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us and them

(ed note: this may be gone by tomorrow. I'm just thinking out loud and this is something with no beginning, middle and end. It's just run on thoughts)

I'm frustrated.

I've written before about the rift in the blogosphere, wider and more evident now than when I first mentioned it. The closer war seems to get, the larger the chasm between sides grows.

It's a chasm filled with forked-tongue snakes and snapping pirahnas. Each side baits the other, each side throws its weapons and all we are doing is making it impossible to walk back and forth between us to have conversations about our differences.

That's not the only thing frustrating me, though it all comes down to politics in th end, anyhow.

There's been so much talk about hate mail this past weekend. As you know, I receive more than my share of such nonsense. Sometimes I take it to heart, sometimes I don't. Not all of it is about politics. Sometimes people just want to make judgment on my parenting skills or lifestyle or choice of husband. Sometimes they want to slice my head off for not liking a movie they loved. People are strange, they get so worked up over the smallest things. All of us, I mean. We are all guilty of that.

My hate mail reached a noisy crescendo in November, when it became apparent I was crossing over to the other side without any chance of coming back to the left. Suddenly, I was the enemy. I was a traitor. I deserved nothing less than a bloody, painful death. I got over that kind of arrogance and threatening hate pretty quick. I started going right to the delete button when the headers read "die motherfucker, die"

What I didn't get over so easily was the friends who abandoned me when my political leanings were swayed by life events. Not so much the friends who delinked me or stopped emailing, but the so-called friends who wondered aloud why I changed. They wanted to know who changed my mind. Who convinced me to lean the other way. Who got their grubby little hands on me and brainwashed me into becoming a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

In other words, they were implying that I did not have the capability to make this decision on my own, that I was simply some kind of sheep following the wrong flock. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

I didn't even answer those mails because I was so insulted, so hurt that people I admired and thought well of apparently did not think that much of me.

Well, I'm over that now as well. But I'm still frustrated.

I see animosity rising over subjects that have nothing to do with war. I see the wrath and baiting turned up a notch, the anger and spitting so evident with every word some people write. It's as if they are looking for a fight, looking for someone who will argue with them and call them names so they can claim controversy plagues them.

I try not to link to other bloggers when I am making a general point. Why link to one specific person who is on the opposite side of my political spectrum when I am talking about the anti-war movement in general? I don't like to point fingers when I know I can have that finger pointed right back at me. I don't know what it is, I just don't like singling out one particular person in order to make a point about many. Why invite controversy when I have enough to go around as it is? Why make one person defend himself or herself when it really isn't a personal issue?

There are plenty of left-leaning blogs I link to. I like those people. Yes, people. They may not think like me, they may not shout the same slogans or vote the same row and maybe they call me a warmonger and I call them smelly hippies, but there is so much more to one person than their politics.

I don't even know where I'm going with this or if I'm going anywhere at all. I just hate the hate. I am guilty of it myself, I know this. Does it make it any better that my hate/animosity/disbelief is pointed at a larger group rather than a singular person with a personal website? I don't know. I just know that some days I don't like what the impending war is doing to us. And some nights I lay awake wondering if I hurt someone's feelings with my words.

I would love to say It's just politics, let's get over it already, but that's not easy. Because politics has become life. Our beliefs and our views on the way we think things should be done in Iraq have become what we are. It's become what the entire world is about right now. Are you anti-war or pro-action? That is the defining terms by which we are viewing almost every person in the world now.

There are other things that define me, other things we could talk about without wanting to rip each other's heads off, but we don't because this other thing is too large. It hangs over us like death star, leaving a huge shadow over our world.

I'm right. You're right. In our minds we are all right. It just depends on which side of the chasm you are standing what your opposition looks like. We'll continue to shout our slogans at each other and send hate mail and write lengthy essays to try to prove our points. They're just words, but words can sever friendships. Words can cause or stop a war. And the right words can make us see that we are more than our political ideals.

