Fear and Loathing

Fear and Loathing
By John Sammon
Mar 16, 2003

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I was with a group of acquaintances and was asked for my position on the Iraq crisis. I started to explain that I’m against an invasion because I think Iraq can be disarmed through continued pressure in the UN.

I never had a chance to explain. A so-called friend lost it, interrupted me in mid-sentence, and shouted me down. He’s for war.

“How can you say that?” he bellowed over and over, his face red, his teeth bared.

Oh great! I thought. Here we go again. The same kind of polarization we had during Vietnam, the kind that tore this country in half. Remember the Vietnam era, where the teenage son would speak against the war. The teenager’s father would accuse the teenager of being a traitor. The teen would take off to Haight Ashbury (San Francisco), and father and son wouldn’t speak to each other again for 30 years.

The teen thought he was patriotic.

That kind of polarization.

Fear rules the arguments of those for war, and loathing too.

“They attacked us,” another friend (for the war) keeps saying. He says it over and over.

“Who are……they?” I feel like asking.

He means the September 11 attacks. Those were carried out by Palestinian groups. Most of the actual hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, you know, the Saudis, our big buddies.

I think he says “they,” meaning Muslims, because his church is teaching that the war is a holy war against Muslims. There are Muslims in the Philippines. Let’s bomb the Philippines.

I’ve told him twelve times there is no proof Baghdad carried out the 9-11 attacks. The Bush Administration hinted it has a link, but won’t share the evidence with the public. Even if they have proof, I won’t support an action in which the Executive Branch doesn’t trust me enough to share the most basic outline of what they’ve learned.

“Let’s put on suits of armor, like the crusaders of the Middle Ages,” I said. “This will be the sixth crusade to the Holy Land. The leaders used to be Louis the Bald, Charles the German, Otto the Feeble. I’ll be John the Obnoxious.

Let’s go slay the infidels.”

The earlier crusades failed, but did introduce the apricot to Europe.

Another friend tries to be cagey in his argument. “He (Saddam) mistreats his people. Protest is all well and good, but once war starts, we have to support our troops,” he said.

Saddam has brutalized his people. But the US has a long history of backing or installing brutal dictators. China, number one in the Guinness Book of Records for massacring its citizens, is our favorite trading partner.

“No, I’m not supporting invasion. I don’t have anything against our troops. It’s the leadership, or lack of it. This country was founded, came about, from defiance of governmental authority. That’s your duty as a citizen….to question government.

Those fake Indians had no legal right to dump that English tea in Boston Harbor. All our founding fathers, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, could have been classified as terrorists.”

The highlight of what turned into a shouting match and near-brawl came when I said Bush wouldn’t discuss with the public the estimated cost of the war in billions of dollars (not to mention lives). Bush decided to mention these things after the war starts.

The war and occupation is estimated to cost $800 billion. Bush earlier fired his economic advisor for giving him a gloomy estimate, a classic case of shoot the messenger.

“I don’t care about the (estimated) costs,” another acquaintance shouted.

“You don’t care? You don’t care? You don’t care? Why not?” 

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