Monday, November 22, 2004


Before I begin running excerpts from "Red Staters Meet the World", last week's New World Notes event that brought Bush supporters (primarily from the South and Middle America) and Blue Stater/international Bush opponents together (context in this entry), here are a few things I learned that evening, and after wading through the subsequent transcript and screenshots:

Looking over the avatars of the residents who spoke on my panel, I am struck by how their appearances seem to fit their politics. Without reading further, look at the screenshots on the right and try to guess who might fit someone's mental image of a stereotypical Bush supporter, and who might fit someone's mental image of a stereotypical Bush opponent. When it comes to avatars, at least, the personal really can be the political. Though not always (see #3.)

A discourse on war, terrorism, and civilian death tolls tends to run smoother when a large, fat, cat-like creature is in the middle of the conversation. Evidently inspired by Miyazaki's My Friend Totoro, Aestival Cohen's bulbous avatar seemed to soothe tensions, even when things got their most heated (at least for me), and seemed to bring together politically divided residents (at least for some of them.)

Sometimes you discover a mysterious, unclassifiable creature in your midst, and while it's hard at first to believe it even exists, after awhile, it doesn't seem so strange. A week or two before the event, Aestival Cohen stopped by my in-world office in Shipley, and told me a little bit about himself and his politics. And though you'd think a graphic designer living in one of the bluest counties in one of the bluest states of the country would be a reflexive Kerry supporter, he wasn't. Then again--
as I tried to suggest in some of the exit polling data I offered during the event-- maybe there's more people like Aestival out there than one might assume. (Except probably not as bulbous.)

But enough about what I learned. What follows are some excerpts from the evening, beginning with my opening words, then the introduction by the panelists, and more highlights, running throughout the entire Thanksgiving week...

Hamlet Linden: "How Can 59 Million People Be So Dumb?" That's the question posed by a UK paper, after the United States presidential election went to Bush. A German newspaper displayed a map of North America, with the Blue states annexed into a new country called "The United States of Canada", with the Red states relegated to something called "Jesusland". (Is that supposed to be a theme park?)

[At this, someone imports a snare shot sound effect. "Aestival Cohen wants to ride the holy roller," Aestival Cohen muses out loud.]

These claims are too simplistic to take seriously-- I've cited some exit polls from non-partisan groups/media outlets on the screen near me, to establish that very thing. I've also found some red/blue maps that are entirely accurate according to voting patterns by county or percentage, which don't seem as red and blue as we sometimes like to think.

In any case, we do know a lot of people are angry. Or confused. Or if they like how the vote went, defiant and jubilant. And the thing is, these people don't usually talk to each other, or associate with each other. Often, in America (but not always, not at all), they don't even live in the same areas. Culturally, they don't usually share much in common. Even more so when we're talking about the rest of the world.

But here in Second Life, all these people can be together, in a very vivid sense. They can inhabit the same space, and as it were, see each other as people. And if they like, they can look each other in the eye, so to speak, to try and make an honest effort to understand each other. So that's why I've put together this event. I've invited Bush supporters and Bush opponents, and asked them to do that very thing. Not a debate. Not one more attempt to try and prove the other side wrong. But to understand. And if that happens, even just a little, to go from there with a different sense of things.

So in that spirit, let's start this event... let's meet our Red State/Bush supporters.

Aestival Cohen: Hi! My name is Aestival, I live on the West Coast. I don’t like political labels, they don’t represent me at all. For me, security was the most important issue of election-- we haven’t been attacked again, and we’re spreading democracy. The United States is not perfect, but I believe we’re doing basically the right things. I believe in our democracy and that it does find the right balance! This election, I was disgusted by the way everybody succeeded in making us see each other through red and blue-colored blinders. We’re neighbors and friends and come in all shades of purple. If [we] forget that, that we’re in it together for each other, then we’ve forgotten what democracy is about.

Vyre Cohen: Hey, I’m from the REDdest state of all. Here in the West, not only do we vote RED, but we bleed RED for college football. GO [football team from her home state]! I voted for President Bush because this is not a time for leaders who change with the political tide and fail to understand the nature of this important struggle. Our troops, our allies, and our adversaries must know where America stands. The President of the United States must be clear and consistent. I believe that President Bush was the only candidate who demonstrated this characteristic.

Dawson Murphy: Hi, I'm Dawson Murphy, a Red Stater from the SouthEast... I voted for Bush because I feel he was the best candidate to offer greater national defense, protection of the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman, lower taxes, and smaller federal government.

Hamlet Linden: And now to meet the blue state/international Bush opponents. Let's start with Ace there!

Ace Cassidy: Greetings. I'm from [the capital of an East coast state], and have always been a good [East Coast state] Democrat. I've known John Kerry for a long time [and supported him throughout his political career]...

Jinny Fonzarelli: Hey. I'm a generally baffled Brit who thinks the world has gone mental... I'm here hoping to find out why. I have little faith in politics or big words like "democracy".

Dominik Bauer: Hello, I'm Dominik, radio journalist from Germany. I am very interested what effects 9/11 will have and had to United States foreign policy. 9/11 changed everything. We are all targets for terrorists now. But the question is, how do we fight them most effectively? In my opinion, Bush's policy is counter-productive, it’s fueling the Islamists since the invasion of Iraq. Preemptive strikes, yes-- but hit the right ones. Not every Iraqi is a terrorist. And a democracy cannot grow on a basis of suppression, which is the case right now.

