Monday, August 09, 2010

Confessions of a Fence Sitter

When you realize that half of your friends like Brewer and Palin and the other half like Brewer and Shipley, you know why you can't throw a party and invite all of your friends. That's what Facebook is like.

Every day I watch the mounting number of cause solicitations and think they are getting even more annoying than the Farmville Send Me A Donkey's Kong messages.

Here's Common Cause, voice of the Coffee Party:

"Please, Help Free Manning and defend WikiLeaks!"

"But he gave out classified information that's getting our friend's killed? Isn't that de jure treason? Assange called our soliders 'bastards' and said he wanted to 'crush them'."


So much for inciting civility.

The Stop The Nonsense! Save the Mosque on Ground Zero crew:

"You have to show tolerance."

"But isn't building a mosque on ground zero like building a Confederate War Memorial inside Ford's Theatre?"


So much for inciting compassion and understanding.

We'd all like to get along and have a good time, but as any nightclub owner can tell you and social media theorists claim to have discovered, some cliques should never be mixed. It isn't that they can't tolerate each other; they don't want to. Their opposition to each other is what defines them, makes them feel a part of something greater than themselves even if that something is less than fully human.

Meanwhile the White House is facing the very real possibility that after bailing out Wall Street while Americans lose jobs and sueing the State of Arizona while undocumented immigrants come to the US for free health care in the emergency wards, they may indeed be a historical but one term presidency.

In the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!"

As a Southerner growing up in Alabama, I thought the words to Kumbayah were "Come by, y'all!" Imagine my surprise when as an adult I read the Gullah translation to discover they actually do mean "Come by here".

That at least is ... comforting. If we all sing it, Arizonans have to tolerate illegal immigrants and New Yorkers have to tolerate that mosque near the spot where three thousand people were murdered. We are a great nation. We tolerate everything.


There is a wonderful movie making the rounds: Agora. It stars Rachel Weisz and tells the story of Hypatia of Alexandria. The story is about the burning of the libraries and the murder of Hypatia, the librarian as the Christians, Jews and pagans vowed for power and dominance while the Roman Empire fell around them. It seems I have to wait until it comes out on DVD in October because the movie is unwelcome by the American movie distributors who fear it will offend Christians and Jews. Pagans don't count. Meanwhile, years after the Pope asked the Saudi royals and the Yemenis to allow Christian churches in their countries for the over million Christians there, they are rebuked.

So much for open mindedness and freedom of expression. But we are The Good Guys.

In the 70s we were up to our hips in Iranian and Saudi students who told us as soon as they got home they would overthrow the Shah and kick us off the peninsula. We smiled thinking of course they wouldn't do that. Imagine our surprise when announcing intent indeed proved to be the best predictor of future behavior. So while the Germans are closing the mosque in Germany where the 911 attacks were planned because the members are collecting funds and planning for future attacks while the Taliban kills ten medical team members for "spying for the Americans and preaching Christianity", the Mayor of New York is telling the New Yorkers to be 'tolerant'.

We want to be. We do. It's just that past announcements of intentions to destroy the West once and for all keep being released from alQaeda known to raise funds in American mosques. This may not be one of those but who do we believe? Should we bend over backwards to understand or submit to the feeling that some people will screw us in any position we take? Sophisticates tell us that is paranoia but they also told us the Ayatollah could be trusted, the Saudis and Pakistanis are our allies, and tobacco didn't cause cancer.

They also claim Dylan is a good singer. Ok, that one was hokey on the face of it but it's right up there with Apple Supports Open Source. Ya gotta wonder.

One can't stay on the fence or pick a side to climb down. It seems one has to walk to the end of it and jump to the next back yard. But truth is often stranger than fiction and just when you think you know which side someone is on, well, you see this. Roll another one, Lawrence.

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