I just received an e-mailed copy of Hal Crowther's editorial, "At the Twilight's Last Gleaming" [March 12] and read it twice. Thank you for so eloquently describing the feelings that exist just beneath the surface for so many Americans who still believe, perhaps naively, in a very different vision of our nation, our ideologies and ourselves.
We are indeed a country divided, and I offer that most of the so-called support for this war is much more of the nature of "support for our troops," a very bland, inane and banal statement used by the administration and the war-happy to justify their position. It's an unimaginative repeat of the battle cry during the last Bush's unpopular and dubious war in the Middle East. I believe you are correct in your perception of a "soft majority."
It should not go unnoticed, however, that it's taken the normally very sedate and apathetic American public very little time to get out into the streets. I was born during the Vietnam conflict, but have read much about those times. It seems to me we have moved much faster and with more resolve to express our displeasure with the "Resident" and his misguided war. It also seems that we are moving in much greater numbers. I cite as particular evidence the closure of San Francisco for nearly two days last week, the weekend demonstrations in Manhattan, protests going on this very moment in Chicago, and the several months of steadily growing demonstration here in my own home town of Seattle.
This administration and its activities--from stealing the election on forward to this morning--have galvanized the "sleeping middle class" into a nation of activists. We are angry, frustrated and afraid. It is only a year and a half until the next election ... that is both a very long time and a very short time. It is my profound hope that we do not go back to sleep in that time. We have a process in place, and while it does not always produce the most desirable results, it seems to work pretty well. It generally fails when we fail it ... that is, fail to participate, fail to speak, fail to vote.
Sadly, I wonder if the Democrats have the moxie to put forth a strong leader to challenge the Resident. I have heard that Sen. John Edwards, from your own neck of the woods, is the current favorite. Out west, we know very little about him. While it seems like just about anybody the Democrats choose to run against Bush stands a good chance of winning, this is a time for identifying strong leaders and men (and women?) of moral and social courage. Again, I wonder if this is what we will see.
Thank you once again for your editorial. I take comfort in knowing that other Americans--of many different stripes--feel the same visceral anger, frustration, shame and emotional nausea that I do. I suppose the question is what we do with that.
I want to thank The Independent for providing a medium to discuss the Iraq war. I have appreciated Hal Crowther's insightful portrayal of our nation's deplorable behavior, the uplifting cartoons (humor is very therapeutic), the column about letting the conservative opponents to the war do the talking for you, the numerous impassioned and intelligent letters questioning the sanity of this policy, and even those who in good faith support it. At least we are communicating, and perhaps we can learn something in this dialogue. (Yes, Mr. President, dialogue is a good thing.)
I'm straining to be positive now as we have begun a sickening injustice. I believe the first step of healing is overcoming denial and becoming humble enough to allow the truth into our private and collective lives. This war, accepted by millions of deluded Americans happy to hand their consciences over to the powers that be, will be placed in the annals of American atrocities and misdeeds along with slavery and Jim Crow, the Trails of Tears, the Spanish-American War, McCarthyism and the Gulf of Tonkin. We have to place down the fear that Sept. 11 engendered to see the reality of suffering caused by us and to understand that we have the capacity to solve things peaceably. WWJD.
Nationalism, for all its heady euphoria, is dead. The whole God Bless America bumper sticker mentality suggests that God blesses us more than others, that we are the chosen people. This is a sickness. The Nazis called this national socialism. We called them fascists. In the depths of our lack of self-love, we project a god that plays favorites when really we are all brothers and sisters. Understanding this and acting on it will begin the process of healing and the reclamation of justice.
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