Behind the Cracks, Cracks Appear

   10 November 2004, late at night

Eric Meyer, of CSS fame, has posted his opinions on the election: Behind the Beauty, Cracks Appear. The article focuses primarily on the Gay marriage issue. I think this should be called Behind the Cracks, Cracks Appear. I think many Americans are in love with a country that only exists in their heads. Of course, I’m horribly anti-American, so you can take that with a grain of salt. But in all honesty, I don’t understand what people are clinging to. At some point you need to look around and ask yourself, “This is my home?”

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Comments

  1. I’ve read this post from Eric Meyer and since it’s impossible to leave a comment there I do it here.

    It’s just that I’m french. I don’t want to enter in a endless political debate (and I understand perfectly that republicans don’t like us even if I can’t figure out why).

    Just to leave my two cents about France because Eric talks about “move to France”. We have the same kind of trouble in France about gay marriage. It’s a very religious matter even for non-religious people (once more I can’t figure out). So we came up with a civil union which is not quite like a real marriage but allow rights for couple to get couple advantages. It’s call “pax” and it works pretty well. For example, it can also be signed by a man and a women who want a step before marriage, it can be signed between brother and sister if they live in the same place, and so on…

    For me (and I’m not gay), it’s just a step toward allowing complete gay marriage. But we have to wait until people minds are ready.

    I would like to add, that it’s a shame because this election was stolen by the republican rethoric (“values” ?) and it’s difficult to blame republican people to vote for their party if it’s the way tey feel and vote for years. It’s just that their party is now ready to win, whatever it takes. I’m just not sure it’s such a good thing in politics…

  2. Jerome,

    I believe some states in America have a similar approach. Personally, I think its upto the states to decide what they prefer. Strong federalism is the need of the hour.

    Majority of people in America don’t have anything against gay unions, they just wouldn’t want them to be treated as marriages. Now to me that’s unconstitutional, but to many people its fine. But when the measure fails even one of the most liberal states like Oregon, you know that people are jus not reday. As I suggested elswehere on this site, judicial activism is the only way out.

    I have no qualms about moving to France. If you wanna move there, go ahead. History is replete with instances when folks have migrated to places where their views are more likely to be shared. I personally would never move to a country which makes a farce of liberty by denying muslims and sikhs the basic right of wearing their religious/social garb. Hypocrisy is well and truly alive.

    And BTW, in America party line voting is almost non-existent. People vote depending on policies and issues. The so called South/red states used to be strongly Democratic 8 years ago. Now that even Iowa has become a swing state (Democrats hold their first primary here for god’s sake), one wonders what has really happened. Its fair to say that Democrats have lost touch with the people and their “Lite Conservatism” is just not working. I mean seriously, what was the difference between Kerry and Bush regarding gay unions? When 25% of gays vote for Bush, you just wonder.

    Of course nobody points out the fact that Bill Clinton shoved gay rights to the dark ages by instituting a morally/socially reprehensible policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Not that the gay-baiting by Republicans is any better. Selective amnesia is very dangerous as well.

    People are not ready; the courts have to do it.

  3. To be really fair, Sunny, party line voting is far from nonexistent. I know tons of people who voted Republican because that’s what they do – and I don’t mean old people, who definitely do that a LOT. I mean college aged students. People who actually told me that they vote Republican because that’s what their father told them they should do.

  4. Sunny, not to be a nit-picker but Republicans also hold their first primary in Iowa and usually on the same day as the Dems.

  5. Ben,

    I am sure there is some. I was too broad in my statement. But what you say about your friends is tragic. In an ideal world, we would just vote for who we want without any pressure.

    My friend recently went thorugh a similar experience. His father was rationalizing Bush. I am positive he voted Kerry. But surely there are others who did as they were told.

    Rooney – fair enough. But guess which primary gets the more attention? And Iowa used to be a solid Blue state.

  6. One thing I find interesting about your anti-American sentiment is that you have never spent any significant amount of time in America. Since you’ve reached the point of suggesting questions Americans should be asking themselves, maybe you should stop and review your own perspective and the wealth of knowledge and experience that has helped you to form that view.

