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imperialism & war

How to Be Friends With an Antiwar Nut.

First, an announcement: The Lamet Vali, and all of my wannabees, have formed into one squadron- "The Lamet Vov." Some day, when I make a public appearance again at one of those so-called Saturday afternoon "editorial meetings" I will show proof of my being the original Lamet Vali. Hint: it is from a certain novel. Enjoy!
Near the anniversary of Sept. 11, a friend of mine told me the most upsetting thing I'd heard all year--but also the most clarifying.

We were talking politics, or rather we were shouting politics. He was laying into me for getting into bed with racists, murderers and hypocrites, people who had committed the equivalent of Sept. 11 countless times--which is to say, conservatives. Meanwhile, I was telling him through my teeth that Noam Chomsky, the source of my buddy's picturesque worldview, was a shameless liar and distorter.

We kept at for almost an hour. Then, as he got off the phone, out of breath and close to tears, he said it: "I don't know how to be your friend anymore."

I fell into a chair, shaking. For the past 10 years, I thought, I've shared every joke, every secret, every fear, with this guy, and this is how it's going to end? I spent a long time wondering how he could feel that way about me. Then I realized I'd been feeling that way about him, too--him and a good chunk of my closest buddies. He'd articulated a feeling that had been nagging at me ever since I started hearing what my friends thought about the attacks. If I had heard a stranger voice those opinions, I'd dismiss him as a crank, someone as monstrously wrong-headed as Gore Vidal or Michael Moore. So how do I stay friends with people who hold those views? Or, more bluntly: Is politics an important enough issue to kill a friendship?

There are days when I'd say yes in a second--migraine days, when my in-box is filled with widely cc'ed e-mails telling me America is imperialist (for selling Big Macs outside our borders), America is a rogue state (for steering clear of Kyoto and Durban)--and, oh yeah, George Bush is an idiot. (Unless you believe the other e-mail, about how he's the evil genius who masterminded the death of Paul Wellstone.) Not to mention the days when everybody's throwing around John Ashcroft jokes or enthusing over CEO scandals.
Sometimes I want to grab people by the collar and start shouting. "You have a degree from a major university. You have a serious, responsible job. You've lived in the world, as an adult, for some time now. Do you really believe that the attorney general is going to round people up and send them to Christian re-education camps? Do you really believe Israeli soldiers are the moral equivalent of suicide bombers? Do you really believe any of this craziness will get solved by sitting across a table from a lunatic dictator and pretending he's not wearing a .45 on his belt?"

For years, I managed to juggle politics and friendship without a hitch. Every so often one of my friends would call Rudy Giuliani a Nazi, or groan about threatened cuts at the National Endowment for the Arts, but I found a way to smile and feel baffled instead of steamed--as if he were talking about a movie he loved but I hated. Then, as soon as I saw an opening, I'd steer the conversation somewhere I could vent blamelessly, like the front office of the New York Mets or the musical quintessence that is Steely Dan.

Then the attacks happened--and the old compromises got a lot tougher to sustain. I found myself getting frustrated with accommodation and whose-fault-is-it-anyway politics. If there were ever a moment for moral clarity, and decisive action, this was it. How can you be a dove in your personal life, and spare people's feelings, when you're playing the hawk on a global scale?

So I started to let my beliefs slip out, and the results weren't pretty. After a few poorly considered e-mails, and some overly salty comebacks around the dinner table, my friends were desperate to move the subject away from politics. I felt worse than ever. The argument with my one buddy, which I related above, crystallized things. It seemed like I'd have to make a choice between my friends, whom I'd known for years, and my politics, which I was still testing out.

Then my wife found a third way.

The solution was born, appropriately enough, in a political argument. Last October, a couple of weeks after we were married, Nancy made a passing sardonic comment about how we were in danger of an angry mob if we didn't have a flag in our window. I was taken aback. Both of us had worked across the street from the World Trade Center, and both of us spent much of Sept. 11 fearing the other was dead. Showing the flag didn't mean joining a mob; it expressed solidarity and resolve in the face of horror.
But I didn't say that. Instead, I launched into 10 minutes of high-pitched apologetics, starting just about every sentence with "How can you possibly . . ." and ending them with an exclamation point, if not several. The result was a household of one mind, but not about the war; both of us were now sure we'd married a mental patient.

I made my mea culpas, but the argument didn't go away. In fact, it branched out, spreading into Palestine and Pinochet and a dozen other issues, all the way down to what radio station we'd listen to in the car. (Her choice was NPR; mine was anything but, and right now, please.) After a few weeks, we were walking on eggshells. Neither of us wanted to bring up politics, and soon enough we weren't bringing up much else, either.

