2004-11-10 17:03:18 UTC
lost the election.
Letter To John Perry Barlow From A Pot-Smoking Deadhead Bush Voter
John Perry Barlow, author of one of my favorite documents on the
Internet ("A Declaration of the Independence of
perhaps my favorite Grateful Dead song
penned a lengthy piece entitled "Magnanimous
I found myself, as a Bush supporter, alternately bemused by the
stereotypes that Mr. Barlow seems to embody and embrace, and yet moved
by his effort to overcome at least some of them. A passionate Bush
hater, Barlow seems to want to try now to understand his
Bush-supporting fellow Americans better. He seems quite sincere, and
I'm moved by that.
I don't know that he'll read this, but since he seems sincere, and
there may be others like him who are sincere, I'll try to explain what
the cultural divide has looked like from my end these last couple of
For the last two and a half years I have been writing this weblog.
Through no intention of my own I eventually became what some call a
"warblogger," although it's never a label I've embraced all that
strongly. Is this because I'm a Republican? No more than Mr. Barlow.
I'll vote Republican when it suits my purposes and I'll vote for a
Democrat when it suits my purposes and if I don't like any candidate I
won't vote at all. The Democratic Party here in Michigan a couple of
years ago did a damnfool thing and locked voters out of its candidate
selection process, but if they didn't have such idiot rules I'd have
no hesitation about registering Democratic.
Am I a conservative, a "right winger?" Sure, I guess so, if you count
someone who's pro-choice on abortion, is flabbergasted at the
selfishness and mean-spiritedness of anyone who would put someone in
jail for smoking pot, favors gay marriage, supports human rights
organizations, and would love to see a world united in democratic
governments a "conservative right-winger."
I think what bemused me most when reading your missive, Mr. Barlow,
was your description of the young man who was probably popular and on
the football team and supported Bush, while you the nerdy outsider
supported Kerry, and you saw the whole thing through some sort of
50s-vs.-60s lens. Nothing could show me just how insular so many on
the left have become than that. Few of the war supporters I know fit
such stereotypes at all. "Think for yourself, question authority" is
something a lot of us sucked in with our mothers' milk--and by the
way, you know we kids who were born in the 1960s are now in our 30s
and 40s and parents ourselves, right? A lot of us grew up being told
to question authority, and a lot of that authority we now question is
the left-wing orthodoxy of your generation, an orthodoxy many of us
bought into as it was taught to us in school, in the books we read,
and especially in the universities, not to mention in a lot of what we
see out of Hollywood today.
We came to reject a lot of that orthodoxy as we got older and learned
to think better for ourselves--not because we "embraced the
establishment," but because we were questioning the establishment. You
may laugh, but a whole lot of what's "questioning the establishment"
to you seems like the establishment itself to a hell of a lot of
people like me. Culturally, at least.
That being the case, there are are some things I don't see how we can
ever agree on. For example, you seem to unquestioningly accept the
left-wing orthodoxy that the war in Iraq has slaughtered hundreds of
thousands of innocent Iraqis. Where you get such an idea I don't know,
but from where I sit, having talked to both Iraqis and to soldiers
fighting over there, that is, not to put too fine a point on it, A
STEAMING CROCK OF HATE-MONGERING SHIT.
You also, in your missive, speak of watching "Fahrenheit 9/11." I hope
you're aware that that movie uses all the same propaganda techniques
as used by the great Fascist and Stalinist film producers such as
Goebbels and Eisenstein. Indeed, I must tell you that after I finally
watched that film, my hands were literally shaking. Not because of my
great love and devotion to Bush (which I'm sure the left-wing
stereotypers would love to believe) but because I had not seen such
concentrated hatred and dishonest propaganda put to film in my
lifetime. By comparison, Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will seemed
tame. (Yes, yes, parts of it were funny. Leni Riefenstahl had funny
bits in her movies too. So what?)
None of this is because I don't think for myself and question
authority, John. None of it's because I just want to obey and
faithfully believe whatever Bush tells me. It's because I do think for
myself and I question "authorities" who make and distribute
disingenuous hate-propaganda, making themselves hundreds of millions
of dollars throwing raw meat to rage-filled leftists, telling them
what they want to hear regardless of whether there's any real honesty
behind it. I also question university professors, Hollywood
celebrities, and opportunistic politicians who want to tell me that
"Bush lied" simply because it will help them win an election.
Calling someone a liar when you know that maybe he was just wrong is a
form of lie too, by the way.
Oh, and, while this may seem rude, I question the authority of
countercultural icons who seem to want to relive the Vietnam era.
