The tragedy of our age


Self-immolation of endangered peoples is sadly common. Stone-age cultures often disintegrate upon contact with the outside world. Their culture breaks down, and suicides skyrocket. An Australian researcher writes about “suicide contagion or cluster deaths – the phenomenon of indigenous people, particularly men from the same community taking their own lives at an alarming rate”. [3] Canada’s Aboriginal Health Foundation reports, “The overall suicide rate among First Nation communities is about twice that of the total Canadian population; the rate among Inuit is still higher – 6 to 11 times higher than the general population.” [4] Suicide is epidemic among Amazon tribes. The London Telegraph reported on November 19, 2000,

The largest tribe of Amazonian Indians, the 27,000-strong Guarani, are being devastated by a wave of suicides among their children, triggered by their coming into contact with the modern world. Once unheard of among Amazonian Indians, suicide is ravaging the Guarani, who live in the southwest of Brazil, an area that now has one of the highest suicide rates in the world. More than 280 Guarani have taken their own lives in the past 10 years, including 26 children under the age of 14 who have poisoned or hanged themselves. Alcoholism has become widespread, as has the desire to own radios, television sets and denim jeans, bringing an awareness of their poverty. Community structures and family unity have broken down and sacred rituals come to a halt.

Of the more than 6,000 languages now spoken on the planet, two become extinct each week, and by most estimates half will fall silent by the end of the century. [5] A United Nations report claims that nine-tenths of the languages now spoken will become extinct in the next hundred years. [6] Most endangered languages have a very small number of speakers. Perhaps a thousand distinct languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea, many by tribes of only a few hundred members. Several are disappearing tribal languages spoken in the Amazon rainforest, the Andes Mountains, or the Siberian taiga. Eighteen languages have only one surviving speaker. It is painful to imagine how the world must look to these individuals. They are orphaned in eternity, wiped clean of memory, their existence reduced to the exigency of the moment.

But are these dying remnants of primitive societies really so different from the rest of us? Mortality stalks most of the peoples of the world – not this year or next, but within the horizon of human reckoning. A good deal of the world seems to have lost the taste for life. Fertility has fallen so far in parts of the industrial world that languages such as Ukrainian and Estonian will be endangered within a century and German, Japanese, and Italian within two. The repudiation of life among advanced countries living in prosperity and peace has no historical precedent, except perhaps in the anomie of Greece in its post-Alexandrian decline and Rome during the first centuries of the Common Era. But Greece fell to Rome, and Rome to the barbarians. In the past, nations that foresaw their own demise fell to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Plague, Famine, and Death. Riding point for the old quartet in today’s more civilized world is a Fifth Horseman: loss of faith. Today’s cultures are dying of apathy, not by the swords of their enemies.

Nor is the Muslim world immune:

But Islamic society is even more fragile. As Muslim fertility shrinks at a rate demographers have never seen before, it is converging on Europe’s catastrophically low fertility as if in time-lapse photography. The average 30-year-old Iranian woman comes from a family of six children, but she will bear only one or two children during her lifetime. Turkey and Algeria are just behind Iran on the way down, and most of the other Muslim countries are catching up quickly. By the middle of this century, the belt of Muslim countries from Morocco to Iran will become as gray as depopulating Europe. The Islamic world will have the same proportion of dependent elderly as the industrial countries – but one-tenth the productivity. A time bomb that cannot be defused is ticking in the Muslim world.

Facing the death of one’s culture and religion is the characteristic anguish of our time.  How odd that this great human drama will be largely overlooked by our artists and storytellers because their own individualistic, universalist prejudices keep them from seeing it.

H/T:  E. Feser

Review: Beyond the Global Culture War

I’ve actually been promoting this book for a while, so it’s about time I gave it a formal review.

The name of this book is unfortunate.  Usually when someone says they want us to get “beyond” the culture wars, he really means he wants conservatives to surrender to liberalism.  That’s not what the author, Adam Webb, means.  He wants to fight the culture war more aggressively and win.  His key idea is that we antiliberals need to expand our horizons and realize that we are part of a global struggle; people are fighting the same fight in the Muslim, Hindu, Far Eastern, and Latin American worlds.  Our best, perhaps only, hope of victory is a trans-civilizational alliance of communitarians and traditionalists of various sorts.

