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For the Love of Freedom
June 22, 2004
By Aden Nak

It is a great relief to see, over the past six or seven months, that both the media and the general public in this nation are starting to question the unfounded assumptions and proclamations made by President Bush. While, on a personal level, I find it highly distressing that it took over two years for the discourse in this country to recover from the knee-jerk "get behind our leader" reaction caused by 9/11, I can certainly understand it.

And progress is being made. On a political level, it started with the Democratic primaries, where the early front-runner, Howard Dean, proved that you can criticize the President and not suffer political ruin. The media picked up on the fact that it was acceptable to question the president's figment-oriented mode of communication once John Kerry's own military service caused the nation to re-examine George W. Bush's activities during the Vietnam War.

So, from a liberal standpoint, things are getting better. But they still aren't quite right. In fact, there is one Bush theme, repeated consistently and effectively since 9/11, that qualifies as industrial strength bullshit. Sadly, it's become accepted as fact by most of the population, perhaps even by those in this country that consider themselves liberal. It is a crucial component of Bush's "good vs. evil" rhetoric. And it all swirls around a simple question.

Why?

Why did 9/11 happen? Why did al Qaeda target the United States of America with one of the most brutal, inhuman acts of terrorist in modern history? In short, why do "they" hate us so much? President Bush has made his opinion very clear on this matter. Obviously, the terrorists attacked us because they "love terror" and "hate freedom."

Now, I won't dispute the fact that terrorist groups love terror. I think that's kind of implicit in the word "terrorist," don't you? And many terrorist groups, such as al Qaeda, do have fascist, totalitarian goals in mind, such as the formation of a fundamentalist Islamic state based on the most warped, disgusting, perversion of the Muslim faith imaginable. So yes, terrorists love terror, and many of them have goals that contradict the basic tenets of a free and just society.

But that still doesn't explain why they attacked the United States. I mean, are we really the only "free" nation in the world? The last time I checked, there is a long, healthy list of democracies and republics spanning the globe. A slew of western European nations are part of the free, self-governing world. But self-government isn't limited simply to the United States and western Europe. Both Canada and Australia are both self-governing nations, and generally have more "liberal" social programs and institutions than the United States. Asia has its fair share of freedom-loving democracies.

There simply has to be more to this issue than our freedom (or "freeance," as our president might put it). al Qaeda does not simply attack nations because of the organizing principles of their government, especially when that nation is halfway across the world. What al Qaeda has done since its inception is absolutely abhorrent and unjustifiable. And President Bush is correct in asserting that they are a devious and murderous organization. But this absurd notion that they have declared an unending war on the United States because we love freedom so much is just plain ridiculous.

The real reason the United States has become the central target of al Qaeda is because our government has been manipulating and destabilizing the Middle East for well over thirty years now. Our involvement in Middle Eastern politics, military maneuverings, and oil exportation has wrought havoc on the inhabitants of that entire area of the world.

To them, the United States of America is not a bastion of freedom and justice. When they think of America, they think of puppet dictators and militant tyrants. They think of loved ones who have died for political issues that did not concern them. They think of an iron hand, strangling their countries and their way of life from the other side of the globe. And they hate America for it.

And has the United States of America done these things? Yes, yes it has. But it was neither the will of the people nor the desire of those who truly "love freedom" that brought about these shameful acts. The fact is that the United States government and those who wield its power have long since broken the bonds of accountability with the American people. It's not just a matter of avoiding punishment anymore. Most Americans no longer understand or realize the damage that our self-serving, corrupt "leaders" have done to both the stability of the Middle East and the reputation America once had as a champion of truth and democracy throughout the world.

Our leaders have done us a great disservice, and have systematically thrown the Middle East into utter chaos in order to further their own craven agendas. But from halfway across the world, the distinction between America and its government is a hazy one at best. Those that subscribe to terrorism against the United States are, in effect, taking part in the same knee-jerk reactionary anger that many Americans are still coming to grips with.

But by painting this war as a fight between those who support freedom and those who support terror, Bush is able to polarize the issue into that same old cliché "good vs. evil" garbage that he's been spewing out. It's convenient rhetoric, it fits nicely into a sound bite, but it's patently untrue and absurdly misguided.

It serves to cover up the ugly truth - that while the citizenry of America is generally in favor of truth and justice, our government has been betraying us abroad for many, many years. This is a hard fact for many people to fully come to terms with. And when the alternative of, "We're good and they're evil!" is presented, it's very tempting to take that quick and easy route to absolution. But we need to deal with this at some point in order to move on as a nation, and in order to reclaim our nation from this corrupt minority that has perverted the principles of America and desecrated the spirit of freedom that Bush so ardently claims he loves.

We need to get past the immature name-calling associated with this sort of discussion. We need to stop pointing the haggard finger of "un-American" rhetoric at people the moment they suggest that the United States of America may have been in error. At some point, the people of this nation will have to overcome their own fears of inadequacy and personal loathing, will have to own up to the fact that they have been used by those they once trusted, and accept responsibility for our government's actions in the Middle East.

Terrorism isn't a person that we can assassinate or a nation that we can destroy. It isn't a place that we can bomb back to the Stone Age. It's not a physical thing, and it cannot be entirely a physical battle. For every terrorist that is killed, for every life that is mourned, one more person will grow to hate the United States of America. That is a sad reality of our world, considering the potential and the promise of this proud, wounded nation.

If we ever hope to achieve victory against terrorism, we must change the way we behave on the national stage. We must demand that our government end its support of petty dictators and political hatchet men. We must insist that our leaders use the military as a tool of defense, not occupation and economic insurance. We must force them to bow to our will. The will of the people.

Only once that is done, can we force each and every last one of the sick, murderous bastards that had a hand in 9/11 to take responsibility for their deplorable treachery without behaving like hypocrites in the eyes of the world.

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