Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wide Awake In America

Speaking of adopting policies, rhetoric and strategies conducive to winning hearts and minds, this is exactly what not to do:

President Bush said yesterday that he senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil."

Casting the efforts to curtail the appeal and luster of those that commit violent acts in the name of Islam as a "crusade" (as Bush did five years ago) or concomitant with a "Third Awakening" of Christianity in the US is, to say the least, extremely unproductive. The article provides the historical context for the remarks:

The First Great Awakening refers to a wave of Christian fervor in the American colonies from about 1730 to 1760, while the Second Great Awakening is generally believed to have occurred from 1800 to 1830.

Changing policies and dynamics to our benefit in the larger battle for hearts and minds in many instances will be very difficult. For example, attempting to solve the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, squaring the strategic need for oil with our loftier principles and instilling liberal ideals along with democratic mechanisms (such as elections) are tasks that would make Sisyphus quit for the lack of prospects for success. Such complex matters have stymied many a brilliant mind, and for good reason.

But this stuff is so easy, even I can do it. Just don't use clash of civilizations - or worse yet, clash of religions! - type language. Alas, even in an election year. It might play well to the base here at home, but it is just terribly received anywhere outside of Peoria.

Go ahead. Try it.

(h/t to Adele Stan)

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