I don’t know. And more amazingly, I don’t care. In fact, I haven’t even thought about it much at all since 9/11. Party politics, as I have experienced them all my life, just don’t seem relevant to me now.
He goes on:
I admit it’s ironic when what we have before us is what appears to be the beginning of an epic struggle between religious fundamentalism and secular democracy and, as a militant democrat (small d), I can’t begin to concentrate on the internal affairs of my own political party. But I think there’s a reason for that: this same conflagration … this giant philosophical debate that engulfs our planet … is creating new alliances none of us had anticipated.
Now, I’ll agree to that…after all, while I think that before 9/11 I’d have enjoyed a drink and a chat with Joe, Trent, Celeste and the crew here, I doubt that I would have chosen to stand (or better, sit) and write with them.
But we’re together because we see the conflict in which we are now engaged, and have been for some years – without realizing it – as the central event of our era.
But while Roger (and Trent, and to an extent Joe) see it primarily as “an epic struggle between religious fundamentalism and secular democracy,” I see it in a somewhat more complicated way. So bear with me while I try and explain.
I’ll admit that the Islamist soldiers that we face – and let’s not call them anything but that – are the broadest part of the spearpoint. But the reality is that even the most militant forms of Islam don’t present a credible military threat to the West. If we have to fight them, we can and we will, and we will win.
The Islamist enemy – and since they call themselves my enemy, I will do them the courtesy of recognizing them as one – has roots both specific to the cultural and material history of the Muslim world, and generally applicable to almost every culture, including our own.
Those roots are in large part philosophical; they go to the question of how people have come to believe and understand the world around them.
I’ve talked about them at length, and have been thinking and reading primarily about these issues for a year now (Good Grief!! It’s been over a year!! It’s my blogoversary, and I want some damn cake…). Nothing has come close to changing my mind. This is not a question of the Muslim world vs. the West, although the current phase of the conflict involves combatants from the Muslim world.
This is a war of philosophies; of an alienated, frustrated, band of would-be warriors who are frustrated by what modernity means to them and mean to respond by pulling down the pillars of the temple.
They are in Europe, and here in the U.S.
Celeste wrote about one group, environmental terrorists slowly escalating their level of violence; she could just as easily have written about the right-wing anti-abortion forces who have already murdered in the name of their cause. Tim McVeigh may or may not have been connected to Islamist terrorists as some claim; the fact remains that this child of “fly-over country” either led or participated in the second-largest terrorist action ever in the U.S.
Richard Reid became a terrorist in the U. K., not in the West Bank. Ted Kaczynski became one in Montana.
And while jailing or killing active terrorists is and must be the immediate goal, the ultimate goal must be to stop growing them before the disease – “mad human disease” – infects our own communities.
And to do that we need something that each party has to offer. We need tradition and license, regulations and freedom, a safety net and responsibility. We need a dialog – not always a friendly, neighborly chat, but a sometimes muscular disagreement with raised voices – on any number of issues domestic and foreign.
We’re trapped between venal corporations, bloated government bureaucracies, corrupt politicians, and radicals who, frustrated with their own lives, are perfectly willing to take yours.
We have problems local and global far beyond our resources to easily solve them.
So we’re going to muddle, as humans always have.
So why am I a Democrat? Because I don’t believe the GOP can solve these problems by itself.