Bridgeing the Opinion Gap

Over and Over we hear the same barbs and insults.

“Grow some gonads. F the lot of you.”
“Coalition of the Idiots” “Bunch of Bastards”

Perhaps it is time to take a step back and ask ourselves what has happened here?

Why has the world become so polarized? Is it really because of one mans decision to go to war? Is it really because one part of the world thinks one way and another thinks another way?

To use a quote from Cool Hand Luke

What we got here is a failure to communicate

I’ve been trying to think of how best to describe what I’d like to say and frankly, I’m having a really hard time figuring it out…

Why does there seem to be such intense polarization right now? It’s most obvious in the US of course… but even in Canada there are people who vehemently support the stance of the US Administration and the USA in general… and there are others who feel exactly the opposite.

Why? Where did the moderate voice go? Why are we so easily drawn into bitter arguments?

It can’t be Bush himself. He is only one man. Surely one man can’t be responsible for fostering and formenting the vitriol that I see thrown against, and in support of his policies. Is it perhaps the Media? Are we being bombarded by editorial and opinion rather than journalism and fact? I ask you… the kind reader, to try to answer this question.

Why have we become so polarized? Why does it seem to have only happened post-9/11?

Maybe through discussion… through communication, we can figure it out, because the one thing that I think we can all agree on is we didn’t see this coming.

UPDATE 1:

I’m going to just keep adding to this post as I think of things…

One thing I think we should start by stressing is the cooperation between our nations. I’ve often seen comments that say something like “I thought Canada, and France, and our Allies ‘had our backs'”. “I thought they were our friends”. Since it seems the most polarizing issue of all has been the Iraq war, and “war” in general, why don’t we focus on those wars and find out what the “Allies” have done for each over the past 60 years.

Current Wars

Past Wars

  • Afghanistan: Immediately after 9/11 sympathy for America was at its’ highest. Consequently, the support for the war in Afghanistan was strong and NATO and the UN have since taken lead roles in stabilising the country
  • Somalia: US and UN forces (including Canadian, British, French and many others) intervened and both were basically run out of the country.
  • Former Yugoslavia: This was a whole range of conflicts… but for the most part the military action was supported by the Allies and the UN. Canada just recently ended its’ 10+ year stay in Bosnia.
  • Gulf War: This was possibly the most dramatic example of unified UN response to a military threat.
  • Panama: The US Invasion of Panama was, I believe, officially condemned by the UNSC… yet, our “friendship” and “alliances” were not really affected.
  • Vietnam/Cambodia: This is probably the most prominent example of the US “going it alone”. Oddly, at least in todays context, the process actually started when the US came to the aid of the French who controlled IndoChina. The US helping France?? Huh?
  • Korea: Another major war. And the first war where a UN force was deployed. It consisted of Commonwealth, French, Thai, even South African forces among others
  • The Cold War: Obviously this stands 0ut as the major “war” of the twentieth century… explanations of support given by all Allies is not really required.
  • So with that list of Wars fought… I ask you. Is one war? The Iraq war… the only one that should be used to measure the alliances of nations?

    Support for this war was weak. The US, British and Australian governments are the main

3 thoughts on “Bridgeing the Opinion Gap”

  1. I think we are witnessing a clash of cultures, western culture is splintering off with one faction in the US and the other in Europe. Conservative Americans (and Canadian and Europeons) see the changes in European society as a grave threat to their dearly held beliefs in tradition, individualism and cohesive moral values. The same threat is felt by those who don’t value traditions, believe strongly in the collective and are completely secular in their moral perspective.

    We are polarized more so at this time than I can remember over issues that were kept in the undercurrent of our discourse as we united to keep the USSR from taking over Europe and who knows what other parts of the planet for 50 years. Without the common foe, the USSR, to collectively oppose, we are now free to examine more subtle aspects of our societies aims and goals and our ways of living. Our goals are clashing far more openly.

    The disagreements are getting far more personal to far more people because the issues we disagree on are not the basic issues of physical needs like bread and butter but our higher level psychological and emotional factors of self-actualization as human beings.

    One of the startling contrasts in western society between early 1900 and early 2000 is the increasingly prevalent lack of civility. Society on both sides of the Atlantic has become rude, crude and angry to a great extent. Such attitudes only fuel polarization. Name calling has become an acceptable emotional outlet and conversation, discussion, etc soon devolves to the lowest common denominator when passions run high. Language soon becomes exaggerated, highly disrespectful and angry. Instant polerization and few apologies given, if any. Look at Chirac. He is slapping away the olive branch before it’s even offered (which it will or would be if Jaque had a brain).

    What ever happened to diplomacy and helping others save face? Please don’t blame it on Bush. He’s stubborn but he’s not mean. Met halfway, he would be willing to find ways to work with other nations who offer good faith discussion. But to have every other low level, petty politician insulting his intelligence and honesty in print is certain perpetuation of distance and greater polerization.

    My view is that as the GWoT goes on and when Iraq is politically stabilized in a year or two, many tempers will cool. The US will get out of Europe soon enough and other problems like the ME will find solutions and the level of rhetoric will taper off and we’ll
    have a lot less nastiness going on in foreign relations. I’m an optimist, too, Chris 🙂

  2. Chris,

    I think the divide between Canada and the US is purely cultural. Liberal verses conservative. Secular verses religious. Liberals are mostly secular. Conservatives are mostly religious. Canadians are mostly liberal. Americans are mostly conservative. Liberals see things in terms of rich and poor. Conservatives see things in terms of good and evil.

    The US is at war with Islamo-fascists (people that murder the innocent by the thousands in the name of Allah). The US war on terrorism didn’t begin and end with Osama Bin Laden, or didn’t begin or end with al Queada or the Taliban. Name a country any country in the middle-east that is mostly Muslim and you will find a dictator running it and clerics in mosques teaching hate and death to America. If the terrorists had had a nuclear bomb or any kind of wmd on 9/11 they would have used it. The whole world thought Saddam Hussein had wmd. Why did they think he had them? Because he was intimidating the inspectors and playing cat and mouse games, and more importantly he ACTED like he had them. After 9/11, it would have been irresponsible for President Bush not to act against Iraq based on the intelligence put before him. Wmd or no wmd, it doesn’t change the war on Islamo-fascism. Europe and Canada are blinded by their liberalism and can’t see the evil threat that’s right in front of their faces. The UN was created to stop this type of threat but has become totally corrupt and completely worthless.

    The truth of the matter is, Saddam Hussein is a bad bad man, the baathist are a bad bad political party, al Queada and the rest of the terrorist are bad bad people, Islam is fast becoming a bad bad religion. The US has two choices, either we try and democratize the middle east and hope that that changes the hearts and minds, or we will be forced to destroy it. It’s a sad sad reality, but we have no other choices. We (the US) have helped (by blood and money) more people than any other country in the history of the world and deserve the utmost respect, but look where it has gotten us, NOWHERE. We can’t depend on anybody but ourselves anymore…

    …And “Oh Canada”, our long lost brother; you stood on the wrong side of right and wrong, and turned your backs on us. We feel betrayed! The liberalism that permeates your culture is the disease that causes your poor judgment. The only way to make amends is to apologize for your mistake. When we start seeing polls in Canada that show the majority supporting our efforts in Iraq, and when you send troops and money to help us, then and only then, will we know that you have apologized. When that day comes…you will be forgiven.

    Tony

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