In this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag, Ben, Bob, and Chez discuss the crisis in Syria, the co-opting of minority culture and the casting of Ben Affleck as Batman!
1. What do you think about Syria? I'm terrified about getting involved in another war of any kind but my roommate says Al-Assad is out of control and has to be stopped no matter what.
Ben: I wrote about this the other day and argued that America shouldn't get involved in yet another conflict in the Middle East. I hate to sound like an extremist lefty on this, but I really am not a fan of US foreign policy. It's not that I have anything against America - I think there are many wonderful things about the country and I love living here. But its foreign policy is typical of a large empire - brutal, self serving and completely mythologized by its political leaders. The notion that the US government is in the slightest bit concerned about the Syrian people is completely farcical. The reason the administration is paying attention to the conflict is because the country is of geopolitical use both in terms of its natural resources and its political alliances (the details of which are far too complex to get into in the mail bag).
I really wish people would pause for a second when evaluating new conflicts the government starts to involve itself in and ask some very basic questions, like "why do we care about Syrians and not the Congolese?", and "why do we need to be in the Middle East in the first place?" If you follow the logic (and the money), it's always about self interest and power, not the plight of the Syrian people. I'm obviously concerned about what Assad is doing to his people, but I don't think it's more important that what is going on in the Congo - the bloodiest war since WWII. Sure, intervening might help, but then again it might not, so I'd err on the side of extreme caution.
Chez: When it comes to right and wrong not everything should be put to a vote. Some things should be above the whims of the electorate, so I'm left wondering whether my opinion matters that much. BUT no, off the top of my head I can tell you that I'd really rather not see us caught up in another war -- or even police action -- in the Middle-East. Like a lot of people, I'm suffering from war fatigue after the last ten years. Something has to be done to put Assad in his place and to protect his people, but I'd rather not see us involved if we don't absolutely have to be.
Bob: It's a mess. At this point, I think it's obvious that the president will order a "shot across the bow" as a warning. Maybe take out military factory far from civilian populations, and that'll be it. I worry about getting into a broader conflict and once we hit them, we're kind of in it for the long haul.
2. It's been a big week for white people appropriating black culture. Between Miley Cyrus pretending to be black to sell her shitty new record to conservative politicians pretending to embrace Martin Luther King (and even lecture the African-Americans of today about how MLK would've wanted them to behave) the show of privilege is impressive. Thoughts?
Chez: I have none. Really, I got nothing.
Bob: It's fairly typical of white American culture: we rob minorities of their cultures while simultaneously accusing them of being the root of all of our problems. Strange how that works, but it's true. In other words: those people are second class citizens with their crime and their poverty -- say, where'd I leave my kickin' rap lyrics?
Ben: Yeah, it has been an interesting week. The topic of race is always a sure fire way of getting everyone in America to hate each other even more than they normally do, so it hasn't been particularly pleasant. Even though I've been in the US on and off for well over a decade, I'm still trying to get my head around the obsession with skin color. It's fucking weird. Sorry.
3. Ben Affleck in Batman: awful idea or godawful idea?
Bob: I'm warming up to the idea. Batman, as opposed to Bruce Wayne, is all about the batsuit. If Affleck is Batman in that suit, it'll totally work. He just needs to be sufficiently pissed off.
Chez: He'll probably be great. Besides, who gives a shit?
Ben: I'm not sure it makes a huge difference really. I like Affleck - not as an actor mind you, but as a director and social commentator - so I don't want to give him any shit on this. The role doesn't really require a huge amount of acting so I can't see how he can mess it up too badly. I'd have gone with Bale again personally though.