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Passions in Poetry

The Shift to War?

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Brad
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0 posted 09-14-2001 01:54 AM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

The open secret of American policy of the last fifty years or so has been to keep wars away from American soil. Fight wars, sure, but fight them far away.

What happens when this policy fails?

Originally, I thought the words we're hearing were emotional, overblown rhetoric, and this was still one more battle in an ongoing struggle -- a big one to be sure, but I didn't think the basic premises have changed.

Have they changed?

Originally, I thought the references to war were more akin to the "war on poverty" than to WWII; I thought the references to the "end of innocence" were silly or if true, good riddance to it; I thought the references to "America unites" as silly "feel good" phrases.

But are we being propelled into a new era?

"The end of innocence" and "finally, America has a taste of its own medicine" mean essentially the same thing.  Even if they began as rhetoric, they have been spoken enough that they've taken on a life of their own.

I'm not sure anymore if things will return to the old sense of "normalcy".

Not until the war is over.

Are you ready?

It's easy to think this'll be over in a few months and that's what I first thought (it's what I wanted), but the more I think about it, the more I don't see how we can get out of this.

The political right sees this and is capitalizing on it, the political left seems to be fighting the last war or simply capitulates to the right.

The left, if it still wishes to pursue the goals it believes in, needs to change and change quickly.

It's a new game.

Brad

PS Now how vague can Brad really get?  
Local Rebel
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1 posted 09-14-2001 05:00 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I always viewed the word War as war in this instance Brad.  People are expecting it -- just like back in 90... and they're ready to watch the missles on tv...

funny cause I just wrote a peice on this

hate to keep referring you to this url.. but..  http://www.geocities.com/nighthawke700/index.html

I don't think there is a left/right battle right now.. this isn't the time for partisanship -- I think you're just seeing people realizing that their 'identity' is American and not their opinion -- at least for now...but this will be a protracted situation -- so -- who knows how long the unity will be sustained?
Brad
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2 posted 09-15-2001 04:37 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Yeah, I could be completely wrong here, caught up in the emotion of the moment and believing more of the rhetoric than I should.

The left/right divide is still there as long as I here people say things like this was the fault of environmentalists, monopoly busters, and Bill Clinton. When this calms down a bit, I might post a rant on the left/weak and right/strong connotation.

Alexander Cockburn's column seems positively whiney (but then he whines a lot). On the O'Reilly Factor (a show I've never seen before 911), a commentator who said that all atrocities should be condemned is verbally attacked by the moderator (and wasn't allowed to get his full statement in).

A professor on the same show argued that we should follow international and domestic law is ridiculed repeatedly as not wanting any retaliation at all.

But in a way, I can see how his arguments seem irrelevant.

My point is simply that the left arguments seem old or that those on the left simply capitulate to the right, but I don't see the right capitulating to the left. This tragedy can be an opportunity for an increased internationalism, not only nationalism.

But then again, I can't see the full scope of what's happening in America. Perhaps I'm just getting a skewed picture.

Brad
Ron
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3 posted 09-15-2001 06:30 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Sadly, I think we still have two very disparate groups, and the differences between them are possibly at the heart of the media incidents you mention, Brad. I certainly feel I've seen evidence of both camps right here in our forums, as well as spread across the Internet.

On the one hand, I think we have a very vocal group of people ruled by their anger. They want justice/vengeance (pick one) and they want it now. At any cost. I haven't heard a single one of them "say" we should bully American-Arabs. I haven't heard anyone "say" we should bomb innocent civilians. But neither does their anger and rhetoric rule out the likelihood. Their emphasis is on action, and they don't tell us a whole lot about what form that action should take - beyond being immediate and devastating.

The other group wants to say, "Yea, butů" and unfortunately they never quite get to the third word before being cut off at the knees. They are just as angry as the first group, but recognize the danger of compounding terrorism with more terrorism. Yet, any attempt to temper retribution with reason is met with accusations, and they quickly find themselves in the unenviable position of defending the indefensible.

