City of Brass

City of Brass


the moral arc of the universe: a thought experiment

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

Via Eric Martin at American Footprints – a brilliant thought experiment that clearly illustrates the vapidity of the call by Republicans such as John McCain upon President Obama to intervene more forcefully with rhetoric about the events in Iran:

But to illustrate this obvious fact more sharply, consider the following thought experiment. In 1963, as King delivers his famous speech to the March on Washington, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev delivers a public message of his own to the protesters. “We would like to tell these brave voices of freedom,” Khrushchev says, “that they have the full support and solidarity of the USSR. The Soviet Union and the United States Communist Party are ready and willing to perform any measures within our power to help our American brothers and sisters obtain their rights from this oppressive regime. And although Dr. King pretends that he holds no hostility toward the American capitalist system of government itself, and wishes only to secure the ideals of the American founding for all of its citizens, we all know that he and his supporters really yearn for complete regime change in Washington. We in Moscow will do whatever it takes to help you achieve this goal.”

Let us ignore the question of Khrushchev’s intentions here: whether he is motivated by genuine sympathy and desire to aid the civil rights marchers, or a more cynical hope of destabilizing a rival government, or a narcissistic and self-righteous wish to take credit for the marchers’ achievement in order to feel better about himself and appease his domestic critics. (And before anyone gets up in arms about “moral equivalence,” let me note than I am not equating Obama’s America and Khrushchev’s Russia, merely noting that Obama and Khrushchev occupy structurally similar positions as leaders of distrusted rival powers.)

Let us focus only on a simple tactical question: would Khrushchev’s statement aid the civil rights movement? Would it be welcomed by King and his associates? Why or why not?

And yes, the analogy to the Soviet Union is indeed apt – Iranians may admire the people of the United States for our democracy and culture, they also have a long and bitter memory of the US Government’s repeated interference in their own affairs.



  • Justice

    Why do the Republicans – like John McCain – take the position similar to Khrushchev’s taken for Dr. King? Do the Democrats not? What was the real purpose of Iraqi War and Middle East conflict which drove the world into crisis and left hundreds or thousands dead or wounded? The Bushes and their sponsors will know that. Or their precedent Presidents will already be aware of it. Let us ask them if they achieved their hidden purpose, and who they are. Only they know that but they never answer nor confess. If Khrushchev had a hidden purpose, we do not exclude the probability that his counterparts or similars in the USA or Israel will not have a similar one. Iranians and most of the muslims will be worried about it, and have a good reason to reject or critisize all the messages of the US politicians and their partners in Europe. They will not want to be fallen victim of another plot like the Iraqi War or a new stratagem taken for the sake of a very selfish group who had their success and survival through terroristic behavior of atomic weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When a terroristic behavior was successful, nobody can blame the terrorist but praise them an excellent leader, accusing the looser a dictator or terrorist. What should we do if another possible pray of the terrorists’ party or their partners and agents are worried about becoming their next target and looking for every possible way of their survival in order not to become another Iraq or another Hiroshima and Nagasaki? How can we say that the nuclear weapons in the USA and its brother Israel (most of we know why they are brothers and sisters) are peaceful and those in Iran and North Korea is terroristic? Why should we accept George W. Bush’s second presidential election againt Mr. Gore in the USA was democratic and Ahmaninejad’s in Iran was defective and not democratic? Why should we accept the Jewish tradition of deceptive Jacob is democratic and reasonable and Sharia Law of Muslims is not reasonable? How much should we be brainwashed and for whose sake? Do they not want to control and manipulate all the Middle East as much conveniently and easily as they do the USA and its partners? If they do not, they should allow all the legal privileges and conveniences they have in the USA to all the other ethnic and religious groups of the world, or explain in detail why only they must enjoy the privilege and others not. And they must also tell us why their disguised democracy is democracy and others’ is dictatorship, if they want to criticize the non-Jewish country’s politic.

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