How do you keep war debate civil, or do you avoid the topic altogether?
Tensions may rise and tempers flare when talk turns to the war in Iraq. Those who support the war and those who oppose it sometimes clash, whether across a street during a protest, or across a table during dinner.
Have you had discussions that turned into heated exchanges with friends, relatives, or co-workers? How do you keep the debate civil, or do you just avoid talking about the war altogether? Have such talks changed your relationship with anyone?
When people ask me how I feel about the war I simply say: "I don't agree that a war is the right answer, but I do support our troops." This usually causes them to sit and think instead of trying to draw me into a huge debate about whether or not I have the "correct" view or the "incorrect" view. So far everytime I've given that answer, the conversation pretty much ended there with no further questions or discussion.
The way to keep the debate civil is simple - respect other people's opinions as well as their right to disagree. The most distressing trend during this conflict is for those who disagree with what the US is doing to be portrayed as un-American and as not supporting the troops. War protesters are no more "un-American" than were the people who participated in the Boston Tea Party. Why is it unacceptable to conservatives for their to be differences of opinion, especially in a free society?
The discussion is civil simply because the vast majority of those I work, live and have contact with support the actions of our governement and our troops. The unrest appears to come from liberally endoctrinated youth who have not yet experienced the burden of responsibility for oneself, family and others. Their minority opinions are taken with the youthful idealism from whence it comes. Unfortunately, those with less than good intentions have expolited their animated demonstrations.
R. Labrecque, Plymouth
I try to avoid taking a strong stance at work in discussions as the topic can be very polarizing. Most discussions I see, even among people who disagree have been civil. The protesters on the street, on the other hand, are very aggressive in attempting to impose their views on others so I have no problem getting in their faces - especially when they disrupt others lives to make their point - how does blocking traffic get their point across? It is like they can't believe that they are in the minority and are stomping their feet. I do not think that it is right to actively protest while fellow citizens are laying their lives on the line. If you disagree with the war you will have an opportunity to vote Bush out in 2004. He will be judged by the public then for his actions.
Doug , E Boston
Luckily, I work in a very liberal, activist, open-minded, tolerant, non-military, atmosphere where we are ALL against this "war". So, I am able to express myself openly without having a narrow-minded, hawkish, militant conservative waving their flag in my face, yelling at the top of their lungs to me about how “unpatriotic” I am because I just happen to exercise my right to protest this unjust war.
Denis, Malden MA
First, I support our Troops and although I'm considered a Liberal Democrat I'm supporting President Bush, atleast on this position. I have friends and relatives that are avoiding all War-Talk. I can't. My 3 brothers all saw combat. The oldest in Korea the next 2 in Viet Nam. My niece is in the Air Force, she saw 6 months in Saudi Arabia, 1 year in Turkey and her husband is now in Saudi Arabia. I've become a slave to my clicker..I wake up at 3 AM and am glued until worktime. One of my cousins is in the same mindset. We call each other, discuss the latest news, critique the retired Generals, the media et al.My workbreaks are in my car, listening to Talk Radio. After work, the TV goes on and I'm up until I fall asleep.
Here in our office, we have had a few overheated discussions, but somehow we can all agree on a few things: War is awful, sometimes necessary as in this case, and we all hope it will be over soon. We try to be openminded with each others' opinions, and not force ours on others. However, I've noticed that everyone is on edge, and we seem to argue over silly small things that otherwise wouldn't be an issue.
Everyone I know agrees about the appalling, downright sickening behavior of anti-war protesters. There was more argument back and forth leading up to the war, but once the bombs started falling most folks realized (rightly) that it was too late to stop it, and time to at least support the troops, if not the President. So there's not much tension anymore. Those few who still are actively opposing the war are THE USUAL CULPRITS: those who are too young to know anything about how the world works, those who just like to protest for the sake of hearing their own obnoxious voices, those who are just plain ignorant.
I'm very glad the Globe has taken the time for this forum and for this particular question because I think the furthering of the democratic experiment in this Republic demands participation in the civil affairs of the nation. That said, I find it unfortunate that many of the people I have tried to have rational discourse with resort to jingoism very early in their argument. Things like 'they all think like that' and broad-brush statements of that kind about entire groups of people are usually some of the first tips that the dialog your are engaged in is not a conversation but a regurgitation of sound bites. What's really shocking is to hear people exercising their First Amendment rights being described as 'terrorists' or 'aiding terrorism'. What is not in doubt is that our Nation is the only nation on earth to be convicted in a free and open court (with witness testimony and counter-arguments) of engaging in State Sponsored Terrorism. Check into it: 1986 and the unambiguous facts of our illegal terrorist war against the people of Nicaragua. It's there for all to seek out and inform themselves. I want this noble experiment of democracy to continue in this country. The majority of hard-working decent people deserve no less. The acts committed in our name and supossedly in our national interest with our tax dollars demand examination if we are to be true to ourselves and to others. Thanks for reading.
Daniel, Enfield, MA
I always try to keep war debates civil and intelligent, but I find it very difficult to do with most liberals. Liberals, in case anyone hasn't noticed, are the one who like to scream and shout about things, and generally rely on conspiracy theories and political biases rather than facts, evidence, and good ol' common sense. They have no interest in a debate anyway, it's just that war is bad and Bush is evil. They're anti-establishment and they're going to cry bloody murder to anything a Republican has to say as a matter of priciple. Conservatives tend to be more flexible, and open to new ideas than liberals...at least they're willing to listen. I only know one or two rational liberals (dont you feel bad for moderate liberals? the far-left has hijacked liberalism, moderates have NO voice anymore) who I feel comfortable discussing this with, it's a waste of time with the rest. PS - I am a former Democrat who "switched" due to what has become of the Democratic party and the left in the last 10 years.