Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Make Way For the Wonks!

By regeya in Op-Ed
Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:02:39 PM EST
Tags: etc (all tags)

I have to apologize if I seem callous. For a bit of background, I work in a small newspaper office. In the editorial department, we have a TV which is (usually) tuned to one of the major news networks. Over the last two weeks, we've seen a terrible tragedy, yes, but we've seen something else.

We've seen the wonks come out of the woodwork.

Who are the wonks

They're those guys (and women) you see on American TV who always have an opinion on everything. Worse, they apply their opinions to the entire American population (and sometimes the entire world.) Sometimes, rather than spouting their opinions on the feelings of the American public, they spout their feelings on the political climate in Washington (cluestick: the people are not united), public opinion on this or that. It's been a feeding frenzy for wonks recently.

After the day is done, I come to kuro5hin, check the queue, and find . . .

More wonks.

Come on. I'm trying keep from sounding completely heartless here, but it's hard. Look. I've seen a number of opinions shared here (all valid, of course, by the very nature of being opinions), but the thing is, I'm hearing nothing new. When I watch TV, I see the paid wonks saying something. When I get home, I check kuro5hin, and I see people saying the same thing.

I respect your right to voice your opinion, but c'mon.

Nor do I want you to mistake my apathy for a short-attention-span desire for something new. Not that at all.

What I take exception to is the saturation of mass-media with this overwhelming sameness of opinion that I find somewhat chilling. Americans, and peoples of the Western world, united in their sorrow? I find it unlikely. Everyone in America, and in much of the Western world, frothing at the mouth with bloodlust? I find it unthinkable. Yet those voicing opinions would have me believe I'm weepish and calling for the turbans of those responsible.

I'm not, though.

I feel bad for the families who were affected, and I want to see justice done. I really don't want to see Dubbya and Ashcroft suddenly getting their way in the wake of this tragedy (which makes the event seem rather suspect, given that this will somehow, illogically, lead back to Daddy Bush's war.) But I digress.

What I would love to see from kuro5hin, in the words of John Cleese, something completely different. I know there are people here who don't feel a damn thing about the WTC getting destroyed. I've seen 'em post low-rated comments (why low-rated? They're voicing an opinion) so why aren't they posting the differing perspective?

If Afghanistan weren't so damned poor, I'd half-expect someone from there posting something defending the Taliban's position. Understand your enemy.

Heck, I just wonder where the joker with the nick "Osama bin Laden" is these days.

But for God's sake, please stop being surrogate Washington wonks. We've heard 'em already; no need to parrot their opinions all over Web boards.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o Also by regeya

Display: Sort:
Make Way For the Wonks! | 25 comments (17 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Osama Bin Laden (5.00 / 3) (#2)
by ucblockhead on Tue Sep 25, 2001 at 11:21:11 PM EST

He retired his nick.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
Unity (4.50 / 2) (#3)
by jasonab on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 12:01:50 AM EST

(cluestick: the people are not united)
Why not? Every single opinion poll shows solid unity, especially on support for Bush and where people want the country to go. You don't have to walk in lock-step to be united.

Why does your disagreement change this? Unity is not unanimity.

What did you expect? (5.00 / 5) (#4)
by Mr.Surly on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 12:58:04 AM EST

You seem surprised by the "sameness" of everyone's opinion. Is it so surprising that after such an event that such a high percentage of the people who (a) have an opinion, and (b) feel the need to share it in one way or another are calling for justice/revenge/action?

Of the people who have an opposing opinion, those that might defend the Taliban, or Bin Laden, I suspect they're smart enough to keep their mouths shut. I respect their opinions with an open-minded attitude, but your average guy on the street (at least in America) will just kick the shit out of them. In the Kuro5hin idiom, their opinion would disappear from the queue in a matter of minutes.

And finally: I don't pretend that I understand (or have much interest in, until lately) US foreign policy. I wouldn't be too surprised if the US was involved in funding things that makes the US very unpopular to certain peoples of the world. We might have deserved it. I've heard the argument (paraphrased): "The terrorists consider that ordinary civilians are perfectly valid targets, merely by the fact that their tax dollars support a govertment that oppresses (either directly or indirectly) their religion / culture." I don't necessarily disagree. It's not a far stretch from "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" to "Ignorance of your own complicity is no excuse."

