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Terrorism:  "Good" vs. "Evil"

Another response to Terrorism:  "Good" vs. "Evil":

I sent the following message to friends and acquaintances on 9/15/01:

If anyone is wondering what I think about the terrorism, it's not much different than what I thought about Tim McVeigh. But this is a greater crisis, so it may be an even better example of our values in action.

I've gathered the "best of" the material I've come across and put it online at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/terror.htm. As usual, my message is the same. Our American values are narrowminded, myopic, and basically screwed up. We need a multicultural perspective to stop the hate and terror and start respecting the rest of the world.

As you'll see at the end, once again Native culture and history provide a valuable corrective to the dominant American mindset. Indian people have seen and experienced the hate and terror firsthand. As Santayana said, perhaps thinking of "President" Bush: "Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."

Rob Schmidt

P.S. The importance of this matter may explain why this is quickly becoming the longest posting on my site.


Bonnie replies
I am sadly not surprised at what you have posted on this link...I've got enough of an idea of what kind of person you are from previous emails. Man, you just don't get it. I have this image of you dancing in your living room just like the Palestinians did when they heard of these attacks. You hate our values, our government, our religion and the majority of our people, near as I can tell. Why are you here anyway? Why don't you move to Afghanistan if the U.S. and our leaders are so f*cked up? Everyone else in this country is shocked, angry and saddened by what these evil people did (not Muslims — TERRORISTS), and they are touched to the core by the generosity and unity that Americans of all races and religions have responded with. Not you though. Have you shed a tear over this horrific event? I'd bet not — You're too full of hate for your own nation. Unbelievable.


Rob replies


I'm sorry you found my message painful. I didn't intend to hurt anyone's feelings, but I wasn't careful enough. With my Spock-like stoicism, I didn't realize how deeply Americans were suffering. I apologize for my lack of sensitivity.

I've added a few introductory comments at Terrorism:  "Good" vs. "Evil" to acknowledge people's pain. And I've shifted most of the inflammatory remarks to secondary pages so browsers are less likely to stumble onto them accidentally. That's just the way I am: always listening attentively and revising my work based on people's input.

My aim was good, but my timing was terrible. With that in mind, let's review your nasty Rob-bashing comments:

>> I am sadly not surprised at what you have posted on this link... <<

The majority of it comes from the LA Times and other media sources. My commentary makes up less than 20%, I'd say. Are you not surprised that major newspapers and websites have published this material? Are not you surprised that I've quoted hundreds of people who support my positions in various ways? What exactly are you not surprised at?

>> Man, you just don't get it. <<

Get what...that a terrorist attack means turning off your mind and going on auto-pilot, like a puppet on a string? If that's what you mean, you're right. I don't get that.

But I trust you'll try to make it clear to me. Good luck.

>> I've got enough of an idea of what kind of person you are from previous emails. <<

Good! I'm glad we know each other so well. I guess you've kept your feelings hidden, but I'm glad they're coming out. Repression can't be very good for you.

>> I have this image of you dancing in your living room just like the Palestinians did when they heard of these attacks. <<

Nope. Apparently you don't know me as well as you think after all.

>> You hate our values, our government, our religion and the majority of our people, near as I can tell. <<

I hate some of our values—the bad ones. Greed, selfishness, arrogance, self-righteousness, myopia, narrowmindedness, ignorance, etc. I also hate our government when it's controlled by conservatives. I'm a big fan of government otherwise, as I've made clear many times.

In fact, this attack has been a classic case of government's beneficent power. Government workers have rescued and aided the victims. Government officials have sought to isolate the culprits. Airlines and airline workers have asked for government handouts. Etc. I've posted on the worthiness of our government at Government Gives, Free Markets Take.

As for religion, "we" don't have a religion, since we're a multicultural nation. Oops. Many of us believe in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Native religions. I'm an agnostic myself, so I'm undecided on most religions. I've spoken in favor of Jesus at What Jesus Said and Native religions at "Primitive" Indian Religion.

I guess these are more things you didn't know about me.

Xenophobia, an American value
The first American casualty, a Sikh man in Arizona, was shot dead because of his religion. Did you know Sikhism is one of "our" religions? Yes it is, and it's protected by something called the First Amendment. But Bush wants to fund religious charities and break the wall between church and state, so he doesn't share our values.

Here are more examples of America's values in action:

Since you've deplored my criticism, you must favor these acts of hate and violence. Because these are the types of things I'm criticizing. If you didn't realize that, again, you're as innocent as a newborn babe about my beliefs.

As for hating the majority of our people...why would I hate them, since they're moderates and liberals like me? I dislike many conservatives and may hate a few fundamentalists, but they aren't close to being the majority.

>> Why are you here anyway? <<

I was born here. I like it here. I enjoy the freedoms—the freedoms our "president" is trying to curtail. (If Ashcroft is already reading our private e-mail, I didn't mean that...honest!)

Why are you here? You might be happier in the Middle East, where warmongering is a way of life. Why don't you join the fanatics who don't believe in freedom of speech and religion, since you apparently think "our" religion is Christianity and free speech is harmful? They'd appreciate your values, if not your choice of religions.

When is the part where you understand me coming up? You've shown no understanding of me so far.

>> Why don't you move to Afghanistan if the U.S. and our leaders are so f*cked up? <<

Because that country and its leaders are more f*cked up than our country and its leaders. Are you seriously trying to pass off "Love it or leave it" as an intelligent argument? A five-year-old has a better grasp of America's principles than you seem to.

>> Everyone else in this country is shocked, angry and saddened by what these evil people did <<

I'm shocked, angry, and saddened too. I guess that's another thing you don't understand.

Who are the terrorists?
>> (not Muslims — TERRORISTS) <<

You're right...we don't know for sure the terrorists are Muslims. If Bush has the goods on Osama bin Laden, he's yet to share them with us.

