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But wait, there's more.
There's just no polite way to say "Buy me things", is there?
Need a band name?
rant is where the heart is
entry for 2001-10-10 (00:36:00)
In which our plucky young hero doesn't go on forever.
What the hell, I'll make it a twofer. Those who are sick of political grandstanding, I promise I'll try to talk about the Powerpuff Girls or homemade cookies next time.
That out of the way...
There are a lot of things to dislike about U.S. domestic policy right now. (Yes, yes, you in the corner with the dog-eared copy of Manufacturing Dissent, we know what you have to say about foreign policy, so feel free to talk to the wall, since you will anyway.) One of them is the idea of a "war on terrorism" conducted through the Attorney General's office and the new Secretary of Homeland Defense.
Just make sure you dislike it for the right reasons. One of the wrong reasons to dislike a War On Terrorism is that it will "never end", that it will lead to a state of eternal fascism, that it will darken the skies and taint the waters and turn cats and dogs against each other, forever and ever amen.
There are a lot of things, after all, that will "never end". Let's consider a world where we give up on all of these wars without end, shall we?
For one thing, there are no hospitals. The War On Disease is a holding action at best, with people getting sick and injured every single day. Moreover, as the Onion put it, the world death rate holds steady at 100 percent. Why are we paying for doctors and nurses and drugs that will never fully eradicate disease? Why are we taking antibiotics that, in the long run, actually increase the viability of drug-resistant bacteria and depress the immune system? Prohibition didn't work for alcohol, why do we think it will work for influenza?
Not that you'd know any of this. The War On Ignorance, after all, is already lost. Every day more people are born, stupid as rocks and as blank as a brand-new notebook. Every day we need some new training or class or diploma to live our lives. There's no point in going on, really. As long as someone, somewhere, might be stupid, why bother to learn at all?
Don't think, however, that you will get any of the savings from the closure of the world's schools and hospitals. After all, no less an authority than Jesus Christ His very own self told us that the poor will always be with us, and sure enough he's right. This foolish War On Poverty must end! To hell with food stamps and welfare (and workfare) programs and homeless shelters. We can't win the war, so we'll just retreat.
Sounds pretty reactionary, doesn't it? Nearly all liberals and no small number of conservatives would be rioting in the streets if any of the rationales above were used to shut down the hospitals or close the shelters. These "wars", they'd argue, are so intrinsically good that it doesn't matter whether or not they can be won. The important thing is not to win, but to battle.
And so it might be with the War On Terrorism. It might not matter that you cannot wipe out terrorism from the earth, for the same reason that the evils of disease and poverty are still worth fighting. (And, you know, we did eliminate smallpox, and polio is a declawed bogeyman; maybe the idea of declawing anti-American terrorism isn't so far-fetched after all.) Maybe a War On Terrorism is a good thing, and if it requires a bit more vigilance than "Oct 10-Nov 8: War on terr'm, call Bob" then that's just too bad for us.
Or maybe, as I believe, it doesn't deserve to be elevated to the same level. Maybe the violations of civil liberties, and the potential for discrimination when the wrong hands steer the rudder, and the chance of creating a Fortress (North) America bunker mentality don't justify it. But if they don't, the war is unjustifiable no matter how long it lasts. There is a reason the old libertarian saw doesn't go "those who would trade liberty for security deserve neither, except if it's for a period of three years with Congressional renewal required annually afterward." If, say, expanded wiretap power for the FBI is bad, it's bad, whether it lasts a day or a century.
So feel free to argue against a War On Terrorism, or national ID cards, or a new hacker crackdown, or whatever you may feel is wrong these days. Just, please, have something better to say than "it'll last forever, and therefore it's bad". Even bad ideas deserve better dissent than that.(Browse: previous or next. Notes: post or read.)
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