If both sides in debate on Iraq are wrong, how can anyone know what's right?

There's got to be a better way

Posted: Sunday, March 02, 2003

Liberals make me sick; conservatives are idiots.

On the left, there's the anti-everything crowd -- more than happy to wave American flags emblazoned with Swastikas, openly advocate death to our president and sympathize with a dictator who makes Stalin look like nothing more than a cheap Groucho Marx knock-off.

On the right, you've got the kill-'em-all set -- fixated on the idea that the way to solve our problems is to simply suspend the Constitution (save the Second Amendment), close the borders and blindly support whoever's in charge, as long as they promise to drop lots of bombs.

The current state of our union was summed up nicely during a women's college basketball game last week. In protest of our president's policies, a player refused to face the American flag during the national anthem. During a break in the action, a Vietnam veteran stormed the court and shoved a flag in the young woman's face. The word irony does this scene no justice.

I just can't decide which act was more hypocritical: showing distaste for the president's policies by turning your back on the very flag that gives you the right to protest, or attacking someone's freedom of speech by waving an American flag in their face.

I'm afraid we're moving away from reason. People speak out against a war with Iraq on the grounds that the blood of the innocent will be spilled. Meanwhile, innocent Iraqis die each day at the hands of Saddam Hussein. The left apparently is of the mindset that it's fine for Iraqi civilians to die -- just as long as its their own guy doing the job.

People on the right speak in favor of war on the grounds that it will thwart terrorism. How does this make sense? Arab Muslims rail against America's invasion of their turf, so bombing Iraq will somehow create less hatred of the United States? Hmmm

Of course, if both sides in this debate are so wrong, how can anyone be right? I'm getting to that.

The problem with our current situation in Iraq is that we've dragged our feet too long. If you want to take out a bully, you don't tell him you're going to beat him up, transfer to another school, then call his house each day threatening to transfer back and beat him up unless he quits picking on everyone.

The fact that we let the situation get so far out of hand was our first mistake.

Our second mistake was letting the terrorists win.

We did this by putting the nation on full-alert status 24 hours a day. Once the threat level is orange, where else can it go in people's minds but red?

Earlier this week, the Department of Homeland Security moved the threat level back to yellow. But this makes little sense. It's like saying to the American people, "OK, folks, you can relax a bit now --the terrorists have gone on holiday."

What we've done is create a culture that believes there are only enemies, threats, conspiracies and evil doers. Iraq is a threat now whether we bomb the place or not. It's a threat to the right because if we don't attack, we're weak. It's a threat to the left because if we do attack, we're murderers.

So what do we do? We're a nation caught in a revolving door of Catch-22s.

First of all, I wouldn't mind seeing some real debate -- that means no demagoguery, no name calling -- on things like the Patriot Act and Saddam Hussein. This might be a good place to start.

The way I see it, creating a law that strips American citizens of basic constitutional rights seems to make as much sense as allowing a tyrannical dictator to strip his own citizens of their basic human rights.

Next, maybe we should take a look at what's going on here at home.

In case you haven't noticed, we've got some issues we might want to spend some time on. Violent crime is up, state deficits are skyrocketing, corporations are out of control, health care is unaffordable, racism is uglier than ever, employment's down, and our kids are becoming mindless drones content to live in a fantasy world created by the good people at Sony and Fox.

What I'm trying to say is that I'm tired of everyone telling me how they're such a patriot --and how they're so right --because they're either: a) anti-war, b) anti-hippie, or c) watching "American Idol," dude.

The way I see it, the more we keep fighting a war over who's looking at things the right way, the further we all keep getting from whatever truth might really be out there.

Matt Tunseth is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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