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September 19, 2005

My Goodness

I strive not to write the "Look At This Ludicrous Thing [Someone Whose Political Viewpoint I Disagree With] Said On Their Blargh!" type of post. Life is too short. Life would be too short for that even if human life expectancy were 7,000,000 years.

However, I have to make an exception for screenwriter/novelist/hat-wearer Roger Simon. He recently read an AP story quoting the president of Iran saying, "Iran is ready to transfer nuclear know-how to the Islamic countries due to their need."

From that, Simon drew this conclusion:

If Saddam Hussein were still in power he wouldn't have to go as far as Niger or anywhere near that for for help in obtaining nuclear arms. He could get all the assistance he needed right next door.

I read this and I feel... stymied. I feel stymied just as I would if Roger Simon had revealed a belief that Saddam Hussein was just about to get nuclear weapons from Israel. I feel stymied as I would if Simon earnestly said we live on a planet called Xerxis IX, and then began expounding on Xerxisian political conditions.

Before the invasion of Iraq, I sometimes asked people gung-ho for war if they could tell me the history of the mideast since World War II. Nothing fancy, just five minutes of the basic highlights. I never met a single pro-war person who could.

Posted at September 19, 2005 06:39 AM | TrackBack

Does the United Arab Republic make it into the 5-minute highlights version? And if not, why not?

And by the way, I did that without looking anything up - even though on the internet nobody can tell if you're cheating, I wasn't.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at September 19, 2005 10:31 AM

Indeed. But let’s go back to the beginning. We started out enshrining “the pursuit of happiness” above the “pursuit of truth”. Isn’t everything that is happening – I mean all the bad stuff – a natural outcome of this?

But I am most disgusted with... myself. I write the occasional word of encouragement, or just share what I have observed. But the people who need to read A Tiny Revolution, The Killing Train, TomDispatch, Howard Zinn, Kurt Vonnegut, etc., etc., etc., ... won't.

It seems that pointing out what is obvious to us only serves to inflame our anger and dismay. We need to build bridges, not bombs. I suppose if anyone can, it is me. I am an active member of the archetypal Christian Church which is engaged with our dearly beloved George W. Bush in an unholy symbiotic relationship.

I suspect most secular reality-based people who care about our impending global disaster don't really get the significance of Bush's religious base. I suspect even Karl Rove doesn't get it. Bush is a true believer. I am a true believer.

My friend Joe (not her real name) is a true believer. We all claim the name of Jesus Christ. But here's the weird thing: George W. Bush clearly serves a different god than Joe and I (Joe practices what I preach much better than I do, on a personal, face-to-face level). But Joe would say, "The three of us clearly serve the same God."

I honestly don't have a clue how to bridge what is clearly an insurmountable divide. But I do know that any great physical bridge built in the past 30 years would look like pure magic to any but a small handful of humans 500 years ago. My point is that just because something is "clearly impossible" doesn't mean it can't happen. We just have to work together and take a long, hopeful, peaceful view.

So, dear readers, any ideas on how to start?

P.S. Sites mentioned:

Posted by: Mark Demory at September 19, 2005 11:28 AM

mistah charley,

Would the United Arab Republic make it into the highlights? YOU BET IT WOULD. Both because it's one of my favorite bits of weird history, and because it was actually important.

Mark Demory,

I wish you would ask harder questions.

Ha ha! But seriously, I don't think there is any overarching plan or could be. We start where we are with what we have.

The important thing is, as you say, to take the long, hopeful, peaceful view. If global disaster is truly impending—and I wouldn't argue that it isn't—there isn't anything we can do anyway. So we have to go forward as though it's not impending, and see how things turn out.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 19, 2005 12:40 PM

Before the invasion of Iraq, I sometimes asked people gung-ho for war if they could tell me the history of the mideast since World War II.

That's cute. At the time, my standard question to such folks was to ask them if they could name three cities in Iraq, other than Baghdad. These were the people who were parroting the assertion that Saddam had WMDs and that we knew where they were. Few of them could name even one city, and none could name three. That usually ended the conversation, as I preferred to receive strategic analysis on Iraq from people who actually knew something about Iraq.

Posted by: Steve at September 19, 2005 02:15 PM

Holy shit!

I just looked up the United Arab Republic.

I am always amazed, too, at the depths of my own ignorance.

Posted by: Sully at September 19, 2005 02:57 PM

Sadly, I echo Sully's comment.

Although, it revives this feeling I occasionally have that the world could in fact be made into a better place - in part because it's clearly a very different place from the world as I was taught it exists.

Posted by: Aaron at September 19, 2005 05:03 PM

Just had a thought, and probably too late.

If anyone here is interested in what Mark Demory is, they ought to check out It's a project by Rabbi Michael Lerner, founder of Tikkun, to unite the religious left the way the religious right is. I don't know where Mark's from, but there's an east coast conference coming up next year.

As a sidebar: one of Lerner's big goals also seems to be trying to make peace between the secular and the religious lefts. That would be nice to see.

I'm looking at you, Pope Popey.

Posted by: Sully at September 20, 2005 07:56 PM

Lerner is going to unite whom?

The dovish factions of the Christians and Jewish representatives that he shat on in his WSJ appearance to piss on the anti-war movement before the thing started? Who would he reunite them with? Lerner has triangulated himself into nowhere. He drew a line, dispensed the only solution to the Palestinian conflict, and called everyone else in the world anti-semites. Shit, I'm an arrogant bag of wind, but I've never tried something like that.

Posted by: Ed Marshall at September 20, 2005 08:46 PM

Well, there's the problem.

Posted by: Sully at September 21, 2005 12:07 AM