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busy, busy, busy

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

A cat has taken up residence on my parents' front porch. It's a nice cat, but it really pisses off our doggies. The thing is, it's always here. Shouldn't someone be taking care of it? It doesn't even have a collar. I'll bet one of those lawn-lovin' loonies threw it out on the street after it scratched up some pointless piece of furniture. That happens quite a bit around here. It's too bad, too, because, like I said, it's a very friendly cat. It's also too bad that I don't like cats.

Thank goodness, now the world has an all-purpose symbol of the war. Amazingly, every group that has taken a position regarding the war will be able to get plenty of mileage out of the suffering of this poor boy.
A: Symbolic Value: "We told you so, civililians do suffer." Obviously, the Fiskites of the world will be very pleased to have a [barely] living, breathing example of the horrorshow that is civilian casualites. Since there are many quality images of this boy floating around, I doubt street demonstrators will waste any time in putting his wretched body on a placard for the passers-by to ponder. The value of confronting the world with something everyone already knew was happening is inestimatable.
B: Symbolic Value: "Another pleased liberatee." Ali's situation will greatly benefit the prowar folks, as well. Even though "coalition" bombs destroyed his home, killed almost his entire family, and left him armless, burned over 60% of his body, and in incredible pain and suffering, not to mention facing a who-knows-how-horrible future, he's apparently registered his approval of the US for liberating him from the Ba'ath regime. Given this situation, how the hell can war be bad? See, he's almost smiling!
C: Symbolic Value: "We do care about the people, really we do." In a not-very unprecedented move to scoop up some compassion points, "coalition" states (remember, the ones responsible for his current condition) are tripping over themselves to provide the best medical care and rehabilitation in the world for this kid. Maybe they think once he pulls through (after they have proved to the world that the Iraqi people come first, and when Ali finally gets the hang of using a fork with the remaining lump of arm hanging off his shoulder) he'll forget, along with the world, who did this to him.
D: Symbolic Value: "You don't care about us, you really don't." Naturally, most Iraqis will not think this is a good thing (once they find out about it in a few months, after their power is restored). Sure, the kid is happy to be alive, is thanking US troops for saving him, and is going to receive excellent medical care from the people who killed his family. Unfortunately, they will be able to point to the thousands of other people horribly maimed in the attacks and who are not getting any attention. They will call out this situation for what it is, a pure PR move by people on all sides. And by bringing attention to the hypocrisy and self-serving motives of everyone else, they will in turn be using the boy to build up their own movement.
E: Symbolic Value: There is no virtue on any side of this conflict. Everybody likes to think they are in the right, but every side falls victim to the same tactics, half-truths, and faulty reasoning. Even by pointing this out, I am doing it too. I guess add F to my list, since I used the kid as a symbol of why symbols are meaningless. At least I can admit when I'm being phony.

The anti-war crowd has some explaining to do. Just because this guy works for the National Review doesn't automatically mean he is wrong. A lot of what he says is snotty crap, but there are also some very fine points in his commentary that "The Movement" should consider.

Antiwar movement plots next step. This article says pretty much the same thing, but in a more constructive, diplomatic, and reasoned manner.

At Least 10 Dead as US Troops in Firefight in Northern Iraq. As far as this situation goes, I really don't know who to believe. It's entirely possible the crowd fired on the soldiers. It's also entirely possible they didn't. Each side is going to believe the version of the story that vindicates their position. I am leaning towards the "no shots fired before the attack" idea; the only people who can seem to corroborate the "returning fire" story are those who did the shooting. What actually happened is irrelevant; all that matters is that Iraqis saw US troops fire on other Iraqis who happened to be opposed to the very presence of US troops. The rest will be history.

Our ability to disagree, and our inherent right to question our leaders and criticize their actions define who we are. To allow those rights to be taken away out of fear, to punish people for their beliefs, to limit access in the news media to differing opinions is to acknowledge our democracy's defeat.

Refusing to pay taxes is a much more effective form of protest than waving signs at passing cars and chanting cheap slogans. How does yelling "Drop Bush not bombs" at someone walking out of the Gap really do anything to hinder militarism? It might get you scene points, but it accomplishes little (except for making everyone else who is opposed to war look like fools). If you want to do something, then do something.


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