Points to ponder

Joi Ito pointed to the article from the Telegraph, which interviews the mother of one of the women involved with the photos of the torture of the Iraqi prisoners.

First: Why the focus on the women soldiers? Why not the men? Or both?

Second: Remember when you read this article that the folks in New York, Boston, and San Francisco aren’t the only ones disturbed by the possibly officially encouraged torture of Iraqi prisoners–most of the country is also, including I imagine, most of the people in West Virginia.

In every country, and with every culture, there are insular pockets of people who categorize the world as Us and Other, with Other being somehow less in value. Yes, even in San Francisco. This country cannot be represented by a map of Smart People in a few coastal areas, and a big word, “Racist Stupid Hick” everywhere else. Before you start to generalize this article–and you know you want to, I can hear the rhetoric and jokes now–keep this in mind.

David Weinberger writes about despairing of finding a middle ground when it comes to opinion of the Iraq prison photos:

Can we get even to that common ground? Can we as a nation say that we abhor torture, except in the rarest of cases? That we do not believe in the institutionalizing of torture? That we will fight it around the world? That we believe in the rule of law and that no one is above the law? That we believe in treating even our enemies with dignity? That we support the established international conventions for treating prisoners? That we are sorry about what went on at Abu Ghraib?

If left and right can’t agree on those points, then I do fear that the division in our country is unbridgeable. If we can’t agree to condemn torture, if we can’t feel shame at what we did at Abu Ghraib, then what can we agree on?

I commented at David’s site, but came up with an additional thought: why do we have to agree?

When I wrote about all of us being angry all the time, and swimming in a sea of surety, I didn’t mean to imply that we had to find agreement; sometimes the divisions are too far apart, and we can’t agree. But that doesn’t mean other opinions aren’t valid, or just as real to the people who hold them, or that we can’t be wrong.

But we don’t have to agree.

Finally, Mike Golby has responded to both the Sea of Surety posting, and the Can We Still Be Friends essay, where he’s referenced:

I do not believe my being ‘for’ or ‘against’ the United States or its citizens as a whole is at issue here. Shelley puts it bluntly. Friendships are at stake. I’ve been mulling this over. She’s right. They are. Why? I believe it’s all about the tone we adopt on our blogs and the respect we show for others’ views and realities. Anger affects the first and does away with much of the latter. So, what is my tone? Born of anger, it’s self-righteous, prescriptive, arrogant, and cocksure. With just a couple of words, I transform a justifiable anger into a demand that others adopt my thinking, change their lives and man the barricades. Doing that reduces even anger to little more than a vituperative and impotent frustration. Hell, even I can’t accept that. Motivated by anger (but fuelled by frustration), I become dogmatic. I assume the right to tell others how and what to blog. In other words, I become prepared to ride roughshod over others’ views and realities. In short (and in tone), I become Bush. It’s my right to want to do that but what conceit would make me want to exercise such a right? No sensible conceit that I can think of. Anger, poorly expressed, can do great harm.

Anger, poorly expressed, can do great harm. That’s why Mike Golby is, and will remain, my friend.

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