Monday, March 10, 2003

Subway Chat

This morning I arranged to meet "B" on the train on the way to my office, and so we meet and take the "F" train uptown and we are talking about the Iraquis who surrendered to the British troops in Kuait. Now "B" said that the British should have accepted their surrender because now the soldiers who did it would just get killed at home. I was somewhat sympathetic with that, but I claimed that if we started to accept the surrender of some troops, it de facto puts us in to some sort of military situation with Iraq and then we have to deal with their soldiers and the world's complaints that we are "rushing in to war" and all that crap that we would have gotten for all these other countries whose so-called "peace" agenda far outweighs their concern for the Iraqis. (The whole things sounds like an Iraqi ploy, no?)

Anyway, this went back and forth for a while and it got in to a general conversation about the war where I generally espoused views that are in support of Iraqi freedom (ie, regime change) and support fot the current US administration's agenda. So out of the blue, this guy on the train starts talking to me about the war. He is challenging me on every point the anti-war manual has, and when he realizes I have answers that are better than his questions, he just askes a different one. (It was very reminiscient of an argument I once had with a Christian missionary.) But it was all polite and peaceful.

Now my point is not to say that I had an argument with some guy who will just go home and believe everything he initially believed for no good reason. But rather my point is that when it is civil, it is good to have strangers engage you in debate. It is very not New York. It used to happen to "L" and I when we would hang out, people used to just join our conversations. It was nice. Now our conversations are way to technical for most people to understand without the vocabulary. But it was fun when it happened. It was fun today too. It was nice because it showed that we do live in a civil society where civil people, even strangers, can engage in dialogue about the important questions of our time. I really do with that for the Iraqi people too.

(I also want to mention that we were a bastion of multiculturalism. I am an over-educated Jew from Brooklyn. "B" is an Arab, the dude from the train was a black guy with dreads, and he was with this chick who was almost definitely Japaneese.)