    Might I suggest looking at what you know about the foreign and domestic policies of the Canadian goverment and contrast that with your comfort and satisfaction with your life in Canada. Think about your family, your friends, your accomplishments, your dreams, your girlfriend, your future. How far would our government have to go before you would ask yourself “this is my home?”

    Like in any country, the American government works hard to hide the truth from their citizens. If you don’t think it takes place here, look at the fear campaigns used in Ontario regarding water treatment or the threat of a two-tier health care system. Neither of these issues are as glamourous as terrorism, but they have been used in the same manner to garner or protect political power.

    If you really don’t understand what has taken place in the United States, try to put yourself in their shoes. How many people in Canada are deeply aware of national politics? How many knew in detail the role Canadian peacekeepers were playing in Rwanada after the genocide? I was in Grade 9 at the time learning about the Holocaust in History class; not once did the topic arise. Shouldn’t students be aware that what’s in those history books still goes on today?

    If you maintain realistic expectations of yourself and of those you are trying to relate to, I don’t think it will be so difficult to understand where they are coming from.

  7. I don’t think my opinions on America are baseless. My opinions on US are based on the things the country has done in the past, and the things it continues to do today. What would actually being in the country show me? Even if I moved to Ohio and thought it was a splendid place, the fact remains I have objections to the way the US carries itself. Now, I don’t think moral outrage is reason to jump ship, but at some point you definitely need to question whether what you see around you is actually something you can comfortably call your home.

    The Canadian government would have to infringe on my rights in some serious way for me to question staying in Canada. If one day I woke up and felt like I was a second-class citizen I would then have to ask myself, “is this my home?” The fact of the matter is Canada is pretty progressive when it comes to dealing with minorities, and with respect to what Eric Meyer wrote, the homosexual community. Canada would basically have to morph into something it isn’t right now for me to change my opinion on it.

    I think you missed the whole point of my post. I mearly wanted to bring up the fact that many Americans don’t seem aware of the terrible things their country has done. If Canada has done anything on the scale of the US in recent history, please, let me know.

    Honestly, I don’t follow the argument in much of your comment. I don’t see how drinking water, health care, and Rwanda relate to my opinions on the US. If you brought up the way Canada treats its Natives, the way the RCMP harasses protesters, Canada’s economic dealings with countries of ill-repute like Indonesia, then I think you would have made a better point. But the fact is, for all of Canada’s imperfections, it is still a far more respectable place to live in my opinion. Anyway, like I said, I don’t really follow much of your comment.

  8. I agree, I don’t think you followed what I was trying to say. My fault if I wasn’t clear enough.

  9. But the fact is, for all of Canada’s imperfections, it is still a far more respectable place to live in my opinion.

    Ram, as you say yourself, thats a matter of opinion. Since I have never been to Canada, I cannot possibly comment.

    Switching gears, could you tell us more about the gay community in Canada? I know very little and would like to know more (just want to compare it with the situation in US, Europe and Australia). More specifically I would like to know whether any decision made regarding gay rights / marriage was done exclusively as a govt mandate or whether it was a popular (as in people voting) decision.

    Rishi, I understood your point very well. I think most Americans don’t care about what their govt does. Yes, they want to, but just cannot due to other circumstances. That’s why they elect a President to make those decisions; that’s why they elect members of Congress to ask tough questions instead of bending over backwards first and getting to their senses when public opinion changes.

    And I don’t blame them. For your average family their are more pertinent realities closer to home than the suffering of innocents in a foreign land. Sad, but true.

    And as far as global influence is considered (or as Ram puts it as ‘scale’), America will always have a larger share since they are seen as the ‘ideal’ around the world. Unfortunately, (or fortunately) nobody expects the same of Canada. I mean nobody wonders about the French in Ivory Coast or the Russians in Chechnya. Is their involvement any different?

