Au contraire, Mr. Misogynist
July 12, 2004
In an instance of almost poetic irony, a Sierra Sun letter writer’s recent misogynistic attack (“Writers’ world views are askew,” Sierra Sun July 9) against three letter writers (of which I am one) only served to support and validate the very positions he finds so offensive.The writer engages in the type of personal attacks and negative patriotism so common to radical conservatives in recent years. Negative patriotism requires an enemy in order to define itself. It accuses anyone who questions its policies of being un-American, unintelligent, uneducated. It utilizes a very old debating tactic: Shift attention away from the content of the criticism to the person making it.First, the writer launches a thinly-veiled attack against the gender (or presumed gender) of the three letter writers. If you question whether or not this was truly an attack, consider this: If the three letter writers’ names had been clearly and unequivocally male, would he have even mentioned gender? Of course not. It seems clear that the writer regards women, a priori, as inherently inferior in judgment and intellect – otherwise, there would be no reason to mention gender at all. Then he (I am presuming, of course, that the writer is a man because the name is not clearly and unequivocally male) proceeds to impugn the intelligence and education of three people he has most likely never even met.I hate to break it to you, sir, but it is entirely possible for someone (male or female) to be highly intelligent, very well-educated, thoughtful, insightful, in possession of a logical and analytical mind – and still disagree with you on any given issue!Many important issues were raised in the three letters criticizing Jeff Ackerman’s column, (“I’ve had my fill of fairy tales, thanks,” Sierra Sun July 2 ) and these issues were far from “bilge” – issues about American foreign policy, racism, freedom of speech, the questionable outcome of the 2000 presidential election, what it means to be a patriot. Of all the issues raised, the writer bases his attacks on only one comment: the question of whether or not there are “good guys” and “bad guys” in war. He then proceeds to edify us all with a history lesson – or at least his version of a history lesson.He selectively omits any reference to more current history – such as the fact that when it was expedient to do so, the U.S. government supported Saddam Hussein, and helped the Taliban in its war with the Soviet Union. The fact is, the U.S. government has supported many brutal tyrants. Sir, do you remember the names Mobutu, Marcos, Somoza, Pinochet, Thieu? Do you remember our good friend, the Shah of Iran? Even now, as we fight this “war” against terrorism, we selectively ignore repression in nations whose cooperation we need: Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines. We supposedly went to Iraq to “liberate” the Iraqi people, to be the model for a free and open society. But what are we doing at home? Passing legislation, obscenely named the “Patriot” Act, that allows our government to inquire into what books we purchase from our bookstores or check out from our local libraries!When you look at the forest rather than the trees, the line between “good guy” and “bad guy” becomes a little blurry. And believe me, the rest of the world is looking – and the longer they look, the more blurry the line becomes. I wonder if the writer of the letter is aware of a study, conducted after our invasion of Iraq by the Pew Research Center, which found that the war “. . . has widened the rift between Americans and Western Europeans, further inflamed the Muslim world, (and) softened support for the war on terrorism?” If we loose all credibility and moral authority in world opinion, it no longer matters if we stamp our feet and insist we’re the Good Guys. No one will be listening.I got my first history lessons at the feet of my parents, both of whom served in the military. My father spent 21 years in the Navy, serving throughout both World War II and Korea. My mother was a sergeant in one of the first platoons of WACS to serve during WWII. Both of them were lucky to come out the other end alive. I am proud of their service, and from them I learned what honorable service means. My problem is, I feel that their service is being dishonored by our government’s actions. We attack another country based on questionable motivations and manipulated intelligence, we use this contrived war as an excuse to undermine our own Bill of Rights and ignore the Geneva Convention, and we brand anyone who questions these actions as “Un-American.”I can guarantee you, sir, that this is not what my parents fought and risked their lives for, and I can’t believe it is what the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) had in mind when they risked their lives to establish this nation.Loré McLaren is a Truckee resident.