Skip

Chelsea Clinton speaks out against anti-Americanism,
November 10, 2001 8:40 AM   Subscribe


 
You call that "engaging in Anti-Americanism"? Sheesh.
posted by mapalm at 8:52 AM on November 10, 2001


And hoorah for Chelsea, disrupting free speech. Double sheesh.
posted by mapalm at 8:53 AM on November 10, 2001


I wish you would put aside your Clinton bashing and note that the Times, a right-wing ultra conservative paper, owned by Rev Moon (whopaid many thousands of dollars to Dole for speeches and to DaddyBush), has a title that hardly matches what Clinton in fact said. What he did say has the truth of history on its side.
You are not being anit-Amreican by noting the impact of Indian killing and slavery.
posted by Postroad at 8:55 AM on November 10, 2001


I agree. The reporting was very partisan and irresponsible (I thought so yesterday when I first read this article, before the posting of this thread). Once you dig through that, though, I was very impressed with Clinton's insight--and with his willingness to share it without watering it down or slanting it to pander to the LCD. It's amazing what people are capable of when they're not running for office and are willing to speak freely.

The bastard.
posted by rushmc at 9:01 AM on November 10, 2001


I think that the connections that Pere Clinton is drawing here between the historical mistreatment of native americans, US slavery, and modern terrorism are tenuous at best. As for not pandering the LCD, why is that somehow more noble than his obvious pandering here to an adoring college audience?

However, I'd hesitate to call his remarks anti-american, and I certainly agree with him that the US needs to better understand the forces in the world and in our own foreign policy that makes terrorism an attractive outlet for our enemies. Having lived in the Middle East for several years, all that I can say is that our government's understanding of the dynamics of that region has been historically abysmal and that certainly applies to the former Clinton administration as well. As for his vaunted insight, I would've been more impressed if he'd used it to analyze his own policy failures in the Middle East that have directly contributed to the current situation (e.g. Somalia).
posted by MrBaliHai at 9:12 AM on November 10, 2001


I think Chelsea's suffering more from culture shock than anything else: judging from sightings around town, she's certainly surrounded herself with a coterie of fellow expats. (As is only natural.) October 2001 was probably not the ideal time for an young American to leave home. On the one hand, most people in Oxford don't have her personal experience of the events in New York, which can encourage a certain callousness; on the other hand, she's no longer cocooned by the rather rather blinkered broadcasting on the other side of the Atlantic. But heh, the Socialist Workers have disrupted enough meetings in Oxford in my years there: it's about time they had to deal with things from the other side.
posted by holgate at 9:13 AM on November 10, 2001


troll.
posted by jpoulos at 9:13 AM on November 10, 2001


As even veteran Clinton-basher Andrew Sullivan somewhat sheepishly admitted, the Washington Times coverage of Clinton's speech was slanted in most spectacular fashion. (Scroll down a bit.)
posted by thomas j wise at 9:23 AM on November 10, 2001


That wasn't anti-Americanism. That was called introspection and doing a "warts and all" look at our society.

Really, all you Clinton haters should do what I did when he left office. Say to yourself, "William Jefferson Clinton is no longer the President. He has limited ability to affect my life any longer. Hereinafter, whenever he acts like a pig or does that "bite the top lip and feel their pain" bullshit, I can just as easily ignore him."

Really, let it go. It's over and so is he.

As for Chelsea, I think she has triumphed over the genetic material she was dealt and become quite a nice person.
posted by MAYORBOB at 9:38 AM on November 10, 2001


There's no denying that the Times story is outrageously slanted (though I had to smile when reading "Mr. Clinton — who was impeached for lying under oath about a sexual relationship with a 21-year-old White House intern — said the entire issue revolves around 'the nature of truth.'"). I would have linked to the transcript (via Andrew Sullivan -- thanks thomas) had I known it existed.
posted by mw at 9:39 AM on November 10, 2001


The answer, Mr. Clinton said, is to spread freedom and democracy, reduce global poverty, forgive billions in debt, improve health care systems and encourage — even fund — education in developing countries.

You're right, that doesn't sound too American, but good ideas nonetheless.
posted by donovan at 9:40 AM on November 10, 2001


Yeah... like I would believe any of the Clintons. What a bunch of liars.


http://www.drudgereport.com/mattch1.htm

http://www.washingtontimes.com/national/20011110-69329126.htm
posted by BlitzK at 9:45 AM on November 10, 2001


> Really, let it go. It's over and so is he.

Heheh-he ... if they did that, MayorBob, "Rush Limbaugh" would be a 12 minute show.
posted by RavinDave at 9:47 AM on November 10, 2001


regardless. Clinton is a fucking idiot. "...better prepared." bah.
posted by Satapher at 9:51 AM on November 10, 2001


From reading the Times own quotes of Clinton's remarks, his statements do not link America's slave past in a causal relationship with the modern terrorism inflicted on it.

He does say that America is paying a price for a history of racist actions. That is obvious. No one can seriously claim that America has overcome every ill of racism, so what he said is true.

No where in the quotes from Clinton does he say America's past rascist actions caused, instigated or encouraged the Current Situation.

It's more bullshit from the Washington Times, yet another reason to discount whatever they have to say.
posted by NortonDC at 10:04 AM on November 10, 2001


I wish you would put aside your Clinton bashing and note that the Times, a right-wing ultra conservative paper?

Yeah, well I wish you would put aside your Bush bashing and note that the ________ (read: 95% of all media outlets in America) is left-wing and ultra liberal blah, blah, blah. Of course, this is MeFi, where every opinion not left of center is wrong and all practitioners thereof should be labeled trolls and locked into a dark closet for all eternity.

MetaFilter: ?Our standards are so high, they're double!?
posted by Danelope at 10:04 AM on November 10, 2001


That whole "pandering to an adoring college audience" comment (by MrBaliHai) really bothered me. Somehow, all of the news outlets like U.S. News and World Report, the Washington Times and other "barely-journalism" outlets like them have got this idea that college students are as much against this "war on terrorism" as any other war that the US has fought in the last 50 years. And I just have to say: they are WRONG. I absolutly love Clinton and would have gone to hear him speak about just about anything, but I must say, the vast majority of us liberal college students are fully FOR the war. Our university even passed a resolution supporting the war, and we're on, *gasp*, the West Coast: bastion of leftist politics!