Haven't you heard it's a battle of words
the poster bearer cried

Comments

Nitpick: as an (ex)musician, I've always hated the construction of "reached a crescendo", since a crescendo is technically the process of reaching a peak or climax, and not the peak or climax itself.

No biggie, though. (This is the closest you've come to ticking me off, though [grins sheepishly before fading back into the background again...])

Shit, I'm gonna get blamed for this, too...

When you got to this point...

"They wanted to know who changed my mind. Who convinced me to lean the other way. Who got their grubby little hands on me and brainwashed me into becoming a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy."

I was hoping you were going to say me =)

"(ed note: this may be gone by tomorrow...)"

PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS, Michele.

Yeah...just as an example, some of the France-bashing has gotten a little over the top. And believe me, I'm no friend of the French.
But on the other hand, there is a lot of frustration out there. I see a group of clueless Japanese students here in Tokyo parading around with a banner that says "Japan-Iraq Friendship Society" and I want to scream. Don't these people have a brain in their heads? Doesn't it make them hesistate when torturer/murderer/real warmonger Saddam publically gloats over their aid and comfort?
Venting on the French (or whoever) in these circumstances is just an outlet for our frustrations.

Delete it if you wish, rewrite it if you wish, or leave it up as-is. I think you make valid points.

When someone who holds the same views as you changes viewpoints, there are two ways to look at it: they could be right, or they could be deluded. If they're right, you're wrong. Nobody likes thinking that. If they're wrong, then someone must have deluded them, because nobody smart enough to share your views could change them without being misled.

But you're right; either they thought that you were too easily led, or insufficiently diligent to check facts.

I've not lost any friends over politics lately, but I tend to keep quiet when my liberal friends (whom I want to keep) start spouting off about how we need nationalized health care and other such topics. Maybe I'd lose them if I argued, maybe I wouldn't. Maybe it's dishonest of me not to argue with them.

Most of the time, it doesn't come up, and I'm happy to keep it that way.

Well, first I want to say, I read your blog because it's intelligent and well written. Your point of view happens to coincide with mine and I've been facinated reading your thoughts because it actually helps me understand mine. No, you are not thinking for me at all, but ideas facinate me, and hearing a well written, well thought out version if my own world view actually cheers me up. I've been where I think you are now for quite some time, but your transformation helps me understand myself a little better because you and I are so different on so many levels. I'm not a blogger, so what I say doesn't count so much, and I can only speak for myself. I don't know you, and will never meet you, but I'm glad you have this blog, because it puts forth an honest, unvarnished, point of view that I think needs to be heard. In some ways you remind me of Christopher Hitchens. To some extent, he's gone through the same transformation you have, I suspect. I envy both of you that in some way, because you've recently thought it all out to it's logical conclusion. It's still fresh in your mind, so you can express it much better than most. Anyway, please don't get discouraged and don't think this is all somehow unimportant. It is important. If you've lost friends because of this, that's very sad and upsetting. But realize that this blog, at least to some who view it, matters a lot!

But look how unhappy this post reads. Is that what comes from "becoming a member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy"?

Why do you need to peg yourself so firmly politically? Why do you need to pick one side or the other? Why not just rise above the simplistic right/left ideological framework and allow a little complexity and ambiguity back into your life?

Politics isn't something where you have to sign up for one side or the other. You can approach each issue individually and make up your mind according to how you think and feel about each one! On this issue you agree with the 'right' ... but on other issues you may disagree.

I think you might feel a little better if you relax and not peg yourself so strictly. It's your life, your blog, your views ... you can define it all how you want. And ignore the hatemail ... people who send that sort of stuff have already pegged themselves.

Politics ain't worth losing friends over.

[hugs Andrea Harris]

Actually Brett, the VRWC is sort of an in joke. I am neither right wing nor left.

And although this post may make me seem unhappy, it's because I'm unhappy with the way this world is dividing in two right now.

I am, for the most part, very happy with myself and my choices, especially my political choices.

Michele,

No, don't delete this post.

Yes, words matter.

