Saturday, October 01, 2011

Snapshot of my 2003-04 views on the War on Terror

In the years following 9/11, I vigorously debated in varied settings about the War on Terror and American global leadership. My most extensive unvarnished contemporary arguments are preserved on-line in pseudonymous posts on BasketballBoards.net (now BasketballForum.com). In fact, the Perspective on and Contextualizing the argument over Operation Iraqi Freedom posts on this blog grew out of my BBB.net posts. A few days ago, due to a laptop breakdown, I powered up my old desktop computer for the first time in years and rediscovered a .txt file where I had saved a selection of my BBB.net posts from 7/30/03 to 6/5/04. I'm posting the compilation as I found it with no adds, cuts, or editing - a historical snapshot.

Given that I joined BBB.net to talk NBA basketball, why did I become involved in intensive 9/11-related debates there? My 8/31/03 post explained:
The main reason I've written so much in this thread and it's predecessor thread (War in Iraq poll) is a comment one poster made that irked me. He said something to the effect that people who support the US mission in Iraq or the Bush admin's foreign policy in general were ignorant Americans who were easily duped, and even claimed that anybody with even a rudimentary college education would oppose the Bush admin's actions. You know, too many of our guys and gals - better people than any of us - are working overtime, hurting and dying in Iraq right now, doing the right thing, for me to let comments like that go, even on BBB.net. In terms of morale, it is very important to our soldiers as they endure many hardships in Iraq and Afghanistan that they know the American people back them and support their mission. My goal with my posts, along with fellow posters, is to show that there is an informed, intelligent basis for Americans to be patriotic and/or to support post-9/11 US-led missions, without abandoning critical faculties.
My engagement in BBB.net was also a self-conscious experiment in nuanced contextual discourse. In 2003-04, people were still paying attention to the hotly debated global controversy with room to listen because the partisan poles, though quickly taking form, weren't yet immutably hardened. BBB.net's Everything But Basketball forum was an ideal setting for democratic dialogue because the BBB.net community was diverse and not politically self-selected as it would have been on a political website. Internet discussion boards in general allow participants to focus on the words without the distractions inherent in other media, digest the content at their own pace, and deliberately respond on a level playing field. But in the end, despite all the conducive features of the setting, my attempt at nuanced contextual discourse was frustrating and ultimately disillusioning. (You can see the frustration in my changing tone in the posts.) I failed to beat the pull of the partisan echo chamber.

The compilation is mostly in chronological order, and where the dates skip shouldn't cause any confusion. However, due to the loss of formatting from pasting into a .txt file, it's not always clear where my responses divide from where I quote other posters. It's a ranging, rather exhaustively long read, so I split the file into 4 manageable chunks.

Enjoy: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

Eric

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