I say bomb the hell out of the Taliban, as long as we do it cautiously, intelligently, and with the support of the world community. This is not a fight that we can fight alone. And I agree with the majority of the ideas that Clinton put forth in his speech. Does that make me "anti-American"? I think not.
posted by raintea at 10:06 AM on November 10, 2001


No matter what song the troll plays, everybody ends up dancing the same dance they danced before. Some people pogo during a piano sonata, while others waltz to "Inna-Gadda-Da-Vida". Proponents of each dance are sure of their dance's superiority. While many dancers talk about "parties", it sure as hell doesn't feel like one.
posted by websavvy at 10:15 AM on November 10, 2001


Yes, he's a fucking idiot of a Rhodes Scholar and two-time elected president. His professors at Oxford were all, "you bloody moron!"

Sorry, there are a lot of things you can take Clinton to task for, but being an idiot is not one of them.

And as for his connections in this speech being 'tenuous,' I'd have to point out Bin Laden's recent speech in which he calls us crusaders and says that this war the latest in "a long series of crusader wars against the Islamic world."

So, I think Clinton may have a point.
posted by Hildago at 10:18 AM on November 10, 2001


Danelope,

Ooh? There's a liberal media conspiracy? Do you have any non-declaratory reasons for stating this? I imagine not. Even if you are just spouting rhetoric, I'm sure you think that your contribution to this discussion is valuable. Guess what though? It's not.

Go away if you're going to base your arguments on dogmatic irrelevancies.

And if you don't want to go away, keep reminding yourself that "[T]his is MeFi, where every opinion not left of center is wrong". There's no point to your participating in discussion here; none of us will listen to you. You're wrong, and even if you were making valid, interesting points, we'd all laugh and ignore you.

On the other hand, if you'd actually like to discuss the issues, please stay. Many of us respect viewpoints besides our own, and cherish MeFi as a place for debate among reasoned, articulate individuals of differing values and opinions. Put aside your dumb-ass, trollish soap-box and join us for something more intelligent.
posted by Marquis at 10:21 AM on November 10, 2001


Raintea - That's not true, last time I checked. College Republicans President Kemmling put forth the resolution, and the UW student Senate voted it down in committee, then again on the floor. Support from our 'liberal' college was not by any means unanimous. The latest resolution is in support of the soldiers.

I go to UW too.
posted by Hildago at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2001


Actually Marquis, to be perfectly frank, I have found much more anger towards liberals than concervatives in these forums the past couple months. If I were told to place MeFi on a sliding scale, it sure wouldn't be left of center. But maybe I've just been hanging out in the wrong threads.
posted by kevspace at 10:24 AM on November 10, 2001


Ok so... if I blindly support my government and it's decisions, I'm an American. And if i protest against the government (or simply against war) and if I disagree with some of the decision-making, I'm an anti-American. Ah, now I see.
posted by thirdball at 10:47 AM on November 10, 2001


Yes. Exercising your right to disagree with your Government's (present or past) behaviour makes you an un-American nogoodnik. Your government is always right. Remember that.
posted by websavvy at 10:54 AM on November 10, 2001


Oh, so we're talking about rhetoric now, are we? Let's try "The Times is a GOP rag and you shouldn't pay attention to it".

My point is that very few people are here to participate in discussions on the merit of the individual subject matter. More often than not, threads are fraught with people blindly jumping to conclusions, "me too" posts, and the latest MeFi buzzwords (the favorites for September and October have been 'jingoism' and 'straw man'.) One could post about circus peanuts and the thread would degrade to the same "Bush is an idiot, Conservatives are morons, the religious are easily-swain sheep" pap.

There is little room for dissention on MetaFilter (as has been noted before), and this is exemplified by the fact that my difference of opinion immediately has someone calling me a "dumb-ass" and a "troll". "Something more intelligent"? Not really.

And people wonder why I try not to go past MeFi's front page...
posted by Danelope at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2001


As for his vaunted insight, I would've been more impressed if he'd used it to analyze his own policy failures in the Middle East that have directly contributed to the current situation (e.g. Somalia).

His own policy failures in the middle east? Can you name me a SINGLE President who has had a middle east policy that WORKED? If there was a success in the first place, then there can be failure, until then there can only be ideas and initiatives. Regardless, the failure of his policy was due to Arafat/Palestinians, something not in his control. BTW, Somalia was Bush's idea (the father). Clinton didn't approve it, but was stuck with the mission gone bad.
posted by Rastafari at 10:56 AM on November 10, 2001


Total troll. You're not even American, guy.
posted by Vek at 11:16 AM on November 10, 2001


Chelsea totally rules. She is going to be a fine president.
posted by black8 at 11:20 AM on November 10, 2001


Thanks, Hildago and Marquis for posting what I was going to and saving me the trouble.

My point is that very few people are here to participate in discussions on the merit of the individual subject matter.

That is a totally unsupported contention which I believe the majority of people here would disagree with; certainly I do.

One could post about circus peanuts and the thread would degrade to the same "Bush is an idiot...

Blatantly, demonstrably false. Do you READ any of the non-political threads posted here?

There is little room for dissention on MetaFilter

Funny, I see dissention and disagreement all OVER this place. Some of it contentious, some of it civil.

It seems to me that one must be careful not to project one's own expectations and desires onto MeFi or the other users here. I don't question that you are representing your experiences here--you're saying that's what it is, why should I doubt you? But it is not legitimate to making sweeping generic statements condemning the entire site based upon some unfortunate tendencies or instances. It kills your credibility when you outrageously deny what the rest of us know to be true, i.e., that a lot of people are here to hear other people's viewpoints and discuss them, and that such discussion often occurs without rancor or flaming. Perhaps you need to venture beyond the front page more often and see what actually goes on, in order to form a more representative idea.
posted by rushmc at 11:30 AM on November 10, 2001


Mr. Clinton, wearing a gray suit and orange tie, arrived 45 minutes late for the event.
I am deeply offended. They never would have mentioned his clothing if he was a woman.
posted by thirteen at 11:33 AM on November 10, 2001


I'm having a bit of cognitive dissonance caused by hearing about these tactics used in a pro-American sense, and my approval probably denotes a bit of hypocrisy, but even so: Good on ya, Chelsea!
posted by jaek at 11:39 AM on November 10, 2001


Hey Danelope, in the thread we're actually in, I didn't say to ignore the Times because it's GOP rag, I said to ignore it becasue it utterly failed to support its inflamatory characterization of the speech.

