Monday, December 10, 2007

A Friend in Canada

About a year or so ago, I began an email correspondence with a fellow named Neil who was one of the commenters over at All Things Conservative, the conservative blog where Mike and I used to carry on lively discussions with wingnuts on the issues of the day - until we were banned. For some strange reason, Bill's blog attracted an inordinate number of commenters from Canada, most of whom fit perfectly into the mouth-breathing, knuckle-dragging demographic that comprises the majority of his blog community. Neil, however, was one of the few who made intelligent and thought-provoking comments, so of course he was banned too. I don't hear from Neil very often, but when I do, it is always a pleasure, and I hope he won't mind if I share with you this part of his email I received this morning:
What can I say about ATC? Seriously, I think Bill just couldn't manage the work it took to defend his position anymore. That has to be it, it just got too hard for him. When I started posting using headlines, he went off on me. Then he made a new rule that you have to post using a name, so I started posting by playing a game I called "Name The Dictator™". :)

I would post once as Joseph, the next time as Benito, and then Adolf, and.. occasionally as George, amongst many others. Anyway, he eventually started just deleting my posts once he knew it was me. I sometimes felt compelled to just go back in under my own name, but to be honest, it just seemed too much of a commitment. For some strange reason, when I'm in under my own name, I'm very less likely to let something go - and I just couldn't bring myself to get back into it.

But, much like the gentleman in your White House, it appears that Bill's "rules" began to expand.

I lost all respect for him when I put up a post using one of my Dictator names (might of been Idi ). Anyway, it was a post in response to an article that he posted which was highlighting Iranian shelling on the border of Iran and Kurdish Iraq. As usual he was framing the story as "another reason that Iran is so evil" entry. This even though the story is clearly indicating that Iran is responding to incursions and terrorist attacks within its boarder. My memory kicked in a bit, and I did a search back in the archives. Sure enough, there was a post back during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, where Bill was arguing that the alleged attack by Hizbolah against the army patrol justified the Israeli incursion. It was pretty scathing, basically highlighting his hypocrisy, but I had posted it very early in the morning - by the time I got up, it had been removed.

Alas, probably a good sign if people such as he feel the need to go underground.

Most intelligent people I know have long ago given up attempting to carry on discussions with wingnuts because it seems such a hopeless enterprise. I told our friend Freewheel once that my participation at ATC made me feel like a hamster on a wheel, spinning madly and going nowhere. But when I told him that, I also tried to explain that I was doing it not so much to change anyone else's opinion, but to engage in a sort of mental exercise for my own benefit - to clarify and express my own opinions, as well as to understand other points of view. Having been booted off the wheel, however, I do find that I don't miss it much - fun while it lasted and all that. The larger questions remain, though, which are: Can we ever get back to a point in time (if there ever was such a point?) where people with opposing viewpoints can carry on discussions that are not only civil but based in reality? Is it hopelessly naive to think that such a time is possible?

I'm feeling awfully down in the dumps today, which made the discovery of an email from Neil especially timely - Thanks Neil! (Neil also has started a blog which can be seen here.) It has been so dispiriting this last 6 years to watch the Bush administration's assault on our basic fundamental American values and structures, and to see these things occur with so little pushback from the press and the American public. I suppose it was only natural that my hopes would have been too high when, at last, the Democrats were able to win majorities, albeit slim ones, in Congress last year. So when stories break out, as they did late last week, about Democratic complicity in some of the worst abuses by the Bush administration, it's awfully tempting to give in to hopelessness. Refuge in humor (H/T Crooks & Liars) helps some but not enough. And of course, there is always strong drink and extreme profanity, but these too provide only temporary relief. What say you, dear readers, how do you cope?

5 comments:

Mike Thomas said...

It's great to hear from Neil again and to see that he has his own blog. We should put together a little blog community of ATC outcasts and call it Stop Making Sense!
I have to agree with Neil's assessment of ATC. They are clearly not interested in debating issues with anyone and so our efforts to engage them was little more than an annoyance.

As for your current dispiritedness, I am reminded of a time when I felt much the same way. Back when I was just out of college, I had just invested a lot of emotional energy in the Dukakis campaign only to see it go down to stinging defeat. I was trying to assuage my feelings by hanging out with some folks from the local Students Against Apartheid group when I met a guy who was a bit older than I. I can't remember what we were talking about, but I shared with him my discouragement at the state of affairs and he told me to step back and look at the bigger picture - even though it looked at the time like the Reagan agenda had won out, the reality was that Civil Rights and many other progressive issues had made enormous advancements over the years and could not be turned back by Reagan or anyone else.
It should not come as a shock that our politicians don't always live up to our hopes and expectations. We should never have put them on the pedestal in the first place. The important thing is where we are heading as a country now. Pelosi, et.al. may have been tone deaf on this issue back in 2002, but they are on the right side today, which is more than you can say about 99 percent of the Republicans, so don't ever forget that.
Just remember that 2008 promises to be a great year for Democrats, and even if it's not the country as a whole is slowly moving in a positive direction and Republican efforts to ignore this fact will always be temporary and fleeting at best.

Freewheel said...

I suggest one of those Bush hours-left-in-office countdown buttons for your blog. It always cheers me up to see how his time in office is disappearing. Whether America will elect someone capable of cleaning up his messes is different story...

AnnPW said...

Thanks Mike and Freewheel! I like "Stop Making Sense" Mike, heh! And you made some good points too. I am actually going to write another post this afternoon, I think. Call it "brooding" or "sulking" or maybe something else altogether.....

Good idea, Freewheel! I'm going to try to find one of those.

Criminoboy said...

Hi Ann - And Mike!! The first meeting of the Survivors of ATC has come to order.

Oh my! You posted the link to my blog. Now my procrastination guilt is kicking into overdrive. I'll get right on that....soon.

Adding to Mike's comments - I think that one of the few positive outcomes of this dreadful period of history is that the veil of Western altruism has been lifted for many. I don't think that the Dems will have an easy time of it in 2009 if they continue with business as usual, we'll see.

It's tough not to let it get to you when you're trying to keep up with the issues at the same time. I've learned that sometimes it's a good idea just to take long breaks, and to just step away - focus on your life, your loved ones, and your friends. Change is always the result of small individual efforts - so just keep doing what you've been doing.

Thanks for the kind words Ann - it's wonderful to hear from you and Mike again - I shall visit often :)

Neil

Ricky Bones said...

I still have not been told why I can't post there and I looked back and some of my post no longer exist, you know, the kind of posts that fly oin the face of the logic there. Can't have sound tile in the echo chamber :-)