  10. Yes, the french involvement in Ivory Coast is completely different because under official ONU mandate.

    The french troups are there just protecting french people who live there (and some american citizens as well) and trying to keep the “no-fire” signed between the two parts (rebels and Ivory Government). So, ok, France also try to protect some economic interest there but that’s all about.
    And with the lost of ten soldiers last week, we just barely replyed : we destroyed their two planes they used during the unfair attack (and the Ivory government apologized soon, saying it was a mistake).

    It’s far far away from the american involvement in Irak, without any kind of international mandate, I would like to repeat.
    And I won’t speak about russians in Techtchenia since it’s like they’re back in the 50’s.

    I really don’t get how you can put these three involvements in the same sentence, pretending they are the same… It’s always difficult to get a real big picture but I can assure you, you can spare the frenchs this time.

  11. I didn’t say they were the same. But official governmental reasons from all three countries are the same: security.

    I was pointing to the statement that Rishi made: govt’s lie to their people.

  12. BTW, Jerome, are you somewhat suggesting that international mandate legitimizes killing innocent, random, civilians or exacting revenge? Can any international mandate justify the innocent dead in Iraq or Chechnya? We shouldn’t worry about the innocent dead in Afghanistan because today they are fortunately on the cusp of representative democracy and it was done with a mandate? Are you suggesting that NATO shouldn’t have been involved in Kosovo because there was no UN mandate?

    You have just reduced the legitimacy of using military force to a popularity contest. And that to me is reproachable regardless of intentions.

  13. As I understand it, there were two court rulings on Gay Marriage, basically saying they were all good in the hood. The ex-prime minister, Jean Cretien, said his government wouldn’t appeal those decisions. I think basically the government for the most part has stayed out of trying to define or redefine marriage.

    That’s off the top of my head, more information can be found at the CBC.

  14. I guess we can easily agree that sometimes it’s best to act in a country to stop the killings.
    And to be quick, it’s necessary, in “special” cases to not wait the UN authorization which can be obtained later. Ok, in each cases, thoses troubles started because of the mess we did or left there…
    And, surely, those actions have to bee under surveillance to avoid as much as possible mistakes with civilians.

    We can’t stay quiet and watch CNN when there are people lives at stake. And there are no mandate in Irak nor in Tchetchenia… Because those two countries (USA and Russia) don’t care at all about international laws and opinions. The risk is not about taking action, because, as I said, sometimes we have to, it’s about how give the order to go.

    That’s why the most important issue in the case of the Bush government (because I’m sure, americans don’t really know what’s going on), it’s the fact they didn’t sign in the International Court. That just mean they can do whatever they want anywhere.
    I reject, with all my soul, the army thing and hope I’ll see a peaceful world during my linving. But, right now, all we need as soon as possible is a viable counter-power to hold against the USA (maybe the Europe ?).

    ps : sorry for my “bad” english, I try my best but I have still difficulties to grap all the langage subtilities…

  15. Jerome, nothing to worry about your English. Its perfectly fine.

    I agree we need a counter-power to the US. They are the only country in the world that is rapidly expanding its armed forces/weaponry while the rest of the world is cutting down defense spending. Not that the abuse didn’t continue during the Cold War; we are prolly suffering the consequences today of actions taken then.

    And yes I do agree with you that sometimes its best to act to save innocent civilians regardless of mandate. I think its ok to expect our leaders to make the right decision. And when they don’t, to hold them responsible. Somehow that has been lost among many Americans.

    I am also sorry if I insinuated that the French involvement in Ivory Coast is not honourable. I think they are doing a fine job and with a lot of restraint. Their involvement to guarantee peace in a former colony is commendable. It is not surprising that the French enjoy such a good rapport in Africa, while the American and British cannot buy themselves a break in the Middle East.

    Jerome, mon ami, wars will always happen. Let’s hope and pray for peace.

  16. Ram,

    Thanks for clearing that up. I think we can agree that it is wise for the government to stay out of institutionalizing what marriage is kosher or not. And the reason why gay marriage measures may be failing in the US is because most people feel that the govt shouldn’t intervene.