No, you should not be subject to vitriolic hate mail. Those people are part of the problem; you're a target because of 198.569 visitors since 10.29.02.

Finally, I think the debate as a whole should be this difficult ... we are talking of condemning sons and daughters to death. A wise society should choose to do so only after deliberate consideration, and with a grave appreciation of the consequences ... Right or Left, act or talk.

That said, regardless of how difficult and grave the debate may become, the argument should still remain sufficiently principled that no one ever has to regret stating their point of view. Sadly, some of your readers lack these principles, and don't get the point.

Thanks for being an inspiration for so many of us ... from both sides of the issue. A Small Victory is one of the reasons I choose to blog each day.

I think we all need to get over our own selves and remember the various reasons why we took up blogging in the first place.

If we think that people are really interested in watching an increasing intercine conflict, I think we'll be unpleasantly surprised. And then we really will be blogging for ourselves, and I suspect that won't please many of us at all.

Shifting paradigms
Clash on so many levels
Spings two months away

Sorry. The political forum board I frequent has been in overdrive for the last three months. Everyone on it trys to keep it haiku sweet and simple.

Don't delete your post.

I don't know you personally, Michele, but I like the way you think and express yourself. I may not always agree, but isn't it better to gather various views on life as you sort through it all? I simply don't understand the vitriol that I see tossed around in the blogosphere.
Your blog will always be tops on my daily reads, no matter what your opinions may be.
Thanks for having the guts to include all of us in your world....publicly.

i began my transformation in my early twenties when i found out real quick that just being a stay-at-home mom didn't go over well with all my fellow leftie friends... granted it's been important for me to develop an identity outside of my family.

also i got tired of the victim ideology really quick. it was draggin' me down. it was a relief to let that go.

I know what you mean about the 'losing friends' deal. Eveytime I get into an argument with casual friends it ends up with both of us drifting further away from each other. It's a shame, but I figure I can get into screaming matches with my true friends and nothing will change. Those that pass were meant to.

Politic opinions are inescapable, it seems. They pollute and corrupt everything, from Summer movies to children's songs. I made the decision to quit watching the news and just derisively mock everything a while back, and I have never been happier. Yeah, I have firm opinions on some subjects, but for the most part I keep them to myself and do my talking at the voting booth.

I'll join the chorus singing for you to keep this post up. It was thought through well, and clearly stated. Makes a lot of sense.

Hey, at least you're getting mail and site visits, so you know what you're saying is having SOME effect :) I've been running around like a Carnival Sideshow Huckster everywhere trying to get people over to my site, and I can't even manage to get more than fifty or so visits a day. Sometimes I think a death threat or two would be a nice change from all the Ashampoo spam I get.

Forward all death threats and raving maniacal emails to me, Michele. I'd have a ball answering them for you.

Personally, I blame Seki.

God... DAAAAAMN!

I may not agree with you sometimes, but shit! Some people are just retarded. I'd let it roll off my back if I were you.

Fo'shizzle, my nizzle.

michele, thanks for all that i learn from you, even when i don't agree.

The world was simpler when I thought no person with a brain could disagree with me, knowing the same facts. But then, I was simpler, too, in the short bus sense. That is so insulting, when people simply can't conceive of your opinion differing from theirs because you thought about it, not because someone convinced you or you don't have all the facts or you're taking drugs or whatever.

I always find myself checking your blog, even though I often have differing opinions. I think that's a compliment ...

The main thing I wanted to touch on was the disheartening schizm that's developed in our country (mayhap the world) over a single tin pot dictator. At a national level, we're to the point of intense disagreements with our allies, at a personal level friends and family are pitting themselves against each other. I guess I was naive in thinking that the tragedy of 9/11 would galvanize us in working together to solve the scourge of terrorism ... There was a great deal of solidarity on Afghanistan, but that seems like the distant past now.
I'm not sure what it means when reasonable people disagree about issues as important as the ones facing us ... but I don't think it says anything good.

No point to this, just watching some more of my naivete fly away someplace ...