On Everything2 and Oberlin College

After leaving We miss our friends: A dysfunctional noder family reunion last Monday, I went home to Cleveland for a while before returning to my house in Oberlin, Ohio. While I was home, my mom asked me an interesting question: “Are these your people?”

My answer was, I think, also interesting. “As much as Obies are,” I said. My bonds to Everything2 and to Oberlin College are very similar, I think, in part because these institutions are very similar. It sounds strange at first to say that one has the same sorts of loyalties to a website and a college, but I think I can explain myself.

First of all, both E2 and Oberlin College are made up of people. There are a lot of people I care about in both places. That’s a pretty obvious similarity, though, and one that I think everyone can appreciate without more explication on my part.

I can be more specific, though: Both E2 and Oberlin are made up of people who express themselves. I can read your writeups or meet you at a nodermeet and learn about a small part of you. I care about you, individually and collectively, to the degree that I know you, to the degree that I’ve been exposed to your self-expression. And, E2 being what it is, I’ve spent many, many hours being exposed to your thoughts. I’m not really sure I can write a good parallel argument for Oberlin; perhaps it’s really no different than any other residential college in that one inevitably meets people and talks to them and begins to care about them. I suspect, though, that both noders and Obies have more interesting things to say than the average person. This may be in part because both tend to attract people with diverse interests who can relate various subjects to each other.

Both E2 and Oberlin are also institutions. They have systems and rules and administrations. In both cases, administrators have done more good than harm over the years, and have fostered environments that are capable of improvement. Both also have administrations that I question sometimes, administrations that sometimes express priorities very different from my own.

I tend to grow as attached to the histories of things as to their present forms, and both Oberlin and E2 have fascinating histories full of interesting transformations. Oberlin started out as an institution of evangelical Christian perfectionists who quickly became abolitionists and prohibitionists. In the early twentieth century, with a great deal of internal struggle, it shifted its focus from morality to education, and though our senses of morality have changed, there is still disagreement as to whether Oberlin should be more or less activist and more or less academically vigorous. (Personally, I think we should be both more activist and more academically vigorous, but maybe I’m just being masochistic with my schedule.)

Everything started out with a handful of people writing definitions and descriptions of things they thought were interesting. In a way that’s still what it is, but it too has gone through fascinating transformations. It became a community. It has also lead its citizens to speculate about what it should become, about whether its focus should be on writing or on community. I think that we are drawn to false dichotomies when we think about the future of E2, as I think Obies are when we think about the future of Oberlin. This is something of which we should all be wary.

(One other note on history: I’ve worked for, spent a lot of time in, and come to care about the Oberlin College Archives. The Archives ensure that it is possible for Obies to develop an institutional memory if we work hard enough at it. I’m equally interested in the history of E2, and disturbed by our lack of concern for accessibility of institutional memory; in particular, I think that old nodes about noding should be recognized as having historical value and preserved.)

A final similarity: I think that both Oberlin and E2 can genuinely improve the world, not merely their members. Someone wrote something somewhere about Oberlin being dedicated to the ideal that a liberal arts education is not merely a personal good but a social good, that by learning we can understand each other, break down conflicts, and make a better world. Oberlin isn’t actually consistently dedicated to this ideal, but it is often enough that I think its existence is a good thing for others besides those of us fortunate enough to be there. I think E2 has this strength among its many as well. In a way, E2 is a liberal arts institution: softlinks encourage us to read about a variety of things, and the Voting/Experience System encourages us to learn how to write.

Maybe these similarities are matched by equally striking differences to which I’m blind. Even if they are, though, they at least partially explain my attraction to these communities (for that’s what both are) and my own opinions on what makes them strong.

Divorcing someone is a weird thing for lots of reasons. It also does odd things to your thought process.

I've been thinking a lot about the men I dated and loved before I knew Sam. I had my share of assholes, but there were a few pearls in the bunch. One guy I've been thinking about a whole lot is Adam.