After the last terrorist attack, you probably would've championed a war against "terrorism," too. That is, before Tim McVeigh, an American who loved his country just like you, was revealed as the culprit. Oops.

In case you've been hiding in a bunker, Bush didn't just call for a war against Osama bin Laden or terrorism. He declared he would "rid the world of evil." That's another value I'm happy to oppose—the idea that America (or Bush) is God's agent. People around the world slammed Bush for his "holy" hubris...and so did I.

>> Have you shed a tear over this horrific event? I'd bet not <<

You got something right, for once. Real men and real Schmidts don't cry easily. My mother didn't cry when my father died, and neither did I. This tragedy affected us less personally than that did. Sorry.

Not that you have any idea how many people did or didn't cry. If I were to guess, I'd put the amount somewhere around 50%—probably less. I'm guessing huge swaths of Americans didn't cry.

Actually, my feelings are best captured by this passage I found on the Web:

"I hope you're doin' OK. By the way, getting back to the topic of the day: I hear everyone talking about how 'angry' everyone is about the WTC/Pentagon attacks. Do you feel angry? I don't. I just feel plain damned sad. For everyone involved, including the pitiful stooges who hijacked the planes. I stopped and looked around yesterday, it was a beautiful day, sunny, blue sky, green grass... I thought about what a wonderful world we lucked into—and look what we do to it, and to ourselves. We've stumbled into Paradise on Planet Earth—the only Paradise we'll ever know—and we're too dense to realize it. It just makes me tired, sometimes, when I think about it. Tired, fatigued, and weary."


If others feel this way, who are you to criticize them, or me? How are my feelings relevant to my critique of America's values? Whether I'm happy, sad, or neutral, my positions remain the same. You should be lucky enough to have my inviolable principles.

>> You're too full of hate for your own nation. Unbelievable. <<

It's unbelievable you didn't understand my dislike of the American mindset—not America—when you first wrote me, since it's implicit in almost every message and on almost every Web page. Read my position at America's Cultural Mindset, which I posted 2/22/01. It was valid through today and will remain valid centuries from now, I suspect.

Bonnie has no opinions?
Curiously, you previously wrote:

I am not for or against any of the listed political hot-topics. They are all difficult issues and you can find compelling arguments for both sides.

Apparently, I've found an issue that isn't difficult, that doesn't have compelling arguments for both sides. You've finally taken a political stand...congratulations.

Why didn't I think of this hot-button topic before? You're for war and against peace. Duh...how obvious! How could I have missed it? (Imagine me slapping my forehead.)

So much for your claims to see the complexity of issues from all sides of the political spectrum. As is often the case, that means you're a conservative who's too embarrassed to admit it. So noted.

Rob #666


"An eye for an eye and the whole world goes blind."

Mohandas K. Gandhi


Rob replies to another message (11/7/01)
>> I don't know why I bother <<

Me neither!

>> Your message wasn't painful. It just pissed me off. <<

Uh-huh. Kind of like my Red Wings teasing, which you 1) laughed off as silly, and 2) complained about as hurtful and inappropriate. At the same time.

>> Is it appropriate to post a picture of the murder-in-progress of thousands of people? Yes <<

Stop right there. <g>

My site also has pictures of Jews huddled at Auschwitz, dead Indians at Wounded Knee, and an a-bomb exploding. In the proper context, I consider them all appropriate.

>> But the fact is, that every time is as damaging to our psyche and sense of well-being as the first. <<

The whole point of this subsection is to discuss the causes and effects of the terrorist attacks. Virtually none of it is intended to repair people's psyches or restore their sense of well-being. So the image matches the text in both content and tone.

If you're looking for well-being, you may want to hold hands and sing songs around a campfire. Surfing the Web is bound to lead you to all sorts of uncomfortable places, especially if you search for words like "terrorism."

>> It is not something to be glorified or immortalized <<

With all the memorials we've seen and heard since 9/11, the events are certainly something to remember. We've "immortalized" them the same way we immortalized Pearl Harbor.

>> I'm sure you just think it's a cool picture because you know all those conservative, capitalist, financial wizards were about to bite it. <<

Wrong again. But nice to see your streak of not understanding me remains alive.

The point of any news photograph is to record what happened—i.e., the truth. If my site were about Vietnam, I might show the picture of the naked little girl running toward the camera. War and terrorism are both hell and people should never forget it. If they start to forget it, the pictures are there to remind them.

If I put a picture of the towers collapsing on a page about capitalists being stupid and getting what they deserved, then you'd have a legitimate point. Since I didn't, you don't.

Nasty Rob-bashing
>> Nasty Rob-bashing, eh? I didn't think I was being nasty, although I did have my back up a bit. <<

Saying I was dancing for joy like the Palestinians or that I hate our country and its values wasn't nasty? You all but accused me of being a Bin Laden supporter. If those comments weren't nasty, give me an idea of what comments you would consider nasty in this context.

>> And it's not an issue of timing — it is never a good time to be subversive and anti-establishment. <<

On the contrary, it's always a good time to be subversive and anti-establishment. As many have said, debate and dissent are the lifeblood of democracy.

>> OK, first of all, I am capable of distinguishing between professional journalism and "Rob's comments". It's not hard, by the way. <<

Apparently you're not capable of judging the proportions correctly, since the professional journalism far outweighs my comments.

>> And, the links that you have (now) posted point to articles that you DISAGREE with. <<

Wrong again. I'd say I agree with somewhere between 2/3 and 4/5 of all the terrorism articles I've posted. There are whole postings (e.g., A Few Voices of Reason, Native Intelligence:  The Long View) where I basically agree with everything said.

>> Everything is you, disputing and refuting what the mainstream is saying. <<

Sounds like you're referring mostly to the reader responses at the end of the main terrorism page. Those are ancillary postings, as the word "responses" implies. I don't consider them part of the subsection's main structure.

