Alarming News

August 28, 2006

Our friends and neighbors

“I don’t think you can take pictures in the tunnel.”
“Oh. How come?”
“Terrorist concerns.”

I was going to take him over the Brooklyn Bridge and show him the spectacular view of the Manhattan skyline. But the traffic was so heavy, despite the fact that it was after 11pm on Thursday, so we headed into the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. He turned around to snap some pictures, and I warned him against it.

We hadn’t talked politics yet and I hoped to avoid it. We hadn’t seen each other in 5 years, since the last time I was in Scotland. I didn’t want to spend our limited time together arguing over the Iraq war and I felt like this exchange was going to lead us into that political territory.

I know the pattern–”that’s a dumb way to combat terrorism, don’t Americans understand that you can’t fight terrorism in this way, no I don’t have a better suggestion beyond some vague ‘hearts and minds’ blather, but obviously you see Bush is an idiot, don’t you?, you don’t?, I’m really surprised at you, I thought you were smarter than that, don’t you listen to “Bright Eyes” and “Radiohead”?, don’t tell me you support what Israel is doing in the Middle East, obviously the Iraq war is a disaster, Bush only did it for oil/money/daddy/power, what about what the Americans did in Central America in the 80’s?, well I think it is relevant to prove Americans are power-hungry imperialists who want to keep the brown man down.”

I was exhausted just thinking about it. But he didn’t go there. In fact, he seemed understanding and sympathetic to the fact that we have to live this way now, that a tourist probably can’t take pictures in certain places in NY and that’s the way it’s going to be for some time. And though we hung out for three days, we never talked politics at all. It was such a happy time.

But my nervousness at the course our conversation could have taken got me thinking: I hate terrorists for killing innocent people and I hate them for forcing us to live a life where you can’t take pictures where you please, you can’t carry certain things onto airplanes, etc. But I really hate them for the divide they’ve caused in the western world. I hate hating France and being suspicious of Europe. I don’t see them as the enemy, but I do see them as turning a blind eye to this growing, immediate problem. And I know they see us in the same way–as this bumbling superpower who just can’t get things right. We yell at them for not doing enough, they yell at us for doing too much. It’s every Islamofascists dream. We are completely divided to where I expect a certain amount of hostility from Europeans, not even for being rightwingish, but just for being American. And I assume they’ll all be leftists, more concerned with pc-ness and intellectualism than doing what they must to survive. Even the ones I like and respect.

I don’t know how to get around this, exactly. But if we don’t thaw relations, and soon, then the cliche is true, the terrorists will have won.

Posted by Karol at 08:32 AM |
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Wow. I’ve always liked hating France.

Posted by: ccs178 (Chris) at August 28, 2006 at 3:28 pm

Yeah, me too. And I’m not so hot on the rest of Europe either…or Africa, Asia, South America, mexico or Canada.
The penguins are ok. And Australians are hot.

Posted by: Not Dawn Summers at August 28, 2006 at 3:54 pm

France loves hating England, and England loves hating France.
I like this post. I think for too long now that the USA (generally, not by party) has allowed persons and people to push buttons on it’s psyche and obtain a desired reaction. 9/11 is a good example, but the invasion of (non-democratic) Kuwait by (non-democratic) Iraq is a better one. This appealed to the good in the US (abd the world), 9/11 to the desire for revenge. The important thing is that the bad people are pulling the strings to make the USA be the bad guy in the world. That’s the cycle that needs to be broken.
I also have mentioned the US obsession with Castro. Once Nixon decided to blow him off, that was the end for US attempts to find an accommodation. This is bad for both countries, but especially Cubans.

Posted by: bryan at August 28, 2006 at 4:59 pm

We can blame terrorists for a lot of things, but I don’t think they should be blamed for typical partisan stupidity. That’s always been there and always WILL be there.

Posted by: Ken at August 28, 2006 at 5:44 pm

“But…but…but, you listen to Bright Eyes!” Hah. Perfect. Glad y’all had fun instead of having to do the Iraq war argument. I know the feeling.

Posted by: Mary Katharine at August 28, 2006 at 6:03 pm

I ended a friendship over something similar. I was willing to just not discuss the subject but my ex-friend could not stop herslef. Usually it was in the form of emailing me lefty political crap. I gave up. It increased my blood pressure too much and I had to accept she wouldn’t stop.

Posted by: sam at August 28, 2006 at 6:48 pm

it’s good to see there is life beyond politics!! I generally haveto hold my tongue around my husbands family and some of mine. Most of my friends call me to find out the truth so i must thank you and LGF and MAry Katherine amonst others for me to be able to pass on the knowledge. Glad you had fun. Oh and i have always not liked France so this is an “I told you so” to me unfortunately – i would love to be proven wrong once in awhile…

Posted by: sara at August 28, 2006 at 7:04 pm

I know what you guys mean about France, really. I was there in 1995, again in 1997 and finally in 2000- before W. (during the recount the last time, actually), before Iraq, and still people were unbelieveably rude to us. But we hated each other, I felt, in kind of a playful way. Like, they hated our loudness, we hated their obnoxiousness. Now I feel like each thinks the other’s behavior will lead to the end of our civilization. It’s a different level.

Posted by: Karol at August 29, 2006 at 12:15 am

The Neo-Cons argued like banshee’s for the war and blowing off some major historic allies, now they don’t want to hear about it…..suprise suprise.
There was a time when every conservative just droned on and on about how this is the only “right” way to do things and this is how you should think. If you didn’t agree you were ridiculed like being called a commie.
I do agree that politics creates a terrible conversation in a plutonic environment but bring up how great the Mets are in a room of Yankee fans and you get the same (or Giants Jets). I recall many times singing Mike Piazza is a horse’s ass…(insert Bush for Piazza and you pretty much have the same convo).
I think things will get better as more people move back to the “center” where the rest of the world resides.
(Let the commie comments fly…hahahaha)
The French make awesome Bread, Wine and Cheese they just don’t make good soldiers, there’s some economic term for this that eludes me.
PS Who takes pictures of a tunnel?

Posted by: dan the Democrat at August 29, 2006 at 10:23 am

I’m not going to mention the fact that certain Democrats were “neo-cons” way back when. I’ll just say that arguing about politics is fine. I love arguing politics. I think I’m right so I’ll try to make my points, etc. But, not in social situations. And, not like “oh, you’re from France? Wow, you guys are a bunch of wusses….etc.”

Posted by: Karol at August 29, 2006 at 10:51 am

That’s funny I heard you say that to a bunch of beret wearing, red-wine drinking people on Saturday. I am fiscally conservative, which means I support the party that will spend less. That is not the current Republican party.
All I have to say is Fool me once, shame on me….fool me once…fool me again, you’ll never fool me again.

Posted by: dan the Democrat at August 29, 2006 at 11:01 am

How many times have the Democrats fooled you?

Posted by: J.Kende at August 29, 2006 at 12:32 pm

I am fiscally conservative, which means I support the party that will spend less. That is not the current Republican party.

Just because they spend way too much by no means means they spend more than the Dhimmicrats.
Welfare, Affirmative Action and 3 wheeled hybrid cars don’t come free.

Posted by: Radical Redneck at August 30, 2006 at 10:46 am

Hey dumbass, no one is forcing you to hate the French. Jesus Christ, you Republicans are stupid.

Posted by: Tiberius Quirk at August 31, 2006 at 9:16 pm

But I really hate them for the divide they’ve caused in the western world.
It has always been there. All they did was shine some light on where the dividing line was.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at September 2, 2006 at 11:14 am
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