    Personally, I see that as a Constitutional issue. Not allowing gay marriage is inherently unequal and a travesty of freedom. It is the job of the US Supreme Court to interpret the Constitution. And they should save the sanctity of the Constitution and grant gays their rights.

    This is also exactly what happened during the Civil Rights movement. Without the intervention of Supreme Courts, it would still be Jim Crow. Civil rights was not exactly popular. It took the courts to lay down what was right and needs to be done today as well.

  17. More evidence of how France is “protecting its commercial interests” in Africa.

  18. Some might say, this is not too dissimilar from traditional US policy in parts of Latin America. Perhaps.

    And that is all he has to say on that. Brilliant. That's how you win arguments.

    “We previously wrote about the outrage we felt over the widespread dissemination of the NBC video of a young Marine in Fallujah apparently shooting an apparently wounded or dead terrorist inside a mosque. We wrote that we felt that military censors had fallen down on the job by allowing NBC to run with the tape, and to pass it to the pro-terrorist TV network of Al-Jazeera, among others”

    Agreed! Damn those military censors. Where were they during the prison scandal debacle too for that matter? This is clearly not the site to get unbiased information on anything.

    For those who are really interested in the Ivory Coast, here is some information on the back story that Dave dug up many months ago.

  19. I didn’t say that it was the site to get unbiased information. And by that token neither is metafilter.

    Personally, I feel that the French are doing quite an honourable job. But this just ties into what I have mentioned here before—that expectations of America are always higher. There is a standard for Americans and one for the rest of the world. Double standards, hypocrisy, are well and truly alive.

    I personally feel that America has a greater power to initiate change in the world, to wield its power for greater good. But one cannot do that through bullets. And that’s why America is losing its political currency, its relevance.

  20. America is knee deep in hypocrisy. Personally, I don’t hold it to any higher standard. Everything the country has done does not surprise me in the least. If they weren’t being aggressive and forcing themselves and their views on the rest of the world, then I would be surprised. Since the Cold War America has initiated coups and propped up dictatorships all the while calling itself a champion of freedom.

    My ass.

    I have no real love of France. However, France was right to criticize the US for going to war with Iraq, and for American’s to rag on them about it is stupid. Going to war because you feel like it is not a good reason to go to war. If the French intervention in the Ivory Coast is pure evil, fine; however that wouldn’t change the fact the US shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. It would make the French hypocrites, but that is about it.

    I understand you like your country. That’s all well and good, but I think America is held in much higher regard then it should be. Listening to Bush describe countries he doesn’t like is funny because he may as well be describing America. Right now, America is the rouge state people need to watch out for.

  21. I understand your sentiments entirely.

    BTW about America being a “rouge state”. I am guessing you meant “rogue”. But “rouge” or “red” is quite apropos. Freudian slip?

  22. And yeah, I am not an American. I am an Indian with an American twang who lives in Australia.

    I prolly value what America has given me, than most who prolly take it for granted. That is what prolly shapes my perspective of the US.

  23. Oh. I thought you were an Indian who lived in Australia at one point in time but now lived in America. I need to make user pages here life on Waferbaby so people can have bio’s and what have you.

    And yes I meant Rogue, but I type poorly. Rouge works I suppose, though not in the way I had meant.

    And I am quite sure, living in Canada, that I benefit in many ways from America. The company I work for does most of its business in the States. I just don’t approve of the country. I’m sure you may have noticed.

  24. Ram, my comment was meant for Americans. I was saying that most Americans don’t seem to appreciate what America means to many of us immigrants. I guess its all in the perspective.

    I also don’t condone US actions in Iraq. But I also don’t like countries like France assuming a moral position when their own actions around the world are not exactly wholesome. I guess there is also the question of scale. Sure the French have not been as “damaging”, but wrong is wrong. And we can’t look away from it, pick and choose. Justice for everyone. Isn’t that what progressivism is all about? Or moral ambivalence has killed that too?

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