If you want to include them, the percent of "professional journalism" might drop to 50%. No lower, because the original postings like Why Don't "They" Like Us? are l-o-n-g compared to the responses. The responses usually focus one one article each, while the original postings usually include many articles.

>> I do not see these "hundreds" of supporting quotes. <<

Try the three links above and you'll see dozens of them.

>> I mean hell, you even take the Sinclair editorial and rip it up — everyone KNOWS it's outdated and slightly cheesy <<

On the contrary, I received two or three copies of it from people who thought it was smart and timely.

Sentimental about...war?
>> it's the *sentiment* they are applauding, not the dead-on accuracy of its details. <<

The sentiment is based on the details. False details lead to false sentiment. We've also seen that false sentiment in the millions of people who have sung "God Bless America" and waved a flag while baying for more media censorship, more infringement of civil rights, and more government handouts.

Besides, when you're talking about going to war, sentiment is the last thing you should feel. We should do everything we can (e.g., hard-edged criticism and news photos) to banish emotions from the decision-making process.

>> What I am not surprised at is that you cannot realize that there are people who hate America (including YOU) <<

I already answered that. But it's nasty of you to repeat it.

>> because they hate Christianity (which IS the dominant religion in this country) <<

It's dominant but it isn't the religion or our religion. Go ahead and admit it: You were wrong on that point.

I've yet to hear any Arab or Muslim commentators say they hate Christianity. Maybe you have different sources than mine.

>> they hate capitalism, they hate our moral standards etc etc etc. <<

Now you're getting warmer. They may hate the effects of capitalism. And they may hate some of our moral standards, such as when we exploit and kill people for our own benefit.

>> I'm sure you know all this because I think you feel the same way they do. <<

Your streak of being wrong continues!

>> They do not take a "multi-cultural" perspective on us — they are not going to respond to any touchy-feely, wimpy-assed, new generation DIALOG, OK? They don't want to TALK! THEY WANT TO DESTROY US. <<

Get serious. First, one terrorist attack doesn't prove "they" want to do anything more than terrorize us. If you read the terrorists' writings or listen to their interviews, they list several goals that fall well short of destroying us. Ending the one-sided US support for Israel and stopping the baby-killing in Iraq are two of them.

Second, whom do you mean by "they"? Are you so American-blind you think the entire Arab world wants to destroy us? We need to talk to everyone involved: the terrorists, sure, but far more important, the sprawling Islamic world that doesn't support terrorism but thinks the US is wrong on many issues.

>> There is not anything we as a nation can do to change their mind. <<

Spare me the grade-school opinions. Since we haven't tried serious negotiations with the Islamic world on the core issues, your opinions have no basis in fact.

Killing Afghans in self-defense?
>> If someone was trying to kill you would you defend yourself? <<

No one's trying to kill me now, so the question is moot. If people were trying to kill me before, they missed by 3,000 miles. Oops.

>> Or would you try to blame the President? <<

If people were trying to kill me, it would depend on how. If it were, say, a company that wanted to continue pumping arsenic into the water per the Bush administration's weakened regulations...yes, I'd blame the "president."

>> (No quotes around President, either—he was elected, get over it.) <<

No, he was appointed by the Supreme Court. Get over the fact that he stole the election.

>> American values do not include all those "bad" things you listed. <<

Sure they do. They include all those "bad" values and more.

>> Have you read the Constitution? Of course you have. And no, I haven't (I know you'd throw that back at me). <<

Right on both counts.

>> But I'm familiar with the gist of it and the Bill of Rights. <<

At most, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights codified America's political values at one point in time. Our national values extend far beyond a couple of political documents.

>> Traditional American values are based on our founding fathers' view of this country and they include: equal opportunity, freedom of expression, the right to defend oneself, access to education, the work ethic, free enterprise, philanthropy, limited government, individual liberty, and national unity. <<

Would this be the same Constitution that classified Negroes as 3/5 of a human being?

The Constitution mentions few of your so-called values specifically. In particular, it doesn't say much of anything about access to education, the work ethic, free enterprise, or philanthropy. Individual liberty and national unity are more a part of the Declaration of Independence, which also called the Indians "merciless savages."

As I've written in The Founders' Original Intent, the Founders were divided on how much to limit the government's power. They definitely wanted it stronger than the weak Articles of Confederation, the Constitution's precursor. The three-part government was their compromise between centralizing and decentralizing control.

Americans then elected Washington and Adams, members of the Federalist faction, as the first two presidents. Their more liberal interpretation of the Constitution fostered an expansionist government. And so it has continued to the present, exactly as some Founding Fathers wanted.

Founders opposed core values
>> There's more of course, and I suppose you know more about them than I do. <<

Yeah. I know "due process of the law" wasn't enshrined in the Constitution until the 14th Amendment, almost a century after the Constitution. Conservatives fought bitterly against this amendment and still oppose it in many respects. So much for our unified set of values.

>> The "bad" things you listed are corruptions of these values. <<

That's what you think. The first settlers gave us their values of stealing and raping the land, killing and enslaving the inhabitants, and imposing a Christian theocracy on anyone who remained. Those values were embedded in the American psyche long before the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

>> You are aware that America is a capitalist society? That money is the basis of our culture? In this country, you are supposed to work and contribute. <<

Yes, I know, since I have an MBA and have toiled in business for years.

>> The more you contribute, the more you earn. The more you earn, the more you are entitled to. <<

According to the power elite's definition of "contribute" and "entitled to," perhaps. As far as I'm concerned, the rich aren't entitled to buy Congress, pillage the land, or determine our foreign policy. Capitalist values are at odds with democratic values, where one person equals one vote. That's a concept you've failed to grasp, judging by your comments.

