It’s a standard move in global warming denial rhetoric to say, “if they were really serious about CO2 production, those crazy hippies would support the construction of nuclear power plants. Bwa ha ha ha, in your face, Al Gore!” Now, I never see anyone actually go on to advocate new nuclear power plants. But guess what? If, after the implementation of a reasonable, revenue-neutral carbon tax, nuclear power would be competitive without subsidies, then I would be happy to support nuclear power. If government subsidies would still be required, I think we would be better off subsidising something like wind or solar power, because nuclear power plants do have a wee negative externality problem, what with all the extra security needed, and that whole “radioactive” issue. Oh, now that I’m here, I might as well just offer up a few other responses to various right-wing Morrisette-ironic talking points.
“Why don’t feminists in the developed world care anything about the opression of women in Muslim countries, huh?” Um, what? People tend to care the most about and be the most effective in dealing with problems close to them, and so many feminists work on issues like reproductive freedom closer to home. Nonetheless, feminists absolutely do care about women’s rights in other countries. Like every other feminist ever, I think that the medieval gender apartheid mandated in theocratic states like Saudi Arabia is Very Bad. Before the attacks of September 11 most of the things I knew about the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan I heard from feminist sources, because feminists were horrified by the treatment of women there and were raising money for charities attempting to help. Just two little points, though. First, for the purposes of drawing a distinction between nations where women’s lot is horrible and those in which it is merely bad, the division of the world into Muslim and non-Muslim states is totally useless. That’s because there are plenty of majority Muslim states in which women enjoy quite decent rights and political representation, and plenty of non-Muslim states in which the status of women is very low and they face huge challenges. Consider Female Genital Mutilation, for example; it’s not a practice mandated by Islam but rather a cultural one in North Africa. Christian women in Ghana are subjected to the practice; Muslim women from Bangladesh are not. Secondly, insofar as feminism comes to be seen merely as a stick with which to beat our enemies in the Clash of Civilizations™, it is weakened as a tool for women’s liberation. So, my right-wing friends, the women of the world thank you for your tireless efforts so far in advancing the cause of global equity feminism, but maybe you could let actual feminists take it from here? Thanks a bunch.
“If you love Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez so much, why don’t you marry them?” This one is a stumper, I can tell you. How will I be able to disassociate myself from Castro, the senescent dictator of a repressive socialist state? Oh, wait, no, it’s not that hard after all. Castro is a bad man, autocratic communism is a bad form of government, and he has run Cuba into the ground. Still, I can’t help but feel that America’s 50-year-long snit fit, more appropriate to a 7th-grade girl of middling popularity than a great nation, has not helped matters much. I hope that the passing of Castro’s generation, both in Cuba and Florida, will allow both countries to adopt less obviously insane policies. Hugo Chavez—seriously, why all the hating on Hugo Chavez? I don’t think he’s an excellent president, he’s obviously animated by a significant undercurrent of anti-democratic tendencies, and I disagree with many of his economic policies, insofar as I have bothered to learn about his policies. Which, when you get right down to it, isn’t much, because I don’t see why I should care deeply about Venezuelan politics. Also, I have regretfully come to the conclusion, after much soul-searching, that actual Venezuelan voters ought to be in charge of choosing their nation’s leader, rather then say, me and the Latin American bureau editor for The Economist. So, the fact that he has won quite a number of elections and referenda is just going to have to carry the day. Maybe if his predecessors hadn’t been corrupt, not-a-dime’s-worth-of-difference political parties dedicated to advancing the interests of a narrow economic elite, he wouldn’t be so, you know, popular and stuff. A thought.
“Don’t hold your breath waiting for liberals to condemn Iran for their treatment of the captured British marines.” Exhale, everybody! The marines are reporting that they were subjected to false execution, a well-known form of psychological torture and one which I condemn unreservedly. I have this rule of thumb, which I recommend to everyone: if Solzhenitsyn recounts some practice as one employed in coercive interrogations at Lubyanka, it’s torture. So, false execution: definitely torture. Also torture: long-time standing; exposure to extremes of heat and cold; forcing prisoners to kneel or stand in painful positions; putting prisoners in cells so small they cannot stand or lie down; keeping them awake for days at a time. These practices were the meat and drink of the NKVD, who preferred them to fingernail extraction for the same reason certain American torture advocates do: they can be made to seem as if they are not torture, even though they are, in fact, actually torture. FYI.
“Liberals don’t condemn terrorist atrocities in Iraq, such as the latest chlorine bomb attacks, because they think Arabs are sub-human scum from whom nothing better can be expected.” Um, who thinks Arabs are scum now? Moving on, I have a strong sense that my condemning such attacks is pointless (still, obviously, I read about such attacks with surprise and horror and regard them as evil). Give me a lever long enough and I will…er, scratch my ass with it in a spasm of useless, self-righteous moral preening! By contrast, since I am a citizen of a democratic state, my efforts to change US policy by criticizing, say, Yoo’s depraved torture justifications may actually have some effect, however small. Additionally, it’s true that qua terrorists (rather than qua Arabs), I don’t expect much better from Sunni ultras. On the other hand, I am a US patriot. This means I have a lot invested in our city on the hill image and don’t want to see my nation’s honor dragged through the mud by a bunch of incompetent authoritarian dillholes. I don’t know why I’m implying that’s a conditional; I done already seen that, and I didn’t like it any. Join us next week, when we find out that I know you are, and go on to wonder, what am I?