It was Nancy, as usual, who finally found a way to settle things--or, rather, allow us to disagree without rancor. "I love you," she said, "but I'm not going to think like you."

A small idea, an obvious idea, but it turned my world on its head. I don't agree with my wife's take on politics--but she's my wife. We've sworn an oath to stay together. I think we can cut each other a little slack.

And the same goes for my friends. I'd understood for a long time that my friends didn't think like me--but I'd forgotten the more important part of it. We're friends. We love each other. To me, they're the smartest, funniest folks you could ask for, and they're a pleasure to have in my life. For as long as I can remember, we've been a group--standing in line for movies and shows, getting tossed out of restaurants or stuck in a far corner at wedding receptions, sharing any high and low you can talk about in mixed company, and quite a few you can't.

Friends talking, I realized, are not an army on a field, politicians on the stump, diplomats in a conference room--or even, God forbid, op-ed pundits. I believe, as strongly as anything, that as a nation we need to be unswerving in this war--there can't be any compromise with our enemies. But on a personal level, where there's a bond of friendship and love, there's room for concession. I can disagree with what my friends are saying, so strongly that I'll argue myself red in the face, but I don't have to give up on them.
So, as frustrated as I get with my buddy, and his dark assertions about American foreign policy, I remember everything we've shared over the years--every Elvis Costello show we camped out to see, every girlfriend he told me about breathlessly, then moaned about later. I remember that on Sept. 11 he was the only person I could reach by phone as I made my way to a Hudson River ferry--and he became a hub for my wife and me, making calls all morning to family and friends.

I still think he's a nut for listening to Noam Chomsky, and I'll tell him so. But I love him anyway. That's how I can be his friend.
Nuts and Bolts for the Pro-War Fiend 26.Nov.2002 09:21

already published

When I wrote these things- [these instructions to the embassies to frame Arabs for Israeli terrorist activities in Egypt] - I still didn't know how crushing is the evidence that was already published refuting our official version.
The huge amounts of arms and explosives, the tactics of the attack, the blocking and mining of the roads ... the precise coordination of the attack. Who would be foolish enough to believe that such a complicated operation could "develop" from a casual and sudden attack on an Israeli army unit by an Egyptian unit?

- Moshe Sharett, Prime Minister of Israel 1954 & 1955.

Bin Laden Comes Home To Roost
His CIA ties are only the beginning of a woeful story
Newsweek (MSNBC) 1998

Ashcroft Flying High
"the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term."
CBS, July 26, 2001

Newspaper: Echelon Gave Authorities Warning Of Attacks - WP, Newsbytes, September 13, 2001

San Francisco Gate Chronicle - Suspicious Profits Sit Uncollected
Airline investors seem to be lying low:
Pt 1 - September 19, 2001
Pt 2 - September 21, 2001
Pt 3 - September 22, 2001
Pt 4 - September 29, 2001

Willie Brown Got Low-Key Early Warning About Air Travel
For Mayor Willie Brown, the first signs that something was amiss came late Monday when he got a call from what he described as his airport security - - a full eight hours before yesterday's string of terrorist attacks -- advising him that Americans should be cautious about their air travel.
San Francisco Gate Chronicle, September 12, 2001

Instant Messages To Israel Warned Of WTC Attack
Washington Post, September 27, 2001
Officials at instant-messaging firm Odigo confirmed today that two employees received text messages warning of an attack on the World Trade Center two hours before terrorists crashed planes into the New York landmarks.

BILL NELSON: Perhaps we want to do this in our session, in executive session. But my question is an obvious one for not only this committee, but for the executive branch and the military establishment.

If we knew that there was a general threat on terrorist activity, which we did, and we suddenly have two trade towers in New York being obviously hit by terrorist activity, of commercial airliners taken off course from Boston to Los Angeles, then what happened to the response of the defense establishment once we saw the diversion of the aircraft headed west from Dulles turning around 180 degrees and, likewise, in the aircraft taking off from Newark and, in flight, turning 180 degrees? That's the question. I leave it to you as to how you would like to answer it. But we would like an answer. General Myers Confirmation Hearing, September 13, 2001

The Stand-Down Order

At 9:25, [FAA Administrator Jane] Garvey, in an historic and admirable step, and almost certainly after getting an okay from the White House, initiated a national ground stop, which forbids takeoffs and requires planes in the air to get down as soon as reasonable.
The order, which has never been implemented since flying was invented in 1903, applied to virtually every single kind of machine that can takeoff - civilian, military, or law enforcement.