>> They are less often victims of crime, and if they commit a crime are more likely to be found innocent. <<

And how does that square with "justice for all"? You admit the system is flawed, but you refuse to admit our fundamental values allow a flawed system to persist.

>> The failure in this system is not that we export Barbie dolls and CDs, as you mention in one of your anti-American comments, but that not everyone has the same opportunity and access to the education or employment that would afford them a better lifestyle. <<

If we valued opportunity and access to education and employment in reality rather than in theory, the system wouldn't fail.

>> I know you'll argue that an actor who earns $1 million a movie is not "contributing" more to society than a $40,000/year firefighter, but that is the current hierarchy and maybe it is faulty as well. <<

We've already seen you don't know jack about what I believe. But if the current hierarchy is faulty, it again reflects badly on America and its values. In other societies, people are equal in reality, not in theory. So again, a core American value (equality) appears to be mythical rather than actual.

Capitalism...deal with it
>> But the concept behind it is not wrong — it's capitalism, deal with it. <<

I'm dealing with it by criticizing it and our other contradictory values. Deal with my criticism.

>> Most Americans are not running around shooting Sikhs or calling Indians "Arab fags" or whatever. <<

Yes, they're too busy cheering the deaths of innocent Afghans.

The attacks on Muslims trailed off because thousands of critics like me put pressure on public officials to do something. That led Bush, Ashcroft, and other leaders to come down hard on race- and religion-based hatred.

But the same racist values that have stoked hatred against minorities ever since the republic's founding are alive and well. I've seen a dozen editorials and editorial cartoons calling for the wholesale extermination of "them"—often indicating whole governments or countries. Extermination has nothing to do with justice but everything to do with revenge, two more competing American values.

See A Talk About War, Racism, United Fronts, and the Left for more on the racist nature of this war.

>> They are donating blood, money and time to aid the victims. Have you? I have. <<

Blood? No. I knew they'd get more than they needed quickly. And so they did.

Money? No. The victims already have a million dollars each, or something like that. Meanwhile, thousands of Americans die each day from poverty or disease or crime. I'm satisfied to pay my taxes and let the government address these problems.

As for time, I'm aiding the victims and everyone else by taking time to e-mail and post relevant material. Have you donated more time than that? Doing what, exactly?

As Robert Scheer wrote, "Sorry to break the news to the flag-waving kids on the overpasses and to the media and politicians leading them on, but terrorism is here to stay." After Bush declares the "war" over, I can guarantee there'll be another terrorist attack somewhere. If you'd like to bet money on it, I'll be glad to donate my winnings to a victim relief fund.

Point is, you have it exactly backward. War definitely will not end either evil or terrorism. I doubt it'll even end Al Qaeda or Bin Laden. The only thing that has a chance of preventing future terrorism is talk—talking with others, and talking among ourselves—about our mutual cultural conflicts.

>> All of my consumerist, conservative, American-valued friends have, too, in some way. <<

Good for you. Meanwhile, you advocate and vote against taxes that help save far more people every day than your meager charitable contributions do. I conclude that your values are skewed—that you only care about people when you can make a feel-good payment as your limited contribution.

If you do more than contribute once every terrorist attack, what do you do?

America, a Christian country?
>> I'm an atheist, but this is a Christian country. <<

No, it's a secular country with Christian roots. Big difference.

>> It doesn't say, "In Allah we trust" on the coins, and it's a New Testament bible people swear to tell the truth on in court. <<

"The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War....IN GOD WE TRUST first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin."

History of the Motto "In God We Trust"

In other words, it has nothing to do with the Founders or the Constitution. And people can opt to swear on something other than the Bible if they want. That's a choice, not a requirement.

>> You're free to be any other religion, but Christian references are everywhere and you're expected to understand them, at least. <<

I understand them. That's why I understand our secular values are at odds with "our" Christian values, just like our capitalist values are at odds with our democratic values.

But there's no requirement that I understand them. Your comment is amusing considering you tout our freedom of religion later on. What kind of freedom is it if you're "expected" to understand something or to tolerate Christian mottos and practices?

>> And, how can you be "undecided" on religion? Either you believe it or you don't. <<

Agnostics are undecided on whether God exists.

>> Faith is not something you think up — it's something you have. Or not. <<

I don't personally have faith in religion or God, but I'm not saying religion and God are pointless. If that puts me closer to the atheist side of agnosticism than to the religious side, so be it.

>> OK, first off, the majority of people (and this is a democracy so the majority rules whether you like it or not) <<

No, the majority rules whether you like it or not. The American majority has made it clear it supports government, taxes, abortion, gun control, environmental regulations, and so forth—all part of the liberal agenda. The majority also voted for Al Gore, not Dubya Bush, and we plan to take back the White House in 2004.

>> the majority of people...are NOT advocating killing all the Arabs or deporting all the Middle Eastern immigrants living in the U.S., or supporting the comments of Falwell and others of the radical religious right. There are always gonna be a few idiots who overreact <<

The so-called idiots and extremists reflect America's core values—an idiotic, extreme version of them. We've seen that in the cries to exterminate "them"—whoever they are. Americans have willingly killed people for centuries, ever since the Indians were the "terrorists." These values have nothing to do with the present crisis and everything to do with our history.

"Stupid ass" is true American
>> if the story you relate about the Sikh wasn't so damned tragic it'd be funny: stupid ass who shot him couldn't even get the religion right. <<

Says the person who thinks the US is a Christian country. It's beliefs like yours and "President" Bush's that foster religious hatred in the US. Bush was smart enough to listen to his critics and back off his Christian crusade talk. You don't appear to be quite as discerning.

>> And, contrary to what you state, he did NOT get shot because of his religion, because you just established that the idiot who shot him couldn't tell a Sikh from a Muslim, or his ass from a hole in the ground, either. <<

He shot the Sikh for the Sikh's real or imagined religion or ethnicity or race. It doesn't matter which, since all those are invalid reasons to shoot someone.

