Lost in America
David Jenkins firstname.lastname@example.org
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 they 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 made Osama bin Laden and those who will succeed him. We made Saddam Hussein. We made 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.
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 Fliesher 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.
When you sit back and try to take everything in, we have a real mess on our hands. George Bush 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.
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.