He came from a Massachusetts Orthodox Jewish family, but he was a self-described agnostic. I met him the summer I worked for his uncle's little girl as a nanny. He came to Martha's Vineyard to visit his aunt and uncle and we were mutually smitten.

Adam's family was astoundingly good to me. Here I was, a very young woman (about age 24) - I was The Help - but they treated me as an intellectual equal. Every night after I'd put their wonderful little girl to bed they'd invite me to their dinner table to eat lovely summer meals - grilled baby octopus, fresh lobster, Vineyard tomatoes, whole wheat pasta with pesto. I'd never had food like that; it was as though someone had casually strewn diamonds in my path. I lingered over delicious, exotic food as they taught me about wine and the political climate in Israel. They asked my opinion on world events, on child psychology, on just about anything. They treated me like family.

By the time Adam arrived for a weekend visit, I'd established a comfortable position in the household. My employers were happy to see that Adam had an interest in me, so when he asked me out to dinner they were delighted. "Go have fun. Adam, take her around the island, show her a good time."

He did. Such a good time, in fact, that I wound up giving him some lovely head on a lifeguard chair at Lucy Vincent Beach late that night. Now I'm not usually a "head on the first date" kind of girl, but for Adam I made an enthusiastic exception. I think I was trying to show off a little, let him know I could be a dirty girl. He liked it just fine, thankyouverymuch.

He was shorter than I was by a couple of inches - a lot of men are, as I'm 6'0 - and had an incredible complexion. He had dark, luxuriant hair and skin a shade lighter than olive. Unlike most men I'd dated, he had a mustache, which made for some very tactile makeout sessions. It was soft and tickly, and I liked it a lot.

This guy? Was brilliant. No, really. Brilliant in the true sense of brilliant. He was - get this - working on his PhD in aerospace engineering at MIT. He was a certified pilot, instrument trained, who adored flying. I'm not at all sure what he saw in me, but we hit it off extremely well - maybe the blowjob had something to do with that.

He was a geek before geeks were truly the Next Big Thing. But he wasn't an Asperger's kind of geek. He was intimidatingly well-read, a phenomenal conversationalist, an even better listener, and simply electrifying in bed. He had this way of being completely present. You know how most people close their eyes when they fuck? Not Adam. He liked it with the lights on and eyes wide open. I'd look up (or back, depending on positioning) and he'd be staring at me intently. It was a slow burn turn-on to know that he really saw me, that he was interested in my face as well as my ass. He had, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most beautiful cock of any man I'd ever been with. To this day, his is the cock by which I measure all others - not just for size, even though that was part of the appeal. It was just...pretty. I told him that; he joked that his moyle was known for a deft hand. Few cocks are good-looking; his was. End of story.

He called me by name a lot, which is always a plus, and had a substantial sex vocabulary. The guy knew how to talk dirty, which is quite a delicate art to master. A lot of men sound silly or pervy when they try to talk dirty, but he had a gift for stringing the most filthy yet tender phrases together. For someone as in love with words as I am, it was mind-blowingly erotic. He knew exactly which words to use to make me blush and want more at the same time. Verbal porn. So hot.

I thought I'd never see him after that weekend. He was my Designated Summer Fling. But a week or so after my perfect summer job had ended and I'd sadly boarded the plane from Boston to go back to Charleston, Adam called me. He wanted to come visit.

Charleston in the autumn is possibly the most enchanting place in the world. The heat gives way to a gentle warmth and the sky is a blue you'll remember on your deathbed. Adam had never been to Charleston, so I had the particular and singular pleasure of showing my home city to a stranger. He was, as I predicted, captivated by the place. We spent the days ambling around town, dropping into cafes and museums. Our evenings were languid, memorable meals that segued into languid, memorable lovemaking sessions. Our mornings were made of great coffee, greater sex, and walks on the beach.

He was a great photographer. I have some pictures that he took of me, some closeups of my face on the beach at Sullivan's Island. I'm wearing no makeup and have that flush and Mona Lisa smile that you only get from really good sex with really good people. I can see how beautiful he thought I was from the way I look in those shots.