Now if you wish to equate a lack of truth, logic, sincerety and accuracy with "represents the GOP," then have at it.
posted by NortonDC at 11:43 AM on November 10, 2001


I would've been more impressed if he'd used it to analyze his own policy failures in the Middle East that have directly contributed to the current situation (e.g. Somalia).

You'd consider Somalia part of the Mideast? Seriously, real question; I've always thought of Somalia as part of the African problem, which is bad bad bad but still a whole different pot of bad from the Mideast.
posted by shylock at 11:57 AM on November 10, 2001


As I said to rushmc in another context, having had to endure the holier-than-thou PC corrections from my lefty friends since the phrase first appeared, I can understand the irritation of some conservatives. On the other hand, you don't shout fire in a theater and you can't make racist jokes at work. Which is a good thing.

What I find bemusing is the level of hatred for Clinton--for all the stupid Reagan-as-death-and-devil posters I saw in the 80s, the venom involved came in teaspoons, compared to the 4 liter bottles the Clintonbashers 'R Us carry around, and stopped when he left office.

Now it's the dead-frog's-leg-animated-by-galvanic-impulse conservatives tilting at windmills of their own device with their xerox of a xerox of a xerox received opinions. Talking to them is like arguing politics with your dad, unwinnable,
frustrating and not worth the bother.

I bear no love for our last Republican president. but, village's help or not, his daughter turned out just fine and that is to his and Hillary's credit.
posted by y2karl at 12:00 PM on November 10, 2001


thanks for the transcript mw, great speech! kinda like the c-span one postroad linked to the other week.

bush's speech otoh was underwhelming, drudge reports more people watched friends :(
posted by kliuless at 12:11 PM on November 10, 2001


When did "American" become a value judgement?

"I'm more American than you, so there! Nyah nyah nyah"

"Why, that's Un-American!!!!"

Kind of leaves all of us non-gringos out of it, or are we just a bunch of (literally) un-american bastards?
posted by signal at 12:12 PM on November 10, 2001


You're not even American, guy

Oh touché, old chap! Unforgivable! The nerve of some people!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:18 PM on November 10, 2001


I think we should invade Oxford and convert them to Christianity
No, seriously, I agree with Holgate -- the young miss Clinton seems to be really surprised that not all non-Muslims do agree with US policy, a classic case of culture shock.
Living surrounded by the secret service detail 24/7 since you were twelve is definitely not the best way to experience the real world. I mean, poor girl, in England she's even had to meet those evil, Godless, Satan-worshipping -- gasp! -- socialists!
posted by matteo at 12:20 PM on November 10, 2001


Who is Guy anyway, are there French Canadians posting that I can't see because I'm on a Mac?
posted by chrismc at 12:26 PM on November 10, 2001


You'd consider Somalia part of the Mideast?

No, poor word association on my part. However, there was a link between his actions in Somalia and 9/11. Clinton's rapid pullout apparently was a major factor in convincing bin Laden that he could successfully drive the US out of the Middle East.

And raintea, sorry if the pandering remark offended you, I didn't mean to tar all college students with the same brush, but ask yourself if you think that Clinton would've given the same speech to a group of Desert Storm vets. I seriously doubt it.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:30 PM on November 10, 2001


hey, get out from under my bridge, troll.
posted by phalkin at 12:46 PM on November 10, 2001


Oh, come on guys - we know the Washington Times is as fair and balanced as Fox News.... Hey, why's everybody laughing? Whay are you laughing?
posted by owillis at 1:10 PM on November 10, 2001


Funny.. Fox News looks "right" when you compare it to the other news stations, but when you look take a step back, they ARE the most "fair and balanced" of any out there.
posted by BlitzK at 1:19 PM on November 10, 2001


Some folks believe that Chelsea shares no genetic material with William Jefferson Clinton. Webb Hubble has been suggested as a more likely paternity candidate.
posted by Real9 at 1:21 PM on November 10, 2001


Ayep. Now I'm pretty much rooting for the terrorists to win.
posted by hincandenza at 1:28 PM on November 10, 2001


Perhaps some people would like to judge the ex-President's comments in context? Here's a transcript. I leave it to my fellow Mefites to decide whether the Washington Times article was fair.
posted by skoosh at 1:39 PM on November 10, 2001


I'm going to go sorta off topic here but in a very strange and weird way it does wind back up with the topics of US past sins, middle east policy, and Bush/Clinton, so bear with me. First off, MrBaliHai made a comment that I found worth exploring. He said that:

the US needs to better understand the forces in the world and in our own foreign policy that makes terrorism an attractive outlet for our enemies.

And that's an opinion I've heard a lot of lately. But, let's just suppose for a moment that the conditions on the middle east are not US foreign policy problems but domestic and social problems in that area of the world. And I'm going to lump parts of Africa in there too since many of the problems share similar traits. Now, I usually think Bill Maher is offbase most of the time but he has made some statements lately that have made me think. He has been asking whether or not we can ever understand the countries and the people in this region and even if we could, should we?. He has gone on to imply that we're really dealing with countries that live in a land time forgot. We're dealing with countries that are in many cases still living in the 9th century. Forget about the 20th or 21st century, we're talking about feudal warlords, tribesman, and in many cases, a system of religion (not Islam but the way in which it is practiced and preached by certain groups) and government that is resisting change. You have tribal leaders fighting disputes centuries old. In many countries they still have family feuds that go on for generations and result in mass murders.

So the question comes back around, should we even try to understand this? I mean, look at bin Laden trying to stir up the emotions of the Muslim world by calling the US attacks a "Crusade". Bush stepped all over that one because . . . most of the "west" doesn't even remember the Crusades. We've moved on, but many in the middle east and parts of Africa are stilling living in that time period, mentally, socially, culturally and economically.