May I suggest to you that after you watch Fahrenheit 9/11 that, in
your quest to try to understand the other side a little better, you
also pick up Fahrenhype 9/11 (http://www.fahrenhype911.com/) or
Celsius 41.1 (http://www.citizensunited-interactive.org/c41.11/) or
Michael Moore Hates America (http://michaelmoorehatesamerica.com/)?
And consider the remote possibility (unbelievable as it may seem) that
those who made these films are not merely obedient conservatives who
just want to support the President?
Hell, can I suggest that you just look at the previews?
I'll be honest to you: if you cannot look at a movie like Michael
Moore's and see that it is propaganda designed to do nothing but tell
rage-filled leftists what they want to hear, then it's probably
impossible for people like you and I to even have a real conversation,
and we'll have to just go on treating each other like aliens.
Don't think I haven't tried reaching out to folks like you, John. I've
tried many times, and gotten my hand bitten more than once in
I voted for Bush. I'm not just glad of it, I'm proud of it. Not
because I think he's a God. Not because I think it's wrong to question
him. Not because I think you have to agree with him. But because I
thought the Iraq liberation was the right thing to do for America, for
the Iraqi people, and for the world as a whole.
(Well I also think his policies on school choice and Social Security
reform are positive and progressive and will do more to help the poor
in this country than anything Democrats have proposed in the last 35
years. But that's another debate. The war was my real issue, as it was
Now I must tell you that, because I have taken my stance on the Iraq
war, I was forced on this weblog to eventually require people to
register before they could leave comments. Why? Because I got tired of
being called a Nazi, a "Bush apologist," a right-wing extremist, a
brown shirt, a fascist, a sellout, and a liar on a daily basis by
those "open-minded" and "thoughtful" leftists who are apparently still
part of your tribe. My family has received death threats from angry
leftists. I realized at some point that I could either take down the
weblog completely, or I could start tossing out people who thought
they had a right to abuse me and my family just because they didn't
like my opinions.
In other words, I've experienced firsthand just how hateful,
intolerant, and irrational you guys can be when someone dares to
question your beliefs. You guys often come off exactly like the
theocratic mullahs and the lock-step fascists you claim to hate (but
which you, oddly enough, don't seem willing to use American power to
try to overthrow).
Of all the people I know who support this war, most of us have
conversations like this with each other all the time:
"Why are the anti-war people so vicious and nasty?"
"Why are the anti-war people so irrational and hateful and smug?"
"How do we get through to them? They just won't listen!"
"Don't you get tired of being called a liar and a fascist? I sure do."
It reached a point for a lot of us that on election day, we were doing
more than just saying "We want to re-elect George Bush." When we
pulled that lever for Bush, we were also just plain saying "FUCK YOU!"
Well Mr. Barlow, you said you wanted to try to understand. You spent a
lot of time in your missive confessing to your anger and your hatred.
Well now I'm telling you: Yup, a whole lot of us saw that. We saw it
real well, and heard it loud and clear. We aren't stupid you know. You
guys treated not just the President but all of us who agreed with his
decisions with absolute contempt, and when we tried to call you out on
it you just got nastier.
Meanwhile we were, many of us, talking to the boys and girls doing
their work over there in Iraq. While some had their doubts, most were
proud of the war effort and cared about the Iraqi people and made
friends with them. (You do know that Bush got more than 70% of the
vote from the National Guadsmen who are supposedly trapped in Bush's
"back door draft," don't you? And that most of the soldiers
interviewed in Michael Moore's movie hate his guts for the way he
twisted their words and quoted them out of context? Did you know about
the families of the fallen that he abused and betrayed just to tell
his twisted story?)
Hellfire, a year and a half ago I played a role in helping to found an
organization to ship toys and medical supplies for soldiers to
distribute to kids over in Iraq. (You can donate to it right here by
the way - http://www.operationgive.org/). Do you know how many lefties
we were able to get to help us with that? Almost none. You guys were
too busy shrieking about the evil BushCo-McRove Machine to actually do
something to help those soldiers and those Iraqis you guys claim to
care so much about.
That, to a lot of us, is the greatest irony you know. All the war
supporters I know--all of them--read and listen to the anti-Bush and
anti-war invective. We're most bemused when we hear your plaintive
wails that we are closed-minded and fearful and zombified and that if
only you'd try harder and be more passionate maybe we'd finally
understand you. Meantime we're listening and we're watching and we're
reading and we're thinking, "Yeah we understand you perfectly. We just
think you're wrong. Why aren't you listening to what we're saying?"