Becoming unpopular (4.33 / 3) (#16)
by davidduncanscott on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 06:02:25 PM EST

Let's face it: there is no way to be involved in the world and not piss off somebody. Feed the children? You're a meddling bastard, and furthermore you're screwing up somebody's power base (hungry people are much easier to persuade). Settle a war? You're a meddling bastard, and we didn't get everything we wanted and we hate you with an undying passion. Walk away and leave the hungry fighting with each other? Somehow you're still a meddling bastard, and we hate you for your insularity.

Had we left Iraq in Kuwait, sure as shit we'd have been hated for our abandonment of the noble Kuwaitis. Hell, we did help the Afghans with weapons when they were fighting the Soviets, and now they apparently hate us because we didn't help them more afterwards. Of course, they don't want our stinking non-Islamic help, but it's still our fault for not letting them throw us out of the country.

I'd like to give the world a clue about one thing: all those weird post-colonial borders that everybody hates so much? We didn't do that. Talk to the British, talk to the French, talk to the Belgians, the Portugese, the Germans, the Spanish. We get blamed for conflicts that have gone on, not only since long before we took an interest in the outside world, but in some cases since before we were a country at all.

[ Parent ]

Heh (none / 0) (#22)
by regeya on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 04:41:39 PM EST

And finally: I don't pretend that I understand (or have much interest in, until lately) US foreign policy. I wouldn't be too surprised if the US was involved in funding things that makes the US very unpopular to certain peoples of the world.

The organization that is allegedly responsible for the WTC/Pentagon attacks got funding/training from the CIA. Yeah, we're involved in things that aren't even popular in our own country.

Strangely, people don't seem too outraged that the CIA had a hand in this.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

They didn't. (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by physicsgod on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 05:11:17 PM EST

The CIA trained bin Laden to fight against the soviets in Afganistan, but I don't remember any airliners slamming into Red Army bases, so either Osama missed that class and just got the notes, or the came up with that little plan on his own. The CIA also trained a lot of other people to fight, and not all of them are blowing up innocent civillians.

Do you honestly think bin Laden wouldn't have been associated with a similar group if the CIA hadn't trained him? I'd be willing to place bets that even if he wasn't the head of an organization he'd be a major funder.

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]

okay (2.50 / 2) (#5)
by rebelcool on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:31:59 AM EST

I believe we should take the Afghani children and sell them to the slavemasters of Ghana.

Don't ask me why - God told me this is the way it should be, and don't question God, ya goddamn atheist peacemongering hippies.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

Wonks? (5.00 / 3) (#6)
by SlydeRule on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:41:50 AM EST

Hrm, while I tend to agree about the media wonks (what is it with every single TV news outlet having "America Strikes Back" or "America Unites" or some such banner up full-time?), I think that most of the K5ers who posted did not do so out of wonkiness.

Expressing what one feels, discussing it with other people, is an important part of dealing with overwhelming emotions. I do not think it is much of a stretch to suggest that for many K5ers, the closest people in their lives are the K5 community. So they come here and say what's on their minds.

As for the uniformity, well, I think that K5 actually is much less uniform than the news media. I would also note that for many of us who disagree with the jingoist swaggering and threatening, this appears to be an excellent time to keep a low profile. I am not Edward R. Murrow, and I am afraid that we shall not see his like.

Me too! (4.60 / 10) (#7)
by decaf_dude on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 02:31:48 AM EST

I think, though, that most people are simply afraid to voice their true opinion in the public for the fear of reprisals, not unlike one of those boy-band lads who was all but stoned for an honest, informed comment (search Salon, I can't be bothered with a link).

I can guarantee you that most people around the world said "Serves them right!" moments before realising how many families have been destroyed. The fact remains that US usually funds regimes and movements which later kick them in the balls and thus invoke retaliatory bombing (e.g. Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, etc.). Hence the they-brought-it-onto-themselves attitude many have. Naturally, most Americans don't understand that sentiment because a) they're hurting right now, and b) they're clueless about anything that goes on beyond their county^H^H^H^H^Hstate lines.