>> The dude got shot because some terrorists hijacked some planes and used them to bomb us, and someone who was probably mentally unstable to begin with could not process the horror and atrocity of it all, so he committed an irrational act in an attempt to asuage his anger, grief, and confusion. <<

Very much like American entering an undefined war against an unidentified enemy, I'd say.

>> But he never would've done that if bin Laden & his crew hadn't have started it. <<

The killer might've done the same thing or something similar. Maybe he's already beaten a few blacks or gays or women and the 9/11 attacks sent him over the edge. We have no way of knowing.

But it sure sounds like you're justifying the Sikh's murder. You expect us to understand an American murderer's motivations, but not a terrorist murderer's motivations? I guess the difference is that one is an American and the other isn't.

>> But if you're mad at him you should be a thousand times madder at the September 11th terrorists (Make that SIX THOUSAND times madder, one for each victim...) <<

I would be madder, but the terrorists are all dead. The Sikh's murderer and millions of Americans who think just like him are still alive.

>> What kind of logic is that? "If you disagree with me, then you must be on the opposite extreme of crazy." Yeah, right. <<

It's perfect logic. You said I hate certain American "values." Logically, you either hate or don't hate the same values I supposedly hate. Once you figure out which values I'm criticizing, tell me which it is.

>> No one is condoning violence against innocents <<

Sure they are. They condone it by supporting an unnecessary war with the inevitable consequence of killing innocents. Unless you invent a war that can kill the guilty without killing the innocent, supporting war means condoning violence against innocents by definition.

Most don't want to bomb?
>> heck, most people don't even want to bomb Afghanistan anymore, because after the initial knee-jerk reaction they realized that most people over there are victims of the situation too. <<

Sure they do. Support for bombing remains in the 80-90% range or thereabouts.

>> We support sending relief aid to them, fer Gawd's sake. <<

We support dropping little packages of food that don't necessarily reach the war victims. That are the same yellow color as explosive packages. That have non-Afghan food such as peanut butter.

Whether we support large-scale aid to rebuild the country after we destroy it remains to be seen. As you may know, helping people is an American value unless it costs money.

>> I wonder — would you kill a radical conservative, given the chance? I bet you would like to. <<

Nope, and wrong again. I demolish people with words, so I don't feel any need to harm them physically. None whatsoever.

>> How does your multicultural perspective reconcile dislike and hate of entire groups in our society? <<

They, the minority, are trying to impose their values on us, the majority. Tolerance for them ends the moment they infringe on our rights.

>> Do they not have a culture that is worthy of consideration? <<

I considered it and rejected it as stupid, illogical, and un-American.

If Americans want to abort their fetuses, Muslims want to chop off their hands, or Aztecs want to sacrifice themselves, that's their prerogative. Each culture is legitimate to its own adherents, but not necessarily to anyone else. The only real question is whether non-believers are free to opt out of a cultural system they disagree with.

>> Who makes that call? YOU??? <<

The majority does, consistent with the Constitution.

>> I mean, I may not agree with, say, Christian fundamentalists, but I'm not going to HATE them, or even dislike them. As long as they aren't bombing national landmarks, I'm down with their right to exist. <<

They've blown up abortion clinics and killed abortion providers...not to mention some liberal activists and talk show hosts...not to mention the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. More important, they're threatening our fundamental Constitutional rights. I don't have to wait for them to destroy our rights before I dislike their intent.

Allowing someone to exist is completely different from liking their goals and objectives. But I forget: You have a big problem saying whether you like or dislike or are neutral on a political question. If a fundamentalist wants to eliminate your right to an abortion, that's a "complex" question for you.

Well, have fun with your baby if someone rapes you under a fundamentalist administration. Have fun as your rape-baby learns creationism in school but is prevented from reading Harry Potter. To me it isn't a hard call to dislike people who threaten my rights.

Bush can't threaten freedoms?
>> Sorry, I don't know about any of that. But last I looked, there's a system of checks and balances on the government that would make it damn near impossible for just the President to do anything with our freedoms. <<

The whole system is arguably corrupt. The ultimate check on our "president" is the same conservative Supreme Court that appointed him. So much for that check.

>> It'd have to be a consensus of our elected representatives and possibly even the Supreme Court. Do you mistrust all those people? <<

When they're stampeded into a war frenzy, I sure do. In World War II, the Supreme Court "check" upheld the president's illegal order to imprison Japanese Americans.

In normal times, the checks work well enough. Congress has checked many of "President" Bush's ill-considered ideas so far.

>> Who's Ashcroft? <<

You're scaring me. If you're that ignorant about politics, you forfeit any moral right to debate our legal or constitutional rights.

Ashcroft is our Attorney General, the supreme law enforcement officer of the land. Are you an American citizen or what, exactly?

>> And fact is, email goes across the Internet so it's in the public domain. There should be no expectation of privacy. You want privacy, send me a letter. <<

The Internet is an abstraction. E-mail actually goes through privately owned servers and phone lines. It should be as secure from government snooping as any phone conversation, if not more so. Are you arguing that no phone conservation deserves privacy?!

>> They'd appreciate your values, if not your choice of religions.

Where do you get all this? <<

You're the one who said I should leave because of my choice of values. My values are based on my understanding of the country, which tops your understanding by a mile. You criticized my speech where I didn't criticize yours, so you're less of a free-speech supporter than I am. You called this a Christian rather than a secular nation, so you're less of a free-religion supporter than I am.

In short, your values are less American than mine are, since they can't be more American than mine. So I suggested you might be happier in a country where the values are more like yours. How about if you return to Mexico and stay there? The country is officially Catholic and probably permits government to read private e-mails, so it should be more to your liking.

