I haven't posted here in a while, but I thought I would relate an experience I had recently.
I'm really into politics, but I'm mostly an observer and outside of voting not much of an active participant. Mostly I read one-off opinion articles and cruise the commentary sections. I'll occasionally pick up a book, as I did a week or so ago when I took Mark Perry's "Talking to Terrorists" off the shelf of my local library.
Basically the thesis of the book is that most of the groups that we consider "terrorists" are not irrational actors who "hate us for our freedoms" but are rational actors with real goals and motivations as well as real grievances and that the vast majority of Arabic and Muslim militants are not fundamentalists trying to impose their way of life on us. It's basic thesis being that it's constructive to speak to our enemies even if they use terrorist tactics - something I generally agree with. The book has some flaws, but it is interesting and a worthy read even if a lot of the general jist of it is something I already knew or agreed with.
I've been reading it on the train, somewhat self-consciously, realizing that the title will be off-putting to some - and I live in NYC. I sometimes read during my lunch break at work. I work at a large multi-national coffee chain (no points for guessing which one) and there isn't really a "break room" per se, just a little storage space/office where we keep our stuff. So I left the book out when I was finished with my break.
Apparently a couple of my co-workers saw it and came back out into the lobby/dining area where they made somewhat of a scene jokingly shouting (I forget what exactly) in reference to the book and giving me a mock pat-down as if "talking to terrorists" was some kind of instruction manual. They were joking, but it was still embarassing, humiliating and somewhat intimidating (not physically as these were small women) to be even jokingly implied to be sympathetic to terrorists.
I thought, well maybe I can use this as a teaching moment, but as soon as I started talking about it I was shushed as if even talking to me about talking to terrorists was the equivalent of talking to terrorists.
Finally I just said "well, if they come after me, I'm making sure you're going down with me" (joking of course)
Just my little slice of America - cowed by fear and ruled by ignorance.
Posted by Gonnabuymeagun in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Nov 13th 2010, 10:05 PM
you can't really have a debate without partisanship in the sense that "partisanship" involves a strong adherence to one point of view, kind of like taking a side in a debate.
Posted by Gonnabuymeagun in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 05th 2008, 12:44 PM
I've been lurking at DU for quite some time. Perhaps lurking is a bit of a misnomer, as I will occassionally toss off a one off post or engage in a flame war, or be forced to apologize for said flame war.
I started here at DU about the time the Iraq war started, perhaps a little bit earlier - I seem to be having trouble looking up my stats in my profile. In any case the 2001 election was fresh in my mind. That year I voted for Ralph Nader. I sincerely wanted Al Gore to win, but living in the (at the time) red state of Colorado I felt that it was important to foster a third party that could push the Democrats from the left.
Perhaps I should set this up a bit. My parents were both reliable Colorado liberals, even hippies, who had moved to the southern plateau of Colorado to pursue their rural agrarian western Democratic dream. That proved to be unsustainable so I spent my youth listening to NPR with them in our trailer-park home in Indian Hills.
Where I lived there were a lot of conservatives, or if not conservatives, people who were ignorant or apathetic about politics. I could sense even then that these people had every reason to be liberals, but were turned off by politics for one reason or another. I was drawn to it. I loved listening to NPR, loved the feeling of community that I got from it - the sense that I was part of America even if I was so far from it's political and cultural centers. At some point I decided that the two party system and our 50% + 1 version of Democracy was not getting it done for America.
So in 2001 I voted for Ralph Nader and watching the returns I began to see that there was something terribly wrong with our Democracy. All the legal machinations aside, the suppression of black voters the police intimidation, the disputes over which ballots "should" be counted. The thing which stuck with me was a man demonstrating the punch ballot system. He took a stylus and hammered and I mean HAMMERED the stylus into the machine to make a mark, but no mark was made. That more than anything else stuck with me and made me believe that our elections were unfair. Certainly the double standards for Democratic and Republican ballots were more powerful evidence of fraud, but watching that was a visceral experience. Even though I'm sure my sleepy little town counted my ballot I still felt cheated of my inherietance as an American.
