Thursday, July 07, 2005

Misdirected anger

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."


Lindsay said...

Wow, this is something I have been wanting to say for a long time. Great post.

Anonymous said...

I have BIG problems with this way of thinking! Not only is it arrogant and
self-serving, it is divisive, condescending and demeaning to every citizen
of this country; past present and future. It disrespects the very basic
values and premises upon which this country was built. The writer confuses
their perception of modern-day right-wing "core values" with the concepts
and human values upon which our nation was founded.

It is "We, the people", not "I, the person" or "we, the city dwellers" or
"we, the small town residents". We are one nation, united. Like it or not,
we are all connected. We are bound by the founding documents of our
country. Perhaps it would behoove the writer to go back and re-read those
documents. Beyond those documented ties are the emotional bonds that
continue to grow as our nation ages. As citizens, we share a common and
growing history. To study the history of our nation, it is not enough to
note events, times and places. One must look far deeper to truly comprehend
the entire scope of our history. An understanding of the people through our
history, their thoughts, beliefs, lifestyles during their time here,
sacrifices they made for the good of the Union and the manner in which
events emotionally cemented them together is of paramount importance to
fully understanding our nation and it's history. Unlike some nations, one
of our founding principals is placing great value on each and every human
life. The events of our history have served to strengthen this tenet within
the souls of our citizenry. It is a difficult concept to comprehend for
many foreigners living under other forms of government, especially those who
have experienced nothing beyond tyrannical rule. But failing to grasp this
concept when analyzing our nation is a classic mistake, one commonly made by
other nations or people who would attempt to destroy us.

When even one of us is attacked, it is very much an attack on all of us.
For those of us not choosing to live in major metropolitan cities, we are
still deeply connected to those who do. City residents are our daughters
and sons, brothers and sisters, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins. In
addition to our family ties, we have the close bonds of being fellow
citizens. City dwellers, small town residents and rural farming communities
are totally dependent upon one another. It is only because we are so
closely bound together that we became one great nation. To remove even one
segment would be to destroy the whole.

How dare the writer accuse any of us of groping to find some connection to
tragedy?!!! It was our blood relatives and fellow citizens who suffered the
blows of the 9/11 attacks. The ties are glaringly apparent and no one need
grope to find them. It is for them we truly grieve and for their
well-being, not our own, that we fear. Because we are one closely bound
nation, each and every one of us was quite literally attacked on 9/11. We
did not adopt this tragedy as our own. It WAS our own. Only those who
choose to self-righteously ignore and deny the close bonds, both familial
and national, would claim otherwise. How dare we show fear? How hard and
cold is a person who does NOT fear for the safety of their loved ones and
their fellow citizens?!

The writer belittles the fears expressed by citizens living outside
metropolitan areas. These are not just fears for personal safety. These
are fears fellow citizens expressed for one another, regardless of location.
These are people who understand we ALL are under attack. Does this writer
assume terrorists are all so ignorant they will forever ignore the ripe
targets existing outside the larger cities? While the original attacks of
9/11 were on highly visible, densely occupied city structures, the writer of
this blog seems to assume all future attacks will be similar. How naïve!!!
Of course such high-visibility targets will remain a preference of
terrorists. We must be constantly vigilant to prevent, as best anyone can,
such attacks. There are many other targets in regions throughout our
country which would, if damaged or destroyed, disrupt life for all of the
country, damage our economy and threaten the lives of our citizens. How
foolish the author of this blog is to believe that, with security
continually increasing around city targets, the terrorists will not turn to
other targets like smaller cities, farms, food and commodity storage
facilities, oil refineries, gas storage and transportation facilities, major
highways, railways, water sources, etc which are far more vulnerable to
attack. If attacked, the damage to these places would have a huge impact on
each and every one of us. Lives would be lost, lives that are each valued
by fellow countrymen.

We cower from a "safe" distance away from NY or Washington? Please explain
how volunteering ourselves or seeing our sons and daughters being sent to
guard and protect our large cities is cowering! For generations we or our
mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters have gone to battle
to defend and protect this country and the values on which it stands. This
is cowering from a safe distance? The writer's meaning is very clear.
He/she believes we who do not live in the large cities care nothing about
those who do, care only to criticize their way of life and are concerned
only for our "simple little lives" staying the way they are. Tell that to
the rural-dwelling husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and
siblings of those trapped and condemned to death by the murderers who
hijacked the planes on 9/11. How extremely cold-hearted and unsympathetic
the writer is. Putting on fronts of bravery while being afraid? If fearing
for every citizen of this country is what is meant, then I am guilty as
charged. I am not afraid, however, even at my age, to confront those who
would destroy any part of this nation or any one of our citizens. I will
not fear for myself when the attacks move out of the cities and close to my
own home. Yes, I do think daily about when the front of the attack will
reach my own back yard. To think it never will is to misjudge the enemy and
underestimate their ability to recognize our vulnerabilities. When the
attacks move out of large cities, I will mourn for every citizen of this
country who suffers or loses their life at the hands of these avowed haters
of our country for these citizens and I have been tied together by the bonds
of our heritage.

I have no problem checking your civil liberties? Since when do only you
have such rights? Each and every citizen of this country has civil
liberties. We have to weigh these rights and, at the same time, do all we
can to hunt down terrorists hiding among us. But we are picking on just
you? I don't think so. Expelling students and foreign workers? Are they
here legally having gone through the processes required by our country? Or
could they possibly be "students" studying our country and researching ways
to more effective attack us? We shouldn't check to be sure of each foreign
student or worker's correct status? If we find they are not here
legitimately, should we just say..well, ok.we don't what you want
since you are here? Locating terrorist cells is difficult. Toes are going
to be stepped on and feelings are going to be hurt . In the blog's author's
mind it certainly appears these sins are unforgivable, yet the government of
the country is called on the carpet for not doing a better job of rooting
out terrorist cells. Just how does this blogger propose we do this,
eliminate violating the rights of citizens and make the process so much more
effective.? I am positive the Department of Homeland Security would
graciously accept innovative and more efficient suggestions.

I do not believe people like this blog's author have any less right to
express their opinions on any issue . What I do believe, however, is that
everyone has a huge responsibility to educate themselves, to develop and use
critical thinking skills and to remain respectful of each and every citizen
of our nation.

Blindly follow politicians? No, that is not what we are doing. It is our
responsibility to constantly question politicians and require them to lead
us in a manor consistant with our Constitution.

You may disagree with right-wing extremists and certainly have the right to
state your opposing views. We have many treasured rights in this country.
One of these rights is freedom OF religion. Freedom FROM religion is not a
right and is not guaranteed. You will be exposed to many religions and
religious viewpoints if you live in or visit this country. What you do have
to accept is the fact this country was founded on and is governed by laws to
protect certain values. Because of our Judeo-Christian heritage, many of
the values chosen by our forefathers on which to build this country are
premises of those religions. Because of this overlap, separating church and
state can get into a gray area and is not always easy. All of us, liberals
and conservatives alike, however, have to go back and use those founding
documents of our country to determine the correct path that current citizens
must follow. If we follow the truths as established in those documents,
separating church and state is more clear. We must stay true to the country's
stated values or we cannot, as a nation, survive. And we cannot, liberals
or conservatives, impose other values, no matter how important to us as
individuals, upon others.

Disagree with me if you like. That is your right. Back up your argument
with Constitutional Law and show me how your belief is better for the
citizens of this nation than what I believe. Now that is a worthwhile
debate, one in which I would like to participate and a statement of opinion
which I can respect even if I do not agree. The rest of it, extreme left or
right, is inflammatory GARBAGE.