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View Diary: Why this lifelong Republican left the GOP (229 comments)

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  •  Unfortunate though it may be, the right and the (0+ / 0-)

    left have long had their own separate flows of information.  That has increased since Fox News.  But going back to the 1980s, I can tell you that I tried to stay informed about what the Left thought about this, if only because I played poker with intelligent people every weekend, two of whom were socialists who attended meetings at the SWP building across from MacArthur Park in LA.  Which I thought at the time all very cool, and, jeez, I hang out with such interesting people.  Friends gave me books detailing the whole history of United Fruit and Chiquita and this whole EXTERNAL body (notice the caps) of left-wing thought on the exploitation of Central America.  At that time, back in the 80s, there was -- and you'll hate me for saying this, but I believe it true even today -- a hysterical quality to it very similar to what you hear from the right today.  It doesn't mean they were wrong -- it just means they had their own echo chamber of facts that were separate from everybody else's and they were easily disregarded because they were contaminated with a host of assumptions that were to be taken and swallowed whole, the whole thing as a lump.  There was also a kind of fury to their position in that disagreement led to the dropped jaw and "oh, you don't know," when, yes, I did TRY to know.

    That's a big problem with all right-left discussions even today on the Internet, the assumption that people on the other side are all stupid, delusional, dishonest.  More often, the case is that one side isn't well-informed and that opinions and beliefs are bundled like cable and internet deals so that one position can't be separately digested from the others.

    Now, take what you said above.  The rape of the nuns in Central America, which was done by, if I recall, correctly, a right-wing group associated with the right-wing president of El Salvador next door.  A number of people at the time were angry about this and took it to the next step of condemning America's foreign policy in Central America with a broader brush.  There were even accusations at the time that the nuns were raped deliberately with the approval of the CIA in order to send a message to American protest groups to stay out of the mess.  

    Now, maybe I was subjected to false flag disinformation on that, but hearing that convinced me, "Hey, these people are a little bit nuts."  

    I thought that I, on the other hand, was acting in-step with a many decades long battle between the Soviet Union and the US, in which countries like Nicaragua and Cuba were just unfortunate pawns.  I remember reading one book my poker friend gave me about how great things were in Cuba post revolution.  There are probably people here today that will defend that position.  It seemed to me, at the time, ludicrous and -- this is important -- that it discredited and contaminated the credibility of further commentary from the source, thus requiring that it be examined with an extra dose of caution.

    So here I am on the left now, and you're probably ticked off at me over a position I held back in the 80s, one that I'm not really defending, although you might think that right now, but explaining the thought process for.  

    How do I feel about it now?  Honestly, 100%, I don't have a clear opinion of it.  My opinion of the good guys and bad guys changed one year later when the Iran-Contra scandal broke out.  The impression I had had was that America had to resist Soviet expansionism at (almost) any cost.  Iran-Contra exposed that the cost wasn't even being calculated and that it was being covered up and the whole thing handled by incompetent crazy people.  They sold ANTI-AIRCRAFT WEAPONS to the fucking IRANIANS.  For what?  To aid the contras?  Who made this calculation?  Any belief I may have had about the competence and sanity of the people working to unseat Ortega was badly damaged when Elliot Abrams took the stand in the hearings.  Of all the things that can change your mind, intelligent or dumb, the one that I remember really disheartened me was Elliot Abrams face.  He looked like a crazy, irresponsible twit that should never have risen up the food chain to be in a position to do such crap.  Oliver North impressed me at first with his gosh-darn-golly willingness to take responsibility, but it soon became apparent he was a nutcase, too.  Nutcases.  Then came Mr. Belly Button with his smirk.  A simple smirk shouldn't have been so important in forming a moral opinion about matters of such gravity, but it did.

    I'm going to pat myself on the back now.  You may feel that you were on the right side all along, but because of where I started and where I went eventually, and my willingness to rethink my position, I have greater confidence in my look back at that time with objectivity than yours.  You bring up the subject of the nuns, for instance, as if that's the highest trump card, as if, if that doesn't change the game, nothing will.  To me, it suggests that you swallowed the lumps whole.  I don't endorse raping nuns.  Even assuming everything about Central America policy was the most evil enterprise in history, the intentional rape of nuns was never what any of that was about and wasn't even an obvious side effect of it.  It became a talking point.  It's easy to disregard talking points.

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