An individual known only as "diatribe" left the following comment at Emily Jones' Give War a Chance blog. At first I was ready to dismiss it as more anonymous blather of the sort that justifies Steven Den Beste's anti-anonymity stance, but there's more to it than that. Or less. Here's what it said:

America is definitely not the best country. We're barely civilized at all. One trip to the mall, a showcase of twisted angry peasants who can't wait to be divested of their cash, will show you that. Look into the eyes of a stranger here and you might just get yourself beat up. Where does the anger come from? why do so many americans seethe and hate, empty of any kind of fulfillment or expression? I wonder.

We are not free, we are a cash crop to be harvested of our effort and time for the benefit of the mighty dollar, this dollar who some claim is such a boon to the rest of the world, but which in reality is the tool of oppression for most of the third world. They hate us because we rape them of 80 percent of the worlds resources, kill them if they resist our financial empire, and repay them with more pollution than the rest of the world combined.

Politicans and lawyers are notoriously unpopular people, we don't trust ours, they don't trust theirs, and yet these are the people we send to represent us all over the world. no wonder things are bad.

But you who HAVE been to other countries, you know the real truth. People DON'T hate us, in spite of all these things. Americans are minor celebrities no matter where they go, as are all foreigners. Differing cultures have a natural attraction to each other, and no matter where you go, people go to work, buy food, and fall in love just like anywhere.

That's why war will never be a good thing. too many evil men profit from unnecessary death. Too few citizens decide to wrest control away from those who call themselves our superiors in a society based on representation and free elections!

If you want to walk the streets of Columbus and complain bitterly about the state of things instead of doing one damn thing to change it, then perhaps you'd better re-think what it is you really care about.

A few thoughts of my own:

I can live with being a "twisted angry peasant", but I don't give up my dollars willingly. And while I don't have a direct representative in the Third World to provide field reports, I suspect very few of its residents go out of their way to spurn this so-called "tool of oppression"; the alternative, too often, is an existence even more marginal, a poverty even more wrenching. I have never quite understood the notion that it's somehow morally preferable to starve to death rather than to assemble Air Jordans for a relative pittance.

The "80 percent of the worlds resources" bit is an exaggeration by a factor of three. Admittedly, we use up resources in a quantity disproportionate to our population, but there are always going to be inequalities of this sort; the alternative, and I use the term as loosely as is humanly possible, is to have some sort of World Energy Czar with control over every single BTU. I suppose some people actually advocate this sort of thing, but just wait until it actually affects them personally. ("But it's 28 degrees! What do you mean I've 'used up my quota' for the year?")

One thing is true: for the most part, people don't hate us. And the ones that do give very specific, if usually idiotic, reasons for their hatred, generally having to do with our apparently insufficiently-pious culture, or our inexplicable support of the one actual Middle Eastern democracy while otherwise giving short shrift to a region teeming with tinpot totalitarians. This latter is actually pretty explicable: were it not for the occasional need to fill up the Suburban and go to the mall, said tinpot totalitarians would be lucky to get any shrift at all. And implausible as it may seem, it is actually possible to believe in God and still watch The Anna Nicole Show, though it's a severe test of one's faith.

And what, precisely, is "unnecessary death"? Every last one of us is going to die, whether we think it's necessary or not. Environmentalists, attuned as they are (or as they say they are) to the ways of Mother Earth, should have figured this out by now. Death is probably the only necessary part of life; certainly it's the most universal. And do "evil men" really profit from it?

We have representation; we have free elections. How many citizens are supposed to "wrest control" away from those representatives who were elected freely? The answer, in case you've forgotten, is fifty percent plus one. Very simple math. We have "too few" people participating, if you ask me, but the ratio remains just the same. If our politicians are "unpopular", well, how did they get elected in the first place? It's possible to argue that some of the pols bought their way in, or had their seats more or less purchased by wealthy contributors, but there's still that little matter of getting the majority of the votes, and it's not like you can go to Sam's Club and buy a pallet of ballots.

As for complaining bitterly, I plead guilty. Then again, I figure that the state of things can only improve as the rest of the world catches up to us. And eventually, once our twelfth-century throwbacks and their apologists are duly dispatched to the dustbin of history, it will. It won't be a Pax Americana exactly, but I, for one, think things would be just wonderful if anyone on earth could go into town and buy a cheeseburger and fries and a copy of Elvis' Sun recordings — and, should she so desire, a pistol.

The Vent

19 August 2002

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