That Was Long Enough

I wanted to leave the last blog up for a couple days, but I think we’re pretty much done with it.

Here is what I wrote to a conservative friend who, after reading my last blog, began a discussion with me about *why*, after articulating the pro-Bush position so well, I would want to vote for Kerry. We’ve gone back and forth for a while, and here’s where we are. I have removed his writing because I didn’t ask his permission to use it, but I have included in parenthesis his ideas.

By the way, I’m voting for Kerry because I think everything I wrote in my last blog can be defeated with really basic logic and little free thinking. But I also know that taking that step is really scary when you feel the lives of your children and family are on the line.


You wrote (The comparison between radical Islam and Koresh, McVeigh doesn’t hold up).

I’m going point by point, so bear with me.

I agree that these two ideas. radical Islam and radical (for lack of a better word) Christianity, are manifested in two different ways. Radical Islam has given itself over to militaristic goals, to violence, and only the most disenfranchised radical Christians have.

But, the ideas are similar, chiefly, a belief that you specifically have been targeted by the rich and powerful people in the world to be disenfranchised. Most of the liturgical stuff is similar as well.

You wrote: (a claim that I avoid the logical conclusions that would lead to this war because they don’t fit my fancy.)

It’s hardly my fancy. There is a very long explanation as to why I think the way I do, and we can go into that if you press me on it, but trust me, it is not my fancy. The truth is, the hierarchical thinking that leads me where I am is lonely, painful, shitty stuff.

You wrote: (The war on terror should be called either World War III, or The War On Islam)

Ah. Well, now. This is a departure point, isn’t it? Because Bush has made it clear that this is *not* a war against Islam. And if you are going to say to me, “He has to say that, he’s the president.” then you’re assuming he is acting in your best interest even though he says he isn’t. I’m not saying that it’s a deal breaker, I’m just saying that puts you on pretty shaky ground.

I also need to point out that, while Saddam was an Arab and a Muslim, he never embraced his religion until shit started going south with the US, and most Arab Muslims think his embrace of the religion was entirely political. So, with no ties to Al Qaeda and with tenuous ties to Islam, isn’t this actually a war against Arabs?

You wrote: (the goal of the enemy is to reclaim a significant place on the world stage for classical Islam.)

I believe that they believe that that is their goal. I think their actual goal is to live with freedom and dignity.

I think when a Muslim man looks at his child, he wants a better life for that child than he had, but when he looks up from his child and he sees burkas and starvation and palaces and oil barons and dirt and thirst, and he feels like his life is a fucking structured ass-fest where nothing ever gets any better and where his life avoids natural law like the plague, he tries to find solace. He turns to God. And the spokespeople of God are telling him, “Your misery is caused by the US and the Jews. Israel hates you. The US hates you. Your desperation, your thirst and squalor, are because of a fight between two brother six thousand years ago. Blah, blah, blah, I’m crazy…” And the man thinks, “Man, I’m so fucking miserable, at least this will give me a sense of greater things in the world.” and he sends his child into a restaurant with a bomb so that his other children will live better lives.

People aren’t motivated by the destruction of another country. People want a frapuccino and a pretty girl to smile at them. And these guys will live their entire lives without that happening.

You blame Islam. I blame the administrative structures built by the Arab leaders in the Middle East. Change the civil rights and the distribution of wealth, and these people wouldn’t hate us.

You wrote: (Islam has turned into a shitty excuse for a religion, and then dared me to disagree.)


You’re so contentious, sweetie.

I have absolutely no argument with what you wrote here. I could rhapsodize with no end describing the horrible human rights records of Arab countries. I think it denies human law, and I spoke yesterday about my disregard for multi-culturalism when it defies human law.

You wrote: (We should be oppposed to the ascendency of this savage mind-set and our survival depends on it.)

I disagree only with the last half of this. It is important for us to fight against unnatural governments, but more important is to fight it in a way that does away with the mind-set that gives rise to terrorist acts against this country.

However, if you truly do believe this, why are you not screaming for intervention in Darfur? The Muslim government there is killing non-muslims to the tune of about 6,000 a week. If 6,000 Jews were being killed a week, would you be more upset?

You wrote: “This war is to destroy the mindest that gave rise to 9/11)

(Iraq? The only country in the middle east that *isn’t* a Muslim state? We supported Hussein when he came to power. He was our ally. Donald Rumsfeld himself went to Iraq and met with him. You’ve read 1984, how absurd that Hussein was fighting us *with our own weapons* in 1991. We funneled billions of dollars into his coffers, money that we now claim he was using to fund terrorists, although there is no proof of that. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is in bed with the Bush family, Iran developed nuclear weapons *while we were next door* and Lybia turned over its weapons programs *without being invaded*…)

Sorry. I’ll stop that. Let me get to the quote above.

