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look! a post with real content!

Run and hide, folks, I'm getting political. A once-a-year event, generally, because most of the time I'm too sickened by what's going on out there to be able to talk about it.

This was written in response to a post of w3woody's.

You wonder why people are so upset about Bush?

Try for a moment looking at things from their point of view. Not logically, not by the facts - which, I don't care how unemotionally you approach it, you can interpret any damn way you want - but psychologically.

Bush, in their eyes (and mine; I won't hide my own biases), is a perversion of all the things America stands for. People get wild, unpredictable, and dangerous when their most basic assumptions are challenged.

What assumptions are these? Well, first of all, the basic tenets of democracy - that your vote counts. The decision that put Bush into office was made by the Supreme Court. No matter what tactics were used by which side, no matter what the popular vote count actually was, to the average voter it feels like their voice was made irrelevant by the decision of a few judges. And given that voter apathy is already so high in this country, those who voted cared a damn lot about the principle of what they were doing; this was a slap in the face.

The gay marriage issue has really upped the personal antipathy for me and many people I know. It personally pisses me the fuck off that same-sex couples can't get married. And here is a person, in my face in the news and on TV every day, saying that he will do everything he can to make it constitutionally forbidden. It's real easy to make a personal enemy out of something like that.

Another assumption in this country: if you care enough, if you scream loud enough, your voice will be heard and listened to. There have been more and louder and longer protests against this war than any issue since Vietnam. And has it done anything? Have I even seen recognition of these protests from the Bush administration? No, all I hear about is high approval ratings, fifty percent or more of the country who thinks he's doing a great job - but I only know one person in that fifty percent, out of the couple hundred that I know well enough to know their political views.

Which leads me to the next problem, not the fault of the Bush administration by any means, but a quality of this country which makes any strong political divide even larger: people are socially and geographically arranged by their political sympathies. Any major metropolitan area, New England, the West Coast - massively liberal. The Midwest, the South, the rural areas: conservative. If you're from one area, most everyone you know will share your political views, at least on the primary party axis.

Consider that if you believe something, and everyone you know believes the same thing, but the word from on high is that you're the minority: the natural psychological reaction is to either believe that the people on high are lying, or start acting like an oppressed minority: screaming as loud as you can so that they can't forget that you're there, and you're pissed off.

I personally believe that any intelligent person who has studied history *should* be afraid of it repeating itself. Because horrible things do happen slowly, insidiously, and because most people can still lead their lives normally they don't notice. I'm not personally going to say this is absolutely like Germany in 1935; but if we forget the possibility, it could be! Most of my generation has had this beaten into their heads from an early age; read Anne Frank, seen photos from Auschwitz, Hiroshima, even the Japanese containment camps in America, and heard over and over again the refrain of "never again". And now we see the pictures from Abu Gharaib, hear the stories of torture and execution. Can you understand now why so many of us are feeling the danger, the potential parallel?

Oft-quoted, but not heeded nearly enough: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." (Santayana) And I don't think the Bushies remember, or care.

Comments

w3woody
Jun. 27th, 2004 10:22 am (UTC)
Re: The Meme Shift
Rounding off to the nearest percentage, I'd guess that precisely no one cares what the attack was about.
Actually, trying to figure out why the attack has taken place and what we can do about it has been a central fixation of most neo-conservatives.

One essayist which is worth reading is Victor Davis Hansen's "Why the Muslims Misjudged Us". Even if you don't agree with it (and especially if you don't agree with it), it's worth reading in that it gives a good insight into this new form of conservatism that has gained prominance after September 11th.


I personally think it's worth understanding the other side of an argument so at the very least you can argue your own side better than simply reducing the other side to "wusses."
leora
Jun. 27th, 2004 12:02 pm (UTC)
Re: The Meme Shift
There is no other side that ever justifies the security for liberty trade off. You have to be willing to die or you've commited suicide. That's just the way it works. Jesus figured it out thousands of years ago. If you hide who you are because it ~might~ get you killed, you lose the battle in advance, and your enemy never even needs to fight. So, your enemy can go off and do worse.

You can never afford to give up your lifestyle or the basics of who you are. Never.

Some people will. And there are good reasons. Sometimes they come after your family. Sometimes the price is unbearably high. That's a shame. It's still a weakness of courage.

I was addressing those who yelled to cut liberties because we were attacked, and there were many. And they are all wusses. It's a philosophical issue.
w3woody
Jun. 27th, 2004 12:54 pm (UTC)
Re: The Meme Shift
The philosophy of freedom is a very interesting, complex, and contradictory one to discuss, and one that fascinates me endlessly.

Take the statements of Liber OZ, for example. At what point does my write to dwell where I will come into conflict with your right to dwell where you will, if I own a house and it's your will to dwell in my house though you don't own it? At what point does my right to eat what I will cone into conflict with yours, when it is both our will to eat the last Oreo cookie in the box?

There is obviously a tradeoff between "freedom" (meaning the ability for one to do whatever one wants), "responsibility" (meaning the result of one's act and one's willingness to accept ownership of them) and "stability" (meaning the stability and safety of a large group of people). Even if we theorize a Marxian Communist Utopia where everyone has reached enough enlightenment that no-one acts against another but only acts instinctively for the common good, people cannot always act in total freedom without responsibility: the crops still need to be grown for people to have food. The buildings need to be maintained so people have a place to sleep. And children must still be cared for.

So the idea of "liberty" and "freedom" are matters of degree, even in the most ideal of circumstances. This is the balance that even such an agressive document (such as Liber OZ, which stands in stark contrast of the U.N. declaration of human rights in that Liber OZ presumes rights are fundamental, rather than a product of governmental policy) requires: people can only be free if they are responsible. And in most governmental systems that are not as idealistic as a Marxist utopia, responsibility involves establishing rules of behavior which maximize freedom for as many people as possible. (An example of such a rule is "thou shall not kill": I give up my 'right' to kill another human being on the theory that such a small right (the right to kill) is a smaller abridgement of freedom than the lack of security and lack of freedom another man has in being killed.)


With this in mind, let me address your specific point:
I was addressing those who yelled to cut liberties because we were attacked, and there were many. And they are all wusses. It's a philosophical issue.
If you are refering to the Patriot Act, I agree that there are problems with the law; problems which get endlessly debated openly and in the halls of power. That debate should be had for any law that curtails personal freedom, even a tiny little bit.

On the other hand, the abrigement of personal liberty that the Patriot Act represents is a lot smaller than the press has made it out to be. The biggest shift to the Patriot Act is that it allows a more unified law enforcement approach across both different agencies and the same agency across multiple municipalities. That is, the Patriot Act's "curtailment of freedom" is the curtailment of personal privacy (by allowing agencies to coordinate their intelligence gathering components) that goes directly in addressing the bureaucratic wall which caused us not to be able to stop 19 hijackers from carrying out their 9/11 mission--dispite the fact that the FBI had in it's posession computer disks and hardware which gave evidence of the 9/11 attacks months before they were carried out.


I think the debate about the Patriot Act is worth having.

However, I would suggest, once again, that you try to understand the other side of the debate--if only so you can affirm your side of the debate better than reducing those you disagree with down to "wusses."

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