Strangely, I don't think these two groups are as far apart as it might at first seem. I would like to believe those ruled by anger are still looking for justice, not blood for the sake of blood. I would like to believe the confusion arises from their generalities, and their reliance on extremist rhetoric. They talk about action against the enemy, seemingly with an unspoken assumption that everyone knows who that enemy is. The second group is just as angry, of course, and just as intent on blood. But they want to be sure there is agreement on the target of their vengeance.

At least that's what I'd like to think. Of course, there's also the very real danger that no one really cares about justice, that a "the innocents be damned" attitude will prevail.

Perhaps the one thing more frightening than that is the likelihood we WILL be forced to make that choice. I strongly suspect the targets of our vengeance will remain hidden behind the faces of the innocent, and the only way the American demand for blood can be met will be through the deaths of those who are in no way responsible.

But then, perhaps that is the classic definition of war.
Local Rebel
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4 posted 09-16-2001 12:09 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Bill O'Reilly's show is the television equivalent of Rush Limbaugh -- it's all about him -- anyone who goes on his program gets treated that way and he's careful about who he puts on to make sure he can come away looking like he's won a debate.

And, I don't think it's sad at all Ron that we have two disparate groups -- and I don't think that's what you really meant either.

I didn't realize that you were talking about media portrayals Brad when you said the left seems to be capitulating to the right -- I assumed you were talking about the votes in congress to use force that went virtually unopposed excepting for one congress woman from California (can't recall her name right now).

But -- Ted Koppel's coverage of that event was very open to covering her position and he applauded her for having the courage to go against an overwhelming majority to stick to her principals...

I'm sure there are many instances of the left's representatives in the media being cut-off at the knees -- and the right's too for that matter -- but in alternating my viewing every hour or so between networks I've seen very fair, unbiased coverage -- with the exception probably of Peter Jennings -- who is himself a spokesperson for the left.

I think even Katie Couric has been reasonably objective -- I will admit though that I do not watch a lot of the Fox or CNN coverage -- so maybe most of it is happening there -- Fox news is decidedly reactionary and was designed to be that way -- they don't even deny they are conservative -- so anything seen there should be taken with a grain of salt in my book.

But as far as the old big three we've seen everyone given voice from Hanan Ashrawi explaining the glee of Palestinians dancing in the streets to Jerry Falwell's statement:

quote:
"I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way -- all of them who have tried to secularize America -- I point the finger in their face and say "you helped this happen."


And Ron -- I think we're forced to make some kind of choice here -- this sniper is still in the trees... and he can't even be negotiated with -- he has no demands -- except blood -- this is a holy war -- his good against our evil.

Maybe we should just put bin Laden in a room with Falwell and let them duke it out. (that's called sarcasm folks)

It is unfortunate that our backs are against a wall but I don't think there is a rampant blood lust in the country -- I just don't see it -- I talk to more people who are concerned and really don't know what to do like the rest of us.. most of the people I talk to realize force is not going to solve this... most also realize we can't allow the sniper to continue to shoot.

Everyone here knows I have no real affinity for the Bush administration but under these circumstances we have to let them (as if we had a choice) just do what they're good at... I'm just not real sure what a war against a ghost looks like -- I do think America is expecting another televised rendition of conventional battle with smart bombs and enemy arabs surrendering by the hundreds to two or three American soldiers -- but all of us in this forum know it's not going to be like that.

We've spoken softly though -- now it's time for the big stick -- unless someone sees an alternative.
hush
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5 posted 09-16-2001 08:11 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

LR, I disagree that there isn't any bloodlust. In my area, a lot of arab/islamic people are being threatened- on the day of the attacks, a man burst into a local Islamic school and started making threats- he said we're gonna get his people for what they did, and they're all gonna pay... obviously, that itself is pure anger, and maybe he feels differently with a few days to think it over....

My dad says he wants 5 of their heads for every one of ours, and he thinks we should nuke 'em. A manager where I work can't wait till we start bombing. The day of the attacks John McCain was on the news saying we should definitely go to war... without ny hesitation. Even President Bush is basically telling us we must strike back and bring justice to those who did this, and damned be to those who stand in the way- it seems like he's more interested in getting revenge and flexing America's muscles than finding out why the attack was done and then looking at the underlying issues... I know a lot of people who are out for vengeance... maybe that's not a majority, but it is still a pretty big group.