This is a very important point.  Unfortunately, while conservatives in the West resist (albeit ineffectively) liberalism at home, we tend to uncritically accept the liberal perspective on the rest of the planet.  So we cheer for secular democracy in the Muslim world, for the Indian Congress Party, and for Chinese capitalism, not realizing that we’re promoting liberal hegemony and our own isolation.  Liberalism, secularism, and feminism are–we imagine–right about the rest of the world, but wrong about us.  This is a difficult position to defend; it grants far too much to our enemies.  If the rest of the world’s traditions were ignorance and oppression, it would be hard to believe ours are any different.

Webb retells the culture war of the last century from a global perspective.  In his telling, each society has four different ways, which he calls “ethoses”, of understanding itself, and the culture war is a battle between the adherents of each ethos.  Demoticism is the egalitarian communitarianism of the village peasant:  community is the supreme value, roles and duties are clear, but distinctions other than age and gender are frowned upon.  Perfectionism is the individualistic ethic of self-cultivation found in aristocrats and mystics.  Society is the arena in which virtue is developed and exercised, but most important is the society-transcending ideal of virtue or holiness to which individuals try to conform themselves.  Demots value embeddedness in a community at the expense of having a transcendent horizon, while perfectionists keep society-transcending standards at the cost of spiritually separating themselves–to some extent–from their communities.  Virtuocracy tries to combine the two:  there is a transcendent standard of goodness, but it can be embodied in the life of the community through the ministrations of a clerical class, such as the Catholic clergy, the Muslim ulama, the Hindu Bramins, and the Chinese mandarins.  Finally, there are is atomism, which combines the demot’s dislike of hierarchy and transcendent standards with the perfectionist’s dislike of community.  Historically, atomists like the Greek sophists and the Chinese legalists have rarely held power, but in the last century they have launched a worldwide coup, achieving global hegemony and marginalizing the other three ethoses.

The West succumbed early, but in most places the atomist insurgency really only got going a century ago, when atomist intellectuals started criticizing native traditions for holding their countries back and slowing down modernization.  In midcentury, the atomists made a sort of pact with demotic sensibilities; virtuocratic elites were attacked, marginalized, and largely destroyed, as enemies of the common folk.  By 1980, atomists were powerful enough to revoke this pact and turn their hostility on the common people, who were now denounced as bigots and fanatics who need to be controled by their enlightened (atomist) betters.  Antiliberal activism since then has been largely demotic (populist/fundamentalist) and has suffered from demots’ limited horizons and weak sense of group agency.  In only one case did a virtuocratic elite sieze power–in the Islamic Republic of Iran.  While Iran is certainly a most promising center of antiliberal resistance, it is compromised–according to Webb–by being limited to one nation-state.

According to Webb, the world’s cultural capital is being eroded quickly by atomist attacks.  In another few decades, the damage could be irreversible, and history really will end.  Therefore, he believes the whole world order must be overthrown and reconstituted before that time.  The rebellion should represent the other three ethoses but be led by the natural leaders, the virtuocrats.  Unfortunately, he’s not able to be more specific than that.  Many of the virtuocrats he mentions, like neo-Confucian intellectuals, are just a few isolated academics who probably aren’t going to be overthrowing anything.  One can’t help but think that Islam is going to have to provide most of the manpower if this fantasy is actually going to come true.

Webb would like to see the antiliberal crusade commit itself to righting what he sees as the great injustice of capitalism, namely that the global South is so much poorer than the global North.  He thinks that, since we’re not so attached to economic freedom as the liberals, we will be able to offer the world a much more drastic wealth redistribution.  I think this is probably backwards.  Historically, atomists gave us socialism, after all, while in places like Iran the clerical faction has been more careful to guard property rights (considered an Islamic principle, as it is considered a Christian one) against atomist social engineering.  It is also not clear to me that justice demands nations’ wealths be equalized, or that it would be good for the global South to start essentially living on the dole.  Nonliberals might arrange an uptick in foreign aid, but I wouldn’t expect more of us than that.

Webb’s diagnosis is excellent, and I hope for that reason that conservatives will read this book and take it to heart.  While overthrowing the world order would be nice, I would like to start thinking about a more basic step.  How can we Christian conservatives make contact with our Muslim, Hindu, and Confucian counterparts?  How can we learn about them?  What sort of collaborations might be immediately fruitful?  What sort of structures might we put in place to foster regular contact and collaboration?

