I wrote something the other day about my opinion (is it redundant to use that phrase– my opinion— in a weblog?) regarding the memories of most U.S. citizens regarding history, specifically, in this case, geopolitical history in which their government has had involvement. I suppose memory is a faulty thing by its very human nature, if Christopher Nolan is to be believed. This is, however, why humanity developed various methods of verbal and written record-keeping, so that we could attempt to have some perspective on our past deeds and circumstances, ostensibly so that we could better cope with our current states and future possibilities.
That said, I love to read and write; great ways to communicate, see. This, I believe, is true not only in reference to people communicating with one another in ‘real time.’ Writing and reading can help provide people with a means to communicate with the past and future, as well as with each other (and, in a sense, with themselves as individuals). What of this dime store philosophy? you ask. Dig this: A little over a year ago, I read what I considered to be a rather lame-brained, knee-jerk piece by nationally syndicated right-winger Kathleen Parker (it was published locally in the Chicago Tribune). You may read the offending column HERE.
Needless to say, I couldn’t resist a response. I had already gotten into the habit of tearing off the occasional letter to the Tribune, invariably in response to some poorly reasoned conservative diatribe. The months following September 11, 2001 saw a massive upsurge in knee-jerk, rabidly patriotic ‘journalism,’ however, so I became temporarily discouraged from my usual practice. I didn’t refrain from publicly exercising my duty to dissent against government lunacy out of fear, mind you; I’m not a f–king yellow-spined Democratic congressman. The strain of dealing with non-stop neofascist rhetoric, especially at my place of employment, had gotten to me. Thankfully, Ms. Parker stepped in with her pile of flaming dung and restored my energies. I feverishly dashed off a response on the Tribune’s online feedback page, and my letter was published several days later. I shall reprint it right here for your entertainment:
In her November 28, 2001 column (Pacifism is Nice, but War Doesn’t Care), Kathleen Parker paints with the kind of broad strokes I have come to expect from the mainstream corporate media. There are so many logical holes and dim-witted notions in her essay that a reasonable reader would assume the Tribune’s editorial staff might refuse to print it. Alas, these are truly trying times.
The main transgressive assumption I found within her smug diatribe was that all who oppose the current “war on terrorism” must be pacifists. Following the logic of her pathetic portrayal of pacifists, all who oppose the war must be, at best, misguided and weak, fit only to be condescendingly tolerated in these troubled times. I, for one, believe the “war” itself is not only misguided, but is being prosecuted to achieve goals that predate September 11. (Wait until the smoke clears, then you’ll see: equality for women and democratic elections might be theoretical components of the “new Afghanistan,” but rest assured that American oil companies’ involvement in a lucrative Afghan pipeline deal will be anything but theoretical.) Does my opinion bother you? Try making me keep it to myself, and you’ll see if I’m a weak pacifist (I can accept the possibility of being misguided; a true democracy would allow me that freedom without pause).
Ms. Parker submits that those who would protest the U.S.’s military policies are benefitting from someone else’s “unlucky experience with violence.” Excuse me, but just who would those unlucky someones be? Is she including the millions of Native Americans who were killed, by genocide and disease, to pave the way for the Eurocentric domination of America? Is she thinking of the millions of kidnapped Africans (and generations of their progeny) who worked, under brutal conditions of chattel slavery, to bring this nation to the brink of its industrial revolution, only to be left out of that revolution? If Ms. Parker is referring to the brave souls who fought against the evils of Nazism and fascism in the middle of the last century, then on this point I agree with her. However, the lessons we should have learned from the evil that the U.S. helped to defeat then seem to be lost on us now.
If we fail to question the actions of our nations leaders, many of whom currently seem to be shrouding their intentions and their activities in cloaks of secrecy and vague “patriotic” rhetoric, then we are no better than the German populace who allowed themselves to be drawn into what was arguably the most hideous maelstrom of death and suffering the world had known to that point. Ms. Parker betrays a tremendous, and hopefully temporary, vacuum of intellect by juxtaposing violent, knee-jerk retribution as a logical response against determined, reasoned pursuit of justice as an emotional response. Ms. Parker may be comfortable with our dubiously elected leader’s policy of carpet-bombing suspects (and innocent victims) without any pretext of presenting actual evidence of guilt, but I am not. Furthermore, she is wrong to label the terrorist attacks “random,” because they were not. They were well-planned and focused, with the aim of terrorizing the non-combatant citizens of the U.S. That is what terrorists do. By personifying the willingness of (seemingly) most Americans to forsake the values they claim to hold dear– rule of law, justice through due process, freedom to disagree, etc.– in the interests of ending the terrorist threat, Kathleen Parker places another feather in the cap of those who planned the attacks. The Tribune, as any other reputable journalistic medium, should be ashamed of itself for helping her and others like her blindly drive this careening bandwagon deeper into the minefield of hysterically charged ignorance.
Boy, it felt good to read that on the Opinion Page. Alas, that was the last letter of mine that the Tribune ever printed (I wrote several more, but either they got tired of my self-indulgent rhetoric, or my rhetoric just got way too self-indulgent), hence the weblog inspiration. The ever-elusive point? Can’t say there is one, really, seeing as how the “war” in Afghanistan has become a ridiculous, scarcely-mentioned sideshow, and how the fake presidential administration is now beating the drums against yet another pointless target.