Column: Strengthen the middle ground

One day, about two months ago, this columnist was given a pair of idealistic lectures that left him shamefully bowing his head at the current American political structure.

One came from a liberal who refused to consider warfare ever appropriate. Another came from a pair of conservatives who believed Bush when he said that Osama bin Laden attacked America because he hates freedom. These polar opposites represent the split that our country has formed in reaction to the war on terror and the war in Iraq. One side consists of lemmings and the other of whiney pansies. The scary reality is that they’re almost identical.

The notion of violence solving nothing is defunct. Historically, violence has been the single most decisive way to end conflict. To summarize author Robert Heinlein: any culture, country or people who have not been prepared to defend themselves violently have paid for it with their lives and or freedom. People who preach pacifism are idealists who were probably picked on in elementary school and didn’t pay attention to how millions of Jews, Ukrainians, Armenians or Rwandans were killed.

Yet, quieting most pacifists is simple: just turn on a TV. For example, examine how America raved about “Braveheart.” Mel Gibson showed the bloody death scene of William Wallace’s wife and suddenly no one complained when Wallace started offing Englishmen. The same rules apply in “Legends of the Fall,” in which Brad Pitt watches his wife’s death and earns a license to kill. American culture contains countless movies where the death of a loved one spurs a hero to homicide – and the crowd goes wild.

Introduced with the fictional death of an imaginary character they’ve known for barely 20 minutes, Americans understand and support someone’s executing those responsible for the murder of loved ones, but God forbid those same emotions – brought about by death in real life – are cause for real action. This is where the liberal morons and the conservative morons meet in the middle.

Liberals fail to acknowledge that these pop-culture examples are proof that even they can accept that violence can be understandable when brought about in reaction to the unjust death of loved ones.

Conservatives fail to catch on to the fact that bin Laden and friends don’t attack us because they hate freedom but because they are reacting to death brought about by America.

Those silly conservatives who consider warfare the only solution are the ones who look at Sept. 11 and see a reason to strike back against evildoers. They don’t stop to look at why evildoers attacked us. The unfortunate reality is that George W. Bush, Bill O’Reilly and Michael Savage are either lying or oblivious because the people who attack America don’t do it because they hate freedom. Bin Laden said it best: “Bush says that we hate freedom…He should tell us why we didn’t attack Sweden.”

Osama and his brethren don’t attack out of jealousy. They have the same motive Americans have: revenge. The truth is that the United States has previously taken actions that have caused foreign people strife and those people wish to take revenge the same way we do for 9/11. (Some right wing conservatives and militant Islamists have so much in common in terms of motive that they should try dating.)

Ultimately though, the reason for the opposing views between liberals and conservatives is just that they feel hell bent on opposition. Liberals see conservatives going to war and are compelled to do the opposite. Conservatives see liberals whining about conflict and have to rebel against that. Instead of working together, these infantile opposing sides compete and make the situation worse. Moderates, the only possible referees in this political game, are simply too weak to force a resolution.

Liberals need to give up extremist ideals about non-violence and need to accept that armed conflict will resolve parts of the war on terror and the war in Iraq. You can’t negotiate with someone who believes they are God’s right hand, and you can’t debate reality if reality is someone’s dead family.

Conservatives need to ease off the trigger and realize that every dead Iraqi gives someone reason to retaliate against America. They need to step back and encourage other nations to deal with security issues on a timetable quicker than the one that has been previously set.

If the sides of the American political spectrum don’t stop reacting to one another with views as extreme as their opposition’s, the war on terror and war in Iraq will continue indefinitely. For now we’ll keep seeing idiots in large numbers protesting one another. Until the moderates in this country pull the two sides together and get something done, that’s all we get to watch. Until then, there sure as hell won’t be an end in sight.

-The writer, a junior majoring in international affairs, is a Hatchet columnist.

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