And now, apparently, you sit around thinking, "Well we need those
old-fashioned conservative respect-authority types in this country too
I guess." Hey John? Fuck you. I'm not about obeying authority. I'm not
about being captain of the football team--I don't even LIKE football,
and I never dated any goddamned cheerleaders. I hated those people as
a kid. I was too busy experimenting with drugs, reading books,
noodling in the aisles at Grateful Dead concerts, and trying to get
I voted for Bush because the war in Iraq was exactly the right war,
for exactly the right reasons, at exactly the right time. Not because
I think you're supposed to believe whatever Bush says, but because I
independently concluded, like a whole lot of other people, that it was
the right thing to do, and that NOT doing it would be a crime against
humanity. And that America and the rest of the world would be safer if
we did it.
And I still think all that.
Do you disagree? Okay. That's fine. That's your right as a human
being. But you guys did more than disagree. A lot of you were just
plain assholes about it. You could have talked to us but instead you
wanted to tell us that Chimpy McSmirk was the new Hitler and a big fat
liar just because you didn't agree with him. It offended the shit out
of us, because we did agree with him and we didn't think he lied (and
most of us still don't). We saw a good, decent, moderate man in Bush
who decided to take a big gamble and do the right thing for both
America and Iraq and finally, finally, finally bring down the monster
Saddam. Which would have been done a long damned time ago if we'd had
any decency as a country.
You don't agree. Fine. You don't have to. But don't think that acting
like an asshole about it gets you my vote. You guys may have whipped a
bunch of dumbass kids into a rage by feeding them Michael Moore style
hate-propaganda, but you equally pissed off a bunch of other folks in
the process who showed up to vote just to spite you guys for being
such mean-spirited, reactionary, paint-by-numbers, bigoted,
Sorry man, but it's exactly what you looked like from here. We saw
your disappointment when good economic news came out and your almost
desperate desire to deny it. It was written on so many of your faces.
We saw your irritation when good news came out of Iraq. It was obvious
in your tone and your attitude about it. We aren't stupid you know.
You wanted America to fail just so you could take down Shrubbie
McHitler the Dumbass Death Merchant.
But by the way, did you have to back a candidate who couldn't decide
from one day to the next what exactly he thought on any
subject--except that he wouldn't do anything that Bush did? (In other
words, a reactionary?)
In fact Mr. Barlow, for a guy who's so hip to cyberspace, you seem
astonishingly unaware of everyday, ordinary people like her
(http://www.asmallvictory.net/) or him (http://www.vodkapundit.com/)
or him (http://www.indepundit.com/) or her (http://ilyka.mu.nu/) or
her (http://littlemissattila.mu.nu/) or her
(http://www.margilowry.com/) or them (http://site-essential.com/)or
her (http://thepatriette.com/) or her (http://www.redsugar.com/muse/)
or her (http://resplendentmango.blogspot.com/) or her
(http://res-ipsa.the-blinding-white-light.com/) or her
(http://baldilocks.typepad.com/baldilocks) or them
(http://www.acepryhill.com/) or him (http://boifromtroy.com/) or her
(http://www.armiesofliberation.com/) or her (http://www.qoae.net/) or
him (http://www.mudvillegazette.com/) or countless other powerful and
interesting voices I know out here in cyberspace. Not an authoritarian
in the bunch. Just people who don't agree with you, and who supported
the liberation of Iraq and most of Bush's war policies. Most of 'em
women, come to think of it, some of 'em queer, and a couple of whom
actually served in that war in Iraq you seem to think is so evil and
murderous. I could point you to countless more voices just like them.
I don't know. Maybe you guys on the left need the stereotyping and the
rage in order to motivate people to the polls. But from where folks
like me stand, it's your ideas that need to be questioned, and it's
you guys who have been on the wrong side of human rights and progress
these last couple of years. It's you guys who are the reactionaries.
That's what people like me have come to think, anyway. It's what a
whole lot of people I know think. Because otherwise, a whole lot of us
are puzzled as to why we can't seem to get through to you. Some of us
just plain gave up, and now just figure we have to work around you
because you won't listen anyway. We tried, we failed, so we just (no
pun intended) moved on.
So. You say you want to understand us. I appreciate that, and
honestly, that's as plain a picture as I can paint for you. Did I miss
something? Is there something important I should understand that I'm
not getting? Is there something in your arguments or beliefs that I'm
just not seeing? Because I feel like I get you guys and your arguments
just fine, that I've spent two and a half years researching your
arguments and trying to tell you why I think you're horribly mistaken,
but that it's you all who won't listen.
So is there any real hope here? I'd like to think there is but I just
Posted by Dean