Friday, December 12, 2008

Scattered thoughts

1. Finals was a really, really bad time for me to discover Polyvore.

2. Larison is making sense again.

I think we basically fundamentally agree on foreign policy, and furthermore I really value the fact that his perspective on those issues is completely outside of the usual Washington mindset. It helps me think a lot. His stances on social conservative issues (abortion, gay marriage) are completely incommensurate with mine. However, those positions are rooted in a very, very intellectually serious Christianity that I can in turn take seriously (which I can't with, say, James Dobson), and it's interesting to read his arguments about these things because they're usually different from the ones I've heard before; or if they're basically the same, they contain the scriptural and philosophical reasoning that can prop up such nonsense with something resembling an argument, which again is always interesting. He's also insanely well-informed.

Anyway, my point of view on the question he's engaging there is that it's not that Americans are insanely naive about governments harming people; I think Americans know that they always have and they always will. I think Americans are uniquely horrified by the idea of governments harming "their own." This is partly because I don't think we understand, really, what a "fractured society" is; and partly because, well, we're exceptionalists and we like to think our government would never do anything bad to us, and since we seek to export our style of government everywhere else we expect other governments to act the same. Aiding this, the dominant strain of American historical memory has a whole lot of race, class, and gender privilege (duh) and so conveniently forgets all about the times when the American government really has harmed its own.

Okay, speaking of fractured societies, back to my paper. I have now written one paper on the slave trade (tangentially), one on dead Chinese babies (less tangentially), and now I'm writing one about civil war, occupation, and suicide bombing. Maybe if I studied something else finals week would be easier. Alas. What's that quotation about wishing an interesting life on one's enemies?

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