hard heads soft hearts

a scratch pad for half-formed thoughts by a liberal political junkie who's nobody special. ''Hard Heads, Soft Hearts'' is the title of a book by Princeton economist Alan Blinder, and tends to be a favorite motto of neoliberals, especially liberal economists.

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Friday, November 12, 2004
comment on winds of change:

If this has been posted on a liberal blog, I'm sure someone would have noted by now that large numbers of Amricans answer "yes" to the questions 1) "Do you believe Saddam Hussein was involved and had fore-knowledge of the September 11 attacks?" and 2) "Were there Iraqis among the Semptember 11 hijackers?". On a lighter note, a poll once found Americans on average believe we spend 15 percent of the budget on foreign aid. (actual number is a little less than 1 percent)

The percentage of the budget we spend on foreign aid is obviously a much less important issue than civilian casualties, but the factor error of 15X is the same.

Now do large numbers of Americans really believe Saddam Hussein had fore-knowledge of September 11? I think in their heart of hearts they don't, but they believe he is capable of such a thing and they are not willing to give him an out in any way. Similarly, your Iranian friend in his heart of hearts may not really believe that CNN is all a mass of Government lies, but he believes the Americans (we) are morally capable of inflicting 75,000 civilian casualties without remorse, and he is not willing to give us an out in any way.

I've got more to say, but for now I'll say that the fundamental emotion that's causing all these lies to be believed is envy and shame, envy of American (Western) riches, freedom, cultural and technological achievements, and above all, American military dominance, and shame that their societies are lagging so far behind. So you attack these types of lies in two ways 1) by aggressively televising and promoting the truth. If the truth is on your side, then the more sunshine, the more cameras, the more debates, the more interviews the better. 2) by trying to reduce the envy that is the fundamental cause of these lies being produced and believed.

When you're the richest man in town, some people, perhaps a lot of people, are going to hate you no matter what you do. But how you act makes a big difference as well. The poor and powerless have a responsibility not to succumb to feelings of envy, shame and hatred, but the rich and powerful also have a responsibility be generous, polite and humble. They could be doing better, but so could we.

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