The next logical step was for me to get my ass to Boston, which I did as soon as I could. He took me for tapas, which I'd never had, and to Elephant Walk, the only French Cambodian restaurant that matters. He flew me to Martha's Vineyard for an overnight stay, and he let me hold the controls for a while. I'd never had a feeling quite like that - excited, thrilled, scared. It was almost better than sex. Almost.

I was completely taken with Adam's house. I am a firm believer that a person's personal environment is key to understanding who that person is, and Adam's house was intriguing and satisfying. On the large wall by the basement stairs he had an enormous picture of the Chinese demonstrator from Tiananmen Square, the man who stood alone before the tanks, who defied the government, who dared disturb the universe. It said a lot about Adam, as did the original Annie Hall poster in his kitchen. We laughed about the lobster scene from that film and talked seriously about how it can be difficult to start new relationship with all the memories of other loves to contend with.

He had a past relationship that had ended amicably, which is always a good sign. He had a formidable sense of humor and was irreverant without being flip. We made love to Peter Gabriel's Passion - the soundtrack to The Last Temptation of Christ - and when we were basking in the sweatsheened afterglow he made a crack about a Jew fucking to that music. I can't remember what he said exactly, but I know I almost wet the bed.

I met his parents, who were astonishingly cordial to me. I may have been the biggest shiksa their son ever brought home - tall, blonde, and with a profoundly Germanic surname, no less! - but they were gracious and kind and funny and smart. I could see where Adam came by all that goodness. He loved his mom and dad, he didn't have any of those stereotypical Jewish son things going on with his mom, and he adored his sister.

So what went wrong? Nothing and everything, I think. We actually got to the point of batting the idea of marriage around. The religion thing was a minor inconvenience to us, but it would have been a much bigger deal to our respective families. Distance was obviously the big issue, but there were other things too. He hated that I smoke, which is a huge thing in the long run. I didn't want kids, he wanted at least two. He came from a wealthy family, and even though I didn't like to think so, that colored our relationship. I didn't know what to do with summer homes and trips to Europe. Part of me always felt like The Help, no matter how I tried to squelch it.

We drifted apart in the least painful way. Both of us started seeing other people (with full disclosure to one another), and after about two years we became Occasional Phone Call Friends. To this day he sends me twice-yearly emails - one an invitation to his once-a-year giant blowout of a party he hosts in Upper Massachusetts, one a general update on what's going on in his life. He's happily married now with a baby girl. He works for NASA - I wish I could say more about that, but I'd feel wrong about endangering his privacy. Let's just say it's pretty much a dream job.

I don't necessarily think of him as The One That Got Away. He's more like The Guy I Wish I'd Met Later In Life. I think I had the mistaken impression at that point in my life that there was an endless supply of smart, funny men who were sophisticated, fun, and good in bed. I think I let him go too easily. I also know that I met Sam during the period that I was going out with Adam, and Sam somehow got stuck in my heart the way a fish bone gets caught in your throat. I fell in love with Sam at precisely the time that the obstacles between me and Adam began to seem insurmountable.

So yeah, I'm thinking about Adam. And part of me is wondering if I'll ever have that kind of luck again. Does lighting like that strike twice, or is that just in fairy tales?

But there's this tiny, satisfied place inside of me that is ridiculously pleased to be thinking Beyond Sam, Beyond Divorce. I may not get another Adam, but there will be - there will be - other men.

I can wait. And next time I'll be truly, ecstatically thankful.

Let's have a go at this daylogging thingy then....

