March 07, 2006

DEFEATED

I get discouraged often. The other night, my husband comforted me as I defeatedly moaned about demographics and jihad. I fear Iran's nukes. I fear the birthrate. I fear what will happen if we don't put our foot down and say, "It's just a cartoon, dammit." I did mention to my husband that I feel awful pessimistic about the future of the world, so I pity those who honestly believe we live in Bushitler's Oil Junta; they must fret a lot more than I do. My moaning has got nothin' on these people.

When I get discouraged about the future, I just remind myself that we live in the last second of December 31st. There's so much more to come...

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March 06, 2006

FUTURE

Several people have asked what's next for our family. We should PCS back to the US in about two months. We'll enjoy some hard-earned vacation time in the Midwest before we drive out to South Carolina for my husband's career course.

However, the finance career course might all be for naught, since my husband has answered the call for Civil Affairs officers. The active Army currently only provides 4% of CA soldiers, with the reserves pulling the majority of the weight. However, with changing needs of the Army, there has been a call for officers to volunteer to change their functional area to Civil Affairs. My husband has submitted his packet, so we should find out this summer if he's been accepted.

We've told very few people about his decision, and the ones we have told typically reply with "Wow, you two must like being apart." My husband hopes to be selected for either Arabic or Farsi training, which of course will mean that he'll be more valuable in the Middle East than in garrison. But it's what he really wants to do, and I couldn't be prouder. If someone has to be a Civil Affairs officer, I'd rather have the most capable person I know on the front lines.

So keep your fingers crossed that he gets selected for an exciting and important duty. And I'll keep my fingers crossed that he doesn't spend the remaining 16 years of his career away from home!

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PATRIOTISM

Pericles asked a question that I thought about a lot last night and that I'd like to answer as honestly as I can.

What I'm not sure that you recognize, at least not consistently, is that people who disagree vehemently with you can still love their country passionately. I question the intelligence and competence of Bush and his ilk, but I have never questioned their patriotism. I completely disagree with their vision about what is best for America, but I don't doubt that they are motivated by a concern for doing what is best. Based on my observations, you don't always give the people with whom you disagree that same kind of credit. Am I wrong?

I do in fact think you are wrong. I don't doubt either that John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and Ralph Nader think that their plan of action is the best choice for America. You make it sound like I believe they're all in some dark room musing, "How can we make the US worse?" I think that Hillary Clinton honestly believes that her plans for health care, education, or business are in our country's best interest. But do I want to live anywhere near Hillary Clinton's version of America? Heck no.

There's a big difference between questioning someone's patriotism and questioning their credentials. You question Bush's intelligence, which is your prerogative, and I question the intelligence of others as well. Back to George Clooney as always, my beef is not with his patriotism but his knowledge. Why is a college dropout who played a doctor on TV someone we go to when we want political commentary? I have a hard time believing that Clooney spends nearly the time I do online reading various news sources, so why does anyone care what he thinks? I asked a Lefty about this once recently, and she said, "Gosh, I never thought about it because I just agree with what he says." Questioning his expertise is not the same thing as questioning his patriotism.

I think the "don't question my patriotism" phrase is overused and most of the time is a red herring. It's like calling someone a racist for opposing affirmative action: it's the easy zinger that often has nothing to do with the argument. However, I tried to think about it a lot last night, and I realized that it depends a lot on how you define patriotism.

Do you define patriotism as simply love for your country? Do you define it as the thought that your country is better than others? Do you define it as putting your country ahead of yourself? Do you define it as being willing to sacrifice for your country? What's the definition? Because I know a lot of people who don't have any of these feelings for the US.

I don't know many people like you, Pericles. I feel I've sort of gotten to know you through your comments, and I basically get the impression that you love an ideal version of the US that's neither represented by the Republicans nor the Democrats. Please correct me if my assessment is wrong, but that's what I have gleaned. But most of the people I've come in contact with are nothing like you. I was a French and International Studies major and I got an MA in ESL. I was constantly surrounded by people who jumped at the chance to be anywhere but the USA. My colleagues consistently thought that France/China/Fill-In-The-Blank was better than the US. When they travelled, they were ashamed to admit they were Americans. They graduated and many looked for ways to leave the US and find something better. They thought the grass would be greener anywhere but the USA.

