Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Regarding Anti-Americanism

Yes, I'm going to go there.

For the past, oh I don't know, five'ish years the neocon wing of the United States has ramped up it's media fire expending energy on how unpatriotic and anti-American the citizens of this land were who didn't support every single thing that George Bush and his War Council decreed.

Whether it was the invasion of the sovereign nation of Iraq, or the suspension of the Geneva Conventions for detainees which led to widespread torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the rest of the sinister web of secret prisons operated in the name of "freedom" (btw, that decision was publicly reversed today, thank GOD for tiny steps in the way of justice), or the fact that we have a fundamental problem with warrantless wiretapping of citizens, or racial profiling when it comes to airport screening or even just ordering pizza; so much vitriol has been flung at us that we're being "soft on terror" and un-"American."

It has been a deliberate campaign to divide the country enough to spray the liberal message of diplomacy and non-violence with such a foul stench that who would ever in their right mind choose to follow such a group of traitors? [sarcasm alert] That's how elections are won based on the blood of others.

"Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers," Mr. Rove, the senior political adviser to President Bush, said at a fund-raiser in Midtown for the Conservative Party of New York State.

Citing calls by progressive groups to respond carefully to the attacks, Mr. Rove said to the applause of several hundred audience members, "I don't know about you, but moderation and restraint is not what I felt when I watched the twin towers crumble to the ground, a side of the Pentagon destroyed, and almost 3,000 of our fellow citizens perish in flames and rubble."


When the conversation is framed in such a way, it's no wonder that there is disillusionment on the left. We don't control the propaganda, we don't control any branch of the government, we can't seem to get our candidates or elected officials to "speak for me!!!", the deck is stacked against us. But. And this is probably the But that gets me most in trouble: We are not off the hook for the current reality that faces us.

I have been arguing over the past several days in threads here, here, and here for a position that deeply pains me to have to take. One that is totally at odds with current policies of my government and the electorate. The position that we as the United States have absolutely, unequivocably, less-than-zero chance in hell no matter how hard I try to bend my brain to conceive it, any fundamental right to intervene in another nation's affairs without said country's full consent or support of an international consensus. None.

I am a student of peace and nonviolence. Period. I don't pretend nor delude myself into thinking that this is a widespread headspace for people to be in. Nor do I think I'm being delusional when I say that I think there needs to be more people like me in the world. If we as a liberal community are going to advocate for Peace, then why should we stop at a convenient place to say, "okay, that's enough Peace, we need to reserve some wiggle room in case there is a time in our future where we will need to not be Peaceful" ??? As I wrote to a fellow Accidental Activist yesterday:
sit, my friend, the world has enough people willing to do violence, it is the non-violent pacifist group that could use some nurturing and growth. Each time we've flexed our muscles as a group, the progressive/liberal agenda has made the most progress and human rights given a well-needed shot in the arm. We hold up people like MLK, gandhi, Cesar Chavez, and dare-I-suggest Cindy Sheehan in high esteem around here everyday. Speaking from what I've read of the first three, the non-violence they suscribe to has no limitations. I strive for that, I may never reach that level of certitude, but I'm willing to go down the rabbit hole to find out what's on the other side. I suspect it's Peace.
There have been some rather viscious reactions to my statement of principles. And this is coming from people who are within the realm of lefty-hood. But here's the skinny, I am unapologetic that I will refuse to mount that slippery slope that ultimately leads to extremism as displayed by the comments I linked above that came from Karl Rove and the podium of the top level of my government.

I don't think the people who hurled those insults in my direction over the past couple of days are anywhere near that point of extremism, in fact I know they're not, but I do know that they are on an opposite side of a slippery hill, and at the bottom of theirs leads to the world of Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. I am not willing to go there. Everyone has their part to play in this complicated world that surrounds us. I have never been a soldier nor a fighter, it is not in my nature. I can accept that there are people in my midst who will be inclined to be the soldier or fighter, but it doesn't mean I have to like it or agree with it. And I would appreciate it if they allowed me the same freedom to hold my point of view of unyielding nonviolence without resorting to telling me to go throw myself in the middle of a civil war zone in order to call them in the morning.

With all of that said, I am not anti-"American", I am anti-status quo. Which I think all, or at least most, of the readership of lefty blogtopia (y!sctp) can say united with confidence. Just because we may have a different reading on the history of the United States does not mean that any of us have higher or lower moral ground than the other. It is a difference of opinion. It has been painful to have labels flung in my face, especially when there are friendships involved, but how else are we supposed to tackle the problems of our world if we are not willing to accept that there will be disagreement?

The conversation that has been raging is just a shadow of the same one that is being waged on a macro level within the U.S. There are bitterly divided factions of citizens and politicians that refuse to stop their bickering and bumper-sticker mentality to sit at a table and have an honest discussion about where our country has been and where it is headed. It's no wonder, it is a terrible thing to have to face one's demons with enough strength left afterwards to banish them forever and work towards a mutual common good. If we can't even do that on a blog within the liberal/progressive community, how do we expect it to happen among the electorate? Here's hoping that the dialog will continue regardless of where people find themselves on this full moon Tuesday night. I know that I am willing to listen still and hope that others will do the same.

[UPDATE] I just reread this post and realize that my voice of compassion that also exists within me is lacking. Just because I hold this non-violent/pacifistic view does not mean that I don't see where the other points of view are coming from. I have a best friend who has done a couple of tours in Iraq. I don't have any siblings and will go so far as to say that this airman is like a brother to me. It may not be the exact same thing as having a brother, but nonetheless, the bond I feel with him is akin to what I could conceive as being brotherhood.

The last time I had a really good cry. The kind of gut wrenching, heart-trembling sobs that comes when one is hit with some of the hardest emotions was on Thanksgiving night last fall. It was because he was getting ready to leave on his next tour and did not want to leave. His marriage was in question, his two toddler-aged children were thrown into the mix, and he was caught between a rock and hard place that I could never conceive as someone who has never felt inclined to be a member of the military.

All I can say is that I am capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time, tackling my personal code of nonviolent ethics with reasoning towards a military culture that I view in my world, my country and my personal life. We are more complex than we are able to show through the mere written word and with that realization I have hope that the labels or characterizations we throw around at individuals we meet in the online realm are seen as exactly as they are: only shadows of the complex, real person behind the screen and keyboard.

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