8am this morning. I find myself in McDonalds. I'm out of my depth, I don't usually eat in McDonalds but my usual cafe was full to bursting and I didn't have time to wait for the kitchen bods to work their way through the backlog until they got to my order. And the next nearest eating house is McDonalds (isn't it always?). There is no one at the counter, good start. I glance up at the huge illuminated menus. Bacon and Egg McMuffin (to me, a bacon and egg sandwich) think I'll pass on that, the picure looks like the sandwich is made from plasticine, about as appetising as eating a compact disc. McBacon Sandwich (bacon seems to be bacon when when it is served with egg in a McMuffin, it only seems to promoted to McBacon when the egg and McMuffin are absent). That'll do, can't go wrong with a Bacon sandwich. Staple food for generations. A girl of about 18yrs emerges from the kitchen area. She is blond, blue eyed with bad skin. She has lips that are creatively decorated in two different shades of purple lipstick, I find those lips to be very sensual but the only appetite I'm here to slake is hunger. She smiles. I place my order. This is where my confusion starts.

"four bacon sandwiches please"
"four McBacon Sandwiches" she repeats, adding that all important "Mc"
I start to hand my money over, but she interupts the process.
"Red or brown?"
"Red or brown sauce sir?"
"Oh, erm......brown"
"would you like a drink with that?"
Have I ordered a drink? I can't remember ordering a drink! "No, nothing to drink thanks"
"would you like the McBacon Sandwiches to be a part of a Big Breakfast meal sir?"
"A wot?"
"Big Breakfast sir. It includes a hash brown, your sandwich of choice and pancakes in syrup.....oh and your beverage of choice"
One of us is getting confused here......and I'm not sure who.
"just four bacon sandwiches please. No drink. Just sarnies with brown sauce"
"to eat in or take out?"
"Erm, wrapped up. To take out"
Once again she repeats the order, the mantra of the cash till. I wonder if she thinks she is secretly being filmed by her boss. "four pound seventy five please"
Money changes hands.
"They'll be a few minutes"

I take a seat. If all that seems like the bog standard ordering system at McDonalds, let me explain why it confuses me. A normal ordering of breakfast at my local cafe goes more like this.

"morning Sam. A coupla bacon sarnies please hun"
"Hi Oz, how's you?"
"Knackered pet, it's too early to be up and about"
Sam'll laugh, even tho' she's prolly heard this line a dozen times from us hungry workers already. "sit down, I'll bring them over when they are ready"
"Ta sweetheart, stick them in a bag willya? I'm in a rush"
Money changes hands. I sit down.

And five mins later I'll be holding a bag, with two bacon sarnies in and a couple of satchets of both brown and red sauce......and a fancy lil' napkin as a bonus. It's that simple.

So I'm sitting in McDonalds. Flourescent lighting bleaches everything, the harshness is slightly mulled by pictures of gaping clowns, hamburgers with eyes and .....well, I dunno what the hell the purple thing with a face is supposed to be, it looks like a walking, talking kidney to me. I can't smoke in here. No body has left a newspaper behind and the table could only be more bare if someone stripped the veneer of it. Nothing to fiddle with here, eat up and get out seems to be the order of the day. I decide to spend the few minutes people watching. Not many of my fellow consumers in here today. A guy in a smart suit and slightly greying beard is eating something unidentifiable from a polystyrine carton. He looks more like he should be sitting in a warm kitchen at home, eating toast and marmalade while hiding behind his newspaper from his nagging wife. I wonder if he is a divorcee or a widower. He seems to be uninteresed in his breakfast. I adjust my seating position and can see that he is oggling the half naked girl on page three of his newspaper. I guess we all need our own little pick-me-up on a morning. Beside me a young woman and her kid (who looks about five years old) are giggling as quietly as they can about something....some private joke between mum and son. It's nice. I don't know what they are giggling at but it lightens my mood regardless. Then I see her. One of my old College Tutors, Carol. She looks older and more haggard than ever, all the time I knew her at a personal level at college she would chat and eventually get around to "how her bastard husband left her with a small child when he ran off with some slag" Full credit to the woman tho'...she worked hard and became a college lecturer......trouble was, for all her moaning about him, she was obviously still in love with the long lost husband. I don't wanna go talk to her.....it's too early in the morning to sit and listen to her moan. She glances in my direction and we make eye contact. Shit, no gettin' out of it now. Just at that second there is a tap on my shoulder. It's lucsious lips, thrusting a brown paper bag in my hands.