I was in college in 2001, trying to succeed academically in a elite private school (the University of Denver). Back then I still thought of myself as "white-trash" I tried to act as if it was a point of pride, but now I see that I was internalizing the low self-esteem that I had as a child. One morning I had woken up and taken a shower when my RA approached to inform me that the WTC had been attacked. I'm not sure if at that time I even knew what the WTC was, but watching the aftermath of the attacks I felt distant from the tragedy. My classmates who I already felt isolated from by income and by culture were gathered in mourning, and while I could not diminish their feelings I didn't understand them. I had nothing to mourn I hadn't lost anybody. I found the events completely unspectacular in the sense that they were a shock, but not a surprise, much the same as the columbine killings years before. I identified with the dispossed and the marginalized and so it seemed to me that the surprise and the outsized public mourning was a weird pantomime of real emotion, but I understand that this was at least partially due to my own isolation and distance from the event.
All I wanted was answers, and they were not forthcoming, at least not to my satisfaction. Understand I am not a conspiracy theorist, I have never put forth a single "theory" which explained what "really" happened on Sept. 11th. I simply found myself completely underwhelmed by the federal investigation of the events and so I had doubt which I could not let go of.
In some ways the Iraq war was even worse. I speak to people who are against the Iraq war today, they want it over but still say that "we had to do something" to avenge ourselves. It is insane to me, because I opposed the war even before it started. I didn't march. I didn't write letters. I didn't do anything. I just sat stewing in my dorm room feeling like the only sane person in the USA, utterly dispossessed utterly useless. I remember feeling like Cassandra, as if I could predict what was coming next by picking the course that was the most belligerent, the least logical, and the most divisive.
I wish that I could say that these events pushed me to become more active and drove me into studying harder. I was not what you could call a happy person at the time, but I felt even more dispirited than usual. Between my difficulty relating to my middle and upper-middleclass peers and my depression at the state of the world I neglected my studies. I finished just over 3 years of college and have not gone back. that was 2003 (I think, I'm notgreat with dates)
2004 was an uplifting year until Kerry lost. By 2006 I had moved to New York for a new start and while I took comfort in being around like-minded people, the Democrats didn't do anything.
Throughout the Democratic primaries I was hugely anti-Hillary. I felt as if she was representative of the "vichy-dems" who had voted with Republicans to get us into this mess - even if I understood that she was not voting for the "use of force" in Iraq but to give George Bush the power to use his judgement on that matter. I felt it had amounted to the same thing. Perhaps I should have judged Biden and Edwards with equal harshness, but Edwards called his vote a mistake and I think Biden's long record of service in the Senate somewhat mitigated his misjudgement. Hillary seemed as if she was simply blowing with the prevailing wind. Maybe I judged her more harshly, because I felt that she had eight years of experience with Republicans to inform that decision, yet voted with GWB anyways. That was my reasoning. I make no apologies for it; and I believe her behavior in the primaries bears this out.
I supported Dennis Kucinich because he was right, and then John Edwards, because he had a record of fighting against powerful people as an attorney and seemed to be saying the right things not just about what was right, but also about what the Republicans did that was wrong. I had considered Dodd and Biden, but all of these candidates had been marginalized by the time I got to vote. I voted for Barack.
Now I see that perhaps Barack was the best choice from the beginning. I had my reservations because of his conciliatory tone and his careful manner, but now I seem him as thoughtful and not unnecessarily aggressive. I see that his strategy was one of rope-a-dope. Somehow he managed to make all the Republican attacks (one's that had worked for years!) look ridiculous. Maybe it was his tone, maybe it was the moment, maybe it was the fact that - given his background - they looked not just unfair and vile, but bigoted as well. I don't know what it was, but that calm demeanor that I had been wary of won this election for him.
I know a lot of you out there are in the full throws of hope, and I am tenatively beginning to join you. I would like to see how Obama uses his mandate and I hope he uses it wisely. Right now it is enough that we have a decent and thoughtful person as president.
On edit: I should add that this is "For those who came of political age in 2001" because this is the first time in my voting life (and many others I'm sure) where I have felt like part of a Democracy.
The ten most recent threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums.
FL GOP tries to close state pension system to new workers, yet take THEIR pension at 2X accrual rate
FL GOP denies $51 billion federal Medicaid to poor, yet order cheap health care for themselves
Happy Mother's Day
I love DU2!
Florida Senate President Don Gaetz (R) ran company now accused of Medicaid fraud (Rick Scott redux)
Mediterranean diet cuts risk of heart dis-ease
By No Elephants
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.