I Call Bravo Sierra

Common sense isn't very common.

A Religio-Political Odyssey, Part 4

Posted by Keen Observer on February 5, 2012

I’m getting closer to being finished, honest.

The shock of the attacks on 9/11 was still not quite enough to complete my conversion to the Vast, Right-Wing Conspiracy…I don’t think. I remember understanding instinctively that this was an attack that could not go unanswered. I knew that someone would be made to pay, and that was as it should be. But I remember having less-than-positive thoughts about the Bush administration that would not correlate to conservatism. I know now that was partly due to biased coverage in the news media, which had less of an Internet presence than it does now, by far, but it also had to do with failure to prevent the threat from becoming real.

I believed also at the time that the Patriot Act would not be a good idea, that problems would be caused. I still hold that belief and have found that it is not a fringe position among conservatives. I also did not think creating Homeland Security would be a good idea (a thought which has been borne out, in my opinion, given recent excesses and “security theatre” of the TSA). It evoked in me at the time immediate comparisons with old rhetoric around fascist Germany and communist Russia—the Fatherland and the Motherland (or Mother Russia), respectively, though this time the “-land” in question was gender-neutral. This is the kind of rhetoric the modern world can live quite happily without. I saw it in some ways as supporting my belief that Americans as a whole think a little too highly of themselves, but I also saw that between these two governmental elements there was a large opportunity for abuse of power and related problems, especially when used with the phrase, “In the name of security.”

I also saw the attacks as fairly evident proof that Muslim extremists cannot be reasoned with or bargained with…ever. Radical (or extremist) religious views are not rational and are used to excuse any action—the “God told me to” defence. There is nothing a religious extremist cannot justify. I’ll not get off on a screed here, but I will say that since 9/11 I have not viewed Muslims or the Middle East in quite the same way. A minority may be responsible for the terrorism and violence, but they are tolerated and tacitly encouraged by the so-called silent majority. This type of view can generally be attributed more towards the conservative right than the liberal left, so that was another piece to the puzzle. It also, perhaps counter-intuitively, partially validated my disdain for and separation from my own former religion, in terms of the broad strokes of religious fervour and superstition.

Canada’s participation in the Afghanistan fighting also renewed my pride in my country and its Armed Forces, something that had been largely quiescent for years. I was always saddened to hear of the death of a CF member, but I was always proud that our military personnel were out there, doing Canada proud with honour and distinction, fighting against the evil present there at the time. Definitely not a liberal perspective.

During this period, around 2003-2004, I had a job doing “media monitoring”. That is to say, I got paid to watch TV news and listen to radio news, then upload summaries rife with names and keywords to a national database. I also did transcription of some stories/items on request. I had thought this would be a good job, as at the time I fancied myself a news junkie of sorts. How little did I know. That job cured me of that affliction for a time, but it also taught me one thing: the media outlets said almost exactly the same thing on each story that was broadcast. Some outlets had different foci than others, but the differences seemed largely minor. The reporters also had similar cadences, and the word I grew to hate was “still”, as it preceded too many sentences. The reports were (and still are to large extent) structured in the same way: start with a personal angle, describe the meat of the story, evaluate (usually with alarm) the apparent problems, bring it back to the personal. Story after story, channel after channel, night after night. It was at that time that I largely switched my personal news watching to Global, as their offences usually seemed less egregious, but I still couldn’t bring myself to switch to our local talk radio station, because the conservatism of their flagship hosts sounded far too sour-grapes for my liking. But I did occasionally hear through my job opinions from them that made far too much sense to me.

I learned at some point in 2005 of an American blogger, a resident of Minnesota, who had taken an interest in Canadian politics for some reason. He blogged at a place called Captain’s Quarters—now defunct—which I found out about due to his interest in the so-called Sponsorship Scandal, the inquiry for which had a publication ban on testimony, with punishments for Canadians that broke the ban. The Captain decided to expose the Gomery Inquiry and its participants, and I read regularly. I became disgusted with the apparently-corrupt antics of the federal party I supported, which helped push me (and many others, I expect) away from the Liberal Party of Canada. I even read other articles at his site, which pionted me in all sorts of new directions that were surprisingly sensible. And at some point he was persuaded to give up his personal blog and become a lead contributor at another blog on the right side of the page: HotAir. I read it regularly, especially when it comes to American politics, but they also have a few more fringe elements showing up. This blog also broadened (and broadens) my conservative experience.

Contemporaneously, I also continued to grow more at ease with being religiously agnostic. The longer I went without weekly harangues about my basic evilness and the need to beg forgiveness for it, the happier I was. I continued my internal debates on whether a supreme being of some sort actually existed, however, and if so, was deserving of worship. I also continued to see events around me and around the world as further confirmation that somebody was horribly, horribly wrong about the nature of god and evil. And I got closer and closer to thinking everybody was wrong.

More to come…

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