What it really means to "empathize" with one's enemies.
In my book, Tolerism: The Ideology Revealed (second revised edition, Mantua Books), I quote the great philosopher of the post-World War 2 era, Karl Popper, who formulated the following dilemma about tolerance (which has become known as “the Popper Paradox”):
If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.
And so, I write that excessive tolerance of the intolerant illiberals has become a full-blown ideology which I call Tolerism. Tolerism, in my view, elevates the virtue of tolerance over the fundamental Biblical value of Justice.
Tolerism also includes a type of cultural Stockholm Syndrome, where, as in the case of some hostages or abused women, some begin to identify with their captors or abusers.
It consists often of psychological denial, and it accepts United Nations Human Rights Councils led by Iran, Syria and other leading human rights abusers. Tolerism reflects a moral equivalency between terrorists and victims, and even a seeming masochism where we seek out painful retribution as a kind of catharsis for our supposed misdeeds. Tolerist “compassion,” especially in the work of Karen Armstrong, assumes that there is equivalency in compassion between the “frequently unkind West” and Islam -- which unfortunately in its present state is not at all compassionate to Coptic Christians, Yzedis, Jews, gays, women who seek freedoms, or even minority Muslim groups like the Ahmadis.
I believe that the ideology I call tolerism is expanding ever more rapidly beyond mere tolerance and unilateral compassion. It is now becoming an excessive empathy where the quest to share some other group’s feelings is beginning to cause our liberals to accept the false facts and illiberal values of our enemies and in fact sometimes to convert or submit to Islam. We are seeing some young people convert to Islam and go so far as to join the forces of ISIS. We are even seeing young Western women convert to Islam and marry men whose attitudes toward women are almost barbaric. Submission indeed.
Ms. Clinton, of course, served as Secretary of State during the Obama administration’s new Middle Eastern doctrine of giving more “respect” to the Muslim world in word and deed. As President Obama stated in Cairo during his first major overseas appearance:
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.
Hillary herself has a close relationship with Huma Abedin, who is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, as are her parents. Ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and allowing its operatives into the Obama administration would be seen as treasonous if the country was not so immersed in Tolerism.
Clinton is not apologetic in the least over her relationship with Abedin. Now that Clinton feels that she should be President at a time when Islamist threats all over the world have only increased during the Obama years, she feels that her “feminine” skills give her the special qualification to right the ship she helped to tip over during her tenure as Secretary of State.
So, in her recent speech at Georgetown University, she contended that when women participate in peace processes, “often overlooked issues such as human rights, individual justice, national reconciliation, economic renewal are often brought to the forefront.”
Clinton’s talk (for which she apparently was paid $300,000) was at the launch of the Action Plan Academy, an organization which aims to explore how countries can craft strategies to help women rise into leadership roles on security issues and provide training and workshops.
“Today marks a very important next step,” Clinton told an audience of diplomats and other officials from all over the world, “shifting from saying the right things to doing the right things, putting into action the steps that are necessary not only to protect women and children but to find ways of utilizing women as makers and keepers of peace.”
Of the hundreds of peace treaties signed since the early 1990s, between or within nations, she said, fewer than 10 percent had any female negotiators and fewer than 3 percent had women as signatories.
“Is it any wonder that many of these agreements fail between a few years?” Clinton asked, implying, without any evidence at all, that women produce better peace agreements than men. If I was paying part of the $300,000 I would really have expected a better discussion of past female leaders like Ms. Bhutto in Pakistan (who transferred nuclear technology to North Korea), Golda Meir in Israel, and Margaret Thatcher in Britain, and current leaders Angela Merkel in Germany and Cristina Kirchner in Argentina. America itself has seen women leaders in security matters – former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Condoleeza Rice (and Hillary Clinton), National Security Advisor Susan Rice, and first female Ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick.
Instead of discussing any of them, she raised the idea that two women were involved at a high level in brokering peace in the 40-year struggle between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and other Islamic groups in the southern island of Bangsamoro (meaning Muslim land), which has killed hundreds of thousands and displaced more than a million..
Unfortunately, whether these two women were in fact instrumental or not, the issue of the Philippines submitting to Muslim rule over areas of its impoverished, yet potentially oil-rich, south, after 40 years of conflict and the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the displacement of over a million people, is factually quite complex. Some argue that it was external pressure that helped this second peace initiative on the same territory for which the first peace treaty failed; and most recognize that this second one is very much up in the air as to its sustainability.
Under the proposal, Islamic Sharia law would apply to Muslims in the region, but the country's justice system would (hopefully) continue to apply to non-Muslims. The Moro group has renounced the terrorist acts of extremist groups, but at least three smaller Muslim rebel groups oppose the autonomy deal and have vowed to continue fighting for a completely separate Muslim homeland.
And one wonders, once the Muslim groups are granted jurisdiction over limited areas of government, whether this is viewed by them as a first step to future demands for full Sharia law. But Hillary is not interested in waiting to see how it turns out before attributing it to the presence of some women working on the negotiations.
