Campus personalities present and past Rebecca C. Brown and Tommaso Sciortino tackle the issues. This week on a very special CalJunket: Rebecca learns not to chew with her mouth open and Tommaso finds out his best friend is addicted to no-doze.
Monday, July 11, 2005
Let's keep the playground politics to a minimumThe love of my life, bless his adorable little heart, likes listening to Air America whenever he's in his car or bedroom. Given that he and I spend a good amount of time together, and given that I'm not the kind of woman who insists upon getting her way, that means that I have to suffer through talk radio many, many hours a week as well. I have bad news, liberals: Air America talk radio is still talk radio. The hosts still fail to substantiate their claims most the time, they still repeat themselves endlessly for the entirety of their slots, they still surround themselves almost exclusively with like-minded guests and callers and thus foster no exciting discussion, and they're still mostly boring. Jerry Springer is my favorite because he is usually the most insightful and least repetitive and least likely to resort to baseless emotional appeals. If only he had been born in this fine country, he might one day make an excellent president.
Anyhow, one argument that I hear/read often on Air America and from the mouths/keyboards of lefties these days is that the Bush administration's unsavory anti-terror policies are deplorable in part because they provide terrorists more fodder for hating us. For example, breaking Geneva Convention rules at Guantanamo Bay is especially nasty because it gives terrorists more reason to attack us, thus further endangering the safety of Americans. In other words, not only is mistreating prisoners bad because it's evil, it's also bad because it lets evil-doers feel more justified in their evil-doing. This argument, I believe, though it's difficult to substantiate, is probably sound.
So why does it make me so uncomfortable to go along with it?
I've figured out that I'm not a fan of what I categorize as playground politics. The above argument basically states to some degree, You shouldn't abuse prisoners because that'll just make them hate us more. It's akin to, You shouldn't beat up the nerdy kid because one day he could grow up and be rich and powerful like Bill Gates. It's also analogous to, Billy hit Jimmy first, so it's understandable that Jimmy would then hit Billy. Lastly, it's also similar to, Breaking the rules is wrong because when I break the rules I get in trouble. Children are expected to grow out of these interpersonal misconceptions by the time they get to fourth grade.
I haven't heard any liberal, no matter how wacky in the head, say that terrorists are justified in committing violence because of the way America has conducted itself, which is a relief. Those people are jerkoffs.
But I wish, in my magical mystical gilded unicorn land where violence is wrong in and of itself, that it was convincing enough to simply say, Abusing prisoners like this is bad because it's inhumane. You'd think that abuse was bad enough that we wouldn't have to re-direct the argument to how the abuse will eventually come around and hurt us. I guess that's why I've never really been into kharma; I'd like to think that I'm a conscientious person because that's the right thing to do, not because if I'm a turd then people will be mean to me. Same goes for that whole threat of Hell thing.
Again, it's a completely valid argument to say that defiling the Koran is a shitty thing to do because it gives Muslims more reason to hate dirty Americans. But even making that statement detracts from the more basic but more important point, which is that defiling the Koran is just a shitty thing to do, plain and simple.
The moral of the story is that Air America is really boring most of the time. Air America sometimes has the same problem that Berkeley has in that it's predictable and rarely challenged. Also like Berkeley, Air America is smug. And loud. And way less cool than listening to a CD in the car or having a fricken' conversation.
P.S. My good buddy Paul and I are scooting out for a 13-day road trip to Chicago and back starting Tuesday, so hopefully in my absence Tommaso will keep you entertained. In part the point of the trip for me is for me to see parts of America that I probably will never have the chance or reason to see again (i.e., Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico). It's easy to just conceive of that entire section of the country as an amorphous blob of "red states," and forget that real-life people actually live there and carry on normal lives. I'm also looking forward to meeting Paul's parents, who, if they are anything like their son, must be really awesome. Keep the Bay Area warm for me while I'm gone!
I don't know if you're being fair to Air America. A large part of the problem is that you can't do thoughtful stuff in a radio format without putting people to sleep NPR style. Also, the quality of the broadcasts vary widely from one host to the next. Al Franken spends a lot of time interviewing experts and discussing actual policiess and positions. Randi Rohdes on the other hand really does have a talking point problem. But people like her show more becuase dammit, she does good phone-in-caller work. Janeane Garofalo has... yeah... she a lot like the stuff you complain about.
Also, let’s get our arguments straight. Unless you’re a Rush Limbaugh ditto-head, you shouldn’t have gotten the impression that democrats are arguing against Koran desecration and prisoner abuse because is provides terrorists more fodder for hating us. That’s would be a stupid argument. Instead, Dems are arguing that it provides regular Muslims fodder for hating us. That’s an important distinction.
Mostly I think, Democrats have made this argument because they found the real one they want (America should compose itself morally) to have surprisingly little traction. I have no problem deploying a wide array of arguments in favor of a position, even if the people I'm trying to convince don't share my main motivation.
And you can say with a straight face that there is nothing that the US has done in its (especially the more recent) history that would serve as an excuse to want to attack us. Just look at what the CIA did throughout the 60s and 70s.
I liken this not to playground politics... but a more fundamental "fight fire with fire" type of philosophy (which does work at times for fire). There are so many ways that we can change our foreign policy to make terrorism unattractive... and Bush's recent "we're going to bring the fight to them" speeches will be seen as the height of US idiocy in a few decades.
Nope, you're being fair to Air America. TS is absolutely right about the limitations of talk radio, (or, as RebC put it, "Air America talk radio is still talk radio") but that's really no excuse to like it.
Certainly not, Hall. The American government has done lots of things to make people mad at us. What's your point?
We shouldn't worry about making terrorists angrier since it really doesn't make much of a difference. What? are they going to blow themselves up twice as much?
What's important is that we try to minimize actions that make regular foriegners mad when possible. Making forigners like us is pretty pie in the sky, but even if they don't we should try to convince them that we're not a threat to them and their way of life.
Though I didn't have sex with Paul, I did make sweet, sweet love to Thomas Jefferson's ghost at Mount Rushmore. Teddy Roosevelt watched.Post a Comment