Who believes in free speech?
>> I think I already said that I don't deny you your right to SAY what you're saying, just that I strongly object and find it offensive. <<

Objecting to speech, finding it offensive, recommending I remove photos, etc. suggests you don't believe in the fundamental worth of free speech. I do, which makes me more American than you.

Your comment on monitoring e-mail only confirms the point. I support free speech more than you do.

>> Heck, I haven't even blocked your email account — yet. <<

Promises, promises.

It would be less nasty and more effective if you simply said, "Enough! I'm tired of losing arguments to you! I quit!" I'd respect that.

>> Do you think you are smarter than most people? <<

I know I am, since you can measure that with IQ and test scores. But being smarter doesn't make me more moral than other people, if that's your point.

>> Do you think you are better than most people? <<

Depends how you define "better." Smarter, yes. More articulate, yes. Able to eat more food in one sitting, yes.

>> Do you think that people in positions of power and authority don't for the most part deserve it or belong there? <<

Perhaps a majority "deserve it" under the present system. The better question is whether there's a better alternative to the present system.

>> Do you feel misunderstood and underappreciated? <<

By whom? Most people have no reason to understand or appreciate me. Of the few people who know me, most understand and appreciate some things and don't understand and appreciate others.

>> Answer honestly...I think I understand you just fine, thank you. <<

I always answer honestly—another thing you don't understand. As for whether you understand me on the new questions you raised, they have little or nothing to do with the terrorist issues already in play. I said you hadn't understood me so far, and that remains true.

Love it or leave it
>> I wasn't trying to seriously pass it off <<

I think you were. I think that's your basic position, whether you're willing to cop to it or not. You said it yourself: anything subversive or anti-establishment is wrong. In other words, love it or leave it.

>> the fact that it elicited a response from you says something about YOUR mental age. <<

I respond to pretty much everything that deserves a response. That doesn't say anything about my so-called mental age.

>> http://lexrex.com/enlightened/AmericanIdeal/ I have a grasp of these principles — I live them, thank you very much! <<

This site is more right-wing propaganda, from what I can see. It's not worth the screen it's written on. But it's sufficient justification to call you a conservative.

A book written by some doofus in the '70s is essentially worthless in this debate. Get back to me when you can discuss what the great thinkers in American history have said about about our values.

If you want the truth about America, you can read it at God Bless Secular America. Enjoy as we demolish the idea of America's Christian values.

A further note on secularism (11/8/01):

To Remove Religious Symbols from Government nicely explains the secular roots of the Constitution, the national motto, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the presidential oath. In other words, it explains how the US was founded as a secular nation. Any perversion of that secularism was done later, by people other than the Founding Fathers.

What happened was that right-wing Christians couldn't stand the idea of losing the culture wars and imposed their beliefs on the rest of us unconstitutionally. They wanted to turn a democracy into a theocracy then and that's still their goal. We kicked their butts during Clinton's impeachment and we'll keep kicking their butts till they get the message: Love secular America or leave it.

>> Yeah, you're shocked, angry, and saddened that Bush's popularity is soaring. ROTFL! <<

That too. But I'm glad it's starting to sink again. It'll revert to the previous low level just as Bush Sr.'s popularity did.

>> OK, now who has a 5-year-old's understanding? <<

Still you....

>> In spite of the freedom of information act, there ARE some things that you & I and Joe Blow don't have the right to know. Our government needs to keep some things secret, for our own safety, and their agents'...If they say they have proof he did it, then they have proof. <<

Right, and the Gulf of Tonkin incident really happened too. The government was right to try to censor the Pentagon Papers. Nixon was only protecting the presidency, not covering up crimes.

Apparently, you don't know how much the American government has lied to its own people. I'd say that's surprising, but since you didn't know who Ashcroft is and may not be an American citizen, it may not be that surprising.

>> And they'll show it to whoever needs to know. And that's not YOU. <<

The American public needs to know what its government is doing and why. In this war, our temporary allies need to know even more than we need to know. You and Bush can take the blame when the pro-terrorism coalition falls apart, as it's starting to do.

Subversive vs. terrorist
>> There are subversive, militant organizations in this country and they have a right to exist as long as they are not harming other people. <<

Tell it to the 1,200 people Ashcroft detained without due process of the law after 9/11.

We've called all sorts of subversive, militant groups "terrorists." If they haven't harmed Americans, do they have a right to exist? Since Bush has declared a war on terrorism—all terrorism, no matter how it's defined—make sure your answer is consistent with his. Otherwise, you'll be disagreeing with another American "value" and criticizing Dubya's interpretation of same.

>> I do not support their eradication because that is not an American value. <<

For a hundred years or so, eradicating Indian culture and life was a core American value. It was American government policy and supported by a majority of Americans. A value can't be a "corruption" of something else if the majority holds that value. That value is our value.

>> I DO support finding all the people in connection with planning and executing the OK City bombing and trying them in court. Just like I do with the September 11th terrorists. I'm not a hypocrite <<

Aren't you? How has bombing Afghanistan brought a single terrorist closer to justice? Do you want to kill Bin Laden or bring him to trial? What do the rest of Americans want? Which value is the American value, since killing him and bringing him to justice are mutually exclusive?

>> Bush may have chosen his words poorly <<

No, he chose his values poorly. He expressed them honestly before being forced by public opinion to express them less honestly.

>> I don't think he used the word "evil" to mean he is judging the world like God. <<

It matters less how he meant it than how people understood it.

>> He meant that what the terrorists did was evil and he is going to make sure no one else does it again. <<

If what the terrorists did was evil, what we're doing in Iraq is evil, since we've killed many more innocent people. That's the problem with using stupid words like "evil." Logically, you can't define them in such a way as to exclude your own behavior. Not when you've committed evil the way America has.

>> That may not be possible but it's a lofty purpose and I for one support it. <<

It's not possible. And you support it only when the evil ones kill Americans, not when Americans are the evil ones killing others. Which makes you hypocritical.

