Thursday, June 30, 2005

Independent Shouldn't Mean "Alone"

Last night Nick grabbed my New Yorker, like he always does when it comes, and took it to the family room. He said, “Hey I figured out the cover. Let me show you, Mommy.” He showed me the drawing of Uncle Sam sitting dejected at a festive birthday table with a cake in front of him. He said, “See, it’s America’s birthday party and no one wants to come because everyone hates America.” An eight year old’s world view.

I was behind a lipstick red BMW sports car this morning with customized Virginia plates that said, “Fight Terrorism.” I sat there and looked at it and had that same bland knee-jerk reaction like, “Yeah, do that.” And then I thought, but what does that mean, "Fight Terrorism"?

By making the enemy so amorphous, clumping together a mysterious throng of seemingly fanatical religious killers, and roping them with the tag “Terrorists,” the government is effectively granting itself license to attack, invade and kill anyone it wants to. As evidenced by the war in Iraq that Bush addressed the other night, draped in a suffocating array of patriotic regalia. The Washington Post gave a mealy mouthed response to Bush's speech in their lead editorial because they are afraid, like many other news organizations, of being labeled “liberal” or “biased.” I don’t know, personally I like being called a liberal. It is a compliment. Liberals are broad-minded, not bound by authoritarianism, orthodoxy or traditional forms. I like that about us.

Okay, late breaking update. The Post redeemed itself in Richard Cohen's op-ed piece today. Phew. But I'm kind of mad about that too because he is explaining how the Iraq war is starting to remind him of Vietnam. It has ALWAYS reminded me of Vietnam, but that seems to be a very scary thing to admit, like no one wants to own that one. Why?

Vietnam and Iraq were two ill-advised ventures that had no direct connection to the safety and well being of the American people, and both were driven by implanted paranoia and fear. Vietnam was based on the fear of the contagion and "domino effect" of communism and the Iraq war was the result of manipulated, massaged and re-packaged intelligence--a shell game--that the American people fell for. I don't really blame them either because the rationale for war was presented in childlike primary colors of good versus evil. The administration also relied heavily, as they do now, and as they did during the campaign, on that instinctual, visceral reaction of collective pain and desire for revenge we all feel (liberals AND conservatives) about 9/11. It's like the red scarf a matador shakes in front of a bull. Any time the administration feels our support wavering or they need to hit a home run, they wave the red flag of 9/11 because they know they will get the same loyal, shared response.

The administration ridicules the liberals' puported desire to reason with the "terrorists" and offer "therapy" instead of a nuclear colonic (shock and awe), all the while waving their flabby Bibles and referencing their inherent moral superiority. But if the Republican party is made up of 82% white male Christians, then why do they conveniently turn their backs on one of the most resonant pacifists of our time, the founder, namesake and reason for Christianity: Jesus Christ? The whole story of the passion of Christ has to do with his horror but ultimate acceptance of his murderers: he forgave them. If he were among us now, conservatives would dismiss him as a weak link--soft on "terrorism" and a capitulator to his own cruel fate.

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