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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Recommended Reading

by capper

No, I am no going to recommend that overgrown brochure by Sykes.

Now that I lost half of the right wing readers...I, like many people in the blogosphere, am an avid reader. My choice of books are not usually serious, historical or biographical, as that I prefer to read for escapism. My day to day life is stressful and serious enough, where I feel it is more important for my mental health (no wise cracks, please) that I want to escape reality for a while and let my mind rebound from the day.

A few months ago, I read a book called Empire by Orson Scott Card (A Tor Book published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC-in 2006). The book chilled me as I read it, for even though it was labelled science fiction, it reflected today's American culture with a resounding accuracy. The book itself is a quick read, a type of Tom Clancy/Dan Brown type of thriller. The main hero is a special ops agent who, along with his aide and former troop members, strive to resolve what has become a new American Civil War. There is a lot of shooting of guns, exploding of bombs and some nifty high tech battle vehicles. There is also the Machiavellian political plotting and scheming, with some nice twists. The thing about this war was that it was not divided in geographic terms, but political. It was a fight between the extreme right and the extreme left.

The author, in his afterward, states that he was brought in to a design group that wanted to come up with an entertainment franchise about a near-future civil war. He adds that when he began to work on the premise of how such an event could occur, he found it sadly to be all too easy. He also goes on with these words:

But any rational observer has to see that the Left and Right in America are screaming the most vile accusations at each other all the time. We are fully polarized-if you accept one idea that sounds like it belongs to either the blue or the red, you are assumed-nay, required-to espouse the entire rest of the package, even though there is no reason why supporting the war against terrorism should imply you're in favor of banning all abortions and against restricting the availability of firearms; no reason why being in favor of keeping government-imposed limits on the free market should imply you also are in favor of giving legal status to homosexual couples and against building nuclear reactors. These issues are not remotely related, and yet if you hold any of one group's views, you are hated by the other group as if you believed them all; and if you hold most of the one group's views, but not all, you are treated as if you were a traitor for deviating even slightly from the party line.
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It goes deeper than this, however. A good working definition of fanaticism is that are so convinced of your views and policies that you are sure anyone who opposes them must either be stupid and deceived or have some ulterior motive. We are today a nation where almost everyone in the public eye displays fanaticism with every utterance.
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The author then goes on with the question if these attitudes would inevitably lead to a civil war. He points out that it does not, but it does threaten the stability of the government and the longevity of the democracy. He then continues with
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Suppression of other people's beliefs by force only comes about when you are deeply afraid that your own beliefs are wrong and your are desperate to keep anyone from challenging them. Oh, you may come up with the rhetoric about how you are suppressing them for their own good or for the good of others, but people who are confident of their beliefs are content merely to offer and teach, not compel.
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Mr. Card then cites examples of this type of thinking throughout history, and in present times, around the world. He warns that this could have devastating results, unless we each learn to moderate ourselves, and not to try to moderate the other person or group.
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Now, I don't know if it is as desperate as being in civil war, at this moment. However, during the last two presidential elections, and even farther, the vitriolic and caustic rhetoric was pretty damn bad. I would hope that as another election year is upon us (it actually has been already going on for months already) that we, including myself, can remember that we are all in this together, no matter what are political orientation may be, and can be civil, even if we disagree.

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