someone else (room for debate)
March 23, 2003 03:22 PM

I hate major political events.

They worry me.

Specifically in the sense of this: when politics go grand-scale, it seems like ambivalence - the acceptance that one does not know and can see validity in multiple perspectives - becomes unacceptable.

This is the thing that worries me most about this Iraq war. Its opposition and support are on such a global scale that it seems there's no room to question either opinion; you support one or the other, or you're "ignorant", "apathetic", "oppressed", any number of epithets that may or may not be true.

Is it impossible to see both sides of a grand issue?

I don't think so. But I also don't think there's room in this debate for my opinion, or for the opinions of millions of others who just aren't sure. And neither side is actually engaged in debate, from what I've seen. There are people moving forward on one opinion (roughly stated as "America Kicks Ass") and people shouting another (also, roughly, "Give Peace A Chance"). I apologize for trivializing your opinions, but please - it's just not that simple.

Nothing is that simple.

The war "debate", if you'd like to call two sides shouting into microphones that, has also brought out two dramatic stereotypes of what it means to be American. And both are so simplistic, so offensive in nature and intent, that they make me want to weep as much as images of explosions in an Iraqi dawn.

We have, of course, the now well-known governmental and media slant on things. War on Iraq is not only a way to defend ourselves - nay, the world! - against potential terrorists with potential weapons, it's also about Protecting American Freedom. Iraqi Freedom! World Freedom! All Americans are Heroes. All soldiers are Heroes. It goes on and on and on. Surely it must be exhausting to repeat this litany of the greatness of America?

I have a series of WWII propaganda posters in my hall. They're narrow-minded to an extent (they're Rosie-the-Riveter sorts of things), but I find them somewhat reassuring. A nation steeling itself for war can appear to be a nation of small-minded idiots, but that isn't necessarily the character of the nation.

I worry sometimes that to be liberal, to be progressive in our modern world, is to essentially hate humans. To look at war, say "this is human" and "this is appalling" and to equate those two statements. To feel humans are appalling. This is extended in our current "debate": now, not only are humans appalling, but Americans who fail to come out against the war are "apathetic", meaning brainwashed by the machine of capitalism. Meaning we don't read, don't investigate, don't question.

I strongly believe that most educational systems in [the English-speaking, at least] world fail to equip people with the tools they need to be effective learners and critical thinkers. I suspect that mass-produced education is inherently flawed and aspects of the media support these flaws by delivering information in the most simplistic ways possible.

But those of you who work in bookstores and libraries (a common liberal occupation for our generation) know, fall 2001 showed a huge spike in the number of copies of the Qu'ran, books about Islam, books about Afghanistan, sold and read in America. And we've seen an increase in sales of books about the Middle East and its history in the past six months. What this means is that Americans, lacking an effective means of mass distribution of this information (a gap that exists in most countries), are still trying to figure things out. For every person who simply accepts on perspective or another on war, there's someone else who won't do that.

Thank god for someone else.

There are, of course, stupid Americans. There are stupid everythings. But there is always someone else. And as someone else, I will at least do this much to question the validity of this war - and, now that it's started, what comes after.

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your wicked thoughts

I finally figured out where you were! I've been trying to get into for a while... poor site.

I agree with what you are saying about the two sides of the war debate--each like they are speaking right past each other. On the one hand, the "Go USA/kick some butt" side thinks anti-war protesters are naive--and in some ways I think they can be. The idea that "inspections work" is obviously a little too simple. But the idea that "war works" is equally simplistic. In some ways, I think people need a certain level of healthy cynicism/irony, to realize that both sides are necessarily mistaken in some ways, and the best thing might be to accept this and figure out some ways of working around it.

these are the thoughts of Jordynn on April 7, 2003 04:21 PM

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