Dubya and Rob...twins?
>> Do you support ANYONE who wants to obliterate an entire race or ethnic group? I don't think so. So why are you opposing Bush's sentiments? He is against the same thing. <<

His sentiments are to bomb people because it gives us the feel-good illusion of revenge and keeps his poll ratings high. My sentiments are to avoid war, bring the terrorists to justice, and address the long-term problems that cause people to turn to terrorism.

About the only thing Bush and I have in common is saying we want justice for Bin Laden. He said it; I meant it.

>> You may be more alike than you think. <<

Bush is my polar opposite in many ways. He breaks the law, has no intellect whatsoever, talks out of both sides of his mouth, spurns our allies, and rewards the rich for putting him in office. His support for a black-and-white war is just another way we're not alike.

>> You don't have to physically cry to feel sadness in the core of your being. <<

I also don't have to physically cry to feel like many people did, including the guy I quoted. Numbness was our predominant feeling, not sadness.

>> I suppose it didn't affect you personally at all, not just less than a personal tragedy. <<

Millions of people die each day. I don't feel sad because someone dies in a collapsing building rather than in a car crash, a hospital, or a refugee camp. A death is a death.

>> That's the difference between you and me: I'm plugged in to the American collective consciousness <<

That would explain why you're a warmonger who knows little about the Constitution, civil rights, history, politics, or foreign policy. You're a typical American with the typical American myopia.

I'd say I'm more plugged into the world's collective consciousness, which is why I think killing innocent people is a poor way to bring criminals to justice. This collective consciousness, which now deems the war acceptable, will deem it unacceptable if it doesn't end soon. And I'll agree with humanity's collective wisdom.

>> You, though, you just see it as a chance to write some editorials and see your name in the paper again. <<

And this is the part where you show how you understand me? Guffaw!

The facts prove how stupid this assertion is. I put hundreds of hours into building my site without getting any publicity (or other reward) for it. Contributing to the public debate is its own reward.

Nor did I write letters to the LA Times simply to get them published. I've already been published hundreds of times, so hundreds of times plus one means nothing to me. Moreover, I send the same opinions to friend and acquaintances, who have a variety of opinions themselves. My motivation for sending messages has little to do with how recipients respond—whether they praise me, condemn me, or whatever.

Really, you couldn't be more wrong about my motivations if you tried. But go ahead: Try to be more wrong.

Seeking notoreity? Not
>> Oh well, the desire for notariety is pretty darn American, too, so go on with it. <<

So is the desire to remain ignorant of the real world.

The only publicity I care about is getting my comics and other writings read. If I could do that anonymously, it would be fine with me. The credit I get is nothing compared to the value of the words themselves.

>> In this case, the terrorist attack represents an attack on our values <<

That's your unproven opinion, not a fact.

>> even the terrorist organizations admit to hating everything we are and stand for. <<

No, they've admitted to hating a lot of our specific actions and some—not all—of our values. And since there are many terrorists and terrorist organizations, all with contradictory claims and agendas, you can't believe much of what they say.

If you believe everything a terrorist says, you'd be as naive as, well, as if you believed everything the "president" says. Which appears to be the case.

>> MOST people are angry or sad or upset when something that is important to them is attacked or damaged. <<

Again, the terrorists attacked buildings, not values—your vivid imagination notwithstanding. And numbness is a common response to tragedy of any magnitude.

A further note on numbness (11/8/01):

Within a day of saying numbness was a common reaction to tragedy, I found two quotes supporting my claim. These examples range from the personal to the global level, showing numbness is a universal reaction.

  • In the LA Times Magazine, 11/4/01, Jane Marla Robbins's subject is "(It's Hard to Know What to Feel) After Your House Burns Down." Her reaction: "The truth was that I was mainly numb."
  • In an LA Times book review of "A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the 20th Century," 5/13/01, Robert Jay Lifton writes of his own experiences as a psychiatrist during World War II. Specifically, he writes of "my own findings in Hiroshima survivors of radically diminished capacity to feel, or what I came to call psychic numbness."
  • Any questions, or do I have to prove the point further?

    I guess you think I'm arguing for the sake of arguing. No, I'm telling you facts for the sake of telling you facts. People feel numb after tragedies. The only one who's arguing for the sake of arguing is you: telling me I should feel sad when numbness is a common reaction.

    Stop disagreeing with me when I explain a position supported by the evidence and we won't have to argue. It's just that simple.

    >> So your feelings about the event offer insight into your opinion of America. <<

    No doubt they do. Since America ignored the genocide in Rwanda and is killing children in Iraq, I can't devote my attention to 3,000 dead Americans. See above about having a world consciousness.

    >> That's why I asked if you cried or were angry or if you danced or whatever. <<

    You didn't ask if I danced, you said you could imagine me dancing. Asking would've been less nasty than your actual comment.

    >> Synonyms SACRED 3, inviolate, sacrosanct Related Word consecrated, hallowed; blessed, divine, holy; chaste, pure <<

    Look up "inviolable" rather than "sacred." Almost all sacred things are inviolable, but not all inviolable things are sacred.

    >> Who's confusing themselved with a deity now? <<

    I'm not confused about being a deity.

    Bonnie's first political stand
    >> You've finally taken a political stand...congratulations.

    I know you're being sarcastic <<

    Who says I'm being sarcastic? Have you taken a political stand before this one? It's the first political stand I recall.

    >> I really do think this one isn't difficult <<

    Would you have found Vietnam difficult to judge? Wait'll Afghanistan becomes Vietnam II.

    >> if you are committed to American values and principles (as clarified above) <<

    Keep clarifying. Justice, or revenge? If you choose justice, define exactly what outcome you'd consider just. Since most Americans want every terrorist dead and don't care who else they kill along the way, how do you reconcile your views with theirs?

