Wednesday, April 11, 2007

In America

Anyone who reads my musings regularly, or has taken the time to dig through my archives, knows me pretty well. True, I don’t divulge everything about myself here, but my manner of thinking is an open book - more or less. I don’t ever really have an axe to grind; I am not one to take things personally. I try very hard not to offend anyone, but I don’t sugarcoat my views in order to appease either. If you disagree with me, I won’t internalize it.

Regular visitors here also know that I am, in equal parts, fascinated as well as frustrated by the body politic. My major is not just journalism with some odd minor, but rather the dual major (thus eliminating the required odd minor) of government-journalism. Although the course load is significantly heavier, I figured that after more than 25 years of chipping away at the game of higher education, it would be appropriate to spend a little more time to set myself apart and get a background such that I would know what I’m writing about.

It is therefore somewhat ironic that I only venture into political commentary every once in a while in my blog. It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say - I almost always do. It has more to do with what this blog was originally set up to do and why it is named what it is. It is an account of my world through the process of introspection. It’s my way of thinking out-loud. It is therapeutic and relaxing. It takes me away from the rat race while at the same time enables me to see the greater picture with better perspective. It paradoxically focuses my attention by distraction.

However, there are times when my professional specialization and introspection intersect… or perhaps collide. My last two pieces are examples. Actually, the second and perhaps more provocative piece was a rebuttal, but one based on the observation of human nature as it applies to politics. It was as introspective as it was political and could be viewed either way. Although I was as clear as I could possibly be about what I think of the competency (or lack thereof) of the Bush administration, I do not take the administration’s policies as a personal affront. Likewise, my criticism of the president is not a personal attack and should not be viewed as such.

But for some, it still is. I understand that many people get very attached to or vested in a policy based on their ideology or experience or loyalties. I get that. Although I try not to get caught up in the hype, I am not exempt. I am always on my guard. Once an institutional consensus forms, it is very difficult to oppose. It has much to do with why the press as a whole did not report the “other” side during the run-up to the war. If the mainstream media - the agenda setters like the New York Times, the Washington Post and others had been more vigilant, perhaps this fiasco could have been averted.

And it is a fiasco - the evidence is overwhelming. If anyone reading this disagrees - it is your right. After all this is still America. If you are offended by the stating of my opinion based on the facts as I see them, well, that is also your right. However, it is not my job to assuage anyone’s feelings - but know also that it is not my intent to offend. I don’t even insist that you believe me. Honestly, I don’t care. This is America and I submit that disagreeing with the administration is more patriotic - much more - than keeping quiet just to be nice.


Bobkat said...

Well said!

carmilevy said...

Amen, Mike. Here in Canada, we engaged in vigorous debate in the runup to the Iraq war. In the end, our then-Liberal government decided against joining the coalition. I wonder if the course of history might have been altered had some of the contrarian thinking crossed the border.

One wonders if members of the American media were even paying attention to their journalist-confreres in other countries.


Your educational decision has clearly paid off: you can write like the wind, and you have the background to infuse that writing with intelligence. I wish the majority of journalists with whom I work had the drive to deepen themselves as you clearly have.

mckay said...

sam, i grew up having learned to keep quiet in order to keep the peace. it's a hard habit to break, but i am just now, in my mid 40's. learning how to be brave enough to speak my mind.

i always thought i could be silent and let my vote speak for me. perhaps that isn't enough.

Ellen said...

I join the ranks of Mckay, as we grew up during the same time. As children, we were told that we were better off being seen and not heard.... kind of a leftover from our parents generation. Of course the 60's and 70's did much to change that rationalzation, but old habits are old habits. Besides, it was better to keep quiet than to defend every opinion you came out with, and there would always be SOMEONE to challenge those opinions. Problem is, the original opinion you had would splinter off past what the original arguement was, and you'd be caught with your pants down by someone who was more craftier in making themselves look more right.
It hardly seemed worth the effort to win a few battles, when the war of words got going.

You can lay out the facts, but if someone has it in mind that they are more right, they seem to resort to condescending counter-arguements. I've had that happen to me more times than I'd like to admit.

That all said... I still believe you are right. One must speak up, as long as they remember that being an arm-chair warrior means nothing.... actions do.

Kim said...

This is my very first visit, Michele sent me today, and I absolutely love your writing style!

Kim said...

p.s. I also received a Thinking Blogger Award, and have yet to put it on my site. I need to get a move on it.

Karen said...

Great write-up Mr. A!

And, if you've ever peeked in at my site, you would know that I completely share your feelings on this fiasco.

Mark said...

