Saturday, May 11, 2002

Opinionated? Moi?!

So I'm reading the one pitiful email I recieved today that wasn't trying to get me to come look at sorority girls in the shower or telling me to add 1-3 inches to my was from someone who had launched an AOL website and was advertising among other AOL website owners. One of those "I looked at yours, come look at mine" things. Well, I figured it was somebody with whom I had something in common. Maybe even someone gay, cute, and available (hope springs eternal in the heart of man, and in drag queens the hope just spurts all over the place). And so I went and visited his website.

Hmmmm...another War on Terrorism/God Bless America thing. Yippee. As if I didn't get enough of that at home. But I went and read it, anyway, since I don't believe in condemnation without investigation...but I do love to condemn, so I am therefore forced to investigate.

It was fairly typical except that its web design was quite handsome and the text wasn't rabid and idiotic. The webmaster presented some very clear opinions and some very interesting links to other articles. But in the "You Can Help" portion of the site, he made the mistake of characterizing dissidents as "America-Haters." Being a dissident myself, but also someone who loves my country, I took exception to that characterization. And since me taking exception to something always involves writing a lenghty rebuttal to the offender, I spent an hour or so responding to some of the site's assumptions. And since I love my own writing and love to share it with everyone, here it is for you!
"Thanks for the link, Eric. Very interesting insights, and a lovely design, but I'm afraid I disagree with your stance; I guess I'm one of your so-called 'America-haters.' I don't agree with what our government is doing with this 'War on Terrorism,' and it galls me that my desire for a peaceful, thoughtful, considerate, diplomatic, and responsible America is labeled as hatred for my country.

"Let me state at the onset that I do, indeed, love my country. My ancestors fought for and settled in and immigrated to this land, same as yours no doubt. I think America is the greatest of Nations and a leading example of Democracy. It is, moreover, my home.

"However, what makes the Democracy possible is an atmosphere where dissent is not only allowed, but necessary to the running of the nation. And while in times of national distress it is laudable to support the activities of one's government, it is also very necessary for that dissident voice to be heard as well.

"In this Information Age, we must be very careful about what we believe. We must be vigilant in scanning the statements of our government and our military, our media and our opposition. We must understand that the "spin-doctors" who are presenting the news and information we digest are trained the same way as advertisers are...we must understand that much of what we hear is, in essence, propaganda. And we, as Americans (educated more often than not at government expense), must always be aware of propaganda and not allow our personal beliefs to be ploughed under in times of fear and bloodshed; we must always decide for ourselves what we think and believe. When we give up our right to freedom of thought and expression, we undermine ourselves.

"What I see in our War on Terrorism is a brand of hypocrisy. If the Bush Administration came on the news and told me that they were going to attack Afghanistan in retribution for what a terrorist group, residing in it's borders and supported by members of it's government and people, did to our nation and its people, I would have understood...I would disapprove, which is my right as an American, but I would understand. The people involved in terrorism should understand that attacking a powerful giant such as the U.S. has grave consequences.

"What makes it hypocrisy is that we are not fighting a war on Terrorism, we are fighting a war against one of America's many enemies. Are we engaged in punishing Israel or Palestine for their terrorist attacks on each other and their neighbors? Are we punishing Ireland for its terrorist attacks on England? Are we punishing all of those little Balkan and African and South American countries who have been terrorizing each other and their own people all along?

"No! Nor is it our right or responsibility to do so (if Vietnam taught us nothing else, it was to mind our own business). But to wrap our bloodthirsty revenge in a glorious banner of Eradicating Terrorism Itself, that is hypocrisy and propaganda. Just like the Gulf War, which was presented as a righteous crusade to protect the weak little country of Kuwait from the big bad wolf of Iraq, but was in fact a war fought solely to protect our oil interests in the Middle East. This is a perfectly reasonable reason to fight a war, I have and had no objection to it, as oil is one of our most necessary resources and our access to that resource must be preserved; but to wrap it all up in the pretty paper of propaganda and a bow of righteous gallantry is just hypocrisy, and it is that hypocrisy that I speak out against.

"The thing is that the terrorists responsible for the September 11 attacks firmly believed they were punishing us for our wrongdoings. And America is not innocent of wrongdoing...our government is not innocent of wrongdoing, and our military is by no means innocent of wrongdoing. Much of our foreign policy and our trade policies have been exploitative and immoral for years and years.

"Some of these terrorists have righteous gripes with the U.S., just as the long-oppressed Ireland has a legitimate beef against its oppressor, England. Yes, the IRA and the Al Qaeda and the other terrorist groups are morally wrong to hurt innocent civilians instead of standing up in an honest battle; but they are not without motivation, and that motivation is often based on something the attacked nation did wrong. To use a Biblical reference (though I am not a Christian, also my right as an American and one I value), America is engaged in pointing out the splinter in our neighbor's eye while ignoring the plank in our own.

"Thank you for an intelligent insight into an opposing opinion and the opportunity to respond. As I quoted Frank A. Clark on my homepage, 'We find comfort among those who agree with us--growth among those who don't.'"
Well, that was my hackles smoothed down, anyway. I think the best thing about the United States of America is the freedom of thought and expression. And I do hope that the men and women currently fighting in Afghanistan and elsewhere emerge victorious and not too much the worse for wear (though, really, that is the job they signed up for...nobody forced them). And I hope that you will feel free to express your own thoughts right down there in my comments. That's what they're there for! And on your way to that, have a look at this:

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