I agree with you 100% that this is should be a war to destroy the civilization that gave rise to 9/11. But, it just doesn’t add up for me. I could have understood an invasion of Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia. These countries had close ties, they created the mind-set that gave rise to 9/11. The only thing Saddam shares with Al Qaeda is the color of his skin.

We also have to look at our own culpability. Boy, right wingers really hate it when you say that. But we should.

You wrote: (a great comparison of the Japanese mindset before and after WW II.)

The comparison to Japan is great but it breaks down really quickly. Both wars began with attacks on America without warning. The attacks of September 11th are much more inhuman, in that they *targeted* civilians. Retaliation was necessary.

Pearl Harbor-

Japanese soldiers attacked the US on orders from their Japanese leaders, and they attacked in the name of Japan. We met this attack by attacking Japan with the full force of our military, eventually dropping bombs on their cities that wiped out hundreds of thousands of their people, finally cowing them into submission.

World Trade Center-

Predominantly Saudi citizens attacked the US on orders from Osama Bin Laden, who was a guest of the ruling government of Afghanistan, and they attacked in the name of Islam. We met this attack by launching a military strike on the secular government of Iraq with the smallest number of ground troops possible killing very few of the enemy (by comparison) and risking very few of our own soldiers. Peace in the country is impossible at this point, and the insurgency is now being joined by the very people we thought would welcome us with open arms.

Either we should kill these people, as you suggest, or we were liberating them. The latter doesn’t seem to be true. If Saddam was allowed to run in the election in Iraq, would he win?

You wrote: (Kerry thinks that the threat of a strong response to future crimes and bringing justice only to the guilty individuals is enough.)

He believes this because it is natural law. I believe it as well.

We believe, in our government, than man is basically a moral and natural animal, that, unless circumstances push a person, we will behave according to natural law. This means that a person can not be arrested until they have committed a crime, a person cannot be punished for expressing a view or for wanting something. A person has to commit a crime before they can be punished.

You wrote: (Bush, on the other hand, is a revolutionary thinker.)

I hope you will forgive what will feel like intimacy here, but I think you are the revolutionary thinker. Bush’s actions at this point might match yours, but his agenda is being set by the neo-cons who got him to run for president. I don’t buy this shit about him being ADD or dyslexic. I didn’t graduate from high school and you and I can have a conversation about this.

And everything I’ve written up to this point is less important than what I am about to say. Bush has supported your agenda so far, but what makes you think he will continue? If he is in a situation where he has to make a decision for himself on the safety of our country, don’t you worry that he might launch a missile at Saudi Arabia? You have read between the lines of his mistakes and found a foreign policy that supports your deepest fears about the world, but he’s never addressed this out loud and he doesn’t seem to be able to articulate any kind of strategy at all.

My feeling is that he wanted to attack Iraq because of his dad. After 9/11, he wanted to attack an Arab country, but not one that was actually Muslim. It’s possible that the neo-cons who are whispering in his earpiece are thinking exactly what you are saying, but they aren’t telling the American people that, and they aren’t telling you that.

You wrote: (Your thinking is too small in scale).

It’s really not. I think that you are splitting this conflict into “World War III” or “The War Against Islam”, as if it has nothing to do with the war everyone has been fighting since the beginning of last century. And that’s too small in scale. You refer to the cold war as a different time, and it isn’t. All of this started in the 80s, which was based on shit that happened in the 60s, which can be traced back and back and back.

As a Jew, watching a war against Arabs, you’ve got to see that this conflict isn’t nearly as small as Bush thinks it is. It’s global. And fighting the middle east ignores the Arab kids that live on my block, who think their president is killing Arabs because Christians hate Arabs. It’s easier to make that leap in logic than it is to connect Hussein to 9/11.

I’ll say this. The cost of thinking that fighting “Islam” is an answer is too great. I agree with you that we have to fight the conditions that fundamentalist Islam brings about, which are the same conditions that Hassidic women suffer through, that fundamentalist Christian women suffer through. We can fight for human rights , and we can fight poverty and desperation, but you can’t fight a religion. It’s never worked, it never will.

You wrote: (The war will escalate, not because of Bush, but because this is merely the beginning of an enormous war that we will win if people like Bush stay in power.)

And this will be a matter for history to decide. There is no way we can argue, you and I, today, that things will get worse or better depending on who does what. I believe they will sway back and forth, worse to better, but we will never not be a target until the fight is for freedom and equality for everyone.

I’m thankful that, for today, you and I are safe. And I am thankful to America for providing that safety.