And that's just the thing... I bet nobody asks why this happenned... the only message is "look at our guns and bombs you MFers aren't gonna pull this crap again"... and the hostility towards America isn't going to change and there's just going to be another bin Laden.

I eat only sleep and air -Nicole Blackman

Local Rebel
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6 posted 09-16-2001 09:12 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

hush I didn't say there was no bloodlust -- I said there isn't rampant bloodlust...

and yes -- people are waiting for the bombs to drop -- and I've addressed that too...

you may want to browse these threads..
http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum8/HTML/000262.html
http://piptalk.com/pip/Forum1/HTML/000498.html

and also my site referenced above -- for more of what I've written on the subject -- I'm not going to re-write it all here.

Yes we do have to look at the root cause and acknowledge the actions we've taken in the past while trying to avoid creating new monsters -- but the root cause isn't really about what we've done (and that's not in defense at all of our actions in the middle east) it is about who we are...

And I could -- and may start another thread on that subject -- but basics are basics -- and to the fundamentalist Islamic mind that infidels 'rule' the world instead of 'true believers' is an unnatural order.  Bear in mind though that the fundamentalist Islamic mind is not the majority of the Islamic mind.
Brad
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7 posted 09-16-2001 11:29 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I don't have time to go into everything here but I just watched a "Town Meeting" on MSNBC and just saw the opposite of what I had seen before.

Two comments that I consider to be right wing (I don't know if 'right wingers' would call them right though) were more or less shut up under the reigning atmosphere of the room (I guess this is what people call political correctness these days?).

1. to a Muslim, "You people should do something. It's your people."

2. "Why don't we instigate a limited form of Martial Law for a limited time"

Yet, if you think about it, both comments, although phrased in the wrong way, are legitimate points if this is indeed a war.

'1' defines Muslims as a community and doesn't necessarily malign them so much as ask them to do something. Isn't this person, in a way, asking for help? That is, "Muslims are a community in America with special information and qualities in aiding a resolution to this incident. Please help us."

'2' accepts the idea that we are at war and makes the suggestion that America shouldn't treat this like the Korean or Vietnamese conflict or 'police action' (anybody remember when people made these distinctions?), but like WWII. A legitimate idea given the rhetoric spoken.

No talk, no discussion, only the search for sound bites, only the search for ideas that you already know, believe in, and want to hear.

What positive ideas actually result from this media format?

And apparently Shieks (one killed) and Hindus are being attacked as well?

And all this below the cries of unity.

Brad

Alicat
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8 posted 09-18-2001 12:42 AM       View Profile for Alicat   Email Alicat   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Alicat

Washington, and indeed much of the U.S. and world, are calling this an 'Attack on Terrorism' and 'War on Terrorism'. And I agree with that, though I do wonder how far reaching this will be. Will this include terrorism in Northern Ireland? Will this include hate crimes? How far will we and the world go towards this end?

I include hate crimes for a specific reason: it is an act of terrorism. I realize I might be getting off subject a bit, but I ask for your indulgence. To whit, terrorism is an act or action in any of the spheres (mental, physical, etc) which cause terror, and/or pain and suffering, to the intended target, notwithstanding collateral damage. Hate crimes have these same affects, but since they are perpetrated by Americans on Americans, they are not labeled 'terrorist activity' unless it involves the government. But the government is representative of the people, and if people or communities are being threatened, the government is being threatened.

Terrorism, as a crime, is treated as part of espionage in our court system, and has a much stiffer penalty of justice than does the hate crime statutes. Terrorism by Americans on Americans, irregardless of ethnicity or religious persuasion, cannot and should not be listed as a hate crime, but by its true label, terrorism. And the punishment should be the same visited upon those who commit acts of terrorism or harbor terrorists.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Alicat
Local Rebel
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9 posted 09-18-2001 01:52 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

RE: Rampant Bloodlust

NBC/Harris poll released this morning said 81% of the American people favor waiting to have proof before taking action (parapharasing)

15% want immediate action.
Interloper
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10 posted 09-18-2001 07:03 PM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

Hush said, "Even President Bush is basically telling us we must strike back and bring justice to those who did this, and damned be to those who stand in the way- it seems like he's more interested in getting revenge and flexing America's muscles than finding out why the attack was done and then looking at the underlying issues."

