Tuesday, March 16, 2010

How Obama's Shame/Honor Upbringing is Affecting Foreign Policy

Islamic cultures are still stuck in an old mode denoted by anthropologists as "shame/honor", in which your actions and feelings are based strongly on what other people think of you.  Many ancient societies used shame to force compliance.  Punishments such as being placed in stocks and otherwise being held up to public ridicule were very effective.  Conversely, the honor of society was used as reward.

This is seen clearly in the Bible and in old texts such as the Iliad and the Odyssey, where behavior that seems strange to us modern westerners is not so strange when looked at through the eyes of a shame-based culture.

As ancient cultures evolved, they embraced a guilt-based system where the shame is internalized.  The US culture from the Revolution up until about 1950 was mostly guilt-based, with most people being ruled by their own internal beliefs in right and wrong. In such a society,  few laws are needed, and punishments are light, because the people are essentially good.

We have now however evolved into a corporal punishment phase, where people have very little internal beliefs and are ruled mostly by fear of long periods of jail time.

Mr. 0 is the first President of the United States to have been raised in a shame culture (in Indonesia), and it shows. 

The press and the administration are up in arms recently over Israel's building of new houses in Jerusalem.  This despite the fact that they are homes for Jewish people being built in Jerusalem on their own property -- which was actually purchased from Arab squatters.

And look at the word the administration used.  Obama, Biden, and others in the administration said that the building of houses was an "insult".  I don't think that any US administration has ever called any action by Israel an "insult" before.  As Daniel Greenfield states:
American diplomats have not usually described Israeli policies they dislike as an "insult"-- that is a term much more commonly used by Muslims, who are obsessed with perceived slights to their honor. Complaints over an "insult" is a common feature of Honor-Shame societies. America is not an honor-shame society. However the White House is currently occupied by a man bred in an honor-shame society. It is Obama that feels "insulted" by Israel, both out of the sensitivity of his Muslim heritage and his own egotism, which regularly motivates him to humiliate Republicans, while triumphantly celebrating his own greatness.

It is natural enough for Barack Hussein Obama to rely on such cheap honor-shame gambits. They are what he grew up with. And it is natural enough for him to keenly feel the loss of face of Muslims. After all his father's family was Muslim. And Muslims are keenly "insulted" when they conquer territory and then cannot hold it. Whether that territory is in Jerusalem, Israel or Spain or India. They cannot stand to suffer the loss of face. And neither can Obama.
But Mr. 0 routinely accepts behavior from Muslims that would rightfully be considered insults:
More to the point did Israeli TV air calls for a Jihad against America, as Palestinian Arab TV did? Did Israel name a square after the murderer of an American photographer, as the Palestinian Authority did? Did an Israeli Anchorman do a skit in blackface during Obama's visit, as a Turkish anchorman did during Obama's visit to Turkey? Are Israeli religious institutions issuing Fatwahs against America, as Al Azhar University, which Obama visited and spoke at, has done? Are Israeli leaders funding terrorism against America, as the Saudi King, before whom Obama bowed, does?

No, none of those incidents were described as insults. Nothing that Muslim countries did to mock, humiliate and murder Americans were even noticed at all. None of them produced furious condemnations from the White House or two hours of Hillary Clinton screeching on the phone at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So what did Israel do that was so awful, so horrible and terrible? It built houses. Yes, civilian houses. Not army bases or nuclear missiles or walls. Houses.

And then there is the double standard:
Had there been a Jewish or part-Jewish President in the White House, the media would be raising the question of whether he is showing favoritism toward Israel. A question that has been repeatedly raised regarding Joseph Lieberman. A question that was raised regarding Goldwater, who was a practicing Christian. But the media refuses to allow the question to be raised of whether Obama is favoring Muslims because of his own Muslim background and family ties. Instead the media brands any such questions as racist, and instead spearheads the administration's campaign against Israel.

I greatly recommend clicking this Daniel Greenfield link for quite a story about the Jewish history in that area of Jerusalem, and how America has turned against the only free country in the Mideast.

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