I gave a shout out the other day to IdealistLefty because I think she writes some of my thoughts better than I do. But I still have my own thoughts buzzing around – so here’s my take.
This morning driving to work NPR was doing a story I didn’t care much about so I changed to one of the country stations for a couple of minutes of music. They were playing Toby Keith’s song about 9/11, the “we’ll put a butt in your ass…” one. (He’s done a couple as I recall) This one just toasts my tush. I didn’t really have a problem with us going into Afghanistan; unfortunately we are still there trying to stitch together a nation of tribes. But the chorus of the song has a few things wrong, IMHO.
To the average American the attacks on September 11, 2001 came out of the blue, no doubt. I was a shocked as anyone. To defense analysts, foreign policy wonks, and the like it wasn’t expected but not unsurprising. The method and location may have been a surprise; it was a bold move to attack in the USA. The number of dead was surprising. But the fact that Al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden, and lots of others wanted Americans dead was well known. They were looking for bin Laden already. In a quite, sneak up on you way, rather than the post-9/11 in your face, we’ll let everyone know we’re looking for you, and give you lots of publicity way. It would be unfair in Hide-and-Seek to start looking without counting to 10 first (and not too fast) but this isn’t a school yard game. Bin Laden most likely assumed we were looking for him and took appropriate precautions. Now he knows for sure and has most likely doubled the precautions. (He’s like 6ft tall and on dialysis and yet we can’t find him!)
The Statue of Liberty did start shaking her fist but not, as Toby implies, at the terrorists but at our own government. The PATRIOT Act is not patriotic, despite careful wording to make a nice acronym. Ms Liberty was shaking her fist at the weakening of civil liberties. She shook her fist at the round-up of (vaguely) Middle Eastern looking persons. She is shaking her fist at the fear of immigrants that still simmers. She is shaking her fist at the detainment of “enemy combatants.” Neither criminals nor POWs, they are left in a legal limbo this country, home of the Bill of Rights, should not allow. She shakes her fist at government officials who lied to her people. She is shaking her fist at those of us who sit quietly by and let this continue.
Speaking of those of us on the home front – what home front? In the “War on Terror” we are not asked to change our way of life AT ALL. Unlike any previous war, most Americans need make no sacrifice. Certainly the friends and family of military personal wounded or killed in Iraq and Afghanistan make sacrifices (not to mention the soldiers themselves). But most of us go on about our daily lives without change, except for those yellow ribbons stuck on the back of the cars, trucks, and SUVs. Or maybe to sniff at anyone who dares question the war in Iraq because they aren’t supporting the troops*. No wonder Bush can continue to stay the course over there.
I agree with Idealist Lefty, the phrase “over there” makes it easier to ignore the war. It makes it something we don’t have to deal with on a daily basis. It makes it something foreign.
It’s lunch time and I’ve run out of steam, so I’ll stop for now.
* Italics meant to convey sarcasm.