Certainly you understand "why the attack was done" and what the "underlying issues" are.  If you watched any TV or listened to any radio you would have heard Bin Laden's declaration of war on the American Devils.

People worry about the USA hurting innocent people during the war on Terrorism.  Unfortunately, in war, innocent people are killed and injured.  Weren't the people on the airplane/bombs innocent?  How about the people in the twin towers?  When the people jumped from 100 stories (1000 feet) and you saw the film footage, were you thinking of them as innocent casualties?

You talk about hate crimes in the USA, and they are damnable, but they are usually perpetrated upon at most one or two individuals.  Certainly not 4000 innocent people.  The graffiti (SP?) on buildings affects many but it leaves them alive.   The smut can be painted over because their building still stands (usually).  and when those cowards do burn buildings it is at night with nobody present. Casualties?  Yes.  But LIVE casualties.

Anyway, I have rambled enough.  Let's hope we do this right with God's guidance.
Ron
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11 posted 09-18-2001 07:42 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
You talk about hate crimes in the USA, and they are damnable, but they are usually perpetrated upon at most one or two individuals.

If you happen to be one of those few, I suspect you'll find yourself no less dead. The murder of one or many is relative only in the eyes of those not affected.
Brad
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12 posted 09-18-2001 11:59 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

LR,
It's interesting that whenever I talk about media figures, Ted Koppel so often comes out as the best. Peter Jennings, whose remarks on the first day concerning the president were appalling, and Tom Brokaw among others might do well to learn from his example.

Concerning bloodlust: whether or not America is in a bloodlust seems less important to me than seeing that some people are. How do we stop these things?

In that context, I agree with Alicat's idea that hate crimes and terrorism should be brought together. They do the same thing.
I'm not sure how practical this is but it's certainly worth discussing.

As Ron said, innocent people die in war and calling something a war makes it much easier to shrug your shoulders when that happens. You don't have to approve of something to accept it.

But it doesn't seem that people are willing to see other downsides to war. The point about marshal law is brushed aside, not because it's not necessary, but because few people have actually considered it. The danger is that we might just get marshal law but we won't call it that.

As far as bin Laden's seeing Americans as demons, he didn't mind working with demons during the Soviet occupation of Afganistan. His demands, if not completely clear, seem rather more concrete:

America out of the Middle East and the withdrawal of support for Israel.  

Should we do these things? I don't think so and didn't think so before 911, but even if they were a good idea before, the people who perpetrated this attack have made it impossible.

Ron's right on the disparate groups, I think. They're saying the same thing:

Yes, RETALIATE but get it right.

Yes, retaliate BUT GET IT RIGHT.

I'm definitely in the second group.

The first group sounds like a pep rally.

How about an impossible hypothetical:

If somehow we could predict the future and know that if we didn't retaliate, more American lives would be saved than if we did, would you still retaliate?  Further, what if no retaliation didn't lessen America's standing but increased it in the world?

Do we still retaliate?

Brad
rwood
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13 posted 09-19-2001 06:38 AM       View Profile for rwood   Email rwood   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for rwood

That's the scary thing and a good point, even if we sit here and do nothing. WHO IS NEXT? I would still be furious if this happened in any country no matter the place the act is still the same. Because the death count was high in one day, I know the death count everywhere else this terrorism has taken place still adds up to always ONE too many. I think we would still have a horse in the race against terrorism no matter what soil it takes place upon. Because now we Know we could be next, they could strike again and they are still trying.
Local Rebel
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14 posted 09-19-2001 06:19 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:
Ron's right on the disparate groups, I think. They're saying the same thing:

Yes, RETALIATE but get it right.

Yes, retaliate BUT GET IT RIGHT.

I'm definitely in the second group.

The first group sounds like a pep rally.




