Middle East Notes and Comment: Universal Concern
September 15, 2005
“Universality” is a funny word. Its obvious meaning is passive—it describes things—yet people often use the word in an active way, as part of an effort to assert that something is more common or commonly accepted than it actually is. When people talk about universality, then, their agenda is often more complex than they would like to admit.
One example is all the talk in the U.S. government in recent years about the universal human desire for freedom (or, sometimes, liberty). Driven by the events of September 11, American officials have asserted that greater freedom in the Middle East will contribute to greater security here in the United States. The President, the Secretary of State and others have consistently exhorted Middle Eastern populations to demand freedom, and they have pressed governments, in public and in private, to accede to those demands.