So do I question their patriotism? I do. They don't have any deep feelings for their own country. And any feelings they might have include shame and guilt. Is shame for your country patriotism? They don't have a deep love for America that transcends their hate for Bush. They just don't want to be in the US, period. I'm sorry if I'm a bad person for refusing to see them as patriots. I'm sorry that the internet is filled with stories of yahoos who hate our flag and our country. Yes, I question these people's patriotism, and none of them are Republicans. That doesn't mean that I automatically question every non-Repub's patriotism, but I can't help but notice the consistent trend.

I respect people who love our country even if "Bush and his ilk" don't fit the bill, but like I said I simply don't know many people like this. If Hillary Clinton were elected president, the US would move further away from what I consider the ideal, but you can bet I'd still wear my US flag pins and leave the big USA country code sticker on the bumper of our car. Because I love my country no matter who's at the wheel and I still think she's the best country in the world.

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March 05, 2006

CONTEXT

Why is it always the West's fault for not understanding Islam? Why is Islam itself never to blame? A Muslim college student wrote:

It does not come as a surprise to me that so many “unbiased” Western news sources carry extremely resentful outlooks regarding Islam.
There is a lack of distinction between orthodox Islamic values and the actions of a minority of Muslims. Western media outlets frequently present a correlation between these two classifications and often interpret Islam out of context. Unfortunately when it comes to reporting Islam, a lack of understanding, quoting sources out of context, and ethnocentric viewpoints seem to be trademarks.

And then in this debate, another Muslim suggested that in order to reform Islam,

we'll have to have a lot of help from rational Muslim minds around the world who buy into the argument that we--you, me, George Bush and Don Rumsfeld (i.e., all of us as Americans)--are not out to get them. ... We could enjoin Western scholars in that process and have them talk through external perception problems with what Islam proposes.
...
If we had an American Muslim FBI director, or the deputy Defense secretary was a Muslim by faith, or one day we had an American Muslim secretary of State, these officeholders would do a world of good by setting an example of how secularism, tolerance and belief can coexist, much the same way Condi Rice and Colin Powell did for black people everywhere in diffusing race as a factor in service to our country.

So the solution to the problem of Islam is that all we Western white folks have to coddle Muslims for decades and have some sort of new affirmative action that gets Muslims into positions of power so that they don't believe we all think they're evil? Give me a break. (It hasn't even worked that well for black people, since many of them hate Rice and Powell anyway.)

When the big news stories broke about Catholic priests molesting children, no Catholic said, "Well, it's not my priest who did that, it's some other priest who misinterpreted scripture." Catholics everywhere were outraged. Why aren't Muslims everywhere outraged? Why is it so easy for them to say "Well, I lead a good life, so it's not my fault if other Muslims misinterpret scripture."

The solution to Islam's problems is not a Muslim Condi Rice. Lord help us if we have to wait that long. The solution is for individual Muslims to be as outraged as individual Catholics were. Mansoor Ijaz says that he has never believed Allah wants him to kill Jews, but unfortunately many Muslims do believe just that. And they outnumber Ijaz. It's not my job as a white Westerner to make sure that Muslims don't feel offended; it's their job to make sure their religion doesn't offend. (And the solution is definitely not just to have Muslim editors making sure nothing in the newspaper offends Muslims. Good lord.)

The common complaint is that Islam is taken out of context. Please tell me what the correct context is then, because I don't know of any other way to interpret "We will wipe Israel off the map."

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ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The problem here, Mr Silly, is that you put yourself on a pedestal that I simply don't put myself on. I have never claimed to be intelligent or all-knowing. I don't think I'm very smart at all, which is the whole reason I named my blog what I did. If I already had all the answers, I wouldn't be trying to grok. I really meant my post to be a question: why aren't these Saddam tapes important? If someone has a real answer to that question, I'm willing to listen to it and learn from it. But your condescension is completely unwarranted. All is does is turn me off and make me skip over your comments. If you really have something to add to the conversation, or something you think I can learn from Your Almighty And Infinite Wisdom, then stop writing like a complete douche. I don't care about your List Of People Who Are Smarter Than Sarah. What does memorizing Homer have to do with understanding foreign relations and WMDs? I can play that game too: I can speak Swedish, which obviously makes me much more intelligent in all realms than Mr Silly, who can't speak Swedish. And you say I have faulty reasoning? I'm sorry, but all the degrees in classics in the world don't make you an expert on Iraq, any more than I am an expert! So if you have an argument to lay out *pertaining to the blog post at hand* please present it in a respectful way. Otherwise, you've done nothing to build up my intelligence or illuminate other points of view. All your present attitude does is make me roll my eyes and ignore your comments.