So to bring things kinda full circle, I don't think any of this current situation is about past crimes of the US. Are we innocent? No. But when your enemy is pulling out the Crusades as a reason for people to resist, it's no longer about past crimes, it's about people who live in the past. So any bashing of Clinton or Bush or any even US policy is not productive because we are basing our opinions on values and beliefs that in some cases simply don't exist in the minds of those we are dealing with.
posted by billman at 1:42 PM on November 10, 2001


Ayep. Now I'm pretty much rooting for the terrorists to win.

Well, judging from Real9's post, they are--man, Al Queda's opened up a hitherto undetected recruiting office at Free Republic--Man, they are slick slick slick slick slick!
posted by y2karl at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2001


Billman there may be countries like those you suggest, but the vast majority of countries in the Middle East are very much in the 21st century. Memories do seem to be longer there, but I don't think that's a reason not to address our obvious foreign policy failings there. Personally I think you have to be incredibly deluded to think that America is the reason for the problems in the Middle East, but at the same time you have to be equally blind to think we haven't had a fairly significant role in some of the major issues.
posted by chaz at 2:01 PM on November 10, 2001


billman,

You're not making a terrible point, but you are basing it implicitly on a notion of progress -- that we've "moved on" past a phase of history that the Middle East is still stuck in. By further extension, you're implying that there's a set pattern to the development of societies, that they change over time through a predetermined series of states, like fixed rungs on a ladder.

That's the part I disagree with. Yes, some cultures in the Middle East display societal features we consider to be of an older time, tribal cultures chief among them. But contemporary Middle East tribalism has nothing to do with European Middle Ages feudalism. It may not even have anything to do with the tribalism of the Middle East of the Middle Ages. I haven't studied it closely, but it would be interesting to see how capitalism and access to high-tech weaponry have realigned the patterns of premodern tribalism.

My guess is that the modern Middle East, except in the poorest farmlands, looks little like the Middle East of centuries ago. If that's true, then assuring ourselves that the Arabs are throwbacks to primitive times (and thus like children or cavemen) are false.
posted by argybarg at 2:02 PM on November 10, 2001


excellent point billman, what's cool is that's what clinton's speech was about! basically how do you modernise the middle east, africa and central asia?
posted by kliuless at 2:04 PM on November 10, 2001


The lengths the hate-hate-hate Clinton crowd will go to just to take a shot at BC never fails to make me laugh.

The Clinton era is looking pretty damn good right now.

They also can't handle the fact that when it comes to handling the job of President, Clinton makes Bush look like a used car salesman.

Not that Bush doesn't look like that anyway...

Clinton doesn't live in the White House anymore so just let him go already, geez.

Fox News looks "right" when you compare it to the other news stations, but when you look take a step back, they ARE the most "fair and balanced" of any out there

If you have to point out you're "fair and balanced", you're probably not.
posted by BarneyFifesBullet at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2001


Billman: I think you're wrong. I think it is a grave mistake to think that there are parts of the world that history has not touched. The effects of colonialism, of the global economy, of the compression of time and space, cannot be denied. Shepherds in east Africa carry around shortwave radios so they can keep up with the latest news and soccer scores. Satellite television is a major force in Middle Eastern politics. American movies sell a lot of tickets in Middle Eastern cities. Iran and Iraq throw bombs and teenage minesweepers at each other in a way that brings to mind World War II - a war among "civilized nations". The Middle East is not isolated in space and time, and never has been.

I also think it's a mistake to think that it is a luxury to attempt to understand the mindset of our enemies, the nature of the conflict, and its wider context. On the contrary, it is a necessity. If you find a grease fire on your stove, do you try to understand it, or do you throw water on it right away (after all, we've got to do something!) Well, if you throw water on it, it's your whole kitchen that's on fire then. Maybe if we try to understand the nature of the problem, we can respond appropriately rather than reflexively, and avoid a wider war, or a perpetual one. Is that so bad?
posted by skoosh at 2:18 PM on November 10, 2001


I'm testing a theory.

By the way, what a babe. It must suck to be her, sometimes. Other times it must be really kewl, d00d. They should do a UPN tv series based on Chelsea's life. Get Sarah Michele Gellar to play her.

Why does this read to me like a lovers' quarrel? I think the young student journalist was just trying to show affection. Kinda like how three year olds slap one another in a sand box, then cry to mummy. Word to the wise: Never publically print a phrase like "show your school spirit on Chelsea's bloodied carcass.'' Even if you mean it as a joke in hopes of getting in her pants, the adults just wouldn't understand where you're coming from.
posted by ZachsMind at 2:50 PM on November 10, 2001


Billman: I think you're wrong... Shepherds in east Africa carry around shortwave radios so they can keep up with the latest news and soccer scores. Satellite television is a major force in Middle Eastern politics. American movies sell a lot of tickets in Middle Eastern cities... The Middle East is not isolated in space and time, and never has been. - skoosh

Yeah, billman! The Taliban execute their women with rifles, in a modern soccer stadium, not by stoning them! Geez!
posted by verdezza at 3:34 PM on November 10, 2001


Just to clarify a bit, I thought I was being careful not to say the entire middle east is this or that. I do however think that there are enough pockets of what I described for it to be something of an issue. It doesn't matter whether or not this form of feudalism exactly matchs the european form of feudalism. It's the concept that we are trying to apply 21st century reasoning to people who are thinking about issues from a 9th century perspective. That's part of the problem to begin with. Having radios doesn't mean that Joe Arab Farmer doesn't hate the people who live on the other side of the hill from his farm because 120 years ago someone from that family said someone in his family smelled like a goat. Technology only gives them better weapons to settle their disputes.

And, also, and I may not have made this clear, I'm not saying that we dismiss the people, but we dismiss the bs of trying to understand why party A wants to kill party B over something that is no longer relevant. What I'm saying is that I can respect your culture and your history but listen, beating your women for crimes like . . . having a job, is wrong and if you continue to do it, I'm not going to try to understand it, I'm going to kick the sh*t out of you. It's about saying that taking international aid and selling it on the blackmarket to fuel your war efforts while your own people die in the streets is wrong and I don't give a damn about understanding why you're fighting in the first place because if we stop sending food, we look like jerks for letting your people starve and if we continue to send food we look like jerks because we know the people aren't getting it.

