Tag Archives: pondering

The Limitations of Dichotomies

dichotomy poster imageI don’t pretend that this is news, for I first learned about false dichotomies in 1991, as the prequel war began in Iraq. Actually the rhetoric around that conflict gives good context for this discussion, because it was presented by the media to all of us as a fight between good and evil, the granddaddy of all dichotomies. George Bush the Elder seemed not quite the thousandth point of light to we idealistic college students, and although Saddam Hussein clearly wasn’t a benevolent leader for his country, many of us questioned the purity of malignancy that our government suggested he represented.

Friends came back from Desert Storm with nagging or incapacitating illnesses that were written off as psychosomatic, while the faces of so many dead Iraqis scarcely made the evening news. We told ourselves that it was a good thing the whole event was over in three weeks, at least until several years later when Colin Powell explained to the United Nations that this was why we needed to return and finish off the regime once and for all.

The story about the good forces in the world and its evil counterparts is compelling, certainly. It’s also got longevity in culture because its very narrative design is never-ending. Good and evil are intertwined, at battle forever. And by extension, so is every other dichotomy that has positive and negative valences. Maddona/whore. Rich/poor. Country/city. Bully/bullied. Read More…

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