Jesus Tapdancing Christ, I still can't believe you gave me a lecture on how "we educated people" use something called the scientific method blah blah blah. Get over yourself.

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March 03, 2006

UN

Mark Steyn is preaching to the choir for me; his assessment of the UN's ineptitude is spot on:

Transnational institutions should reflect points of agreement: Americans don’t mind the Toronto Blue Jays playing in the same baseball league—and even winning it occasionally—because they’re all agreed on the rules of baseball. A joint North American Public Health Commission, on the other hand, would be a bureaucratic boondoggle seeking to reconcile two incompatible health systems. Imagine then what happens when you put America, Denmark, Libya and Syria on a human rights committee, and then try and explain why the verdict of such a committee should be given any weight when the U.S. is weighing its vital national interest.

It's long but it's worth it.

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MOVING

My husband's report date for the next big adventure is in exactly three months. That means that our aval date should be in two months. We're leaving Germany in two months. We don't have orders yet, so the only thing I'm working on regarding the move is panic. If I sit and think about it for too long, I start to feel like I'm going to throw up.

But I could never have written a better blog post about moving than Erin did.

(And I don't know how she and Kelly get away with making fun of me all the time: they're both just as neurotic as I am!)

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March 02, 2006

TAPES

Why isn't this as big of news as Cheney's hunting accident?

Inconveniently for critics of the war, Saddam made tapes in his version of the Oval Office. These tapes landed in the hands of American intelligence and were recently aired publicly.

The first 12 hours of the tapes — there are hundreds more waiting to be translated — are damning, to say the least. They show conclusively that Bush didn't lie when he cited Saddam's WMD plans as one of the big reasons for taking the dictator out.

...

War foes have long asserted that Saddam halted his WMD programs in the wake of his defeat in the first Gulf War in 1991. Saddam's abandonment of WMD programs was confirmed by subsequent U.N. inspections.

Again, not true. In a tape dating to April 1995, Saddam and several aides discuss the fact that U.N. inspectors had found traces of Iraq's biological weapons program. On the tape, Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law, is heard gloating about fooling the inspectors.

"We did not reveal all that we have," he says. "Not the type of weapons, not the volume of the materials we imported, not the volume of the production we told them about, not the volume of use. None of this was correct."

There's more. Indeed, as late as 2000, Saddam can be heard in his office talking with Iraqi scientists about his ongoing plans to build a nuclear device. At one point, he discusses Iraq's plasma uranium program — something that was missed entirely by U.N. weapons inspectors combing Iraq for WMD.

Why in the heck is it reported like this on Investor's Business Daily but reported completely differently on CNN? On CNN, the lead paragraph in bold is all about how "Hussein told his Cabinet in the mid-1990s that the U.S. would fall victim to terrorists possessing weapons of mass destruction but that Iraq would not be involved." And then in smaller font in paragraph two, it reads "Hussein also can be heard speaking with high-ranking Iraqi officials about deceiving United Nations inspectors looking into Iraq's weapons program." Why is CNN focusing on nothing and ignoring that Saddam tricked the UN, as the US suspected when we went to war? Everyone knew that Hans Blix was a impotent doofus, and this proves it. So why isn't it bigger news?

Apparently it's much bigger news that there's some tape of what Bush knew about Katrina, because that's what's on all the headlines right now.

I know these tapes came out two weeks ago, but why isn't anyone talking about them?

Posted by: Sarah at 05:08 AM | Comments (15) | Add Comment
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March 01, 2006

JUST WOW

Back when I was in college, I was naive. I thought that people in the US liked the US. I learned the error of my thinking after 9/11, when I forwarded Gordon Sinclair's 1973 broadcast to my fellow students and professors. The email backlash shocked my naive self, as students rushed to label me jingoistic and insensitive. One professor pulled me into his office the next day and offered me some wisdom I've never forgotten: "The last place it's OK to be American is in an American university."

I was reminded of that today when I read that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is currently a student at Yale. I have many of the same questions as Varifrank, such as "Are there any students at Yale whose mother or father died on 9/11? Any children of NYC fireman at Yale? Any non-Taliban Afghani refugees in Yale? Any of them women?" Mostly I just want to know who had the brilliant idea to invite this jackass to the United States and let "an ex-Taliban envoy with a fourth-grade education and a high-school equivalency" into one of our most lauded universities for the sake of diversity and oneupsmanship.

Why are our universities so durned un-American?

Posted by: Sarah at 05:09 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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