It's about stopping the endless cycle of violence that has thrown most of these countries into economic disaster in the first place. Say what you will about failed US policy but most of these countries were falling behind long before Columbus set foot on North American soil. So then we attribute it to colonialism, and then to the Crusades, and then to ??. The point is, how far back in world history do you have to go? At what point do you say it's not a reason, it's an excuse? Quit trying to fight wars under the umbrella of something that happened 1000 years ago and feed your people, educate your people, treat your people with basic human rights. This is your problem to fix and nothing is going to change until YOU change. You can't continue to keep doing the same things and expect the rest of the world to come around to your way of thinking when it's, so far, proven not to work. Go a couple of decades without a war or without trying to exterminate a whole class of people before you tell me, I have to understand you.

Because at the end of the day, we're not being asked to understand Mr Peaceful Muslim living in Bahgdad because most human beings do. We're being asked to understand the sick f*cks like Saddam and bin Laden. I'm not being asked to understand the average Palisinian who just wants to have a generation of his family grow up without anybody being murderd because most people can sympathize with him. I'm being asked to understand Hamas and a bunch of other whack jobs who want to continue the tensions with Isreal because that's how they stay in power and keeps politically important (this isn't to say Israel has been a saint either).

The problem is that we don't understand other people, it's the fact that we don't understand people who commit acts beyond comprehension.
posted by billman at 3:39 PM on November 10, 2001


There is an intellectual history in the Middle East as well as a physical one. For example, there were no Wahhabis in the 13th century; that movement started in the 19th century, and arose from the circumstances of its time. Now it's Wahhabis who rule Saudi Arabia and give the Taliban its ideas. Basically, I was trying to say what argybarg said earlier, and better than I did.

As for understanding the sick fucks, it is necessary, if for no other reason than that it makes it easier to predict what they're going to do and nail them before they do it. However, one of the dirty little secrets of this world is that terrorists are only a little more extreme than the people they live among in their feelings and their willingness to abandon ordinary morality. Mothers give their suicide-bomber sons their blessing, and feel proud that they've served their people through martyrdom. This is not really an alien emotion that only people you say are trapped in a 9th-century worldview can exhibit. Consider your average-Joe American blue-collar kind of guy whose eyes light up every time the news reports another successful bombing run in Afghanistan. Now imagine if he didn't have a big powerful military to fight his battles and advance his causes for him. How many years of feeling humiliated and powerless do you think it would take before our guy straps on a bomb and walks into our enemy's favorite coffeehouse?

Knowing this, and assuming we want to keep the war short (>10 years) rather than long (<2 0 years), is it not a good idea to know the resentments, em>legitimate or not, of people who are teetering on the fence? That way, we can do our best to defuse them. This does not mean caving in to terrorists, nor does it mean giving Saddam Hussein a great big empathy hug.

Quit trying to fight wars under the umbrella of something that happened 1000 years ago and feed your people, educate your people, treat your people with basic human rights.

I absolutely agree with that. At the very least, the United States should stop standing in the way and start supporting the rights of people more than their despotic governments (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq in the 1980s, etc.). We used to be a revolutionary country. Let us truly spread the revolution, eh?
posted by skoosh at 5:49 PM on November 10, 2001


Go, Chelsea, Go!! Damn Euroweenies. The USA is always the evil empire until they get in a jam, although the English referring to anyone as the evil empire is hilarious. Hate to be cliched, but if it weren't for the big, evil USA all those Oxonians(sp?) would be speaking German now.
I'm beginning to believe a lot of the anti-war furor is from young people who've watched a lot of old footage from the Vietnam War days, of protest rallies and riots and feel envious that they didn't get to do anything that cool.
Unfortunately, it's not 1967, Osama Bin Laden is not Abbie Hoffman and most importantly, Lower manhattan is not the Gulf of Tonkin.
Let me break it down for ya, Sparky.
Vietnam = Civil War in hostile nation we had no business being involved in fought brutally and yet somehow ineffectively.
Afghanistan = War Started on our own soil by Whackjobs who killed innocent civilians while the world watched to score points with Allah.
Still don't get? Then I don't know that you ever will.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on November 10, 2001


billman and skoosh--thanks to you both for what is surely some of the most nuanced thinking I've read about this here--and in a thread that showed very little promise of being worth anyone's time.
posted by rodii at 6:19 PM on November 10, 2001


Hate to puncture your clichés, but the two war memorials in my college JCR attest to the fact that hundreds of Oxonians paid the ultimate price in the world wars. So, with as much respect as I can muster, stop talking such utter shit.

As for American Oxonians, here's another piece on the mutual incomprehension between students. Not that this hasn't been the case before: Americans in Oxford have always been rather cliquey. (Blame Rhodes House.) Of course, the writer took her survey of opinions from the bloody Kings Arms, which will lead most Oxonians to raise a weary eyebrow.
posted by holgate at 6:20 PM on November 10, 2001


Right. So, it's been a little under five hours since I posted that link to the full transcript of Clinton's 7 November speech at Georgetown. Just wondering: has anyone actually read it yet?
posted by skoosh at 6:23 PM on November 10, 2001


Hidalgo-

Ahh, my silly email address gives me away yet again. I was under the impression that the resolution had passed, but that information could possibly have stuck in my head from several weeks ago.

I was using that example more to illustrate the experiences I have been having debating this issue on campus, in my classes, and with my liberal friends. Really, I have not encountered anyone who is wholly against this war just as long, and this is where my third point comes in, we do it "cautiously, intelligiently and with the support of the world community".

And MrBaliHai- Of course a speaker formats his speech to fit the audience, but there is a large difference between pandering and putting forth ideas that you think would inform and challenge the listeners.
posted by raintea at 6:30 PM on November 10, 2001


"cautiously, intelligiently and with the support of the world community".
Raintea- Umm, call me crazy, but if anything could be done with the "support of the world community"(if there is such an entity) there would be no need for a war now would there?
posted by jonmc at 6:38 PM on November 10, 2001


(and billman: perhaps the old line that "Americans think 100 years is a long time; Europeans think 100 miles is a long way" applies here somewhat. After all, as an immigrant nation, the US is generally rather less obsessed with a collective past -- the "where you come from" -- than with a collective future, the "where we're going to". Most American families have their defining stories of the generation that decided to abandon the historical ties of the "old country" for a new life. In that regard, it's perhaps easy to think of other regions as enmired in their own history. And as skoosh suggests, it's often that sense of being unable to escape from the accidents of history that turns people into militants.)
posted by holgate at 6:38 PM on November 10, 2001


Mothers give their suicide-bomber sons their blessing

Actually, point of order here, but one of the commie-tators over NPR pointed out that it was the militants in the streets who manipulated these 14 to 16 year old kids caught up in the excitement of the street fighting, hyped them into being walking weapons systems and then hogged their funerals. At home, the mothers were heartsick, devastated--sitting mute with thousand yard stares--and hidden from the press...