    >> there really aren't compelling arguments for both sides. <<

    There's always a compelling argument for peace and against war. As Ben Franklin (a leading source of American values) wrote: "There never was a good war or a bad peace" (letter to Josiah Quincy, September 11, 1773).

    >> I do think we should put all our resources into finding these anti-democratic, anti-Western Civilization, anti-prosperity bastards and get them out of our way. <<

    Hm-mm. And how many of those "bastards" have we gotten out of the way since we began bombing Afghanistan, killing its citizens, and creating starving refugees? No, really...give me a number. How many bastards are down and how many are still left to go?

    >> We're a powerful nation and we should use that to our own benefit. <<

    I don't think you have to worry about that. Using power for our own selfish benefit is a true American value. Bush said he cared about America first when he pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol, which led to worldwide criticism of his "values." Your myopia would be equally popular on a world stage.

    >> We can give to others too but us first in this case. <<

    You said it. Selfishness is purely American.

    >> Looking out for one's own interests is not a bad thing. <<

    It's not necessarily a good thing. Bin Laden and the terrorists were looking out for their own interests. Are you denying them the American right to be selfish at other people's expense?

    Acting on instincts?
    >> Self-preservation is an instinct. So yeah, I've taken a stand, congratulations are in order. <<


    >> This is way more black-and-white than abortion or the death penalty! (Although, if Osama bin Laden had been an abortion I'd have no problem with it, and if they ever catch him I'd be happy to assist with the lethal injection). <<

    How about if Bin Laden captures an American soldier and executes him? Would that be okay with you? Why or why not? After all, Bush declared war on Bin Laden. Bin Laden didn't declare war on us.

    >> Why didn't I think of this hot-button topic before? You're FOR war and AGAINST peace.

    There you go again. <<

    There I go again, accurately summarizing the facts. Deal with it.

    >> How can we solve this problem peacefully? <<

    Via negotiations, pressure, and sanctions. How did we solve the Cold War with our "evil" enemies (the Communists, then)? Not by going to war with them, that's for sure.

    >> Is there a 12-step program for Taliban addiction? <<

    The Taliban haven't killed anybody—unless Bush showed you the evidence he hasn't showed the rest of us. Harboring Islamic terrorists isn't first-degree homicide any more than harboring right-wing militias or abortion-clinic bombers is. So again, is your goal justice or revenge?

    >> You wanna go hold hands around the campfire and sing Kumbayah with Al-Qaida? <<

    No. Do you want to kill everyone in Afghanistan to make sure we get Bin Laden? Oops, you're not even sure if he's in Afghanistan now. Unless you've seen Dubya's intelligence briefing, that is.

    You're a lot closer to your alleged goal than I am to mine. I guess killing people is one of your American values.

    >> I already covered the "self-defense" angle of this — they are attacking US, all right? <<

    No, they attacked us—past tense. Once.

    >> Are we supposed to let them? <<

    Has bombing Afghanistan stopped them? How long do we have to bomb Afghanistan without harming a single terrorist before you'll admit this approach is a failure? A year? A decade? A century?

    The anthrax scare
    >> Do you know what the prognosis for surviving Anthrax is? Cuz you'll find out unless we subjugate these guys. <<

    If it turns out homegrown Americans have perpetrated the anthrax attacks, as I predicted, I'm going to laugh my head off at your naivete.

    >> Have you seen them on TV, by the way? Bunch of dirty, illiterate, small-dicked morons running around shooting their bazookas at sand dunes. <<

    And yet, they seem to be surviving the American onslaught quite well so far. Not only that, they're turning world opinion against America. Pretty good for dirty, illiterate morons.

    At least Bush is a clean illiterate moron. That must be why he invokes God so often: because "cleanliness is next to godliness."

    >> They're not the kind of people you take out to a power lunch and discuss a friendly corporate merger with. <<

    I've probably said this a dozen times already, but the terrorists aren't the main problem. The main problem is our ongoing conflicts with the entire Islamic world. Address these problems successfully and Islamic support for terrorism dries up. Poof! End of terrorism, and end of story.

    >> You get their attention by having bigger guns (and all that implies to their manhood). <<

    Let me know when this thuggish apeman approach works. It didn't work in Iraq, where it not only steeled Saddam's resolve against us but created a new generation of terrorists. It's never worked between the Israelis and Palestinians. Maybe it'll succeed this time after failing all those other times.

    >> Yeah, there's no close-minded liberals out there, are there? Not a one, not even YOU. <<

    That's pretty much true. When you get past the dictionary's political definitions of "liberal" to its general definitions, you'll find things like "tolerant of the ideas or behavior of others" (American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition).

    >> I've never said I wasn't conservative, in many ways. <<

    You never said you were conservative. Luckily, I said it for you.

    >> I don't know how I'd fare on a test for it — I may be very liberal in some ways, too. <<

    Yes, but you're unwilling even to discuss your beliefs. Afraid of what you'll find, or of what they'll say about you, I presume.

    >> I don't limit myself to pigeonholes like you do. <<

    If there are pigeonholes for right and wrong answers, I'll settle for being pigeonholed.

    Bin Laden the Terminator?
    >> "Listen! And understand! That terminator is out there. It can't be bargained with! It can't be reasoned with! It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead!"

    — Kyle Reese, "The Terminator" <<

    I quote Gandhi and you quote the Terminator movie. Talk about who has a grasp on reality and who doesn't. It's a movie, genius. Comic book-style villains don't exist in reality.

    Let me know when you can differentiate between fairy tales and fact. Then maybe we can get somewhere with this discussion.


    More debates with Bonnie
    Are you suggesting we shouldn't get involved in any military conflicts?
    National Post:  When people say the US "had it coming," they mean "murder is a morally appropriate rejoinder."

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