In America (Part 2)
Note: "Lost In America (Part 1)"
appeared on October 5.
There are so many legitimate questions Americans need to
ask in this time of sorrow and anger. Why would they do this?
Who are these people? Why would they do this now? Why would
they do this ever? What did we ever do to them? Not one easy
answer can be used for any of these questions. The scorn for
all things Western by much of the Middle East population dates
back a millenium. Back to the Crusades when Christian leaders
decided that Muslims must be converted at any cost. Even their
lives. These are people who live in resource rich countries,
which have been exploited by the West while some live under
conditions, that can best be described as "stone aged."
But the hatred we experienced on September 11th is not a
product of the majority of Muslims who reside in these lands.
As in any religious culture, there are extremists who are
willing to suffer any consequence to further their "holy"
agenda. Let's face it, there is little if any difference between
the terrorists of 9/11 and the pro-life snipers and clinic
bombers who commit acts of violence in the name of God. Every
culture has its extremists. Violence is violence no matter
what version of God a person attributes it to.
America, once again, finds itself at odds with a monster,
which our leaders helped create. We helped make Osama bin
Laden and those who will succeed him. We helped make Saddam
Hussein. We helped make Noriega. The United States endorses
and even trains terrorists - as long as they're on our side.
The School of the Americas is a perfect example. But we patriots
don't want to talk about that right now, do we? Does this
rationalize what happened in New York and D.C.? Of course
not, but we need to be careful and really look at what is
happening around us before we get too sanctimonious. Let us
not use the flag as a blindfold.
We are about to send our children to a land that has not
been conquered since Alexander the Great. When the Russian
army was there 20 years ago they were defeated, not only by
bombs and bullets, but by disease. Well over 80% of the 650,000
Russian troops became infected with infectious hepatitis.
Afghanistan is a virtual cauldron of plague, cholera, meningitis,
typhus and malaria just to name a few. Taliban warriors have
the means to employ germ warfare with no effort. All an invader
needs to do is go there. Just ask the Russians.
Another thing to consider is that we are going to need personnel
to do some serious mine sweeping. Seems that the defeated
Russians left behind an estimated 10 million anti-armor land
mines. Over 73,000 Afghan men, women and children have been
killed by these devices in the last ten years. These mines
are everywhere. In fields, around the large cities, along
the roadsides, in the mountains. Ground forces would only
be able to enter Afghanistan through Pakistan utilizing the
main supply route up the Kabul Gorge from Jalalabad. Unfortunately,
the perimeters of Jalalabad, Kandahar, Khost and Heart are
seeded with these mines.
But let's not fret over that right now. Those annoying little
details are far away from the good ol' U.S. of A. and we're
so pissed off right now that such trivial matters needn't
be discussed. Besides, we have problems of our own right here.
And those problems are scaring the hell out of a lot of people.
As I stated in Part 1, America was completely united for
about 24 hours after the attacks of September 11th. But then
the "lock-step" mentality took over. Speaking out against
anything supported by the White House was looked upon as treason.
Press Secretary, Ari Fleischer stated in a press conference
that people need to "watch what they say" as if the right
to free speech had been outlawed. Newspaper columnist, Dan
Guthrie, was fired from his job with Oregon's Daily Courier
for referring to Bush as "hiding in a hole in Nebraska." Bill
Maher of "Politically Incorrect" fame found himself in trouble
when he referred to Americans firing missiles from 2000 miles
away as "cowardly." Some may agree with these statements as
some will disagree, but last I checked Americans still have
the right to speak their minds. When we hinder anybody from
that right, we allow the terrorists to win. Open debate and
dissention are part of what makes this country the great place
it is and that must never be taken away. I just wish somebody
would remind certain members of Congress of that fact.
Seems as though some legislators are actually using the tragedies
as a vehicle to further an agenda that was unpopular September
10th. The attaching of the ANWR drilling proposal to a defense-spending
bill should shame the authors as well as the major media for
ignoring the fact and thus continuing to keep the masses in
the dark. The always suspect Attorney General is advocating
the elimination of certain civil liberties in the name of
fighting terrorism. The most abhorrent of these is the right
to detain foreigners indefinitely without any charges being
made. Bush Jr. is again advocating tax cuts just a week after
bailing out the already ailing airline industry. Most Democrats
are just sitting around allowing all this to happen while
they wonder when it will be acceptable to guard the majority
of Americans best interests from political opportunists. Trent
Lott remarked that there was "no opposition party" in Washington.
We can only pray he's wrong or we'll have more than the terrorists
to worry about.
My biggest fear, however, is that we may be being led by
the wrong person. One of the most chilling after-shocks of
this attack was the suppression of the final tally of votes
in Florida by a Consortium of news media. The count would
have been the "end all" as to the actual or perceived legitimacy
of Bush II. On September 23rd the NY Times stated that they
would not be releasing the results yet, as the timing would
be "inappropriate." Kind of makes you wonder, doesn't it?
If the Consortium Count had finally determined without question
that Bush Jr. was the actual winner of 2000, does anybody
really think that Rove or Hughes would allow the story to
be sat on? Of course not. They'd have the news in every headline
and would have it broadcast 24/7. Heck, they'd probably have
it printed on milk cartons. But the fact remains that the
Little Guy who has spent the last 9 months thumbing his nose
at the rest of the world with his isolationist policies just
might not be our president after all. The Little Guy who acts
like the Middle East is the Old West. Sorry, George, but your
John Wayne act comes off more like "Blazing Saddles." Well,
I guess when you're stuck with a lemon you got to try to make
lemonade but to think that we stand on the brink of a "war
like no other" while we're being led a court appointed photo-op
doesn't give a person much faith.
When you sit back and try to take everything in, we have
a real mess on our hands. Sheriff George has declared war
on terrorism. We declared war on poverty and lost. We declared
war on racism and lost. We declared war on drugs and lost.
You cannot win a war on any of those things without first
defeating that which causes them. But that would take careful
thought and foresight instead of knee-jerk legislation, fancy
catch phrases and flag waving. I read somewhere that the conflict
we as a country now find ourselves in will require the type
of leadership we haven't seen since FDR. I couldn't agree
more. Problem is, we don't have that right now. Not even close.
For America to remain united completely is of utmost importance
as we all face this new age. Terrorism has come to America
and nothing is the same anymore. But the American people and
our leaders must also remember that unity does not mean everyone
must believe the same thing. Agreeing on the principles which
this country was founded on - yes. Agreeing on the best way
to insure the preservation of those principles - I don't see
it happening. And that's okay. Because we don't agree or like
what the other says doesn't make anybody unpatriotic or a
traitor. It makes us free. It makes us Americans. And we can't
afford to lose that.