måndag, oktober 04, 2004

I'm a flip floper, yes I am!

In a comment in the Stockholm Spectator's blog, I kind of say that Iran was semi-democratic, with respect that they have "free" elections, sort of. That was confusing. Guess I'm not much of a straight-talker... So I'm feeling obliged to nuance myself... err, 'make a flip-flop':

Thank you for the link to that article (though I didn't say anything about southerners, much less equate all of them with fanatics, or even fundamentalists). I see now that I forgot to link "1/3 republicans" (not americans, sorry) to another guardian article:
American pollsters believe that 15-18% of US voters belong to churches or movements which subscribe to these teachings. A survey in 1999 suggested that this figure included 33% of Republicans

-I don't believe for a second that more than a tiny minority of those church members are rapture ready lunatics (I'll admit that I expressed myself with a tabloid sensationalism on par with an Expressen billnews...) Don't you believe the proportion of Iranian fundamentalist shi'as that are jihadist fanatics is about the same?
Whatever the figure for the proportion of fundamentalists in the US, it's one or two order of magnitude more than in Europe (to apply physics thinking to another field). More to the point, they nowadays have a disproportional influence in the Republican party.
But a tiny minority of extremists can effectively take power as the self-appointed elite of a larger ideological movement. Not that I believe that the risk of Christian fundamentalist coup d'état is anything but negligeable. As I said, what scares me is the level of influence they have on the agenda of the Republican party.

-I call Iran a theocracy, not 'a functioning democracy of any sort'. Euphemisms are not entirely abhorrent to me, so you may be justified in counting 'may not be a model democracy' as one. I totally agree that 'free' elections do not a democracy make; human rights & free speech are much more important (viz. Hong Kong under British rule), and the Iranian record on that is appalling. It is an authoritarian regime, but it is not a totalitarian one like North Korea, Saddam's Iraq, Stalinist Russia or Nazi Germany (I know, degrees of hell...) The problem is that people say "democracy" when they mean "open society", in the popperian sense.
I can't tell if Thors Hans Hansson really believes Iran is democratic like Israel or the USA, or if he just expressed his view in a confusing manner. I think it is the latter: a litterary critic, though as much or as little of an Islam expert, would probably haven't made such a gaffe; and nobody would come to think of questionning a critic reviewing a book for not beeing an expert on it's subject, would they?
But I wholly agree with him when he says "One should never forget that for religious fanatics the word of God stands above the will of the people".

-'The elections will be freer than under Saddam' sounds almost as bad as 'the torture was worse under Saddam'... you'll find more of my take on them here.

The Stockholm Spectator is something I think has been missing in the Swedish media, an English-language paper. When I've been in Asia, there's always a paper like the The Mainichi Daily News, The Bangkok Post and even The Vientiane Times* in tiny Laos, and I thought, why not in Sweden? So, it's a welcome fill in the gap.
Already it has shown it's usefulness by broking a story about a Swedish Jayson Blair, a story that has been ignored by the Swedish mainstream media.

*with wonderful Eastern Marxistic prose