Review: The Myth of Religious Violence

The reason I would like to see more conservatives in academia is so they can write books like this.  In this important study, William Cavanaugh deconstructs one of liberalism’s primary legitimating myths–that religion is unusually violence-prone, and their secular rule is necessary to keep us Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims from killing each other.  The story–and I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, as have I–is that religion and politics used to be illigitimately “mixed”, but that led to the wars of religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when Catholic and Protestants tried to impose their creeds by force, and the slaughter was only ended when the secular state stepped in, regulated religion to its proper (private, socially irrelevant) role, and established peace, reason, and tolerance.  Today that happy settlement is threatened by crazy Muslims who haven’t yet privatized their religion, but we’re going to cure them of their craziness by bombing, invading, and shooting them into rationality–for their own good, of course.

There are just three things wrong with this great myth of liberalism:  1) It’s wrong; 2) It’s incoherent; 3) It’s self-serving propaganda for the secular warfare state.

1) It’s wrong

No historian of early modern times accepts the mythical view of the wars of religion.  The thirty years war was primarily a war between the Catholic Holy Roman Empire and Catholic France.  Both this war and the French “wars of religion” were as much about the consolidation of power in the emerging nation-states (and resistance to that consolidation by German princes and French nobles) as anything else.  Both the Huguenots and the Catholic League were mowed down as obstacles to French state centralization.  Confessionalization, the establishment of sharp confessional boundaries and imposition of religious uniformity in a realm, was part of this process of consolidation.  So the rise of the nation-state was more a cause of the “wars of religion” than their solution.  What’s more, it’s simply wrong that these nation-states separated politics from religion.  In both Catholic and Protestant lands, the state siezed control of the Church and appropriated its of aura of sacrality for itself.  Liberalism didn’t come for more than a century later, when the sacredness of the nation-state was so firmly established that Christianity could be discarded.

2) It’s incoherent

Cavanaugh spends a significant fraction of the book reviews the vast literature on the allegedly violence-prone nature of religion.  He shows that each of these studies is hopelessly muddled with contradictions; none of them even succeed in defining “religion” in a way that would exclude secular causes like nationalism or Marxism.  Religion is supposed to be dangerous because it divides the world into “us” vs. “them”, because it presents utopia to the imagination, because it makes absolute claims about right and wrong and the proper ordering of the cosmos, etc.  In each case, ostensibly secular, modern political/economic systems do the same things, so why single out Christianity, Islam, etc?  Why not just study how belief systems in general, or communities in general, can become violent?  But that would defeat the purpose of these studies, which is to show that something called “religion” is uniquely violence-prone in a way liberalism, nationalism, and the like are not, or at least that its type of violence is worse somehow.  Bizzarely, many of the studies Cavanaugh reviews cite secular violence–nonreligious murderers like Timothy McVeigh or Joseph Stalin, assaults against Jehovah’s Witnesses for refusing to salute the American flag, G. W. Bush’s “Axis of Evil”, tribal violence worldwide–as evidence that religion is particularly violence-prone!  The idea is that these secular things or people must have been contaminated by religion.  Here religion is defined as violent and secularism as peaceful, making the claim “religion is violent” tautological.  One writer asserts that Christian just war theory is a concession to secular concerns which had nothing to do with the teachings of Christ, and in the next breath he cites just war theory as evidence of religion’s inherent violence!  The only conclusion I can draw from all this (and there’s more silliness I haven’t mentioned) is that liberal academics are simply incapable of thinking logically when it comes to the issue of religion in society.

