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Rants, damned rants, and the "War on Terror"

EnlightenmentFan (617608) writes | more than 11 years ago

The Media 4

Let's start with some personal disclaimers. I am American, lifelong Democrat, former student activist, blah, blah, blah. I am outraged by the way Bush's crew is pushing my good-natured, powerful country away toward militarism and away from its former goals of social justice. I hope that my fellow-Democrats will quit trying to act like Republicans long enough to kick those fat privileged buttheads out in the next election.Let's start with some personal disclaimers. I am American, lifelong Democrat, former student activist, blah, blah, blah. I am outraged by the way Bush's crew is pushing my good-natured, powerful country away toward militarism and away from its former goals of social justice. I hope that my fellow-Democrats will quit trying to act like Republicans long enough to kick those fat privileged buttheads out in the next election.

Even so...I was far from pleased when a London friend sent me that John le Carre piece so that I could understand "what Europe is thinking." LeCarre starts by announcing "The United States has gone mad" and becomes more spiteful and condescending as he goes on. I have to say, my first reaction was "If this is what Europe thinks, they can piss up a rope."

So I stupidly got into an email debate with my friend, sending her a link to the Lileks response just as intemperate as LeCarre but containing a few more facts. And I got back a forwarded letter from Michael Moore citing the half-million dead Iraqi babies (Osama claimed it was a million) the US personally caused via embargo.

What struck me in all of this is how pundits on both sides are preaching to the converted. Each side has its own little prize factoids, and (since neither side is listening to the other) nobody on side A gets to hear that side B disputes those sacred factoids.

Wouldn't it be useful if side A would talk to side B in measured, rational terms, aimed at convincing side B that side A has useful information B should consider? Does it ever occur to side A that, much as its own partisans enjoy hearing side B denounced as idiotic liars, the only way to change anyone's mind is to speak in terms side B is willing to listen to?

Here are some of the lies that keep getting repeated as truths. This is not a complete list--god, I don't have that much time to waste--both sides are guilty in this!

  • From the left: Half a million dead Iraqi babies (Osama claimed it was a million)
    Long, detailed, and closely annotated, this March 2002 refutal contends that sanctions may be responsible for an excess mortality of 100,000 Iraqis of all ages in the ten or so years since the Gulf War. The author (Matt Welch) claims that similar refutals appeared in Slate, The Guardian, and even The Nation.
  • From the anti-Israel left: 4,000 Jews stayed home from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
    This story blaming Israel for 9/11 got wide circulation, and even made its way into a poem by New Jersey's poet laureate. It just ain't so. Not to mention that this claim doesn't fit very well with Bin Laden's proud claim of credit for the attacks....
  • From the right: Iraqi soldiers dumped Kuwaiti infants from incubators during Gulf War I.
    This fabricated lie, widely disseminated by PR agency Hill and Knowlton, was cited by both Bushes as evidence of Iraqi evil. Fact: not one hospital can corroborate this touching story, provided to the press by a single tearful girl, whose anonymity hid the fact that she had no Kuwaiti hospital experience, but was in fact the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US.
  • All too true: That recent Onion article "Bush on North Korea: 'We must invade Iraq' "

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4 comments

My little rant (0, Flamebait)

imroy (755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5106039)

Down under too. Gore was right in that speach last year. The attention has shifted from the possible actions of terrorists to the actions of the US. Unfortunately, our PM (John W Howard, yes his middle name starts with 'W' as well) is also a dumb right-winger just like Bush. He seems to support the US and Bush in just about everything. And why not, Sept 11 and the "war on terrorism" landed right in his lap just as he was starting an election campaign. Being seen to be "strong on crime" is always a winning election strategy, so you can imagine the effect of being "strong on terrorism" after Sept 11. And hell, lets be strong on illegal immigrants too, why some of them could be terrorists trying to get into the country! Lets send SAS commandos (think Navy seals/Army rangers) to board a cargo ship carrying illegal immigrants after their boat sank. Lets patrol our northern oceans with Navy ships. Yeah, being "strong" won Johnny the last election, the gutless little turd. Guess who didn't vote for him ;)

The trouble is that polititians are opportunists and this whole "war on terrorism" is a huge opportunity for them to flex their muscles and become little dictators. You only have to look to Israel to see this. Ariel Sharon has used the "war on terror" to justify what is really state-sponsored terror against the palistinian people.

One small ray of hope: On checking out the ABC news site [abc.net.au] , I see a poll [abc.net.au] that suggests that aussies are quite against a war on Iraq. At least, those that visit the ABC news web site.

Thanks, imroy! (1)

EnlightenmentFan (617608) | more than 11 years ago | (#5106118)

Yeah, even the "mad" Americans don't want war, says this recent poll [people-press.org] , reported today by AP, Yahoo, NY Times, etc. A majority feel Bush hasn't justified war with Iraq, and less than 30% would support a strike against Iraq if our allies opposed it.

Boy, I envy the summer weather you must be having. It's been well below freezing all week, and occasional dustings of snow make the ice-patches darn hard to dodge.

Re:Thanks, imroy! (0, Flamebait)

imroy (755) | more than 11 years ago | (#5106684)

Oh, you'd love todays weather. It's just over 41 degrees (107 Farenheit) outside. Thankfully this house is double-brick, so it's "only" about 31 in here.

From what I've seen, Bush and Blair haven't given any real evidence that Iraq poses any real threat, at least at the moment. Something fishy is going on, I wouldn't doubt it, but do you blame him? First the US and UK bring Saddam to power so he can put the squeeze on Iran after the mess the US made there. They even gave him biological agents and crop-dusters and helicoptors to deliver them with. Then when he gases some kurds and invades Kuwait they act surprised. I sometimes think that the US and UK should remove Saddam from power, only because they were the ones that created him. But there's two problems with doing that. Firstly, it'd create even more hatred of the west in the middle-east and other islamic countries and people. Lets not forget that this whole "war on terrorism" mess started because a group of people hated the US enough to hijack some planes and fly them into buildings. Secondly, our American-ass-licking PM would (and does) want Australia to join in too. Saddam isn't our problem and I believe the best solution is diplomatic, not sabre-rattling and threats.

thank you for giving 2 sides! (1)

memfree (227515) | more than 11 years ago | (#5106293)

Words cannot describe how completely I agree with you on how both sides preach to the converted. It has gotten to the point where no matter what anyone says about a subject wit *any* potential political underpinnings, I get an overwhelming urge point out an opposing position. The sucky part about that is that I'm sure someone out there thinks I'm in one camp or another, but what else is there to do?

I'm sure a good number of people will look at your links, and decide that the one(s) about THEIR side is/are honest, and the other(s) is/are filled wit lies. Still, surely some folks enjoy hearing contrasting reports of the same data. I know I do. Again, thanks!

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