"Four McBacon Sandwiches to go"

I take the bag. Stand up. Give a wave to Carol who timidly waves back while holding a plastic bottle of "fresh" orange juice. I make vague hand gestures which I hope indicate that I'm in a hurry and have no time to chat. I'm out of there. The sandwiches were terrible.

Off to work. I have what could be called "A proper job" running a market stall business. But that leaves me with a lot of spare time so most days I'll take pretty much any work that is going, anything to fill the hours in. Today I'm helping a friend called Alan move house.

Lemme tell you a bit about Alan. Alan is commitng the slowest suicide ever known to mankind. I've known the guy since I was 12 yrs old, over 18 yrs. Alan is a lil' over ten years older than me. He's a good bloke, not the sharpest tool in the box but he used to be good for a laugh and the odd joke. I say used to be because a couple of strokes have left him paralised down the left side of his body and a lot of his brain seems to have gone as well. Ask Alan a question and you have time to go to another room, put the kettle on, sit down and light a cigarette before he can answer. Alan exists in a kinda sureal slow motion world. It was the booze that got him. Day after day, month after month of doing nothing but sitting at home drinking. Eventually the booze got more important than anything to him and he stopped making meals for himself. Didn't take long before the stroke hit him. They took him into hospital, dried him out and sent him home. He managed to stay sober for two weeks before he was back on the gogo juice. Just before xmas last year his liver started to rebel against all the poison and he was rushed into hospital. They phoned his mother asking her to come into hospital because they couldn't guess if he had three hours or three days to live. Amazingly, two months later he is still here. Good for him, he's a tough bugger.

To be honest I don't enjoy visiting him. He looks like an Auschwitz survivor and his liver is so distended that you think an alien is trying to burst through his stomach. I once jokingly said "Alan, if yer ever walked past a graveyard they'd drag yer in and bury ya" He laughed, his sense of humour is as rough and ready as mine. Then he looked at me and said "I wouldn't care if they did, I ain't afraid of dying mate" That threw me a bit. But in his situation mebbe death would be welcome. Hope I'm never in the position to ponder it. He's quit drinkin' now. But he's turned to chainsmoking these godawfull stinking strong cigarettes. like I said, slow suicide. I've seen it all before tho'...... lost two good friends to the demon drink last year.

Anyhow, I get there, make a cuppa for us both and an hour later I'm sat in his front room trying to untangle the mass of cables that connect his telly, video, stereo and wotnot to the power supply (how it never caught fire is anyones guess). Then his nurse arrives, Rachel. she is a beautifull young woman in her early twenties. A really sweet girl, the kinda person you can imagine living in a big house, with a hardworking husband and doting over 2.4 children. I've met her a few times in the past. She is a bit surprised that Alan is moving, he forgot to tell her about it. She makes Alan a bite to eat and volunteers to help moving stuff into my van. She tells me she can't lift anything heavy....fair enough, that's why I'm there.

Later that afternoon and I've got the van as loaded as it's gonna be today. Rachel has made us all a cuppa. The three of us sit down together. I'm sweating hard. I have a hereditary bone condition that means my joints don't work very well.......99% of the time it doesn't affect me but while I was loading the van my elbow joint became dislocated, I got it back in ok (had plenty practice) but it's stinging a bit.....hence the sweat. Rachel asks if I'm ok....I make an excuse that it's a bad hangover (a terrible lie, I quit drinking on boxing day last year......but I don't mention me bones to many people...it's not as if I've lost a leg or anything, no big deal). At this moment Alan decides to have a rare moment when his brain comes up to speed with the rest of the world and blurts out about me dodgy joints. Rachel is sympathetic, making the appropriate cooing and aw-ing noises as Alan describes me as if I'm gonna collapse on the spot, silly bastard. Then Alan demands that Rachel tell me what is wrong with her. This interests me, the girl looks as fit as an athlete. I sit and listen. This beautifull young woman, who should have a fantastic life in front of her, has a deformed heart. She has been through several operations, the last of wich she had a pacemaker fitted. I'm horrified. I ask her about a heart transplant. Seems it's not that simple with her, some kinda complications involved......can't tell you any more than that....she did explain but it's all greek to me. What I do know about heart surgery yer could write on the back of a stamp. She talks about it easily, in a relaxed way......to her credit. If someone told me that my heart could splutter and stop at any moment.....I'd spend the rest of my life shitting enough bricks to rebuild the pyramids.

