Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis said it best: “Just win, baby.” Football’s a violent game, and Davis wanted his players to do whatever they could do to win games. The Raiders were known as the dirtiest team in the league, and they earned that reputation, well, dishonestly.
But football has changed since the Raiders were in their heyday. New rules protect quarterbacks, prevent late hits and eliminate questionable blocks. It’s probably not a coincidence that the Raiders, struggling with the kinder, gentler NFL, haven’t won a championship since 1984.
Which brings us to Iraq.
“Iraq’s Sunni Arab minority made a violent reentry into politics Friday, bombing offices of a political party that urged support for a new U.S.-backed constitution while posting insurgents and tribal fighters at some polling places to ensure that Sunni voters could vote safely Saturday against the proposed charter,” announced The Washington Post on Oct. 15. That very day, Iraqis went to the polls and voted to accept a draft constitution.
Talk about missing the point.
“A violent reentry into politics?” The entire point of politics is that it’s nonviolent. Politics is the art of settling disputes peacefully.
As an example, consider Washington, D.C. According to the Zogby polling firm, we’re “a closely divided nation.” That’s why “the 2006 elections promise to be a pitched, furious battle.” Of course, they’d be hard-pressed to be tighter or more angrily contested than Ohio 2004 or Florida 2000. And that’s the point. After a divisive election, even when one side insists, “we wuz robbed,” the overwhelming majority of Americans shrug, accept the outcome and move on.
There are extreme political disagreements here on dozens of issues, ranging from Iraq to abortion to Supreme Court nominees. Because of those differences, people shout at each other, call each other names, write angry opinion columns about each other. But we don’t bomb each other’s homes.
What the Sunnis were doing with their bombs was attempting -- unsuccessfully -- to prevent the political process.
Iraq is moving, with surprising speed, toward a future where differences will be settled through politics (words) instead of violence (bombs). As President Bush put it, “Iraqis will decide the future of their country through peaceful elections, not violent insurgency.” Exactly.