Nicely put. I'm aggravated to no end by folks who say that questioning our country's leaders is somehow unpatriotic. Our right as Americans to do that is what separates us from dictatorial regimes.

Anonymous said...

you have such an eloquent way of putting things, I simply can't imagine being offended by you!

Anonymous said...

Well written, and obviously contemplated dialogue, Mike. Thanks for sharing your view.

Michele sent me today... Have a great weekend!

Anna said...

Hey Mike...hope you are having a good weekend!

You know that I lurk here at every post, but I wanted to say that I totally agree that as Americans, it is patriotic to share our views and question the decisions of our lawmakers....that is how, on some level, they are held accountable to the people who put them in office and hopefully the moral barometer in general. It is indeed, what makes us different from other countries. The hard part for me is when people are hateful towards eachother and show no tolerance for other peoples views.

Great writing again!


Keith said...

You said:This is America and I submit that disagreeing with the administration is more patriotic - much more - than keeping quiet just to be nice.

Yes, it is! I had occasion to go to Branson, MO last Thanksgiving. I went to a couple of shows. They were something right out of 1940's Nazi propoganda films. Over the top patriotism, flags, Bush! Bush! Bush!

It made me awfully uncomfortable.

I love my country. I am sad to see what this administration (and to be fair - all politicians) have done to our Republic.

What was it that Ben Franklin said when asked "what do we have?" ... A republic, if you can keep it.

I don't think we've kept it. It's becoming an empire led by tyrants.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you too, so I'm not really any sort of challenge to your ideas here either.
What worrys me is that nearly everyone I know (with a few notable exceptions- I do live in Virginia after all) agrees with you (& me) but still, it all goes on & on- from the 2004 elections to the continued amassing of troops.
As Keith said we're sadly going in a dark, scary direction away from the original plans of democracy.
Here from Micheles today

kintheatl said...

Great post and I couldn't agree with you more. I rarely talk politics in my blog or comment in blogs where politics are discussed because it has been my experience that people do not want to listen...they only want to shove their viewpoint down your throat and I'm just not going there. I rarely see real discussions taking place.

Thank you for stopping by my blog! Michelle sent me (indirectly!)

Panthergirl said...

I hope you've seen the US vs. John Lennon documentary. To me, it's a must see for every American.

Here via michele today!

Anonymous said...

Hiya, Mike. I'm sticking to my "no discussion" given in your last comments section. :)

Good to e-see ya and hope you're having a great weekend!

Here via Michele's.

Anonymous said...

Mike you and I have very different opinions and views on political subjects.

That said, I am proud of and absolutely LOVE the fact that we live in a country where your opinion can be stated in an open public forum and that if I was so inclined my opinion could be aired as well. No one is going to break in the doors of our homes tonight and make us "disappear".

The reality of the situation is that I don't respond mostly because I would be unable to state my opinion in a way that would even begin to do it justice. Especially when compared to the reasoned and skilled presentation of your opinions.

Speaking of your reasoned and skilled presentation of opinion....I wish you would pop over to my blog and give me your thoughts on the question I pose.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any thinking person should keep silent about this atrocity of a government. I don't believe that silence or compliance is a thinking person's way. I believe that anyone, and I literally mean any one person that blindly stays behind the president's ridiculous foreign policies is, at this point, as big a murderer as the President. And that goes for Karl Rove and Dick Cheney (who still claims that there are WMDs and that the war is justified because Saddam is linked to Al Queda) down to the neighbor down the road who still thinks that if you are against the war you are a communist.

I have never, not for one second, supported Bush, his cabal of evil, or the policies he has unleashed on the world. I think that he cheated his way through prep school, college, the 'military service', and his subsequent jobs. He is not the brightest bulb on the tree and he allows very scary people to direct him. Even his father has distanced himself from George W. His mother *cried* when she found he was running for President because that was Jeb's future, not George W's. They don't support him privately. That's how sad this situation is.

So you go ahead and you say what you want on your blog, and if people disagree with you, well that's what human discourse is all about. You don't want EVERYONE to agree with you. How boring that would be.

Additionally, don't you wish just for a short time we had a parlimentary government so we could get rid of this sad man in a vote of 'no confidence' instead of having to wait until Jan '09? I do, every single day.

Here via Michele, and as usual, glad to be a guest.

Anonymous said...

Very well said. I dread the day when you're not allowed to criticize. Somebody a while back said that there's three orders - ballot box, soap box, ammo box. Luckily, we haven't reached 3 yet.

I'm sure you and I have some things we disagree with, but please, don't ever be afraid to offend.