But what do those commie-tators know?
posted by y2karl at 7:05 PM on November 10, 2001


skoosh, not sure I agree there. I think we're saying similar things but there are some subtle differences. Part of the problem with not supporting despotic governments in places like Eqypt, Saudi Arabia, etc. is that it's the bin Laden's who stand to seize power. The Taliban is a minority in Afghanistan, yet controls the country under an iron fist. That's one of my major points in my post is that it's this huge Catch-22. In Iran we propped up the Shah and when he was overthrown the Irainian radicals held the US accountable (and believe me, for the average Iranian, life under the Shah seemed like a picnic compared to life under Kohmeni). When we failed to set up and prop up a government in Afghanistan after we helped them defeat the Soviet occupation, we created a vaccum that the Taliban filled and has since victimized it's own people and (most likely) aided bin Laden in attacking us. So what do we do? Somehow, no matter what the US does, the Taliban, the Shah, Kohmeni, etc, walk away clean and the anger of the uneducated is directed at the US as the result of state run media who broadcase anti-US propaganda.

That is why I say, that the people of the Middle East and parts of Africa need to start taking responsibility for their own actions. They've been blaming the US, colonialism, the Crusades, etc. as the reason for their "plight". No, YOU are the reason for your plight.

And by not wanting to understand people, I don't mean not be able to profile them. Yes, I want the US to spend a little time and effort figuring out what makes bin Laden tick so they can stop people like him in the future but there's so many people crying out that we have to understand the root causes, the root causes. Well, the root cause is that the Saddam's, Kohmeni's, and bin Laden's of the world live in a different era than the rest of us. Funny, but the US is a net importer of goods yet Western Europe, Japan, most of Asia, and a large section of the world, excluding mostly Muslim countries with strong fundamentalist movements, all get along with us. We send out more humanitarian relief than most of the rest of the world combined and we're always the first one to cut a check when a disaster occurs around the world but we're the Great Satan. Hey we're not perfect but all things considered, with all of the military and economic might we have, all-in-all we're pretty fair in wielding that power. Some say the root cause is oil. Well, correct me if I'm wrong but the Middle East was unstable long before the first car was ever made so how is oil the root cause? The simple truth is that nearly any scenario you can lay out to me that has the US as the root cause of the situation in the Middle East, I can show you that condition pre-existed the US as a nation. So, I don't think we should try on the micro level to understand the root cause of Sept. 11 and what we need to do is set forth a plan that dictates that the Middle East join the 21st Century in terms of human rights, freedoms, and tolerance. We can't go back and right a 1000 year old wrong. A wrong we didn't commit. So all those who say we have to pay for our past sins or that we should understand this or that don't themselves understand that this is a time for tough love not understanding. You play by the rules of the 21st century or you're out of our house (our house being membership in the rest of the civilized world).
posted by billman at 7:05 PM on November 10, 2001


Billman, this Slate column makes a pretty credible case that much of bin Laden's fixation with America has to do with Britain's role in the carveup of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. (The transfer of supposed guilt from England to the U.S. is another story.) The Ottoman Empire was largely stable until the 19th century, and it didn't entirely collapse until the 20th. The idea that resentments linger for hundreds of years in the Middle East is a compelling one and is quite possibly true, but bin Laden seems to be specifically referencing events that happened within the furthest bounds living memory.
posted by snarkout at 7:44 PM on November 10, 2001


After reading Clinton's speech transcript, I want to applaud his intelligence and then punch him in the face for not having the balls to say that when he was in office. Perhaps now, as a citizen with a rather high profile, he could atone for his past political sins. It seems like he might be on that path already. If he continues, then God bless him. Because Lord knows some of the problems he complains about, he had a hand in helping.

You know, when I think of the Clinton-haters who have taken his examples of terrorism and tried to make him seem like the ultimate traitor, I'm reminded of what Aldoux Huxley wrote in the afterword to Brave New World about there being no true conservatives anymore, and this was in the early 20th century. "There are reactionaries on the left and reactionaries on the right" is how I believe the quote goes, and the melding of third-grade emotional maturity with a potent blend of nationalism does not make for coherent discussion, or a better world.

And it's been a beef of mine for so long, how the words "liberal" and "conservative" are empty and meaningless, how their original meanings have been gutted. And then I think of "left" and "right" and how just utterly meaningless they are, and no matter how much I might cringe when I see someone on MeFi throw around that priceless term "lefty", "right-wing" (and what usually follows, "lunatic") isn't much better.

I mean, aren't there any political scientists who could reclassify political labels and trends for Us Poor Schmucks? Because we need new words, desperately.
posted by solistrato at 7:58 PM on November 10, 2001


Oh, and Snarkout: good find. Interesting theory, that.
posted by solistrato at 8:01 PM on November 10, 2001


snarkout, again, just making my point that what bin Laden and others offer are excuses, not reasons. He's also referenced about 10 other excuses for hating the US and the West. The only one that I think makes any logical sense (at least from what I can determine bin Laden's motives to be) is the US propping up the Saudi government. One of the reasons he's in Afghanistan is because he called for the overthrow of the Saudi monarchy and was exiled. I'm fairly certain that one of his macro-agenda items is to overthrow the Saudi government and ride back into Saudi Arabia as the new leader and as a hero of the people.
posted by billman at 8:01 PM on November 10, 2001


Billman: crazy people don't know that they're crazy. Whatever bin Laden's motives are, I'm sure they make perfect sense in his mind. The only logic that's going on here is the spurious kind spinning through his fractured psyche.
posted by solistrato at 8:04 PM on November 10, 2001


solistrato, I couldn't agree with you more on that statement.
posted by billman at 8:10 PM on November 10, 2001


I call shenanigans.