So the three of us sit there sipping tea. My elbow is aching. Beautiful Rachel's heart is probly fluttering like a sparrow trapped in a teapot and Alan is drawing as hard as he can on one of his foul smokes.

I won't die from a dislocated elbow, Alan wants to die and is doing his best to make it happen and Rachel shouldn't die.....but looks like she is at the biggest risk.

One day I'll face my gods and the first thing I'm gonna do.......before I ask, how or why. Is spit straight in their eye.

I was thrilled; seriously so, within moments of placing the receiver back in its cradle. My son’s girlfriend’s family was coming to stay with us. It was unexpected. It was a surprise. They would be at my humble apartment in TEN MINUTES and I was bubbling over with glee at the same time that my daughter and I were frantically doing the quick clean. You know the one, right? The rush where you’re hiding the underwear that’s been sitting on the floor (AKA the biggest shelf) for a week, washing the day old dishes, and making sure there are clean sheets on the beds and clean towels in the bathroom. My daughter and I set a NEW RECORD.

I had never met her family. My son had brought his girlfriend to stay with us during Spring Break. She is the sweetest person I know. I remember thinking that my son had very good taste and had done quite well for himself hooking up with her. I have also heard many good things about them from my son. They are like a second family to him. Now I was getting the opportunity to meet the people who had influenced this wonderful girl my son had attached himself to.

I must say that her family is equally wonderful. They are on a 38-Day mission. When they had reached a stopping point, Miss Sweetie says, “Hey! I think his Mom lives close, we should call”. I am so very glad they did. Of course they had to stay overnight here. Of course. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Her mother and stepfather are retired from the Air Force. In fact, their encouragement and candid discussions helped my son in his own decision to join the Air Force. (Have I told you how proud I am of my son yet? Well, I AM!) They are still involved in helping the servicemen and women.

The mission: the father is biking from Maine to Florida to raise money for “Homes for Our Troops”. He is riding a bicycle, not a motorcycle, A BICYCLE. This man is determined. This man is FIT. His wife and daughters are following along in the support vehicle. A minivan all decked out to announce what they are doing for this five-week trek. I am amazed. He is biking anywhere from 65 to 90 miles per day! He is stopping off at various areas and bases to talk about his fundraising efforts. If you see him, be sure to roll down your window, yell encouragement, leave a donation, or show other appropriate enthusiastic support. You will know the vehicle because there is writing all over it.

This nonprofit organization raises money to help injured service men and women build new homes or convert existing homes into handicapped accessible ones. With the donations they receive they are able to do this with very little cost to the veteran. In some cases, it is for no cost at all. HOW COOL IS THAT?!

I invite you to check it out. www.homesforourtroops.org

My son has found himself a good family; that is what I think. I hope they stop by on their way back to Maine in a month. They will be very welcome here. I am so glad that they thought to call.

In the light of the other day and today's atrocity in Turkey, I've been doing a lot of thinking. We have big problems and we're not facing up to them.

For once, listen.

You probably hate George W. Bush, and you probably disagree with me when I write pieces that support his administration. You probably disagree with the war on Iraq, which you must view as some sort of conspiracy to enrich individuals or control its resources. For some reason, you dismiss the evidence of movement toward democracy and Iraqification and continue to stick to your view that the war is a bad thing and should never have been started. It's all just a sinister plot to enrich Bush and his cronies. I personally have nothing to gain in terms of riches or fame from supporting them, so why would I do so?

