Sunday, April 06, 2003


*Long, deep, slow sighhhhhhhhh* At long last, the conference I've been planning has come and gone. With little fanfare and a humble turnout (possibly due to my last-second change of the venue), my Saturday was spent with five other English Lit. and Religion academics exploring, in wildly divergent ways, the interchange between Herman Melville and religion (well, they did that -- I just prattled on, perhaps a bit incoherently, about information theory, noise, and irony, and how I think it somehow not only relates to theology but to Melville's writing career). The discussion was, at times, lively. I am still very unsure to what degree Prof. Graham Ward, from the University of Manchester, disagreed with my insistence that irony is (a) neither 'infinitely negative', as Kierkegaard and sometimes even Nietzsche averred, or that (b) irony plays a vital role in theology, as I understand the latter term. (N.b., my understanding and articulation of theology, I've learned, is far from being all that clear, as I often seem to confusingly, yet consciously, conflate it with aesthetics.) I certainly didn't help matters by saying, in complete contradiction to what my brain was telling me to say, 'Yes, Graham, I guess I am talking mostly about 'Christian" theology.' The fact that I actually wasn't, but in fact something far more, let's say 'general', was not lost on me whilst talking; but it was so late in the day, I didn't care to correct myself. Oh well, so it goes, and went. And now it is gone, at least until I start exploring more fervently the possibility of getting the papers published in one form or another.

What's been happening in the world these days? I've been pretty out-of-touch the past week. What should I see upon my return to the real life world of truth and consequences:

Buoyed by success on the battlefield, most Americans now express support for an expansive U.S. role in the Middle East, with a clear majority backing the war in Iraq and half endorsing military action against Iran if it continues to develop nuclear weapons, according to a new Los Angeles Times poll.

[. . .]

More than three-fourths of Americans — including two-thirds of liberals and 70% of Democrats — now say they support the decision to go to war. And more than four-fifths of these war supporters say they still will back the military action even if allied forces don't find evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

[. . .]

"I had my own reservations about [the war] ... but my feeling is at least I can trust that this president is trying to do the right thing for the country," said Christopher Hart, an author in Westport, Conn., who responded to the survey. "This man fully believes in what he does and I do not believe he is doing this for any reason other than that he is convinced it is in our best interest."

[. . .]

Americans are divided almost in half when asked whether the United States should take military action against Syria, which Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has accused of providing Iraq with military supplies. Syria has denied the accusation. But 42% said the United States should take action if Syria, in fact, provides aid to Iraq, while 46% said no.

More Americans take a hard line on Iran, which recently disclosed an advanced program to develop the enriched uranium that could be used in nuclear weapons.

Exactly half said the United States should take military action against Iran if it continues to move toward nuclear-weapon development; 36% disagreed. Perhaps surprisingly, women are slightly more supportive of such action than men.

[. . .]

Almost three-quarters praised Bush's handling of the war, 56% said he has done a good or excellent job of explaining the rationale for it and 70% say the United States has the moral authority to have attacked Iraq.

[. . .]

Nearly eight in 10 Americans now accept the Bush administration's contention — disputed by some experts — that Hussein has "close ties" to Al Qaeda (even 70% of Democrats agree). And 60% of Americans say they believe Hussein bears at least some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — a charge even the administration hasn't levied against him.

You know, I used to think that if the majority of Americans were actually presented with the neo-conservative agenda for, among other things, the Middle East, its representatives (for a nice set of links on who they are, see Kevin Drum) would be run out of Washington as quickly as they stole the keys and entered. However, though I know and realize that a poll like this might just reflect American war-time solidarity, I'm growing increasingly scared shitless that the small percentage of the country who actually has the time or the inclination to actually care might actually agree with such an agenda, and perhaps even think it is, in fact, a little too pansy! I can only hope Neal Pollack's right that this war has driven everybody insane; otherwise . . . well, 'otherwise' is for a completely different post.