3) It’s self-serving propaganda

The secular state is our deliverer from religous kookery!  It tells us so itself.  Sure, sure, secular causes like nationalism, liberalism, and socialism have been known to engage in a bit of violence themselves, but that’s totally different.  The state’s violence is rational–regrettable but often necessary.  Religious violence is irrational.  A man who’ll kill for his religion is a fanatic; a man who’ll kill for his country is a patriot.  This self-serving, question-begging nonsense doesn’t just muddle people’s thinking; it serves two definite political purposes.  First, in domestic political debates, it unfairly marginalizes views that are labeled as “religious”, so that they are automatically dismissed as irrational.  (Think of the times you’ve heard someone say that belief in global warming or opposition to embryonic stem cell research is “religious”.  They didn’t mean “deserving of special consideration and respect”.)  Cavanaugh relates how this has affected U.S. Supreme Court decisions.  Each time the Court bans some public display of religion, it makes some utterly implausible claim about the dangers of sectarianism to national unity, backed up by invoking what we all “know” about the wars of religion.  Second, in the area of foreign policy, it leads us to dismiss the concerns and interests of Muslim peoples as “irrational”.  So, for example, to understand Muslim hostility to American policies in the Middle East, we feel entitled to ignore the secular grievances that they themselves give as their motives, because we all know that that’s just a mask for religious craziness.  Cavanaugh cites some amusing examples of this thinking, which give the impression that Western atheists are often more focused on religion than Arab or Persian Muslims.  Worse, since Muslims are irrational, while we are by definition reasonable, we are entitled to impose our reasonable way on them by force.  New Atheists like Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens take this line of thinking to hair-raising extremes to justify outright murder–for Harris, genocidal mass murder of the Muslim population, including possible nuclear first strikes!  This is an extreme, but hardly isolated, instance of a rule that obsessive focus on one kind of violence (“religious”) ends up blinding us to the danger of other types.

My only quarrel with this book is that Cavanaugh borrows from nominalism and postmodernism a seeming hostility toward “essentialism” and an intent to find political manipulation behind every narrative.  Perhaps this was included to put his presumably majority-liberal readers off their guard.  Certainly it serves his purposes, but, then, postmodernism can be used to discredit anything, which makes it useless.  Not all labels are arbitrary, and not all stories are masks of the will to power, but these particular labels are arbitrary and this particular story does exist to mask the liberal libido dominandi, as Cavanaugh proves.  Cavanaugh thinks the word “religion” is meaningless, but I think that goes too far.  Both essentialist definitions (based on a phenomenology of the sacred, a path I follow) and functionalist (Durkeimian) definitions are reasonable and useful.  The problem is just that the authors Cavanaugh critiques keep switching back and forth between the two arbitrarily in order to reach their predetermined conclusion.  Even if “religion” were not well-defined, I certainly think “Christianity” and “Islam” are, and investigations into their essential natures is a reasonable task.

All my readers should buy and read this book so they’ll be ready for the next time someone tells them that religion is the cause of most of history’s violence.  Also, you’ll be aware that calling for the secularization of the Muslim world makes one a dupe for atheism and tyranny.

Best of the web lately

Lawrence Auster has a very nice review of Louis de Bonald’s “On Divorce”.

In effect, Bonald supplements the classic understanding of the soul and its virtues with the insight from the Western religious tradition that the constitution of man’s being consists of “natural relationships with his being’s author” and with his fellow men. As human beings we participate in three distinct societies–religious; public (the state); and domestic (the family)–which operate according to common principles. Just as there is a supreme Cause that willed the world and a universal Minister by whom the world was made and through whom it is saved, so in the state there are laws, ministers that carry out the laws, and subjects. In the family, it is the father who functions as power, the mother as minister, and the child as subject. Reading Bonald, we need to look beyond this hierarchical scheme, which appears so strange and forbidding to our eyes, to the inner core that animates it: the experience of religious truth as the ultimate source and paradigm of legitimate authority and community.

Bonald is a tough-minded exponent of the classic and Christian view that our native penchant for disorder must be repressed for our true nature to be fulfilled; “Be thou perfect.” said the supreme lawgiver of our civilization. But the Rousseauian democratic notion that “man is perfect in his native state and is depraved by society” threw this natural order on its head, denying any authority in God, making all human customs seem arbitrary, and reducing parents and children to the merely biological status of “males,” females,” and “young” (or, in today’s unispeak, “moms.” “dads,” and “kids”). With this collapse of the human constitution, Bonald argues, “there were still fathers, mothers, and children in France, but there was no longer a power in the family, no longer a minister, no longer a subject, no longer a domestic society; and political society was shaken to its very foundations.”

