I was having dinner tonight with my family, celebrating Rosh Hashanah, and, after the meal was served and dessert was eaten, I overheard on the other side of the table one of our guests (a friend of my sister) bashing Clinton for lying about the Lewinsky thing. So I couldn't resist, I had to go over there and put my two cents in. Of course I said that Clinton didn't deserve to be impeached, and he said "yes he did, he broke the law." When I pointed out that Reagan should have been impeached for breaking a federal law during Iran-Contra, he paused, looked a little stumped, and then said that was different - Reagan didn't know about it. So - Reagan was a dupe who needed to be kept in the dark?? Either way it's bad... He wasn't happy about that, so he launched into a diatribe about how we needed to wipe out the Arabs, force is the only thing they know, and how we need to take the war to them.
It was my turn to be a little dumbfounded - I stammered out the words, "well, you just can't do that" and he said why not? I must admit it was very difficult to overcome my sheer disbelief at the advocacy of mass killing of people and having to explain that there's a moral dynamic at work here - that if we start killing masses of people, we're no better than terrorists ourselves. It's more difficult than you think, facing the certainty of a man who believes we Americans are better than Arabs. He did admit Iraq was screwed up, but was sorry we didn't go in with 500,000 troops and just leveled the place (I guess you need to destroy a country to save it....)
I tried to explain that the approach to the world needed more than force; it needs engagement and a true moral example of justice and freedom to lead the world. It was too mamby pamby for him, we needed to just wipe them out - they didn't understand anything but force. I just looked at him and said "we have a difference in philosophy" and he agreed.
I keep thinking it won't be difficult to argue with people who think like that, but it really is - certainty and rote repitition of talking points is very easy to be steamrolled by. It is incumbent upon those of us who think the country is going in the wrong direction to present solid views, and stand up to the whithering rhetoric. If you feel beaten down, hold your head up and keep swinging, knowing that the ideas of justice, equality, freedom and a drive to a better world always trump those of violence, simplicity, fear and hatred.