He asked whether we wanted to take some time to talk about what’s going on internationally before talking about Birth of a Nation or set aside some time at the end to talk about it or just what. Someone said something about this racist war, and i asked if someone could explain to me just how this war is “racist” since i’ve heard that term thrown around a lot but haven’t heard any explanation, and a bunch of hands shot up, so Michael said we seemed to have agreed on a direction and was everyone okay with that.
(For the record, it’s a racist war because, duh, it’s being waged against people of darker skin than us, though i forget the elaborate rationale which makes that argument actually make sense, and because so many members of the military – i.e., Americans who are going to die in this – are people of color. I’ll accept that as a legitimate criticism, but really that just says that the military is racially problematic or something; it doesn’t apply solely to this war.)
Since i’ve been back from Spring Break (during which i assiduously avoided war coverage) i’ve been weary. I have continued to avoid reading about the war, just felt very weary of the whole thing, and inclined to be anti-war hearing about the death and destruction and all (plus i oppose a lot of what this administration has done, so it gets difficult to support/defend something they’re doing). But listening to people state reasons why they opposed the war, i jotted the ideas down because i had counters to them. Dealing with specific issues, arguments, logics, this i can do. The amorphous sadness can envelop me, because i can’t do anything about it, but individual points i can deal with. Like light piercing through the enveloping cloud. Argument invigorates me. And in class i actually got to point out some of the problematics of the “We should have just let the inspectors do their jobs” argument (though Michael did in turn point out that as long as the inspectors were there, with the threat of military force if WMDs were discovered or used, if any weapons existed they were rendered unusable).
(Following up on my post about The Birth of a Nation, since we did spend the last half hour or so of class talking about the film, is “Dixiecrats Triumphant: The secret history of Woodrow Wilson” from Reason magazine, sent to me by my Dad.)
I wore my red short-sleeved shirt with the floral cutouts, because it’s pretty and spring-y. I remembered the Wear Red to Oppose the War, but decided that i hadn’t seen anything about that in the publicity for this day, so i would be okay. And i was fine until i went to the Dean Walters teach-in, where there were a couple Radical Cheerleaders in their red shirts and some other people in red shirts and i felt so very aware of the fact that i was being read as anti-war. It made me realize how problematic it is to “read” people, that you may well not be working within the same set of codes.
The Jennifer Walters thing was good. She opened saying she’s a mess, and she said that the flailing keeps her honest, keeps her from being self-righteous, and i liked that. I think that’s one of the ways that messy and wounded places are places where the light can come in (one of the major themes of her talk).
We talked about the used of religious language in the media and so on, and one woman said that she feels like her religion has been co-opted (by the Bush administration) to mean and to justify things she doesn’t agree with, and that it makes it difficult for her to connect to her religion and spirituality, to use them as methods of healing in this time, and how much moreso Muslims have felt that after September 11, and both those ideas really struck me.
I was also interested that two people who seemed to be very definitely anti-war were also advocating complexity and grey area and stuff with their words, though i think they were thinking of it just as an attack on the anti-war side. One person said that it seems like stepping away from extremes, getting into grey areas, is seen as traitorous, and i know she was referring to the “You’re either with us or you’re against us” type rhetoric from the administration, but i thought about how one of the reasons it’s so difficult to have debate within the “liberal” community is because i very much think that (often) if you support the war you are seen as a traitor. The second woman talked about how in our culture we’re very quick to judge, to make everything black and white, that that’s how we deal with things. I know she was talking about the axis of evil rhetoric and so on, but it made me think about how the anti-war stuff is so much about right vs. wrong (Bush is wrong and evil, killing people is wrong, peace is right and good, etc.).
And lastly, one woman talked about how Iraqis surrendering is presented as being because they love the U.S. so much, but that in Islam, jihad is only justified if your religion, your ability to practice your religion, is threatened, and that otherwise you are not supposed to fight, not supposed to hurt people, so if these people are Islamic of course they would surrender. I thought that was interesting food for thought – though it’s problematic in many ways (maybe the U.S. is the lesser of two evils compared to Saddam, maybe it’s more about hating Saddam than loving us, for one, and for a second, even if that is an accurate description of Islamic belief, if people of Islam are anything like Christian, than the degree to which they live their life by their religion varies greatly, and there is much disagreement over just what the religion/holy text says).
[The following was too good snark to pass up.]
All over the place
US and Bush are evil
Saddam is misunderstood
The path to Utopia is blocked by the US and capitalism
Pretty much a typical day at Smith.
Guest name (Guest) wrote:
OK, I know the jolt isn't the most warm and cuddly place to ask this question, but does anyone know where the teach-ins are going to be tomorrow morning? Any idea what the topics are going to be?