm our basic commitment to support Israel just as publicly as they denounced her.

No implied silencing of free speech. Just a standard assertion that we will not sit quietly by and let Israel's position be undermined without restating our position and basic commitment to her defense.

You don't "discuss" things on a world stage via sound bytes. You discuss things in long negotiations without the press in direct attendance. On a world stage (aka to the press and in speeches) you repeat what was decided in the long negotiations. (aka you exchange sound bytes with/about the people from the other side)


 
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Ed Bradley
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"of which you speak".
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Josh
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The concern comes from so quickly switching from praising criticism of government as an achievement then so quickly turning around and discouraging criticism and replacing it with unquestioning solidarity. It may be a turn of phrase that I just felt uncomfortable with. I mentioned that in the original post ^^
 
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Les Marshall
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Darilian wrote:
Romney really made a mistake when he tried to argue that the reasons for the economic disparity between Israel and the Palestinian Authority come down to 'cultural' reasons.

Darilian


Why? If I come into your house and throw you out on the lawn, isn't your homelessness a result of your inferior culture? After 50 years, why can't Palestinians prosper on the lawn? They must have a culture deficit since the neighbors won't let them in either. Their ceaseless braying about being on the lawn also marks them for a lower class kind of culture.

Mitt's on solid ground as usual.
 
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Dean
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Fwing wrote:
"of which you speak".


Thank you! These "speak of" threads have been driving me CRAZY!

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I can not put!
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Meat wrote:
Fwing wrote:
"of which you speak".


Thank you! These "speak of" threads have been driving me CRAZY!

Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I can not put!


What is this "Ending a sentence with a preposition" you speak of?
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Dan Schaeffer
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Darilian wrote:
Romney really made a mistake when he tried to argue that the reasons for the economic disparity between Israel and the Palestinian Authority come down to 'cultural' reasons.


I actually think his bigger problem is likely to come from the fact that he later denied having said that, and then later the same day turned around and said that he had indeed been saying that.
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J
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Here's his talk:

Romney wrote:
I was thinking this morning as I prepared to come into this room of a discussion I had across the country in the United States about my perceptions about differences between countries. And as you come here and you see the GDP per capita for instance in Israel which is about 21,000 dollars and you compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority which is more like 10,000 dollars per capita you notice a dramatic, stark difference in economic vitality. And that is also between other countries that are near or next to each other. Chile and Ecuador, Mexico and the United States. I noted that part of my interest when I used to be in the world of business is I would travel to different countries was to understand why there were such enormous disparities in the economic success of various countries.

I read a number of books on the topic. One, that is widely acclaimed, is by someone named Jared Diamond called ‘Guns, Germs and Steel,’ which basically says the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth. And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here. And likewise other nations that are next door to each other have very similar, in some cases, geographic elements.

But then there was a book written by a former Harvard professor named ‘The Wealth and Poverty of Nations.’ And in this book Dr. Landes describes differences that have existed—particularly among the great civilizations that grew and why they grew and why they became great and those that declined and why they declined. And after about 500 pages of this lifelong analysis—this had been his study for his entire life—and he’s in his early 70s at this point, he says this, he says, if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.

And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things. One, I recognize the hand of providence in selecting this place. I’m told in a Sunday school class I attended— I think my son Tagg was teaching the class. He’s not here. I look around to see. Of course he’s not here. He was in London. He taught a class in which he was describing the concern on the part of some of the Jews that left Egypt to come to the promised land, that in the promised land was down the River Nile, that would provide the essential water they had enjoyed in Egypt. They came here recognizing that they must be relied upon, themselves and the arm of God to provide rain from the sky. And this therefore represented a sign of faith and a show of faith to come here. That this is a people that has long recognized the purpose in this place and in their lives that is greater than themselves and their own particular interests, but a purpose of accomplishment and caring and building and serving.

There’s also something very unusual about the people of this place. And Dan Senor— And Dan, I saw him this morning, I don’t know where he is, he’s probably out twisting someone’s arm—There’s Dan Senor, co-author of ‘Start-up Nation,’ described— If you haven’t read the book, you really should— Described why it is Israel is the leading nation for start-ups in the world. And why businesses one after the other tend to start up in this place. And he goes through some of the cultural elements that have led Israel to become a nation that has begun so many businesses and so many enterprises and that is becomes so successful.


And here's what he had to say after being called on it:

Quote:
FOX News’s Carl Cameron grilled Romney on his remarks, which top Palestinian officials immediately denounced as “racist,” in an interview from Poland on Tuesday. The Obama campaign also accused Romney of needlessly inflaming tensions in the region.

Romney responded that he “did not speak about the Palestinian culture or the decisions made in their economy,” while adding broadly that a nation’s “choices” affect their outcomes.

“That is an interesting topic that perhaps can deserve scholarly analysis but I actually didn’t address that,” Romney said. “I certainly don’t intend to address that during my campaign. Instead I will point out that the choices a society makes have a profound impact on the economy and the vitality of that society.”

Romney’s insistence that he was not addressing Palestinian culture seems at odds with his lengthy and detailed speech at a fundraiser in which he offered up a direct comparison between the per capita GDP of Israel and the Palestinian territories before launching into an explanation of why he thinks culture and perhaps a little divine help are so important to the stronger Israeli economy.


Hmmmmm. He says above that it is culture and God, then in a later interview he states it is 'choices a society makes'. Would that be part of their culture? Or separate, or what? He was hung up on culture, culture, culture, but now states he didn't address culture. Odd.
 
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William Boykin
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Rulesjd wrote:
Darilian wrote:
Romney really made a mistake when he tried to argue that the reasons for the economic disparity between Israel and the Palestinian Authority come down to 'cultural' reasons.

Darilian


Why? If I come into your house and throw you out on the lawn, isn't your homelessness a result of your inferior culture? After 50 years, why can't Palestinians prosper on the lawn? They must have a culture deficit since the neighbors won't let them in either. Their ceaseless braying about being on the lawn also marks them for a lower class kind of culture.

Mitt's on solid ground as usual.


I don't know, I prefered Mitt's "Modest Proposal" to solve the endemic problem of hunger amongst those unemployed today.



Darilian
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