Saturday, October 17, 2009

Well, this is news!

The Prime Minister of Turkey has just come out in support of Israel over the whole Goldstone/Cast Lead/ Gaza war thing.

Or at least I guess he has – it sure sounds like it. PM Erdogan just said, "Turkey is always against the unfair side. Turkey can never be on the side of the tyrants, and will always be on the side of those who suffer."

Then he added, "Some children open their eyes and see security, prosperity and peace, and other children open their eyes and see pain, hurt, and bombs. This is not an acceptable situation.”

Obviously he must be talking about the beleaguered children of Sderot and the south of Israel, right? Who put up with Arab bombs, rockets and missiles for eight long years – so long that children grew up without ever knowing what it was like to be able to run and play outside? Who watched as 16 people died, thousands more were injured? Who lived in economic despair, as businesses closed and jobs were lost?

Surely Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was being critical of the terrorists, wasn’t he, when he talked of ‘tyrants’? Surely he was siding with Israel when he talked about ‘those who suffer’?

Dream on. Of course he wasn’t. He was voicing his support for the terrorists and castigating Israel. It’s just that it’s hard to believe.

But this strange twist of reasoning makes me remember a conversation I had with a typical liberal not all that long ago. This was a highly educated woman, someone I’d normally expect to have a reasonable ability to think and make rational decisions. But during an otherwise pleasant conversation she said, “Of course whatever the issue is, I always side with the underdog.”

Now understand, we weren’t talking about the Philadelphia Philly’s or the Ugandan Ice Dancing Team. We were talking about national security – Israel’s national security. She was offering her rationale for always giving the Arabs the benefit of the doubt, a courtesy she did not extend to Israel.

It didn't make sense to argue about it, but I did say, “Oh, so you’d have sided with the South in Civil War, then, right?” -- to which she uttered a horrified gasp, and said, “Oh, of course not! That was different!!”

I left it at that, fully aware that this was not a topic she wished to pursue. Like most loony leftists, she probably never allowed herself to think of the larger implications of her belief system, either. If you want to remain a committed leftist, you have to take a number of leaps into irrationality, and who wants to re-examine that, once you’ve staked your life on it?

Literal-minded prairie child that I am, I must admit I’ve never considered the idea that one “side” – of any dispute – should be favored over the other on the basis that fewer people have chosen to support it. I’ve never seen the benefit of lauding failure as compared to championing success. The fact that one side is an “underdog” and enjoys lesser support among the relevant interest group never seemed to me to be a reason to support their cause, whatever it was.

Pulling for the “favorite” because it’s the favorite makes no sense either, of course. Both are equally irrational – it’s just that you don’t hear many people touting their own “good person” credentials by admitting they always pull for the winning side. For whatever warped reason, we’ve seemed to confer ‘hero’ status on those who always side with the loser.

In sporting events, that conduct is irrational but not serious. It’s understandable how someone could take delight in an “upset” -- when a new or unfavored team beats out the expected winner. Surprises are fun, so “always pulling for the underdog” could be one way to look at it. But in sports, unless you’ve placed a bet, there’s no rational reason to support one team or the other anyway. It’s pure emotion. In the real world, it doesn’t matter who wins or who loses or by how much. It's a game. Everyone lives to play another day.

But that’s not the case when a country’s -- any country’s -- national security is at stake. To “always pull for the underdog” then is a grave abdication of responsibility. It assumes there is no right or wrong, that both sides are equally guilty, that all cats are gray.

Not just national security, but personal security, too, of course. Who can doubt that the burglar prying open a window, or a mugger on a dark street, are both classic “underdogs”, the least likely to enjoy public support? Where’s the virtue in pulling for their success?

In any event, today Turkey’s PM Erdogan admitted publically that he supports “those who suffer” and those who are being treated “unfairly”, and by that he means the terrorists. He has taken a foolhardy step into irrationality.

What a horror that is – to live in a world where right or wrong do not exist. To make life and death decisions on the basis of public approval, or lack thereof.

To see who is least liked and the most vilified – and then to throw your support to them.

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