Through Edward Feser, I’ve come across this entertaining re(de)valuation of the Renaissance:

Then everything came to a stop. Given the scientific and mathematical works of Descartes and Galileo, but no chronological information, one might suppose the authors were students of Oresme. Galileo’s work on moving bodies is the next step after Oresme’s physics; Cartesian geometry follows immediately on Oresme’s work on graphs. But we know that the actual chronological gap was 250 years, during which nothing whatever happened in these fields. Nor did any thing of importance occur in any other branches of science in the two centuries between Oresme and Copernicus. Other intellectual fields have no more to offer. Histories of philosophy are naturally able to name philosophers between 1350 and 1600, but their inclusion seems to be on the same principle as world maps which include Wyndham, WA, but leave out Wollongong – big blank spaces must be filled. While it is almost impossible to find an English translation of any philosopher in the three hundred years between Scotus and Descartes, it is not a lack one feels acutely….

The literary end of intellectual life did not fare much better than science, except that the slump was not quite so long. Rather than protest, as is usual, about the difficulty of confining historical movements within definite dates, I am happy to name the fifteenth century as coinciding quite accurately with the decline of literature. Chaucer died in 1400; the next writers that anyone still reads are Erasmus, More, Rabelais and Machiavelli, just after 1500.

He [Petrarch] pulled off the century’s most amazing propaganda stunt by having himself crowned as poet on the Capitoline Hill, reviving a supposed classical tradition. This was to celebrate, he said, the rebirth of poetry after a thousand years. Even if the troubadour lyrics, the Eddas and the Roman de la Rose had never been written, the idea of someone announcing the rebirth of poetry thirty years after Dante’s death is just a disgrace.

Matt Parrott at Alternative Right on the empty promises of feminism:

The illusions they cling to are comfortable, while reality is anything but: They’re not sexually liberating themselves—they’re forfeiting the leverage nature gave them in the battle of the sexes to a subset of slick pick-up artists. Their barren wombs are not about “family planning”, they’re about not planning to have a family. Their careers are not making them independent, dependence is simply being transferred from husbands and fathers to Big Brother. That’s well and good for their personal interests as long as the economy is strong, the government is solvent, and the pensions are well-funded. But are those safe bets?

R. R. Reno on whether Shia Islam in Iran is about to have an Investiture Controversy moment.

Shia Islam endorses prostitution

I just saw this on First Things.  Assuming it’s accurate, I take back many of the positive things I’ve said about Islam over the years.  Anyone who accepts the idea of a fixed-term marriage (for terms as short as five hours!) has no idea what marriage means.

Shi’ite Muslims believe that “sigheh,” a fixed-term marriage that is automatically dissolved upon completion of its term, is an institution established by Allah through Muhammad in the Qur’an. So to aid pious pilgrims who are looking for a little short-term matrimony, the Iran has sanctioned brothels marriage chapels at Imam Reza’s shrine in Mash’had. Here are the details outlined in a document obtained by

In order to elevate the spiritual atmosphere, create proper psychological conditions and tranquility of mind, the Province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan has created centers for temporary marriage (just next door to the shrine) for those brothers who are on pilgrimage to the shrine of our eighth Imam, Imam Reza, and who are far away from their spouses.

To that end, we call on all our sisters who are virgins, who are between the ages of 12 and 35 to cooperate with us. Each of our sisters who signs up will be bound by a two-year contract with the province of the Quds’eh-Razavi of Khorassan and will be required to spend at least 25 days of each month temporarily married to those brothers who are on pilgrimage. The period of the contract will be considered as a part of the employment experience of the applicant. The period of each temporary marriage can be anywhere between 5 hours to 10 days. The prices are as follows:

· 5 hour temporary marriage — 50,000 Tomans ($50 US)

· One day temporary marriage — 75,000 Tomans ($75 US)

· Two day temporary marriage — 100,000 Tomans ($100 US)

· Three day temporary marriage — 150,000 Tomans ($150 US)

· Between 4 and 10 day temporary marriage — 300,000 Tomans ($300 US)

Our sisters who are virgins will receive a bonus of 100,000 Tomans ($100 US) for the removal of their hymen.

