Who called who what names? Who hung up on who? Where and when did this and that happen?
I don’t know about anybody else, but the discussion on the blog over the last few days has held out the real possibility of exchanging some ideas about our occupation of Iraq, patriotism and who gets to claim it and on what grounds, the political goals of the CCVM/CCPM, etc. And while people have written things I found distasteful and inaccurate, much of it has been at least on point.
Some of it hasn’t, though, and that’s what I want to talk about now. I hope nobody disagrees with this point–that how we treat each other on the streets, how we talk about each other, etc, are all much less important than the big issues at stake–real life and death. Soldiers, contractors, and civilians are all dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. Some people are convinced that Islamic fundamentalists are going to attack the US again. Some are convinced that we can’t rest safely until our current military objectives are achieved; some are convinced that we can’t achieve those missions, and in fact amplify the risks to ourselves and our friends (such as we have them anymore) around the world by staying in Iraq. There’s blood in the streets, and we’re arguing about phone calls? We’re arguing about who shot videos/photos of what? There are real issues and problems here–the pride (wounded and otherwise) of maybe a few hundred people in a Philadelphia suburb isn’t one of them. Jewish people have a term for what we’ve descended into: pilpul, which means (roughly) elaborate debates about trivia designed to show people how smart you are.
I don’t expect this call to be particularly heeded, but I figured I should make it anyway. At the very least, let’s keep some things in perspective:
(1) We (CCVM/CCPM) aren’t the important people. The people who are actually at risk of dying are. Doc, I know you’ll take this as validation of your earlier point about the Harvard study on troop morale, and we can talk more about that later. The study isn’t bogus, but it doesn’t say what you say it does.
(2) Nobody cares, or should really, about individual moments of stepping out of line as long as nobody really gets hurt. Sometimes people do and say things they shouldn’t. Duh. With that said, I do believe that the Sheepdogs have adopted a strategy of trying to provoke CCPM members to do/say things we ordinarily wouldn’t. Congrats, it’s worked a few times. Given the nastiness of some of what your group says about us and our members, you probably don’t think your members have ever stepped out of line, so I won’t expect a similar acknowledgment.
(3) As much as the peacemaker in me would love to see this “debate” between Doc and John Grant (and whoever else they could get to participate) materialize, I still don’t see the point. Nobody who’s committed to one side or the other is going anywhere. Doc has said that CCPM is operating without enough information, but he doesn’t seem to understand that we all read, listen, watch, research a great deal. Sure, he might have inside (classified?) info we don’t, but he wouldn’t/couldn’t share that with us anyway or he probably would have. And he’s obviously not changing his mind again either. If Doc hadn’t already established that he “hates” us, maybe this would be different, but there’s not much good to come from inviting somebody who hates you to yell (metaphorically, that is) at you about why you’re wrong. I’m sure you can understand why we’d be suspicious of anything you have to say. I’m also sure you’ll say something like, “Of course you’re suspicious of anything that challenges your [fill in the blank with something evil] worldview.” That’s hogwash, and you know it.
(4) The “sides” here are more complex than many of us seem to think. Supporting “the troops” assumes that all “the troops” agree on the rightness of what they’re doing. They don’t. Supporting “terrorists” assumes that all “terrorists” want the same thing. They don’t. Our group (CCPM) is comprised of Democrats, Republicans, Greens, pacifists, soldiers/vets, and so on–all over the political and socio-economic spectrum. I don’t know any of the CCVM folks personally, so I don’t know how true that is for them; all I know is that Skye is a registered Democrat. Interesting as far as it goes, but that’s not very far. My point is that there’s real, deep disagreement among people who are smart and otherwise (generally) reasonable, and we’d all do well to remember that the people behind the signs and slogans are still people.
Life and death, folks. Let’s keep an eye on that, OK?
ADDED FRI EVENING: A point of clarification. My agenda in this post isn’t to shut down discussion. It’s to raise the level of the discussion, to get us out of accusations of “liar” and the like because one person remembers something differently from the other. That doesn’t help resolve anything, nor does it advance anybody’s understand of the issues. It just irritates everybody.
Also, I realize perfectly well that I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know in referring to “life and death.” That’s a reminder, not a preachy comment.