George Sarant

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Archive for July 2013

THERE IS NO PERFECT JUSTICE

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I did not follow or express an opinion on the George Zimmerman case for the simple reason that I could not form an accurate judgment without access to the facts presented to the jury. I also felt that this was a local case subject to local jurisprudence and did not warrant the extensive media coverage that ensued. But since it unfortunately garnered so much attention and raised passions on both sides some analysis is in order, particularly insofar as it involves the objective of achieving justice.

There is a basic problem with the position being taken by those outraged by the verdict, particularly when shouting for justice. But this entails a preconceived notion of what constitutes “justice,” for which there could be only one possible outcome. The belief is that Zimmerman had to pay, one way or another, with his trial presumably resulting in justice fulfilled. By any standard that is what it did, but for believers in this cause only one possible outcome could be legitimate.

Now if Zimmerman had been found guilty, that apparently would have been “justice”  in their eyes, ratifying the fairness of the process.  That this did not happen hardly makes the process any less just. One cannot call something unjust under these circumstances because one’s expectations were not fulfilled.  If the jury outcome produces justice in one instance it must all do so in the other.

However, those now protesting do have good reason to be outraged, because of the miserable job done by the mainstream media. The coverage was so slanted against Zimmerman that it became, in the minds of many, a foregone conclusion that he would be found guilty. The media wanted a show trial and very nearly produced one. Going back to the beginning of this incident, by the laws of Florida the local authorities found no cause to arrest Zimmerman. This led to an outcry, still local, until the media picked up on it. An opportunistic prosecutor (there are few who aren’t) then stepped in and charged Zimmerman with murder, in what essentially became a political prosecution and it appeared as though he was a goner, having already been judged guilty until proven innocent. But the prosecution was also inept, and if there was a case to be made, they failed to make it, and the jury made its decision based upon the facts presented, with more honesty and integrity than the “system” itself.

But the race-baiters and left-wing ideologues could not let such an opportunity go unexploited and so they have sprung into action. People like professional agitator Al Sharpton, who has also been a frequent White House visitor as well as commentator on the awful NBC “news” network, are now fanning the flames. It has rekindled a sense of grievance about the system being generally unfair to the interests of black people, who are powerless when faced with it. However there is a problem with this narrative. If anyone was powerless in this case, it was Zimmerman, who had some seriously formidable institutions lined up against him. The people out for his scalp were obviously far more powerful, given that they were able to get the government to go after him, from the top down.

So since the trial did not produce the desired result, now other avenues must be pursued.  We have the racially obsessed Attorney General  Eric Holder looking to find some way to bring Zimmerman up on federal charges, such as “hate crime,” and further pontificating on race even though thorough investigations produced not a shred of evidence along those lines.  But curiously Holder is quiet about several retaliatory mob attacks that have already occurred against innocent white and “Hispanic” people that are, in fact, completely racially motivated; fat chance the “justice” department will investigate these incidents. Most legal experts doubt he has a case and thus it won’t be pursued. That remains to be seen, when the facts are subordinate to the politics. Again, the reality of who actually has power in the justice system and in terms of government influence is obviously far different from what is being claimed.  

I repeat I am not a Zimmerman supporter or sympathizer, and had no particular interest in the outcome. What I cannot abide is the reaction to this trial, the media circus, and the talking heads on all sides making arguments that diverge from the actual case. What I can predict, based on first hand experience, is that the US Attorneys will make every conceivable effort to build a case against Zimmerman, because the judgment as to whom to target and whom to prosecute is very often entirely political. It is a fantasy to believe that these people sit around and objectively evaluate cases. Political calculation, in terms of whom to go after, and which to not bother with, is a common practice, and often a self-serving one. This entire case reeks of it, and the end result is that neither Trayvon nor Zimmerman can possibly get “justice.” If a human agent can make decisions regarding the legal fate of someone in a way that would not be applied to someone else the system is flawed. For the system is imperfect, sometimes produces confounding results, and sometimes lets people slip through the cracks. On the whole, however, it does basically work to the extent that any human institution can. Much of the time it produces results that appear to be reasonably satisfactory to an outsider, and justice is served to some extent. However, as with any entity inhabited by human beings, there is fallibility and no possibility of ever achieving perfect justice. No society can ever be completely just, no matter how good it is. For, as I’ve written elsewhere, in this life, the best you can hope for is some justice.