On the American Right’s total ignorance about Iran

Over at First Things (which, I repeat, is one of the best supposedly conservative magazines out there), they find it “an outrage and a horror” that Iran has been elected onto the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women committee.  No doubt like other United Nations commissions, this one will be working at least implicitly to promote abortion and undermine the patriarchal family, but nobody seems to be outraged about that.  Why, one wonders, is it shocking for Iran to be on this committee, even by the standards of feminism?  Women in Iran vote, attend university, and enter the professions in large numbers.  I doubt the fellows at First Things (or the fellows at National Review, whose comments started this discussion) have really thought about it.  What they have is an irrational anti-Islamic bigotry that causes them to assume that Muslims “hate women”, mostly because Muslim women dress modestly.  Even on the American Right, it seems, we find it hard to understand that a culture can respect women without dressing them like harlots, or indeed that modesty is a gesture of respect.  (In any event, most Iranian women just cover their hair, not their faces.  Some don’t even cover that.  I know several Iranian women studying physics at American universities.)  The Islamic Republic is a modern, civilized state that treats its women as well as Americans treat ours.  I for one would rather have Iran on this committee than the United States, because while America is wholy committed to the creed of feticide, androgyny, and perversion, Iran will more likely steer the committee away from radicalism and towards basic decency.  What baffles me is that the American Right should think differently.

Another reason to despise the Iranian protesters

They’re trying to do to Islam what Western liberals did to Christianity:

To varying degrees, thinkers and theologians identified with the democratic movement have been offering a new reading of Shiism that makes the faith more amenable to democracy and secularism. The most significant innovation—found in essays, sermons, books, and even fatwas—is the acceptance of the separation of mosque and state, the idea that religion must be limited to the private domain. Some of these thinkers refuse to afford any privileged position to the clergy’s reading and rendition of Shiism–a radical democratization of the faith. And others, like Akbar Ganji and Mostafa Malekian, have gone so far as to deny the divine origins of Koran, arguing that it is nothing but a historically specific and socially marked interpretation of a divine message by the prophet. The most daring are even opting for a historicized Muhammad, searching for the first time in Shia history for a real, not hagiographic, narrative of his life.

As this book explains, for a Muslim to deny that the Koran comes directly from God is equivalent to a Christian denying the Incarnation.  I strongly suspect that the only reason the Greens don’t openly advocate atheism is because they think they can do more damage through subterfuge.

Now, not being a Muslim, I myself am not committed to a belief in the uncreated nature of the Koran, so you might think it strange that I should mind anyone else expressing skepticism about it.  However, when evaluating a movement like this, we should not just ask ourselves whether the criticized beliefs are completely true.  We must also ask whether the beliefs that the skeptics are steering the Iranians towards are truer.  We must also remember that truths can be tied up with falsehoods in the minds of men–if a falsehood legitimates a truth, we should be wary of attacking the former lest we cast doubt on the latter as well.  Now, I have little doubt that these religious reformers have privately abandoned belief in their historical religion.  They have done so not because they suddenly found Islam to be incredible, but because they encountered a new faith that they found more credible.  This faith, it can hardly be doubted, is liberalism.  So the choice here is not between Shia Islam and whatever you think is a perfect belief system.  It’s between Shia Islam and atheist liberalism.  I myself am quite convinced that the former is closer to the truth about the universe, man, and society than the latter.  I’m also convinced that the former is connected in most Iranians’ minds to a number of important truths.  Islam provides them with a sense of the sacred and the profane; it reinforces the claims of morality; it helps people put the good of family, clan, and nation over their own; it affirms a person’s sense that what he does with his life matters in some ultimate way.  Liberalism would take all of this away.

Fortunately, as Daniel Larison points out, the embrace of liberal theology will be political suicide for the Greens.  By the way, my Burkean defense of the Iranian regime can be found here.

In defense of the Iranian regime

Turning aside for the moment from the question of who really won the election (on which you already know my opinion), let us ask ourselves who we should have liked to have won it.  This is by no means the no-brainer that you might think from watching the liberal-secularist news. 

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To hell with the Iranian protesters!

Iranian liberals are always whining that there isn’t enough “democracy” in their country.  Then, when they lose an election–by a wide margin–they throw temper tantrums and take to the streets for protest and vandalism.  “The vote must have been rigged,” they say.  “Nobody I know voted for Ahmadinejad.”  I remember when Khatami won in 97, and we all heard that “the people had spoken”, that they had definitively rejected the “theocracy”, embraced “freedom”, blaw blaw blaw.  And when the people voted in Ahmadinejad in 2005 and 2009, did the people definitively embrace “theocracy”?  I never heard this claim made.  It seems that the voice of the people is only the voice of the people when it says what the liberals want it to.

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