Lianne Marten: I am from the Pacific Northwest. I opposed Bush's re-election because the things I value most are not represented by his administration. In the past four years, he has attempted to allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, pushed forward the "Healthy Forest Initiative," which allows logging companies access to forests in order to "help prevent forest fires," but does not regulate what they are allowed to remove. In non-environmental issues, he will be in charge of several Supreme Court nominations, and I fear that the people he will choose will do more to dismantle our civil liberties. His tax breaks only benefited the top upper elite of the United States, or as he puts it, "his base." Put simply, I did not feel that the country could handle four more years of George W. Bush as the President without major and long-reaching negative consequences.

Rose Karuna: Hi -- I'm Rose from [an East Coast state], the Blue part of a Red state. I voted for Kerry because I believe that the most pressing issues, the war in Iraq, the national debt and health insurance, are being overshadowed by things that should be personal choices and not addressed in a political arena. I am very concerned with our civil liberties being dismantled and I do not feel that this administration is best addressing the terrorism issues. Thank you for the opportunity here.

Hamlet Linden [smiling]: OK, now we actually get these folks talking to each other.

Tomorrow: it begins, of course, with Iraq...

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I like how Linden repeatedly slides in the reference of "Red Staters Meet the World". As to imply that only those red states support Bush and noone else in the world wanted bush to get another term and in fact the entire world was for Kerry. Utter ignorance by the left.. AGAIN.

Just because left wing media runs the world right now, does not mean the worl loves Kerry. Look what happened in australia during their recent elections despite the left wing media trashing bush and making it seem all of Australia wanted a new PM aftr its current PM supported Bush.

More people support Bush and his actions than many lefties are willing to admit. Heck, who would have thought Bush would have one by one of the biggest margins EVER after hearing all the negative remarks made to him by our mainstream media?

Posted by: Mark at Nov 24, 2004 5:01:00 PM

I wish the WWIIOLERS could have been there, we would have come up with some ways to "motivate" you blue staters into voting for the right guy, at the right time, at the right place...


Posted by: Syank Nomad at Nov 24, 2004 6:54:48 PM

I did contact some WWIIOLers, Syank, to see if
any of them wanted to be on the panel, but no
one jumped at the offer.

> only those red states support Bush and noone
> else in the world wanted bush

If you take the time to read the entries, you might notice that one of the "Red Staters" is actually a Bush supporter from a blue state on the West Coast.

Posted by: Hamlet Linden at Nov 24, 2004 10:52:59 PM

"I like how Linden repeatedly slides in the reference of "Red Staters Meet the World". As to imply that only those red states support Bush and noone else in the world wanted bush to get another term and in fact the entire world was for Kerry. Utter ignorance by the left.. AGAIN."


The Bush administration is the most reviled administration worldwide the US has ever had. Ever. This is a well-documented fact. Poll after poll has shown this.

Vicious trade embargoes, the middle east conflict, Bush's refusal to have anything to do with the Kyoto agreement etc have all contributed to this.

Get a passport and travel (something which 94% of Americans have never done). You'll soon see what I mean. ;)

Posted by: Goatman at Nov 25, 2004 2:52:11 AM

I think it's ludicrous that red statesmen can't simply enjoy rooting for their position and enjoy that cameraderie without being bashed and beaten and bombasted by the left wing supposed "worldwide majority".

Yes, leftists, we get it, this kind of bashing doesn't feel good, but two wrongs don't make a right. You can do better than that.

And as for the "rest of the world" being more in opposition to Bush than with any president ever, well first of all I still don't believe it. Secondly, even if it were true, it's because the world listens to corrupt, biased media, not because they educate themselves and arm themselves with truth (FOX News notwithstanding). Thirdly I think that commotion over the Internet as the Internet has been adopted worldwide more than any time in the past both changes a lot of opinions due to information and a lot more misinformation, and it changes perspectives ABOUT opinions, meaning that a lot of Bush supporters went undocumented (old fashioned folks with old fashioned values might not get on the Internet as much, for instance). Meanwhile, regarding change such that the Internet has both seen and caused, we conservatives opt never to change, especially regarding millennia-held values, and if we lose sight of that firmness then this nation will collapse. And fourth, what on earth does the opinion of the rest of the world have to do with the redness of red statesmen? The debate is NOT an international matter!!

Jon Morgan (in-world name)
from the Blue State of California

Posted by: Jon Morgan at Nov 25, 2004 8:56:35 AM


You do realize America has been hated by the world for years! Check the polls. Even so, according to polls here, Bush should not have been re-elected. Many more poeple respect Bush's actions than your liberal media would have you believe. Heck, Iraqis are one our biggest fans now. I come from a military family who has been stationed all over Iraq and are shocked to see how media portrays the actions of a few over there. They get more praise from Iraqis daily than they do bullets from insurgents plus much more. But you would not understand that cause you think the media actually protrays truth and not the left wing propaganda which it does.

Posted by: mark at Nov 25, 2004 4:00:37 PM

I am Canadian and I supported Bush %110 last election. There are many Conservatives in my country and we usually don't get much media attention as we tend to be less radical. The majority of what you here from Canada is from the left because our national television(CBC) is extremely left-wing biased. If you care to discuss it I am a WW2oler and can be found by the name Robo Ritter.

Posted by: Robo Ritter at Nov 25, 2004 6:10:49 PM

I find it funny, Jon, that you think the world media is dominated by liberals. Rupert Murdoch is the owner of News Corporation, which is the parent company of tons and tons of smaller media companies around the world. In fact, to see all these companies you have to go no furthur than their website's home page at http://www.newscorp.com Right there they flaunt their many holdings all over the world. Murdoch is a staunch Republican, and has contributed millions to the GOP. So does the left really dominate media? I doubt it. Even the New York Times ran more pro-Bush articles than pro-Gore articles in the 2000 election. And you probably thought nothing was more leftist than the Times.

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