Black or White. Right or Wrong. With us or Against us.
I am seeing a tragedy happening right now with some US members on this board. Members are giving themselves to Ignorance, and doing so happily. People
are closing their minds and allowing others to make decisions for them. Minds are trying to seperate every issue into a binary choice, with us or
I don't know where it started, but I know it isn't a new thing, its human nature to try and simplify things to make life easier for ourselves, we
all do it. This manifests itself in religious teachings too, Heaven or Hell, everyone will eventually fall into these two categories. But the latest
pandemic seems to be strongly related to President Bush's 'With us or Against us' comments after September 11 2001.
The problem is, there seems to be a whole lot of people who have taken that to heart, and found it so easy to treat everything as a binary choice that
they apply this to all arguments. It is deeply concerning to me that this could be extrapolated to assume a decent percentage of the US population is
doing the same.
I'm going to elaborate on the Religious analogy just for a minute, using Christianity as it is the religion I am most familiar with. Strict Christian
teachings say that that to accept God into your heart and Christ as your saviour is the only way into Heaven. Anybody who doesn't, or anyone who
deviates from this goes to Hell. Pretty much the same story in other religions, follow exactly and Heaven, deviate and its Hell.
War in Iraq
I think the phenomenon is most obvious in relation to the War in Iraq. But I'd like to preface this by giving my opinion of the War, and saying that
I have no problem whatsoever with those who have differing opinions.
I think we should have at least waited longer before invading, I think that it should have been far more obvious how difficult the job was going to
be. I'm really not that fussed about the incorrect WMD intel. Bad intel is bad intel, and either way, there was a quite handy ulterior element to the
plan. The idea that this may draw out terrorist networks. Not so much the chump footsoldier type terrorists, but the command and logistical networks
(discussed on ATS once, but not this version of the board I think). Regardless, we are there now, and I do not think we should pull out until
the job is done. We made the mess, we now have to deal with it.
What I do take issue with are those (and we've all seen met or talked with some of them) who wish to discuss the War in Iraq, and also support the
War, yet bring their solid binary mindset to the table. Those who think that any reporting, statement or person that isn't blatantly for
war, are therefore against
the war. Then the further extrapolation is made that this therefore means that the reporting, statement or person is
the US. Thus through binary thinking it becomes personal. Anti-US
is labeled on anything that doesn't support the War
in Iraq. It doesn't stop there. It continues, because if someone is Anti-US
they are clearly a threat, therefore they
Yet it seems a lot of those who are the worst binary thinkers completely fail to see the sheer bloody ignorance that drives such thinking. Because
even challenging the un-challengeability of the With us or Against us
mindset is therefore against
us, and something to be attacked.
Dont you get it?
Its one of the fundaments of a democratic society, the right to have conflicting opinions. Someone can disagree with you and not be your enemy. As
humans we have disagreements all the time, every day. Disagreements at work, disagreements at home, disagreements over whats for dinner, disagreements
over what we are going to watch on TV. But does that ever make the person who disagrees with you your enemy? If you wife/girlfriend does not want to
watch football on saturday do you yell at her and accuse her of hating you?
Because this is exactly what is happening right now across this board, and I imagine around the world. Millions and millions of people, inside the US
as well as out, disagree with the War in Iraq, and disagree with a lot of other actions taken by the US. But that does not mean they Hate the US or
its citizens. Yet all they get in response are attacks and insults from those they are trying to reach out to.
The world does. Think back, there was outpourings of grief and support from pretty much every nation in the globe. The World
was behind the US
and was horrified by what happened at the WTC and Pentagon.
The World likes
US people, what gets annoying is that any questioning of US policy being taken as a personal insult. This is leading to the
conclusion that the western world is siding with the terrorists. This is utterly false. These people aren't disagreeing because they hate the US,
they simply disagree
with US policies.
We have seen how this binary logic will mean that any questioning of the War in Iraq will lead to the questioner being attacked. This is clear enough
with the shameful way that France has been vilified. People are attacking France and they aren't even sure why they are doing it. The world sees this
and doesn't like it. Any percieved mistakes and flawed decisions made are compounded a huge amount by the fact that anyone who disagrees is
immediately labelled Anti-US
Again going back to my own thoughts
I like the US, and I think that whether the original decision to invade Iraq was right or wrong, we are there now and have to stick with it all the
way to its conclusion. I think theres no excuse for the beheadings and other horrific attacks these terrorists are making on civilians in Iraq, and if
I was the religious type, I would know that these terrorists have surely got a very special place reserved for them in Hell, and that satan cannot
wait to greet them. I generally like US people, they might not always understand every joke I make, but those I have come to know are typically
friendly and respectful. I am also aware that a hell of a lot of good US servicemen died during WWII while playing a big hand in defending my country.
I respect that a great deal too.
I think that this is a fairly widespread consensus across the western world. Yet any attempt to even get an outsiders viewpoint across will be met
with attacks and insults.
Supporting the War
Another thing has surfaced in the last few days (at least became more obvious to me) regarding supporting the War in Iraq. It seems there is a decent
sized subset of supporters who think that any news out of Iraq that puts the war in a bad light should be suppressed. This is already happening to a
large degree in western media. We hear very little of collateral damage or accidental killings, or even of coalition dead. But when the insurgents
kill bystanders in a booby trap attack on the Coalition we hear about it. Every kidnapping and beheading we hear about. The information war is already
being dominated by the Coalition.
But I think that legitimate supporters of the war should not care if the press had more freedom in reporting what is going on. By supporting the war
you are choosing to support everything that happens as a result of the war. What pathetic ignorance is it to say you support the war then use the
media to completely distance yourself from any of the bad things that happen. I support staying in Iraq and finishing the job, and that means plenty
more horrific things are going to happen in the country. I'm not afraid to admit it and not afraid to hear reports of these bad things happening.
Sure I am saddened by it, but I would think its weakness to hide from the facts and brutal reality. Those that hide behind their little walls of
censorship have no right to claim to be supporting the war. Especially not to attack those who oppose it.
Not everything is Black and White, not everything is Right or Wrong. Trying to force the world to fit into this twisted view is like trying to fit the
square block through the round hole. We learnt in kindergarten that this doesn't work. Yet now millions of people are trying to do the same thing.
Someone disagreeing with you does not make him your enemy, its one of the fundaments of modern democracy and western society. However, continuing to
call someone your enemy will eventually make it so. Someone who starts out as friendly to the US but concerned about the War in Iraq, will very
quickly be put offside when they ask questions and challenge the War, only to be grossly attacked, rudely insulted, and dismissed as
. The statement becomes self-fulfilling. Therein lies the tragedy of this sort of thinking.