Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Lines on a Map

T'other day the Ivory Madonna heard a particularly inane comment on the radio. The commentator said, "At the moment, the United States is the only glue holding Iraq together. If we pull our troops out, Iraq as a nation will cease to exist. It will be replaced by three or more smaller nations."

The United States is the only glue holding Iraq together.

And what, pray tell, is so imperative about Iraq staying "together"? Why is it so bloody important that the artificial construct we call "Iraq" remain a single sovereign nation? ("Nation" itself is another artificial construct, but let's not get into that right now.) What's wrong with three or more smaller nations?

Lines on a map, drawn by the British in 1920. Lines that are so meaningless that they will quickly dissolve unless enforced at gunpoint. Lines that bind together peoples who desperately want to be separate.

That's what soldiers are dying for. That's why violence rules Iraq, why civilians are killed and maimed by the thousands. That's why the U.S. must stay in Iraq. Because of some artificial lines drawn 84 years ago.

Perhaps some lines are worth dying to preserve.

These aren't.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Quote for the Day

Quote for the day:

"People can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. ...All you have to do is tell them the're being attacked and denounce the pacifists for a lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

I don't think anything more need be said.

Oh, right. The author of the quote above?

Herman Goering.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Liberal Media

Conservatives and Christianists love to complain about "liberal bias" in the media. A lot of media organizations are quick to take exception. On yesterday's Diane Rehm Show on NPR, for example, both Diane Rehm and guest Terry Gross (host of NPR's Fresh Air) went to great lengths about the pains that they and other NPR people take to make sure that their programming is fair, balanced, and inclusive of all sides.

...Which, you see, is just the problem. Fairness, balance, and inclusion are themselves liberal notions. As soon as you decide to be fair, to give all sides equal time, to include all points of view -- right there, you are displaying a liberal bias.

To the Conservatives and Christianists, the opposite of "liberal bias" is not "fair and balanced"...the opposite of "liberal bias" is "conservative bias." That's what they want in all news programming, not just Fox News and its ilk, but everywhere. And any media outlet that doesn't provide a conservative bias, is automatically guilty of "liberal bias." For them, there is no middle ground of "fairness." There is only bias, conservative or liberal.

Yet when they hurl the charge "liberal bias," everyone takes them seriously. News media, even NPR, take conscious steps to address the issue. Why?

There is only one reason that this tactic succeeds for the Conservatives. That's because for the American people, by and large, fairness is a good thing, a desireable state of affairs. For most Americans, the opposite of "liberal bias" (or "conservative bias") is "fairness." An accusation of "liberal bias" is taken seriously because, to most Americans, it is an accusation of "unfairness."

And if there's one thing the American people can't stomach, one virtue that nearly everyone agrees upon, it's fairness. Everyone should get to play, and everyone should have a fair chance in the game. That's the American way.

I think the Democrats are losing a big opportunity here. They should be casting issues in terms of fairness/unfairness, rather than liberal/conservative.

Most people don't care if their taxes are high...as long as they perceive that the tax burden is spread fairly. People get upset with taxes when they see rich individuals and corporations getting away with paying less than their fair share.

Most people are uncomfortable with using the word "marriage" for unions between same-sex partners...but they are equally uncomfortable with same-sex couples not getting the same legal benefits as opposite-sex couples. People want things to be fair.

Most people will support any stupid thing a President does (i.e. invading a foreign country)...as long as he doesn't lie about the reasons. People want the President to play fair.

I could go on and on. Medical insurance, Social Security, the budget deficit, immigration, voting machines, the Electoral College...no matter what the issue, most people in the United States support whatever seems most fair. They know that life isn't fair, and that we'll never achieve a state of perfect fairness...but they believe that fairness is a virtue, something to strive for.

The Democrats should be pushing that message constantly, pointing out how the Conservatives and Christianists want things to be unfair, to preserve bias, to shut certain people out of the game.

And that's my unbiased, balanced, and fair opinion.


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.