Your answer is probably that I must be fucking stupid. I've been sucked in by their propaganda. FOX News have struck again.

Let's consider the possibility that I'm not fucking stupid.

Many of you reacted with indignation when I suggested on the day after the London attacks that the correct response was to stay the course in Iraq. Many of you see the two matters as wholly unrelated, or more likely draw the opposite conclusion - if we weren't subjecting the Iraqi people to an occupation, July 7 would have been a normal day in London. For some, it was crass of me to 'opportunistically' suggest that this was evidence that the war was a good idea. I was using this opportunity to promote my own agenda, which is...


High on my wish list at the moment is for terrorism to cease in Iraq so that the Iraqi state can establish stable governing institutions, using the huge mandate bestowed on it by the courageous actions of the Iraqi people on January 31, 2005. The day we hardly talk about any more. Do you remember?

The spate of informing on insurgent activity.

The voting under fire.

The 'fuck you' to terrorism.

I reasonably expect that a stable Iraqi state will allow for the development of the country's economy and resources by the Iraqi people, and the creation of the middle class that are so essential for civic society to function. Eventually, foreign troops will withdraw. What is left will be the only prosperous and free Arab nation, a shining example to the rest. A new era in the Arab world. It's midnight everywhere else, but it could well be dawn over Baghdad.

You say we have no right. Do you remember Hama? al-Anfal? The Marsh Arabs? The treatment of Palestinian refugees as a tool against Israel? The bloody wars? Have you read and watched the intolerance, the hatred spewed forth by Arab states? You say we have no right; I say we have no choice.

This isn't just because I believe in universal moral standards. I love to think of you recoiling as you read the phrase, 'universal moral standards'. "That intolerant bastard," you think, "how can he tell other people how to live?" If you can tell me a good reason why love and charity and a light ruling hand should not be universal principles then I would be interested to hear. Anyway, 'universal moral standards' are not the point. I believe in something like it, but that's neither here nor there.

Closer to the point is that the injustice and violence in parts of the Arab world has spilt over into our cities. Here is the connection between Iraq and international terrorism which you most probably believe does not exist, is a phantom invented to justify the war. The war between Islamism and civilization began long ago, and is a repetition of the conflicts that have been waged periodically throughout the history of Muslim civilization. Look at how the Arab states crush the Islamists; for them, the rule of law is no obstacle because it doesn't exist. Look how they blame all the woes of their people on the West and the Americans.

Imagine the hatred.

From the Middle East, carried on the back of oil wealth, intolerance and hatred flows outward through our open borders and into our open societies. The list of attacks and foiled attacks grows all the time. "Londonistan" was crawling with Islamists and hatred before July of this year. Abu Hamza al-Masri. Omar Bakri Muhammad. All their followers. They said they would strike us, yet we did not listen. Now we must face the fact that a small group of them with small amounts of explosives can bring our capital grinding to a halt and murder us several dozen at a time on our own soil.

This all means you and I have a choice. We live in a country where we can control what our government does to an extent that is not matched in most other countries on the planet. So, this is our choice to make.

We can withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. We can appease those who seek to destroy us, and the states that support them. We can release all the terrorists we hold in our prisons without habeas corpus, and allow them to wander our streets. We can attempt to combat attacks one at a time, hoping to set up an infallible system of security checks to keep ourselves safe. If you believe this will work, that the Islamists will shut up shop, go back to the squalor of Karachi and Cairo and leave us alone, that is your right to do so.

But on this occasion it might not be me who is being 'fucking stupid'.

The alternative is this. We continue to try and build open societies in Iraq and Afghanistan. We stop feeling sorry for those who murder the innocent and we get angry. Civilization is not compatible with their bloodlust; Arab civilization no more than any other. We seek them out and we destroy them. To those that hang in the balance, we offer the vision of freedom and prosperity that Iraq could become and we ask them to choose between this and a death cult.

In short, we voluntarily make the sacrifices that we must make. If we do not and we continue on our current path, we may never be the same again.

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