The Herndon command center coordinated the phone call to all major FAA sites, the airline reps in the room contacted all airlines, and so-called NOTAMS ?notices to airmen ? were also sent out.

The FAA had stopped the world.

Five minutes later, FAA's few staffers who had stayed to set up the emergency operations center accomplished their mission and the center was up and running by 9:30.FAA chief spokesman Scott Brenner gave immediate orders to his press corps: hit the vending machines on the floors below and bring back all the candy you could carry.

Throughout the day, a hardcore group of public affairs staffers grabbed slices of pizza, scarfed chocolate donuts and swigged water and coffee.

But cellphones were virtually unusable because of the overloads, and FAA staffers in the emergency op center couldn't reach their in-house experts only a few floors below on the sidewalk. Minutes later, the Pentagon was hit.

[...] Ten minutes later, at 10.31, the FAA allowed all military and law enforcement flights to resume. (and some flights that the FAA can't reveal that were already airborne). Time, September 14, 2001

War, Recession & National Emergency - "Lucky Me, I hit the Trifecta!"
G.W. Bush, circa September 11, 2001

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
GW Bush, December 18, 2001 CNN Transcript


Dear Lamet Vov 26.Nov.2002 12:50

Orwell's long last cousin

I could have been your "friend". I have "friends" like you. I try not to get into political discussions with them since we end up calling each other assholes and other assorted compliments.

I just don't understand how your patriotic fervor blinds you to the facts. Our elections are a sham. 9/11 was allowed to happen for political gain. The 2000 election was a festering wound to our country. Bush needed something that would unite the populace. He got it with 9/11. The sheep of American herded just like they were supposed to. The result of those two facts are the shredding of our beloved Constitution. You can wipe your ass with the remnants of it. It is now not worth the paper it is printed on.

I know you disagree with me but have you read the USA Patriot Act or the Homeland Security Act? It is hundreds of pages but please at least read all the pages of those laws and tell me you can wave the flag with confidence that it represents the freedom and liberty of the constitution?

I am not some young kid. I am probably older than you, with a college degree, an executive with a small company and have seen the subtle erosion of our rights and liberty over the years with wars on everything: drugs, crime, poverty, etc. These wars slowly chipped away at the Constitution with approval of the populace because they were sending a "message" that the government was getting tough on drugs, crime and poverty. Yet all those problems continued to get worse. The past 14 months have been the beheading and the final nails in the coffin. May our democracy rest in peace.

The crowning satisfaction will be when the Bushies, through their expanded powers of the two new laws named above, know all about everyone, and start to take the beloved guns of the right wingers who support the Bushies. At that point, they get what they deserve. Ex right wing congressmen Bob Barr and Dick Armey are now working for the ACLU because they are "alarmed" at the expanded powers of government. It took them awhile but they finally woke up and realized what is happening.

Maybe you will wake up too. If not, as I said, I hope you too can rest in peace after this is all over and the Bushies have instituted the New World Order...

2nd Amendment is toast 26.Nov.2002 21:43

Salamander

All the people who cherish their right to a gun are gonna lose it. Bush WILL take them away as part of homeland security.

Anyone that thinks Bush and cronies are conservatives are deluded. He is creating the biggest most centralized power structure the world has ever seen. More government not less. Government that will control every single persons every move. Get used to it all you bush supporters cause you are not one of Bush's friends.

wow 26.Nov.2002 23:01

kurtkabang

wow. what a post.

thank you for your courage. i completely disagree with your politics but you're still the funniest person on portland indymedia. and it did take courage to make that post.

Please cite your sources 27.Nov.2002 10:17

this is what plagiarism looks like

The post by Lamet Vov came from the Wall Street Journal and was written by Robert J. Toth. Thought I'd just let everyone who's "wowed" by this piece of writing know so they can give kudos to the right person.

 http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/

LWV is NOT love 27.Nov.2002 19:01

notice 5 "loves" in LWVs post

"Then my wife found a third way."

--maybe everybody is married to Nancy :)

WSJ, NYT, WPost, LATimes, AP(at times)...

so i guess now the strategy has to change :)

damn intelligence.

You can't refute Chomsky 28.Nov.2002 00:38

anyone

Go ahead and try. You can't do it. I DARE you. Post something he has written that isn't true. Tell where and when he wrote it, cite his faulty references and then give your opposing viewpoint WITH references (that means date and source) and we'll see who's right.