Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Bulletin from small town America

I was in the hardware store today with my mother, chatting with a former student of hers about their mutual friend, a graduate of the high school here who went to Annapolis and has done tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. They had an exchange about the war, and it wasn't pretty.

Mom: ..."It's so awful that we have people over there getting killed."

Store clerk friend: "Well, we had to do something about those people over there."

Mom: "Afghanistan yes, but there was no reason for us to invade Iraq."

Store clerk friend: "The problem with Iraq is, it's a war, but we have a rulebook yey thick that ties our soldiers' hands. Those terrorists can shoot them, but we can't shoot back because there's a bunch of so-called civilians in the way. If it's a war, let's treat it like a war and do whatever it takes to win."

Mom(trying to be diplomatic): "This is a war unlike any other war we've had. It's just terrible."

Me: "uh, anybody remember Vietnam? I think you'll find some similarities."

Store clerk: "Yes, and we weren't allowed to win that one, either."

Me: "You mean we shoulda nuked'em? Should we nuke the Iraqis, too? That's where you're going with this."

Store clerk(after an awkward silence): "anything else i can get you?"

And so, the dreary reality emerges: our clerk friend believes that even though we invaded their country, blasted the lives of thousands of people, blighted the country, and now have an insurgency that dislikes what we have done and fights us, we should have the right to destroy every person remaining there in the name of "victory." Bomb'em back to the stone age! Make it a wilderness and call it peace!

We have some great humanitarians in this country, out here in small town America, and actually pretty much everywhere. No wonder we have such high worldwide popularity ratings! What's not to like?!

8 Comments:

Blogger LaPopessa said...

It's rough out there in true believer land (and I don't mean the geography, I mean the mindset). So hard to talk to someone who can't listen, or who lives so happily in denial.

8:17 PM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

that's right, it's a mindset rather than a geographical region. we should be used to this by now, it's out there and everybody knows it, but it is still very hard to listen to things like that. i actually think racism is lurking at the heart of it, because people like this also believe America is great and should be permitted everything because we are naturally superior, gifted by God, etc. if you're not American, and brown and of a different confession, why, you're probably not worth very much. i could be wrong, but i think this is the thinking that informs that world view.

10:25 PM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Still, it's important to have these conversations, and in public when possible.

7:27 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Bucky, there's a good possibility that the store clerk is a fairly decent sort. Attitude may not be the problem. More likely, it's a combination of ignorance and apathy. Possibly she watches Fox News.

United, I've had many such conversations, between 2000 and 2006. A few of the people have come back to me, and told me that talking to me opened their eyes. A few more switched sides, but now have always been against the war. A few more still count themselves among the great inbred 28%, but in Oregon, those are getting rare. :-)

4:34 PM  
Blogger betmo said...

the frightening part is that we still have to have these conversations after all that has been exposed. you have to be some kind of moron not to see what america has done to the rest of the world. we are the bully on the block. yes, there are many humanitarians in america. there are just as many people who feel that anyone who isn't an american doesn't have the right to basic human rights. ironic isn't it?

10:51 PM  
Blogger United We Lay said...

Tomcat,
I think these conversations are more difficult with those closest to us because we become so disappointed when they disagree.

9:13 AM  
Blogger buckarooskidoo said...

i think the clerk IS a good person, fundamentally--we've known her for a long time. her attitudes most likely are a mixture of apathy and ignorance. i HOPE that it's just a matter of not thinking these things through, but as united says, it's very upsetting when you hear these things. i wish we could get everyone to read and think just a little bit about this war and more broadly, our position in the world.

11:38 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

United, that's an excellent point.

Bucky, me too!

9:04 PM  

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