Borat and Kazakhstan's president

Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan, is meeting with President Bush today, and as the Los Angeles Times editorially notes, it's no joke. The huge oil—rich country (other strategic minerals abound, too — uranium, copper, tungsten, manganese, lead, iron, gold, and on and on) is an ally of the United States, and a damn important one at that. The LAT writes:

It is a stable U.S. ally in a region marked by shaky friends, rivals and foes, such as Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran. It is a majority—Muslim country that sent troops to Iraq and opened its airspace to U.S. flights during the invasion of Afghanistan. It is a model for nuclear disarmament, having agreed to destroy the missiles it inherited from the former Soviet Union.

Okay, Kazakhstan is not exactly a democracy. But by the standards of the neighborhood, it is among the most democratic regimes.

Welcome, President Nursultan Nazarbayev! We love you and want to remain good friends.

So why, oh why do I love the comic character Borat so much? Let me try to explain, on the microscopic chance that our good ally President Nursultan Nazarbayev will somehow understand.

Mr. President, Borat is a type we call "the innocent abroad." In fact our own literary tradition often features Americans in this role, as our beloved and venerated American writer Mark Twain did in his comic novel, The Innocents Abroad. The innocent is allowed to express wonder, to ask silly questions, and to have opinions that would be too dangerous for the rest of us to entertain.

Because we know so little about your country, Borat is a blank slate. He can express any outrageous opinion, and nobody really knows enough to challenge why he would say such a thing. He can also ask outrageous questions, sometimes the very questions we would like to ask but are afraid to, because of political correctness.

So please do not be upset about Borat. We Americans (and our British cousins) love to laugh. Borat is really making fun of us.

Thomas Lifson   9 29 06

Update: Borat was turned away from the White House gates yesterday. (h/t Richard Baehr)

Nursultan Nazarbayev, president of Kazakhstan, is meeting with President Bush today, and as the Los Angeles Times editorially notes, it's no joke. The huge oil—rich country (other strategic minerals abound, too — uranium, copper, tungsten, manganese, lead, iron, gold, and on and on) is an ally of the United States, and a damn important one at that. The LAT writes:

It is a stable U.S. ally in a region marked by shaky friends, rivals and foes, such as Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran. It is a majority—Muslim country that sent troops to Iraq and opened its airspace to U.S. flights during the invasion of Afghanistan. It is a model for nuclear disarmament, having agreed to destroy the missiles it inherited from the former Soviet Union.

Okay, Kazakhstan is not exactly a democracy. But by the standards of the neighborhood, it is among the most democratic regimes.

Welcome, President Nursultan Nazarbayev! We love you and want to remain good friends.

So why, oh why do I love the comic character Borat so much? Let me try to explain, on the microscopic chance that our good ally President Nursultan Nazarbayev will somehow understand.

Mr. President, Borat is a type we call "the innocent abroad." In fact our own literary tradition often features Americans in this role, as our beloved and venerated American writer Mark Twain did in his comic novel, The Innocents Abroad. The innocent is allowed to express wonder, to ask silly questions, and to have opinions that would be too dangerous for the rest of us to entertain.

Because we know so little about your country, Borat is a blank slate. He can express any outrageous opinion, and nobody really knows enough to challenge why he would say such a thing. He can also ask outrageous questions, sometimes the very questions we would like to ask but are afraid to, because of political correctness.

So please do not be upset about Borat. We Americans (and our British cousins) love to laugh. Borat is really making fun of us.

Thomas Lifson   9 29 06

Update: Borat was turned away from the White House gates yesterday. (h/t Richard Baehr)