You clicked!! This will be quick, and painless. Check your current political identity at the door. Republican, Democrats, Conservatives, Libertarians, Progressives, Tea Party, Occupy, Independents…Anarchists..whatever! Everyone is welcome here. The purpose of this tiny article is to *try* to bring us together.
I shall do my best.
Social media has probably done more to familiarize us with the (unsolicited) opinions of others than anything since the advent of booze! Since joining Facebook, you’ve probably learned that your cousin ALWAYS disagrees with the results of Dancing with the Stars, your former boss HATES the Yankees, and that girl/guy you met at that bar in 2009 totally loves/hates whatever.. As unique beings, we’re blessed with our own, wholly personal perspective on things as diverse as performance-enhancing drugs in sports, twerking celebs, and grumpy cats. To varying degrees, we feel comfortable sharing our opinions via social media. For the most part, our opinions are welcomed, or met with minimal resistance.
”Political Opinion” enters
First, what we all already know.. Talking about politics on Facebook is dangerous! Not “dangerous” in the sense that some faceless NSA agent is watching your every status update, waiting for you to say a buzzword which lands you on a no-fly list.. Dangerous in the sense that your opinion is guaranteed to stand at odds with a sizable chunk of your friends-list; a reality for which there are real consequences. Sure, you can be “unfriended,” or have your opinion “blocked” from sundry “newsfeeds,” but, there’s more.. I can confidently assure you that friends/family didn’t stop acknowledging my existence (outside of Facebook) because of my impassioned Facebook opinion of Honey Boo Boo.
In sum, nothing divides friends/family/lovers/classmates/coworkers/humanity as quickly, and efficiently, as the modern-day political opinion. For the sake of brevity, we, social media-using humans in 2013, can agree that humanity is politically polarized. As regards my “point,” which I assure you is forthcoming, it matters not whether political polarization is innately “human,” is being spurred along by some “clever” opportunists in government/media as a means of furthering a centuries-old strategy of “divide-and-conquer,” or even if it’s good or bad. All that matters, in my humble estimation, is that a substantial chunk of humans have walked away from the “politics on Facebook” experience with the opinion that it’s not a proper medium for civil discourse — and that’s a crying shame!
As luck would have it, there’s FINALLY a political position on which an overwhelming majority of Americans currently find agreement. Finally, a place where we can dip our heavily partisan or totally unaffiliated feet into a common water, and be refreshed by the familiar wash of civility, and solidarity..
The (narrowly averted?) push for US military intervention in the bloody Syrian civil war effectively awoke the war-weary masses to the reality that, as tragic and gruesome as armed conflict can be, the only (non-defensive) role a nation of peace-loving, law-abiding people can play is that of a facilitator of armistice. Unlike the overwhelmingly partisan tussle that marked our ill-fated, ill-advised intervention/occupation of Iraq.. or the (ostensibly) unending occupation of Afghanistan.. or the ongoing drone bombing campaign currently terrorizing and slaughtering civilians (including first responders), “militants,” and innocent Americans in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.. or our unauthorized (Congressionally) intervention in Libya — the proposed intervention in Syria has met with a resounding “NO.” A recent poll showed that a mere 9% of Americans supported US intervention in the Syrian civil war, despite an elaborate appeal to the emotions of the everyday American on behalf of President Obama, and a bipartisan smattering of professional Washington politicians. The country which had numerous times before accepted the call to police the world, and offer its “humanitarian” assistance (in the form of depleted uranium munitions, and precision guided missiles), in addition to its blood and treasure, had FINALLY said “no.”
For a young, but hardened, critic of our self-perpetuating foreign policy of meddling — “no” is more than sufficient. To play off the iconic film “Fight Club,” the first rule of Antiwar Club is: THERE ARE NO RULES. As promised, there will be no politicizing in this article. To me, it matters not why you count yourself among the majority in wishing to abstain from yet another foreign military entanglement.. only that you do. Whether you feel that:
– Arming/aiding al Qaeda fighters is a bad policy, with predictable consequences
– The recent chemical weapons attack appears to be a “false flag” provocation
– America lacks the moral authority to intervene because of previous/current use of chemical/radioactive agents in battle (Agent Orange in Vietnam, white phosphorus in Iraq, depleted uranium throughout the Middle East, or its recently revealed role in aiding Iraq in using chemical weapons against Iran)
– America possesses the moral authority to intervene but would be unable to pick a “winner,” or enact a logical plan of attack that wouldn’t lead to further aggression
Maybe your objection is legal..or fiscal..or moral. Perhaps you’re in the majority of Americans who can’t find Syria on a map, and (not being bothered to correct that) rightly have a hang up about bombing it.. To me, it’s inconsequential. All that matters is that it’s recognized as an important topic that deserves national debate. Social media can facilitate that debate, just as it has for American Idol, and college football.
