"Who's that?"
My throat closes and I hope that my eyes do not, as that action would give away how I feel - superior.
"Uh.... al-Zarqawi? He's the um, most notorious insurgent leader in Iraq." I held back my next sentence, "He's arguably the main reason your husband was there."

All week, I have endured patriotic but not thought-out commentary. Commentary that likes to think it is thought-out and unique and well-said but that's really more parroting.
I've also endured that exaggerated, teen-age looking stare, ever since I mentioned that my best friend is transgendered. You know the look: one side of the mouth is curled up in real disgust and the eyes are wide open with mock curiosity.
Nothing good has ever come from this look, especially any commentary that flows from the curled mouth in question.
I get it, you are appalled. Interesting, this is the first person who has had the lack of grace to communicate this to me, sort of to my face but not really.
Most people aren't that interested, or they truly aren't concerned about other people's situations. If they are curious or concerned, they ask nicely about the situation or maybe even take their questions and secret disgust home to their husbands or their cell phone conversations with their sisters. If they are curious or concerned, they usually start listing the people they know who live alternative lifestyles.
This woman mentioned loudly that she didn't know anyone who was gay and before she could tag that with, "Or they didn't tell me," I had spilled forth, "Oh Yes you do know gay people."
I didn't mention that if I was gay, there was no freaking way I would mention it to her because is I never see that look again, at least not from anyone over age 30, it will be too soon.

So here we are. She's not exactly tolerant of The Gay and seems to be super-defensive of the War in Iraq.
SUPER defensive - her husband got home from it about two weeks ago. Her military family tells her that this war is the right thing, that it's not about oil.
"Those guys wouldn't lose their legs for oil. We're there for freedom and the Iraqs love us."
- Darfur and East Timor, they would love us, too but they don't have major industrial interests for us. It's not a bad thing to defend your resources, even if you are defending your dependence on something foreign. It is a bad thing to lie about it and to make your people think that you are doing something altruistic.
"The Iraqi people wave and cheer whenever we fly over them - it's just that the news doesn't tell us that."
- Do the Sunnis cheer?

And I like this lady. She's sensitive and hilariously funny and at LEAST as creative as I am when it comes to making up little movie scenes or stories or something.
She's a cool mom to her kids and she's hot.
But man.
She does not want to hear anything that isn't within her definition of normal and she does not want to know anything about this war but she sure has no problem saying that "People just don't know. They want us there."

Yes, some do. Although our racial tension is very clear because most of it is related to skin color, Iraq has racial tension, too. It's just that because they all wear towels on their heads, you and I can't really tell who's Sunni, who's Kurd and who's Shiite. Tribal loyalty/racial tension, what's the big frick?
It's totally the same thing, right?
Bush left poor black people in New Orleans and Sadaam executed Kurds. The root is the same to me. The details matter, but the root is the same.

Anyway, I was open to what she had to say. I said to myself, "Self, you like and respect this woman. You're not her. You've never been to war and her husband just got back from war. You should listen and learn something from her. She might know better on this matter than you know."
Then a third party sat down and breathlessly said, "Did you hear they killed al-Zarqawi!"
"Who?" My expert let me down.

It was a definitive moment for me. I realized that I no longer needed to listen, which was admittedly liberating because it's not like being open-minded came easy for me.
Thank god it was over.
My due diligence is over for the week.
My reward is the self-righteousness that I can only truly enjoy when I have earned under an air-tight, two-pronged approach:
1. Don't assume the other person is wrong just because you disagree.
2. Don't assume the other person is wrong until you have indisputable proof that you know more about the subject.

I'm in Milwaukee and have to get more work done, so I won't go into the example again, except to remind the reader that al-Zarqawi was the name of the guy who we heard was the leader of the strongest insurgency, the one that's been a major problem in an otherwise grateful Iraq.

For the record, I had an Iraqi economics professor in graduate school and we used to talk a lot about Desert Storm. He insisted that in general, the Iraqis could go either way about Americans and America. He said we had a chance and we didn't take it all the way and that there wasn't a great deal of surprise on that matter, since Sadaam's administration drove GM vehicles and all.

arizonasarah at 3:43 p.m.

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