Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fear and Loathing

By Daddy X

I must begin with a qualifier … that I know the United States is now “officially” out of Afghanistan. (if retaining 10,000 troops in another country is truly ‘out’). This post was written before that date, but we’ll see what the future holds:

Fear and Loathing

I understand we have non-Americans with us, but here’s a rant anyway. There’s nothing new here. These are all known quantities.

Ever notice how we’re expected to get angry? Afraid of the unknown? React to the known? Seems like every news report makes me nuts. Is it supposed to? Are we so desensitized that news organizations have to appeal to our most potent but unproductive emotions to interest us?

Not that many years ago, the problem with Obama (in addition to his skin color) was that he didn’t get angry enough. Now WTF was that about? (Now he’s a dictator.) When we get angry, we stop thinking in rational terms. We get out of control. But now, there’s a large faction of lawmakers who pretend that’s the best or only solution to vote-scoring. In a way they’re right; angry people tend to be dependable voters. They vote ‘against’ things rather than ‘for’. It’s an entire negative approach, intended to stimulate simply by reaction, without a plan. No wonder how seldom anything positive gets done.

Don’t get me wrong; Obama has been a disappointment to his base, ever the conciliator waiting to jump on the first compromise that comes along. He has no staying power when it comes to conviction. He begins his arguments to the right of center to appear to act as the one who is reasonable. Unfortunately he’s dealing with unreasonable sorts who won’t be happy with any compromise whatsoever.

But this post isn’t about Obama, his accomplishments or lack of them. It’s about the most powerful country in the world relying on fear and angry reaction to get things done. In addition to the obvious danger, the result is sending our wealth and young lives out of our country.

We’re told to hate these people we’re bombing. At the same time we’re told that we’re going to make things better for women and the underprivileged in the backward countries— that we can influence a lifestyle impossible for most Americans to imagine. These people we want to ‘help’—they operate on different basis than we do. They, as a culture, believe honor killing is okay. Americans are told we’re fighting a war of compassion, to enlighten, when those believers have nothing in common with us. Their values are not our values. The identity of the second Calif, back in the eighth century is more important to them than democracy, which many see as an abomination, and it would be considered akin to blasphemy to go against local leaders.

Do I sound angry? Well, I am. It’s worked on me. I don’t care about political correctness when it comes to religion. Especially a masculine-dominated fairy tale invented by a caravan raider who lived by blood and the sword. The answer to the catechism question: “What do you do when you encounter a non-believer on the road?” is: “You jab your knife in his neck.”

Instead of Americans sharing the bounty of wealth, we’re sending our resources overseas, attempting to change a world to our specifications. While our roads and bridges crumble, we attempt to influence people who think only of things pertinent to their world. As it should be.

Hell, Afghanistan has always considered war an essential part of the economy. Afghans entertain a “Fighting” season every summer because it’s just too difficult to fight in the unforgiving winters. When they’re not fighting Russia, or lately the United States, clans will fight clans, village against village. Warlords take over new territory, only to lose it the following year. Inter-tribal feuds and revenge supply never-ending motive. Their continuing local wars are funded by opium, their most dependable and sellable cash crop, in a country without much tillable land. Works for them.

But then we jump into this enduring and complex fray, fueled with angry hubris to change their ways and consolidate them into a cohesive nation in the Western style.

So I have to wonder. Who’s changing who? We have factions in the US outlawing “Sharia law”. At the same time, many of these same factions would just love to employ some kind of “Christian law” which often looks a lot like Sharia. We belly up to Saudi Arabia. Some days Syria is our friend.

We operate now from a basis of anger and hatred, manipulated by a business-oriented economic system that could go bust if we quit warring. How many congress members would move to abandon this futile and destructive economic lifeline and put jobs and resources to work in our own country? What would it look like?


  1. Whoo, you've opened up a lot of stuff here. I'll try not to be cowardly about responding to it. I am very much against the wars we've been fighting for the past decade plus. My reasoning for that sort of resembles yours, though we differ in some important ways (I'm not willing to be so dismissive of other people's religion, nor do I trust some of these characterizations of culture and way of life).

    I really do agree, though, that we're focused outward when we need to be dealing with our own problems (and our own hypocrisy). The burden of that dubious strategy falls disproportionately on the poor and on minorities, who make up most of the people willing to sign up for deployment abroad voluntarily, and can be ignored by more privileged individuals. Those conditions seem like a setup for indefinite war, and indeed that seems to be the path we're on.

    What your post really brings up for me, though, is the bemusement I've always felt about the reaction it seems we're supposed to be having to much of this. You've raised a good question about why Obama was being criticized for not being angry enough. And I'm disheartened at the apparent requirement that politicians be warmongers or risk being seen as soft, naive, weak, or unrealistic. I am saddened and confused that warmongering seems to have become our cultural default, and I refuse to be labeled as foolish for believing we can do better than that. Based on our dubious track record in these recent disastrous adventures, the foolishness really seems to lie with those who think we are accomplishing something by these means.

  2. Daddy:
    Your post carried me back to the late 60's when the peace and love of Woodstock began to descend into madness. Back then I struggled to avoid the draft and succeeded by taking advantage of the option offered to the privileged class-college. It seems almost heretical for me to say it but I have begun to think that the best thing we could do to re-engage the country is to reinstate the draft with no exceptions. Obama was our last best hope. It was young people who elected him but they didn't stay engaged. I'm glad to be getting old. I don't have any answers any more. It seems like the world is being swallowed up in a paroxysm of anger. Over 50 years ago I read a wonderful scify tale, "A Canticle for Lebowitz" the author set the scene that looks like the world today-everyone got the bomb and then one day they all started exploding them on each other. The story takes place long after the nuclear Armageddon as civilization begins to emerge from the ashes.

    1. A Canticle for Lebowitz is a classic, Spencer.

      But then, so many sci fi stories are cautionary tales - but dismissed as fiction.

      We are living in the world imagined by Philip K. Dick.

  3. This is probably going to sound simplistic, but it seems that whenever a country gets heavily involved in empire building and tries(often times without being asked) to fix the problems of other countries, there is an inevitable backlash of hatred and cries of 'Hypocrisy' toward that so called super power. Should we railing against other countries about their lack of human rights when right here in the US minorities are still vilified and regarded as 2nd class citizens? Who knows what Obama might have really achieved if he'd had support from Congress from the start?

  4. Hi all...Thanks for commenting. Too frustrating to reply by phone. Will catch up on return. Aloha!

  5. I'm not about to pass judgment on someone else's religion (though I really like your comparison of fundamentalist Christian law to Sharia) - as long as I am free to take my own spiritual path. (Of course, many fundamentalists of all stripes would love to strip me of that freedom.) One thing of which I'm certain, though - the real world is never simple, and hence, simplistic "us versus them" scenarios just don't work in practice. On the other hand, the human mind detests complexity. Hence the appeal of anger-based foreign (or domestic, for that matter) policy.

    You're right on the money when you say that resources that should be spent at home are being squandered on wars abroad. However, there's another dimension to this. War is a distraction from the situation at home. Keep people angry at the "enemy" and they might not get angry about how they're personally being robbed of their future by policies that favor big business over human beings.

  6. "Angry white men" are commodity that can be made profitable. If they can figure out how to make a profit from angry black men, they'll do it. Or maybe they're already doing it. Angry women--they're just strident harpies.


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