What’s It Going to Cost Me?

Dear Church Secretary,

I’ve been trying for a while to articulate good responses to your comments here and not quite succeeding. But I have been mulling. And now I’m on drugs, so I feel compelled to try.

And here’s what troubles me.

In general, I believe you. That we do run roughshod over the rest of the world and our foreign and economic policies don’t always work for the betterment of the whole world. And I get that people are angry at us and that they feel like their anger is justified. I also get that some of them are so angry and feel so helpless that they’ll strike out in whatever sick and fucked up way they can.

And so I see the logic in trying to diffuse the situation by being better global neighbors and trying to understand and counteract their anger.

But here’s what bugs me, and maybe it’s just because I don’t know enough about why the rest of the world hates us, but I suspect that appeasing the rest of the world is going to cost me more than it costs you.

Because, we can talk all the Lexuses and olive trees you want, what I see on the news are not people who hate us because we’re hogging all the resources. They hate us because we’re infidels, because we’re “brainwashed by the evil Jews”, because we ourselves are evil. But it seems to come down to the fact that we’re sinners and that we revel in our sinfulness.

Sure, we can pressure Israel and we can be better about other shit, but in the end, some folks, the folks willing to blow themselves up, don’t want us to exist.

My fear is that you think we should make some efforts not just to understand them, but to appease them. And I look at the things that seem to bother them, not just in our culture, but in their own, and those things are me–loose women with educations and minds of their own.

And I want to know how much of my freedom I’m going to be asked to curtail in order to make people who aren’t comfortable with my existence comfortable.

And until I have some assurances that I’m not going to be asked to behave in order to achieve world peace, I’m not sure I can get onboard with supporting any plans for it.

Fucked-up-edly yours,

Aunt B.

Here’s what concerns me.  Not real people living in other parts of the world.  I am concerned about the story we tell about who they are and what they want–that they “hate our freedom.”  And I am concerned about the reasons for telling that story.  The Church Secretary is right that part of a solution may be to just get used to and accept high gas prices (lord knows Andrew Sullivan would agree).

But you guys (CS and Sullivan) live in cities, with public transportation.  What about most of the people in America who cannot afford housing closer to where they work, who need to drive to get there?

Do you really think that our economy is going to barrel on (so to speak) with gas prices climbing?  If all discretionary income goes to gas…

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked.

I’m not concerned about what real actual people living on the other side of the world want Americans to do.  I’m concerned about what other Americans will want me to do when they’re faced with tough economic times, a fear-mongering administration, and news channels driven by crisis after crisis.

I’m sorry.  I’ve lived here long enough to see how we regularly offer witches up for sacrifice in order to try to appease forces beyond our control.  And “make our women behave” is already a cultural imperative of ours and it’s one that meshes nicely with “They hate our immoral ways” and seems to me to point to “if we can control our women, maybe they won’t hate us so much.”

Considering how much we have to fight against “we need to control our women or God will be pissed” on the right, I just don’t want to see us lefties looking around for a scapegoat and landing on me as well.

10 thoughts on “What’s It Going to Cost Me?

  1. I have recently traveled to the area where the people who supposedly "hate Americans" live. I stayed many nights in the heart of Palestine and felt welcome- even being a loose woman with a mind of my own. I actually had many conversations with other loose women, college educated and not afraid to speak their minds, who also happened to be Palestinian, Arab, and a couple of different religions. They don’t hate us. They hate what our government does to them, just like they hate what the Israeli government does to them (because let’s face it, there isn’t a lot of difference between the American and Israeli government; it’s all the same money). So relax, your freedom is not at stake. You are giving these people too much credit. They are just as self centered as you and me. They care about feeding their families and raising their children without the fear of their house being demolished. It really isn’t a lot to ask.

  2. >And I want to know how much of my freedom I’m >going to be asked to curtail in order to make >people who aren’t comfortable with my existence >comfortable.None. You have the luxury of living in the nation that sets the standard, mostly by virtue of having the biggest bomb set. Moreover, whenever nations want to join in the big pig capitalism party, the pressure is on them to adhere to Western mores. UN charters don’t aquiesce on finer points of things like the liberation of women and human rights.America haterism is not a patent owned by the Middle East, either. Those other people just 1) have it good enough that they don’t need to be bothered 2) Have not been bombed lately 3) perhaps have us to thank for not having been bombed lately.

  3. I’ve always felt like CS is a lot like he represents our government as being. Pushy and thinking he knows what’s best for us all. Arrogant and talking down to others.With that said, I’ll give him credit. He was quite civil the last time I got into a discussion with him. It was just so unlike what I have come to expect.

  4. Gas prices are not going down any time soon. The industrialization of southeast asia will make sure of that.Your ‘fear-mongering administration’ will be gone soon enough. Score one for the founding fathers.’make our women behave’ I think that genie is out of the bottle.

  5. Exador, I agree wholeheartedly with your first statement. With the rising competition for fossil fuels, the oil producers and distributors are going to have a field day with all of us.However, I must cautiously disagree with your latter two points. If I’ve learned anything from my studies of the twentieth century (and the crowning of this century), it’s that genies can be stuffed back into bottles. It is usually a painful and bloody process when it happens. I’m a little unclear about your reference to the founding fathers. As I recall, they weren’t the ones who installed presidential term limits. I may be wrong about that, I’ll go check. If you’re referring to checks and balances, those are only as effective as our willingness to maintain them.Look at all the doodoo our executive has created and stepped in over the last six years, and look at how the legislative branch has rubber-stamped most of it. Right now, all three branches of our federal government are Republican (hell, it was a legally dubious Supreme Court decision that installed Arbustito in the Oval Office in the first place). There ain’t a whole lot of check or balance in that. It remains to be seen if the electorate and/or the voting system is so corrupted as to ask for more of the same. I won’t hold my breath.Aunt B.’s concern, which I didn’t get at first, but I understand now, is valid. Alleged democracies are just right-wing dictatorships waiting to happen. It never happens the same way every time, and it never happens suddenly. Sitting back and feeling smug about ourselves is one way to make sure our children will be goosestepping for Jesus.

  6. ‘goosestepping for Jesus’—-Good line.My reference was only that the presidential term is only 4 years. Of course term limits didn’t come into play until after FDR.I’m a little surprised at what pussies the republicans are, especially in congress. As you said, they have all three branches, albeit by a very slim margin in congress. I suspect they’ll lose even that in November.It goes to show how there’s almost no difference between R and D. ‘Party of smaller government’, my ass. At least he’s better than Kerry. Ugh!

  7. > Do you really think that our economy is going to barrel on (so to speak) with gas prices climbing? If all discretionary income goes to gas…The problem of "all discretionary income going to gas" isn’t so much a fuel problem as a pay problem. It is just another indicator that our working poor are getting poorer. People can stand $5/gallon gas, if they are paid a living wage. Real wages, as an average, in constant 1982 dollars peaked around 1973 at $331 per week, and in 2004 were $277 per week (http://www.laborresearch.org/charts.php?id=8). If you gave each worker an extra $54 per week, do you think that they could keep their tanks full?

  8. Oops, I made a mistake in that comment. If real wages today were brought to the same level as in 1973, workers wouldn’t have $54 per week extra, they would have 54 extra 1982-dollars per week which seems to work out to 109 extra 2005-dollars per week (http://www.westegg.com/inflation/).

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