Yes I think there is a lot of pep rallying going on as a part of the process -- but I'm not quite sure I'd agree with the particular words that you've used to characterize the arguments -- in particular the second group with which you identify (as well as I) I think the statement is better expressed,

"Pursue Justice, Secure Peace"

To the first group all I can say is retaliation will get nothing right and only plays into bin Ladens plan.  He is not a desperate desolate man.  He is very cunning and has a definite agenda -- but Brad -- the two things you've mentioned are not going to be enough for him.

You've asked why he would take help from the west against the Soviets -- and the answer is because the Soviets were the snipers in his tree.  One could also ask why we would ally with a Communist regime to fight Hitler -- and it all comes down to a matter of practicality.

I have to be very careful what I say of what I know about radical Islamic fundamentalists (which is not different from fundamentalism of any ilk) but it's important to remember that a suicide bomber doesn't get anything out of his action.  The religious motivations for perpetrating these acts are overriding any economic, social, or political agendas.

The State department has said, for diplomatic reasons, that this is not a clash of civilizations -- but in reality between fundamentalist groups it is.

It's important to remember that there is no paradigm of separation of church and state in the Islamic tradition -- there was never an occupation by Rome to precipitate the comment by Jesus "yeild unto ceasar what is ceasar's", moreover there was no Martin Luther to lead to a situation where Muslim was fighting Muslim.

It's also an important distinction to draw that Mohamed, unlike other prophets/religious leaders with the exception of perhaps Moses -- was a head of State and head of the army as well as the religious head reporting directly to Allah.  

I'm going to have to emphasize again that only a fraction of Islam still thinks this way -- but -- if you have an army that is Allah's army -- any enemy of your army is an enemy of Allah -- and any means necessary can and should be used to exterminate the enemies of Allah -- there was an excellent article in the Atlantic about ten years ago that I'm going to try to dig up that can outline this rather well.

In summary though to the fundamentalist mind the world is upside down if the 'true believers' are not in a superior position to the infidels -- and as the leaders of the West economically and militarily we are truly the 'Great Satan'.

How do we stop all of this?  First -- we do have to pursue justice -- and then we have to wage a war of peace.

We saw dancing in the streets in the West bank -- authorities on Islam say that a good 50% of the Arab people were celebrating quietly inside.  We must be very careful not to give them a reason to hate us further.

They hate us because not only do we support Israel -- but mostly because we support the oppressive regimes they live under. They view these regimes as secular and not holy and they aren't allowed to criticize their governments and their governments use the U.S. as a lightning rod for them to vent thier frustration... it's a vicious cycle.

The only way we can hope to wage this war is with peace.

In the paraphrased words of Lincoln -- if I make my enemy my friend have I not destroyed my enemy?

[This message has been edited by Local Rebel (edited 09-19-2001).]

Local Rebel
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15 posted 09-19-2001 07:32 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Found it online!

Bernard Lewis
Atlantic Monthly Online
Sept. 1990
The Roots of Muslim Rage
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/90sep/rage.htm
Interloper
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Deep in the heart


16 posted 09-20-2001 02:54 PM       View Profile for Interloper   Email Interloper   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Interloper

Ron, I was only trying to delineate the fine line between terrorism, which is kind of impersonal in that the perpetrators hide, sneak in with death, whereas the hate crime perpetrators generally do it up close and personal.
Brad
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since 08-20-99
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Jejudo, South Korea


17 posted 09-20-2001 08:52 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

Interloper,

You have GOT to be kidding.

The KKK are up close and personal?

Perhaps the distinction is between those who say they're attacking a nation or government and those who say they're attacking a people or religion? Is that what you mean?

Brad
Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
Posts 5742
Southern Abstentia


18 posted 09-21-2001 11:47 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I think prior to Alicat's posting I would have asked the question "did anybody ever kill anybody they liked?"  Meaning of course, I never really considered it necessary to classify a crime as a hate crime. Murder is murder after all.

But, I think, on considering the possibility that a hate crime could be terrorism -- and that terrorism is politically motivated and designed to disrupt an entire community -- yes -- I think there is a classification of 'hate' crimes and that it does qualify as terrorism in the classical sense.

Next question though is -- are street gangs terrorists?
 
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