In keeping with the theme of focusing on humanity’s similarities, I’d like to briefly explain my strongest objection to intervention in the Syrian civil war. It emerges from another realm that has been traditionally seen as divisive — religion. Though recently and occasionally forsaken (by supposed adherents), I would argue that it predates religion, and has been recognized as truth in all human interaction since the dawn of man. I speak of course of The Golden Rule.
Let’s imagine for a moment that America erupted into a bloody civil war next month, October 2013. We’ll keep it very simple; two well-armed factions vying for control over the landmass once known as the United States of America. Suppose that you and your family are caught in the middle. Imagine that you don’t necessarily agree with intentions of either armed faction. Imagine that you only desire peace and stability. Imagine that you don’t have access to weapons to defend yourself from the war that edges ever closer to your home, nor the means to flee. In essence, you’re trapped. NOW, imagine that the world’s “super power”..let’s say Greenland..decided that it was in YOUR best interest if it intervened in the conflict. Its proposal is to launch cruise missiles into your country, to teach one of the factions a lesson for killing some people, while simultaneously arming the other faction. You pause, and reflect. You recall that for as long as you’ve been alive (~25 years), Greenland has continually asserted itself in the affairs of other nations/peoples under the pretense of “humanitarian” aid, often with consequences that speak to the opposite. You recall that Greenland employed brutal sanctions aimed at harming the Iraqi regime that instead resulted in the death of between 500,000 and 1,000,000 children under the age of 5. You recall that you occasionally hear reports of Greenland’s ongoing drone bombing campaign in the Middle East, and the scores of innocent men, women, and children that are decimated by errant bombs, or misguided intelligence reports. You pause, look at your young family, and ask yourself: “will a guided missile solve my problems?” “Will a guided missile solve ANY of the problems for any of the millions of people caught between the brutality of two armed factions intent of killing?” You’re suddenly struck with the realization that bombs and missiles don’t discriminate, and that innocent people will surely be killed by this proposed “humanitarian” intervention. You huddle your young family together and ask yourself: “is more death really our best and only solution?” “Am I willing to sacrifice my innocent family so that others might live?”
That’s PRECISELY what we’re proposing by supporting the intervention proposed by the bipartisan salespeople in our government, and their dutiful satellites in the media. Innocent people are going to be killed by in US intervention. Innocent people were killed by American intervention in Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan..and that’s just in last 5 years. In addition to this being the main motivation for those we conveniently label “terrorists,” it absolutely challenges the concept of the Golden Rule. Would you sacrifice your family to a cruise missile strike so that others might *might* live? If your answer is “no” then you have something to Facebook about!
I suppose I could end this piece with a towering climax, dripping with feigned ascendency about exactly what to do, and how to do it. I’ll stick to the easy path — the truth as I see it in this..the present moment. Humans are always going to disagree, and that’s ok! Disagreements, differing opinions, debates — these are the things which propel us forward into realms of thought we might otherwise have never entertained. Think about a previously held position, from which you now couldn’t be further. We all have them. Perhaps you owe it to a colorful debate with a friend or loved one. Perhaps it even happened on Facebook! Which brings us back to the star of this piece — social media.
I have no idea what will happen if you update your Facebook status with a tiny little political opinion. You could anger someone. You could pleasantly surprise another! It could be totally overlooked, but leave you with a satisfied feeling of having spoken your mind. That’s for you to find out. If my observations, as a politically-outspoken Facebooker for nearly 7 years, lend any credibility.. listen to me when I tell you that NOW is a perfect time to test the social media waters; to offer balance to your pop culture opinions with a dash of politics. Might I suggest a topic? Something which, at the present moment, offers the highest likelihood of making only the slightest, well-received ripple:
Why do you oppose intervening in the Syrian civil war?
Oh yeah.. “Like” me on Facebook..