In Iran we propped up the Shah and when he was overthrown the Irainian radicals held the US accountable .....When we failed to set up and prop up a government in Afghanistan after we helped them defeat the Soviet occupation, we created a vaccum that the Taliban filled....

That is why I say, that the people of the Middle East and parts of Africa need to start taking responsibility for their own actions.


Are the underlying points of these statements not contradictory?

The simple truth is that nearly any scenario you can lay out to me that has the US as the root cause of the situation in the Middle East, I can show you that condition pre-existed the US as a nation.

This is a strawman : Very few will claim, I think, that the US is the root cause of the 'situation'.

billman, I feel myself being sucked into a political discussion that I've tried to avoid for two months, but I'm feeling feisty today. Although I'm not going to go as far as hincandenza ("I'm rooting for the terrorists" - I thought after the aaron incident, you were going away to cool off a bit, Hal...), as far as I can see, your underlying assumption in everything you've said in this thread, and elsewhere, is an unquestioning assumption that America is a Good Nation. This, I would argue, is not the case. It may be filled with Good People, but that is a very different thing.

"Why should we even try to understand them?" is the rallying cry of the lazy and ignorant. Mind : I'm not calling you lazy and ignorant here, but I do believe that saying "I don't think we should try on the micro level to understand the root cause of Sept. 11" is an example of the kind of simple-minded reductionism that will guarantee that Empire America continues to topple.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:28 PM on November 10, 2001


Well, I guess we know who the Vulcans are around here. Or time tampering Romulans, maybe. Oh, the inhumanity...
posted by y2karl at 8:33 PM on November 10, 2001


Having radios doesn't mean that Joe Arab Farmer doesn't hate the people who live on the other side of the hill from his farm because 120 years ago someone from that family said someone in his family smelled like a goat. Technology only gives them better weapons to settle their disputes.

Well, that's belittling.

I'm going to leave aside for a moment the points that (a) Afghanistan isn't in the Middle East, (b) most Afghanistanis aren't Arabs, and (c) most Muslims are neither Arab nor from the Middle East.

I think the picture of the Middle East that y'all are painting is pretty inaccurate. In some Middle Eastern countries, the general standard of living is pretty high, all things considered. The GNP per capita in the UAE, for example, is about US$17,000, which is right about in the same ballpark as, say, Italy (US$20,800). It's considerably higher than even some industrialized nations (South Korea, US$6800).

And, most Middle Eastern countries don't enforce Islamic Law and in fact don't behead women for showing too much skin on the street. Some of the wealthier Middle Eastern countries even have quite progressive social welfare programs. Kuwait for example provides free education for all its citizens, universal subsidized health care, and other social services.

And then there's Afghanistan, which is a big pile of rubble (being pulverized into a big pile of even finer rubble) being brutally raped by one of the most corrupt totalitarian regimes ever to bruise the face of the planet.

Point is, there's radical militant fundimentalist Islam all over the Islamic world, and for lots and lots of different reasons. It's not, as some have insultingly suggested, just because these people are poor barbarians who haven't evolved past a ninth century mindset. And it's clearly not because American economic imperialism is keeping the Arab world in abject poverty, as the Marxist response to this current crisis has said.

My point here is just that this is a much more complicated issue than can be understood in broad ideological strokes. There isn't just one simple cause for the kind of radical thinking that fuel terrorism. But there are causes, and it's critical that we try and figure out what they are by learning as much as we can about the Muslim world, which I think is precisely what Clinton was suggesting in his speech. If the war is successful, and you get bin Laden and you topple the Taliban, you still haven't dealt with the other extremists in Algeria and Pakistan and Palestein and Sudan. If you really want to solve the problem you have to understand its roots.

As individuals, this means that we've got to be educating ourselves with more than what the TV gives us. I mean, hell, every large college campus in the nation is hosting teach-ins about the war. Whether or not you support the current military action, why not attend one of these things and learn about what life is really like in the Middle East? Why not pick up a book about the history of Israel and learn about the atrocities committed by both sides that have caused this endless downward spiral? Why not learn about the history of Iran and the reasons why the Islamic revolution happened in the first place? Why not pick up a copy of the Koran and find out what it really has to say about jihad and martyrdom?
posted by shylock at 9:09 PM on November 10, 2001


Because we need new words, desperately.

More words, less simpleminded and inaccurate labels. I couldn't agree more.
posted by rushmc at 9:37 PM on November 10, 2001


Are the underlying points of these statements not contradictory?

Not really though it might sound that way at first. The point that was being made is that no matter what the actions of the US, whether we do something or do nothing, in the end, we will be burdened with the responsibility of the outcome. As I pointed out in a previous post, let's take the situation in Iraq which parallels what happened in Somolia. There is a great deal of humanitarian aid getting into Iraq right now. Not overwhelming but enough to keep people from starving. But people are starving, so how can I say that? Well, it's because Saddam is taking the food and selling it in other countries in order to raise money to rebuild his army. So, just like Somolia . . . we can either keep sending aid and helping Saddam rebuild his army and in a few years be accused of helping Saddam wipe out how many ever people he ends up killing, or we can cut off the aid and be blamed for letting innocent people starve to death. Isn't the problem Saddam? Why is the US taking the blame for the actions of Saddam? And the beauty of it is, that when Saddam dies or is defeated or ??. Whoever takes his place will either demonize the US for not helping the starving people of Iraq or for supplying Saddam with the money to rebuild the army that he used to fight them. So we get another couple of decades of an unfriendly government who via state run schools and media pounds it into the heads of his people that the US is evil. Another generation of extremists is born and we start the cycle all over again.

This is a strawman : Very few will claim, I think, that the US is the root cause of the 'situation'.

Oh, oh, you are so wrong on this one. I see people say it or imply it on TV every day. I've heard people say it around me. If only we made the world a better place this wouldn't have happened. If only the US weren't so hooked on oil this wouldn't have happened. If only the US didn't support Israel unconditonally this wouldn't have happened. Please stop me when you haven't heard one of these statements or something close to it.

is an unquestioning assumption that America is a Good Nation. This, I would argue, is not the case. It may be filled with Good People, but that is a very different thing.