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Written by georgesarant

July 16, 2013 at 3:56 PM

ISLAM AND THE MODERN MILITARY

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The Egyptian military removed the Muslim Brotherhood government following massive protests against increasing Islamic rule, deteriorating economic conditions, and the near collapse of major institutions, which have become completely dysfunctional.  The administration once again was tone deaf when it came to facts on the ground. Thanks in part to an airhead ambassador, it has managed to wind up on the wrong side of events, a fact that was not lost on the crowds, which singled out the President and ambassador for scorn on their placards.  For despite the distress of a number of western leaders, this was not a banana republic coup d’état, but part of an extra-constitutional tradition relatively widespread in the Islamic world, from Turkey to Pakistan. It is essentially based upon the premise that when civilians screw up the government the military has to intervene.

It is important to understand the context and prevailing conditions. It would be nice if western leaders stopped mouthing platitudes about democratic government and instead recognized the dynamics in play. In any modern constitutional state there is more than majority rule; constitutional protections are also included, i.e. for minority rights. One such minority consists of Christians in the Middle East, who face continuing persecution in many countries while western officials remain silent, to their everlasting shame. Religious minorities are far more likely to be protected in a secular state than under a government that is religiously oriented. Thus Muslim minorities, for example, are not persecuted anywhere in the west.

In the Islamic world it is the military that has served as the guarantors of the secular state. This model began in Turkey, which is usually cited as representative of a successful modern Islamic country. This in large measure is due to Mustafa Kemal, the father of modern Turkey, who, in a remarkable departure, began what essentially was a process of de-Islamification of the state in favor of a secular, western-style government. The guarantors of that tradition were the military, which would periodically intervene whenever civilian government rule came near collapse, at least until the present government in Turkey, which has instituted a major purge of senior military officers. They can no longer intervene even as the government becomes increasingly autocratic, resulting in the recent mass protests throughout the country. But at least the Turkish government had the good sense to backtrack and make some effort to accommodate the protestors. In Egypt the military did intervene in order to protect the secular, constitutional state, apparently with considerable popular support and no intention of wielding political power on a long-term basis.

Why is it that the military is the bulwark of a secular, modern state in these societies? The answer lies in the nature of the order that must prevail in a large scale, formal organization if it is to function effectively. That order must be rationally based, regardless of dogma. A military has to be organized to achieve its objectives based on information and facts, and to have the capacity to master sophisticated modern weapons, communications, and command systems. In addition, functions must be assigned rationally otherwise nothing works. In a backward society the military is often the only viable institution with these characteristics, and much of the Islamic world is relatively backward. That is the reason this does not apply or occur in advanced countries, where we would not want the military to act in this capacity. The underlying population structure is different when most of the citizens are middle class, prosperous, and educated and there is a vast array of rationalized institutions. The more these characteristics appear, the more a society moves towards stable constitutional government.

Large segments of the people demonstrating in Egypt are young, educated, and middle class. They were chafing under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood. But if people object so strongly to religious governments, how or why do they elect them?  When there is a large, backward peasantry they tend to gravitate towards religious parties, evident in both Egypt and Turkey. The reason for this is that people anywhere tend to opt for traditional rectitude when given a choice, and therefore those claiming to represent it. Thus, when people vote for Islamist parties they are choosing what they perceive as championing the moral basis of their societies. They only become disenchanted after the religious parties, once in power, make a mess of things because of the prism through which they view the world. When rational organization becomes subservient to values, be they religious or ideological, nothing works. Basic services can’t be provided, normal business can’t be conducted, the economy tanks, and government is perceived as completely incompetent.

These are realities that have to be taken into consideration when crafting foreign policy. The situation on the ground is usually more complex than presumed and things get bungled as a result. It’s time we realize that if the preconditions of constitutional democracy aren’t there, it isn’t going to materialize. That also means we can’t impose it from above or outside if the population does not have the characteristics necessary to sustain it. The truth is that most people in these countries are more interested in a better life. Only when they have some semblance of that will they begin to strive for democratic government.

 

Written by georgesarant

July 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM