Thursday, July 07, 2005
This is a note to those who decry Beltway denizens for being out of touch. To the red-staters who stand a safe distance behind the citizens of New York and Washington, hollering about patriotism and rootin' out the terrorists. To the readers of small midwestern newspapers who wrote Letters to the Editor after September 11 to express their fear for every time they heard a plane buzz overhead.
The kind of America whose morning commute does not involve submachine guns.
You want to say that as a liberal living in a city I am not in tune with "real Americans." That because I have not served in the armed forces and know very few people who have done so, I am somehow not as qualified to have and express my opinions on military policy. That because I care more about the plights of undereducated children, AIDS victims in South Africa and the one-legged homeless man on my old block than your hanging the Ten Commandments in a courthouse, I am somehow without "core values."
You have no problem checking my civil liberties at the door, expelling students and foreign workers in the name of my safety and invading nations when our leaders can't attack the nationless cells that caused this whole damn mess. You will gladly holler "Bring it on!" in proud tones, issuing those defiant words from the safety of Tempe or Indiannapolis or Mobile.
At the same time you issue such fronts of bravery, you will also act scared. You know that fear is the best motivator for rapid change, and you embrace your fear because you have kids, traditions, a way of life to maintain.
Here's what I have to say to you: BUGGER OFF. Send your money, send your sympathy, send your condolences, but don't you dare be scared and don't you dare encourage us to be confrontational. Don't you dare. After September 11, I deeply resented you groping to connect tragedy to your own lives, when there were more than enough Americans, myself included, to feel panic and fear quite tangibly.
Maybe it is hugely hypocritical of me to rail those who would adopt an external tragedy as their own. London, after all, is hardly in Washington's backyard. For the citizens of London, I have nothing but sorrow and my own righteous anger to offer. I ache for you and your city.
You will notice, however, that there is a pattern here. Just as terrorists are not attacking Tempe or Mobile, they did not attack Newcastle or Leeds this morning. Cities. They attack the cities, the dens full of the godless gay-loving mixed-race liberals you fear so much.
For those Americans who see this tragedy as yet another reason to blindly follow politics without a questioning eye, whose eyes dart suspiciously around their suburban Home Depot parking lot because a man with a turban is parking his van-- Stop. Just stop. Don't give us your confusing mix of hate for Americans like us and hate for those who attack Americans like us. You live with the fear that terrorists will attack your country, and let that fear guide so much of how you treat others and shape your principles. I live with the fear that terrorists will attack my street. We don't want to hear how scared you are, or how brave you are in the face of terrorism. It's insulting. Just stop.
Because when you were on your way to work this morning, I am quite willing to bet you were not thinking "It's only a matter of time before it'll be my morning commute."