This is a complex problem that Hillary obviously simplifies for partisan political purposes, i.e. the female vote in America. Some commentators feel that the potential natural resource riches available to foreign business concerns is what eventually pushed the Philippine Government into the deal, rather than any great feminine talents as Hillary contends. Moreover, some believe that the United States and other Western governments have backed the autonomy deal partly to prevent the insurgency from breeding extremists who could threaten their own countries.
But the topic of feminine talents for security and diplomacy and her preference to cite Muslims as examples rather than American female icons is not the main concern caused by Ms. Clinton’s remarks. The really scandalous part of the speech is when she cited feminine skills as a component of something she called “Smart Power” as follows (emphasis added):
“This is what we call Smart Power, using every possible tool…leaving no one on the sidelines, showing respect even for one’s enemies, trying to understand, and insofar as is psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view, helping to define the problems [and] determine a solution, that is what we believe in the 21st century will change the prospect for peace,” she said.
What does it mean for a possible future President to seek to show “respect” for one’s enemies?
Respect, according to the Oxford Dictionary is defined as “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.”
And here is where we begin to climb down into a terrible ethical hole. Islamists, with their history of beheadings, other murders, torture, persecution of ethnic and religious minorities, and gays, and their forced genital mutilation of young girls, their abuse of women and their general disregard for individual human rights, do not deserve our “deep admiration” and do not show any great “qualities” or “achievements” - unless your idea of an achievement is grabbing vast areas of Iraq and Syria from under Obama’s nose, without his bothering to object until it was too late.
Let’s dig a little deeper also into the whole concept of “empathy” for one’s enemy. The idea of empathizing with the enemy was first popularized by the film, Fog of War, about former Defense Secretary in the Johnson administration, Robert McNamara, who made it one of the eleven lessons he learned. The concept of empathy is also something that has received the study of humanist psychologists, who are well-meaning in their attempts to aid interpersonal relationships and help people understand and therefore overcome misunderstandings in difficult relationships.
Carl Rogers, an important American academic psychologist of the twentieth century promoted the concept of empathy, or being empathetic as a process leading one to perceive the internal frame of reference of another with accuracy and with the emotional components and meanings which pertain thereto as if one were the person, but without ever losing the "as if" condition. Thus it means to sense the hurt or the pleasure of another as he senses it and to perceive the causes thereof as he perceives them, but without ever losing the recognition that it is “as if I were hurt or pleased and so forth. If this "as if" quality is lost, then the state is one of identification.
Rogers reasoned that:
An empathic way of being with another person means entering the private perceptual world of the other and becoming thoroughly at home in it. It involves being sensitive, moment by moment, to the changing felt meanings which flow in this other person, to the fear or rage or tenderness or confusion or whatever that he or she is experiencing. It means temporarily living in the other's life, moving about in it delicately without making judgements; ...It means frequently checking with the person as to the accuracy of your sensings, and being guided by the responses you receive. You are a confident companion to the person in his or her inner world.
To be with another in this way means that for the time being, you lay aside your own views and values in order to enter another's world without prejudice. In some sense it means that you lay aside your self; this can only be done by persons who are secure enough in themselves that they know they will not get lost in what may turn out to be the strange or bizarre world of the other, and that they can comfortably return to their own world when they wish.
One can only conclude that real “political” empathy is for only the strongest, most intelligent intellectuals and politicians of our time, who are most secure in their liberal values and their constitutional limits and duties. If the person is not so strong, this journey into what can be “a strange or bizarre world” may result in the person feeling more comfortable in that world or identifying with that world.
Feeling more comfortable in that world may result in something way more than tolerant empathy, and may result in conversion or submission. This is not a job for postmodernists, but only for those with the clearest and most certain confidence in American values. Without clear values, and a fixed sense of right and wrong, and good versus evil, postmodernist empathy will make it harder and harder for the empathizer to return to their own world, especially if his President has said that America is no more tolerant than Islam, that American standards of justice are no better than Islam’s and that countries that have banished all Jews and most Christians share the same view of dignity of all persons.
And so, when the President stated that America and the Muslim world share mutual respect (i.e. admiration); and that they share the same principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings; then one wonders if empathy will more likely lead to submission.
If Hillary Clinton calls for more respect and empathy for the enemy, she is a poor choice to lead a country as important as America is to the notion of individual freedoms and human rights based on Judeo-Christian values.
Since the election of Obama, we have a very large problem on our hands. The moral and cultural relativism and postmodernism of our university campuses are now in the White House. Can the historical America survive another four or eight years of tolerism and empathy before it, too, like some European countries, begins to submit to Islamist values, with acceptance of Sharia law as an alternative to its Constitution, Muslim religious teachings in public schools, and tolerance for “no-go” areas? America failed its young by failing to properly vet Obama’s background and associations before electing him; this time, before Americans place Hillary Clinton in the White House they had better study carefully the notions of tolerance, empathy and submission if America is to remain a great country.
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