Monday, December 08, 2008

Tully here,

I recall during the last campaign that there were eyebrows raised over Obama having met with Bill Ayers. As a matter of fact, my own dad tried to use it as a reason for me to side with McCain rather than siding with no one.

Is our country a better place when we question the views of our politicians on the basis of whom they communicate with?

Should a president talk to a terrorist? Not necessarily negotiate, but rather listen to what the terrorist has to say? Is this possible, or is the very act of talking to a terrorist an encouragement for Joe the Landscaper to blow up a building (with fertilizer) to get a chance to talk to the president? Or is the problem that the large, centralized nature of our nation and government will not allow a peaceful means of individuals to communicate with their President? Is it good for a citizen not to be able to communicate with his ruler? We usually approach this matter by upholding that government must remain large and people must learn to deal with it- but should we rather mold the government according to the needs of its citizens?


RW said...

Oliver North did it. What the hell.

But seriously, when the guy's on one side he's a freedom fighter, when he's on the other side he's a terrorist. Depends who the Osama du jour is I suppose.

Bill Ayers got a lot of death threats during the campaign. Terrorists or patriots?

Mark Heuring said...

Interesting question, as always. The question is determining whether the terrorist actually represents the wishes of the people he purports to represent, or simply his own self-interest. There was a time when Menachem Begin was regarded as a terrorist. So was Mandela. As it happens, both of those individuals fall on the positive side of the ledger, by and large.

Just guessing, but I would suspect that Ahmedinejad doesn't represent the actual will of the Iranian people.

As for RW's question -- no matter how much of a putz Bill Ayers was (and is), death threats aren't acceptable.

tully said...

Here's my editorial comment:

I'm not convinced it boils down to terrorists. Would there even be terrorists in a state of anarchy? Even the most chaotic vision of anarchy provides bandits, swindlers and killers, but no terrorists. That's not an argument for anarchy, but wouldn't you agree that the catalyst (which is not to say "cause") of terrorism is the redistribution of power, if in fact terrorism is a reaction against the redistribution of power? You don't see too many small-town mayors getting a death threat every hour! We commit terror when it appears that the redistribution of power has left us powerless.

So, even distancing ourselves from anarchy; suppose (putting aside any other fallout) that government was restricted to the size of a village. While redistribution of power still occurs, power is demystified, thus the would-be terrorist doesn't see himself as disenfranchised. He can talk to the village leader whenever he wants, so there is neither the sort of mystification that makes people (never having met him) call Bush the Anti-Christ.

Yet let's face it- Government is built on Mysticism. It thrives on it, and cannot grow strong without mystifying everything from its officials to its documents to its capital city, and its unburnable banner. Of course, we must then question what it means for a nation, which is to say "for a person," to be strong.

kr said...

Your leap from nation to person there at the end was a bit mystifying ;)

have you seen (or read) the musical "Assassins"? It explores the sometimes sick sometimes maybe not so much process of the American presidential assassinators (attempted and successful). A very odd (and terribly uncomfortable to watch the first time) attempt to explore the glory-seeking/de-anonymizing aspect of the (would-be and successful) assassins ... which instinct it denigrates while at the same time providing it Broadway-level stage space ...

just free-associating there--certainly I wonder how much presidential assassins are trying to deny by action the border society tells them lies between them and rights/power

I agree that government, probably at all levels, is built on mysticism ... and I perceive this as a very significant problem, because it means that there are then inherent sets of dogma which limit honesty, integrity, creative thinking, and what is "worth " listening to

it would be the things not "worth" listening to, but actually vital, that I would figure cause some people to choose civil disobedience, protest, and (in the case of extreme perceived or actual disenfranchisement) terrorism.

if that is the case, then the more a leader can listen to the people the better off the governed might be ... presuming of course the leader can "hear" what he/she is listening to (ie., that it is not a vapid smile-and-nod situation but that the leader can mentally and emotionally access a sympathy and understanding for the speaker's experience). 'Doesn't mean they will make choices according to that new info ... but if a group feels truly listened to, they would be more likely to participate cooperatively with the government and the other govern-ees ....

(sorry not very coherent, tired)

Bike Bubba said...

He didn't just talk with Ayers. His political coming out party was at Ayers' home, and he worked with initiatives sponsored by him. It's not quite a close association, but it is something that ought to raise eyebrows.

Tracy said...

As domestic terrorists are under-represented and cannot afford expensive lobbyists, I'm in favor of our politicians getting to know them or visiting their bunkers from time to time.