Friday, September 14, 2007

Do You Feel Safer? Freer? Prouder to be an American?

I know I sure as hell don't, but my feelings have little to do with Osama bin Laden or his merry band of "turrsts." Vile and self-righteously murderous as they are, I have a far better chance of getting killed on the highway, dying at the hands of a physician who makes a human mistake or checking out on an influenza ticket this winter.

The thing is, I do not demand unfailing security and a sense of perfect safety from my government in this life, because that would be nutz, unless I am willing to spend the rest of my life in solitary confinement. Even then, I would be dependent on the humanity of my jailers. Eventually, I will die anyway and so will everyone I have ever loved and cared about not to mention a whole bunch of folks I don't give a whit for or have never known.

Face it, people, there is no such thing as real security and safety. Life is not safe. I am not even sure it should be.

My hunch is that if someone wants to blow something up badly enough, they, or someone else, will eventually mange to pull it off. If someone wants to kill me, personally, there is little standing in their way.

Terrorists have been around throughout recorded history. Some of them make up governments. They terrorize their own people and sometimes others. Other terrorists are not leaders or members of any national government, but rather use terrorism as a tactic against a much more powerful state or national military. Terrorism is a horrible, immoral, amoral, barbaric tactic, especially when used on ordinary people as a way of targeting the governments of those people. I imagine that if there was such a thing as hell in the after-life, the deepest recesses would be reserved for people who practice such acts or order such acts to be committed.

I do, however, expect my government to protect Americans and their children from dangerous products distributed by American corporations as well as businesses who export to this country from other countries. How many times must bottom-line sucking corporations have to prove themselves untrustworthy before we can agree, once and for all, that some regulation is necessary.

I expect my government officials to tell me the truth, especially when it comes to really important issues like war and peace, life and death, health and illness, poverty or well-being and what the hell they are doing with my money and in my name. I remember Nuremberg. Those issues, among others, are very important to me.

We all know that terrorists mean us harm. We do not assume that about tire manufacturers, toy makers, dog food makers and fisheries; not to mention pharmaceutical companies, agribusiness and others.

Terrorists, as god-awful and heinous as they are, cannot suspend the Constitution, declare martial law and/or send nut-job mercenaries, armed to the teeth, into my town., but George Bush can.

Terrorists cannot, on their own, force Americans onto their soil, so to speak, so they can kill us daily. Hell would freeze over before Osama bin Laden could rob the U.S. treasury for billions (or is it trillions, by now?), pushing the American economy into recession and inflation with a devalued dollar, if not eventual collapse. But George W. Bush and his administration can and are doing just that.

No terrorist could have ever convinced a good sized majority of the people of the world that this country, my country, is a dire threat to peace in the world; untrustworthy and criminal in its actions internationally. Nope, that took Bush and Company. It's true that the USA was not well-thought of during the Vietnam war, but having lived through both eras, I can say without a doubt that I have never seen, nor did I think I ever would see, my country so roundly despised among the global community.

Oddly, I can't feel any fear anymore, let alone terror....just bone-crushing grief and pure, burning anger.

From The Blog, One Thousand Reasons:

Six years of what?

by Mary Shaw

Sunday September 9, 2007

This week, we mark the sixth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. And where do we stand? Let's see.

Osama bin Laden is still at large, and continues to taunt us.

Al-Qaeda and its sympathizers continue to plan attacks on Americans and our allies.

Top foreign policy experts say that we are losing the war on terror.

And Americans feel less safe today than ever before.

All this despite our having to take our shoes off in airports.

All this despite the fact that I am not allowed to carry a four-ounce bottle of shampoo onto an airplane.

All this despite the Bush administration's insistence that only George W. Bush can keep us safe, and that a vote for John Kerry would have been a vote for the terrorists.

And all this despite Bush's assertions that we are fighting the terrorists over there so we won't have to fight them over here.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush diverted our attention and resources from a noble effort in Afghanistan, where bin Laden was hiding, and chose to wage an unprovoked war of aggression on an unarmed country that had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 and posed no threat to us. As of this writing, Bush's Iraq adventure has cost the lives of 3,762 U.S. troops and countless innocent Iraqi men, women, and children.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush turned the world against us with his arrogant cowboy-style foreign policy, bypassing the United Nations and international law. Shoot first, ask questions later.

And, of course, when questions do get asked, it's done under what they like to call "enhanced interrogation techniques" (so they don't have to call it "torture").

Yes, instead of keeping us safe, Bush has his advisors engage in semantic and legal gymnastics to justify torture, even as he denies its use.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush kidnaps "terror suspects", their families, and anyone that the bounty hunters care to sell us for whatever reason and whatever price. He locks them up in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, and he throws away the key.

Or he sends them to other countries that are known for their use of torture, and lets them do the interrogating.

Instead of keeping us safe, Bush methodically undermines the rights and liberties that until now were guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. He spies on us without court warrants, he does away with habeas corpus, and he establishes secret prisons, and military kangaroo courts that mock the rule of law.

If anyone complains, Bush simply has his servants in Congress pass legislation that legalizes Bush's illegal activities.

And I fear that it will not stop, because Congress chooses to represent the White House rather than We The People.

Barring impeachment, Bush still has another 16 months in office. Imagine how much more damage he can do.


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views on politics, human rights, and social justice issues have appeared in numerous online forums and in newspapers and magazines worldwide. Note that the views expressed here are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated.


(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.

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