Some are voicing other opinions (5.00 / 1) (#18)
by M0dUluS on Thu Sep 27, 2001 at 08:31:45 PM EST

such as "The Onion" which has a couple of snide articles about how advertisements in which Dinty Moore condemns terrorism (above a picture of a tin of stew) and a woman who "just felt she had to do something" and so baked a cake.
Admittedly this is not particularly useful analysis that will help avoid more death, but it does express a skepticism about the more embarrassing flag-waving.
I've heard commentators on NPR talking about how "cynicism" and people "that dress in black" are not going to be able to go on with their "Gen-X detachment" now and that perhaps they now understand that there *is* good/evil. Apparently "Politically Incorrect" has been yanked from some networks because of some of the comments on it.
A lot of the "silence" is because of people wanting to be respectful, some of it is because of cowardice (moral or otherwise), some of it is guilt (by those who wished that the US would get a taste of its own medicine some time), some of it is because so much of "progressive/left" thought has been a criticism of Capitalism and now that there is a momentous event they/we don't know what should be done.
Witness the anti-war/peace movement: they know what shouldn't be done, but where's their positive response? Some have called for the US to submit itself and BinLaden to the arbitration of the UN. This is certainly a positive action/suggestion.
But there is no unanimity on this. Many, including myself would argue that the UN is a body complicit in the problems that create these atrocities (the sanctions on Iraq for example were imposed by the UN Security Council. The UNSC consists of 15 members, 5 permanent: US,Russia,UK,China,France who have the Great Power of Unanimity. The UNSC controls the rest of the UN. So, we have a body consisting of current and ex-superpowers with a non-democratic control structure.) No thanks. I'd rather have an international body with a one-nation, one-vote democratic structure. I'd rather see the abolition of capitalism especially in its new turbo-mode: globalisation. Already I can hear your disbelief - a lot easier to call for the execution of some "evil" terrorists isn't it? But is that going to fix it? No? So what's your solution? (ps this is a general rhetorical question, not addressed specifically to decaf_dude
Anyway I'm rambling. But you should bear in mind that thinking of alternatives is a lot harder and unconvincing than just saying "that's the way shit is...". There are a lot of creative people here who might be able with their knowledge of psychology, history, science, technology to construct other societal structures (at least in theory).

"[...]no American spin is involved at all. Is that such a stretch?" -On Lawn
[ Parent ]
forgive the self-promotion (1.50 / 2) (#9)
by streetlawyer on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 05:19:18 AM EST

but I have to say that adequacy's coverage of this story has been much better.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
Maybe... (none / 0) (#13)
by ucblockhead on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:29:33 PM EST

But there are sites that are far better than just adequate.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
really? (none / 0) (#14)
by streetlawyer on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:37:22 PM EST

I'll believe that when I see their coverage syndicated on Yahoo fucking News. Face it, we kicked ass.

Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
One good story does not a quality site make (none / 0) (#15)
by ucblockhead on Wed Sep 26, 2001 at 01:58:15 PM EST

Talk to me when they start reporting on what adequacy is planning on doing.

This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Four simple words... (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by Ialdabaoth on Fri Sep 28, 2001 at 02:04:13 PM EST

Whenever I hear about pollsters or wonks who presume to speak for me, I say four simple words: Speak for yourself, schmuck!

With apologies to Hagbard Celine...
"Act upon thy thoughts shall be the whole of the Law."

--paraphrase of Aleister Crowley

OK, you want to hear from someone different? (4.50 / 4) (#24)
by Tetsuo Shiva on Sat Sep 29, 2001 at 03:59:58 AM EST

I live in a third world country in south america. When I heard and saw what happened to the WTC I didn't feel sorry, but restrained to feel happy. See, I don't like how people died in the attack, but can't forget how many atrocities the United States did throughout the history in the whole world. I try not to enter the "blame the americans" slogan, because I know people of my own sold us and betrayed us, but I cannot see how you won't stop for a minute and see what you're doing and ask yourself if you're doing/did the right thing. All I see is: "poor us", "we are the good ones", etc. All I don't see is a "what are we doing that they attacked us?".
I repeat I am against killing of any kind, this shouldn't have happened, all I'd love is that you take a critic view at your actions in the world.

I also want to clarify that I don't see that everything is wrong with the USA, I know that there's a lot of good people in there doing the right thing and helping the rest of the world.


Some fixes... (none / 0) (#25)
by Tetsuo Shiva on Tue Oct 02, 2001 at 10:45:06 PM EST

There's a great article at A nation prepares for war, but no-one asks "Why?" about just what I tried to say in my posting. I didn't read it until today, and I'm glad I didn't miss it.

And a correction: when I said "there's a lot of good people in there doing the right thing and helping the rest of the world" I meant: "doing the right thing OR helping the rest of the world". I don't see it as an obligation to help everybody else. If more people just would try not to fuck everybody else, that would be enough.


[ Parent ]
Make Way For the Wonks! | 25 comments (17 topical, 8 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!