Again, perhaps a misunderstanding. I have said that we are not an evil nation. I have said that if compared to most other nations, we rank pretty good, all things taken into consideration. I know we're not perfect and I know that we've done some wicked stuff in the past but let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

is an example of the kind of simple-minded reductionism that will guarantee that Empire America continues to topple.

And I would disagree with you on this one as well because I'm not saying that we should isolate ourselves. I'm saying that I don't give one rat's ass why bin Laden did what he did just like I don't need to be sensitive to why Hitler felt it necessary to kill several million Jews. Should the world have pandered to Hitler because he had a beef? No. It may be important to understand it on a strategic level in order to stop these actions again but if the message is that we should try to understand bin Laden's pain and frustration, then I say, screw him. Now if you you're saying that we should understand and be sympathetic to the plight of the average man or woman in some of these countries, then I give a enthusiastic yet but, we're right back at the beginning of the same argument because we don't run those countries. We can understand and be sympathetic all we want but it's probably not going to help him or her because it's not the average Muslim who is jumping on planes and crashing them into buildings. And until THEY (the governments) change and decide to join the rest of the world in the 21st century, we're only going to see the continued cycle of radicals and fundamentalists come to power and oppress their people. You know, I don't give damn why Saddam is trying to hunt down and kill his own people. IT'S WRONG!!!!!!!!! I don't care what reason, what past sin was commited, systamatically hunting down and killing people based on ethnicity or what tribe they come from is WRONG!!!!! If you care to waste your time trying to understand Saddam's reasons because you think that perhaps there's some diplomatic solution, more power to you but I think the easiest way to deal with the above situation is to put an M16 round squarely between his eyes.

You know, there was a link posted a little while back that I feels sums up a lot of my feelings on US guilt or responsibility for Sept. 11. It was an open letter to American Muslims by Dr. Muqtedar Khan, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Adrian College in Michigan and board member of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, Center for Balanced Development and the Association of Muslim Social Scientists. Here's some of the finer points:

Muslims, including American Muslims have been practicing hypocrisy on a grand scale. They protest against the discriminatory practices of Israel but are silent against the discriminatory practices in Muslim states. In the Gulf one can see how laws and even salaries are based on ethnic origin. This is racism, but we never hear of Muslims protesting against them at International fora.

The Israeli occupation of Palestine is perhaps central to Muslim grievance against the West. While acknowledging that, I must remind you that Israel treats its one million Arab citizens with greater respect and dignity than most Arab nations treat their citizens. Today Palestinian refugees can settle and become citizens of the United States but in spite of all the tall rhetoric of the Arab world and Quranic injunctions (24:22) no Muslim country except Jordan extends this support to them.

While we loudly and consistently condemn Israel for its ill treatment of Palestinians we are silent when Muslim regimes abuse the rights of Muslims and slaughter thousands of them. Remember Saddam and his use of chemical weapons against Muslims (Kurds)?. Remember Pakistani army’s excesses against Muslims (Bengalis)?. Remember the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and their mutual slaughter? Have we ever condemned them for their excesses? Have we demanded international intervention or retribution against them? Do you know how the Saudis treat their minority Shiis? Have we protested the violation of their rights? But we all are eager to condemn Israel; not because we care for rights and lives of the Palestinians, we don’t. We condemn Israel because we hate “them".

posted by billman at 9:54 PM on November 10, 2001


All right billman, I see your point, I think. "Enough of moral relativism and hypocrisy - some things are just wrong, and we're willing to admit that America has done some of those wrong things too..." - is that a fair summary, at least in part?

Part of my beef with the War Against Whoever, with the hypocrisy that Muqtedar Khan describes as well as the truly monumental blindness and hypocrisy in so many other areas of today's political-economic landscape, and with the accompanying mainstream commentary, though, is encapsulated in phrases like : "Go a couple of decades without a war or without trying to exterminate a whole class of people before you tell me, I have to understand you." and "..should we even try to understand this?"

That sort of stuff pushes my buttons. That said, perhaps there's not that much we differ on, here. I'm just resigned to the fact that it's unlikely to get any better, and the sort of stuff you were saying is too often taken by flag-wavers to mean : "If they don't wanna live like us, fuck 'em," words which frequently lead to fist-pumping chants of U!S!A! and the like.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:54 PM on November 10, 2001


This is somewhere between the twelve blind men and the elephant and a bunch of drowning well diggers in a cave in climbing over each other to stay above water. The telepathy and omniscience are turned off on my end so I'm having a hard time here. Opinions outnumber facts and I just go numb. From my point of view, there's a lot of strawmen afloat tonight in our common well, it's crowded in here and people are getting on each other's nerves and reacting to unconscious messages--me, for one--coming as unintended attachments to otherwise sincere statements.

And, Jesus Christ, I thought I was longwinded. There's Bibles being written here tonight in refutation of arguments I don't see anyone here making. Talk about being more anxious to speak than be heard...

Well, no disrespecting the chicken tonight, for one thing, and I award the least pompous and most logical wreaths to Shylock tonight for another. I liked his suggestion best: More facts, less opinions... I don't have any answers, only questions.
posted by y2karl at 10:56 PM on November 10, 2001


Upon rereading this, I have to say that the exchange between you and stavros, billman, that happened while I was composing that last bit, made me appreciate your point of view. I certainly haven't made much of a contribution here myself in comparison. I have to side with stavros on the blindness and hypocrisy of our national policies and folly seems to be in oversupply everywhere among the nations involved even by extension in this mess. The local politics everywhere are so many cans of worms and it is all so scary.

I guess it restores my faith a tiny bit, though, to see people here evolve towards common ground and mutual respect.
posted by y2karl at 12:13 AM on November 11, 2001


Thanks y2karl. Others have had interesting stuff to say here, too.

While I'm at it, here's some cogent commentary about grappling with complexity.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:30 AM on November 11, 2001


stavrosthewonderchicken, I think you got it pretty close.
posted by billman at 1:21 AM on November 11, 2001


On the other hand, though, looks like the WashTimes and Andrew Sullivan got it all wrong.
posted by retrofut at 12:14 PM on November 12, 2001


« Older What bin Laden and Bush Don't Talk About: The...   |   Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post