Civilian casualties are a part of war – I do not justify them, or find them in any way acceptable, but I understand that they always occur during war time – and there have been tens of thousands …
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Civilian casualties are a part of war – I do not justify them, or find them in any way acceptable, but I understand that they always occur during war time – and there have been tens of thousands of innocent Muslims killed during our forays in the Middle East. Smart bombs ain’t as smart as their makers would have you believe.
And I will urge you once again to remember that when you wave the flag to go to war you are approving all forms of physical and mental degradation – death, maiming, rape and torture – of military and civilian personnel alike. Men, women and children. It happens when countries go to war. It always happens. Always. It is what you are signing off for when you sound the call. Always.
I think the course of action we should be taking at this point in the interest of national security is to open the doors to communication as widely as possible for those we fear. The worst threat to our safety is to simply become more isolated and entrenched. The world has become too small. Our borders are porous.
For me, opening the doors includes welcoming the Islamic community center/mosque/bowling alley/strip club/whatever, that is to be built a couple of blocks from Ground Zero, the former site of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
Yes, I find it a tad unsettling myself. While it is very true that not all Muslims are terrorists, there are Islamic extremists to be feared. It seems odd to welcome a facility that could become a place of rest and recreation for those very extremists so close to a site they might find a natural target to destroy once again.
But I see no legal nor moral reason for prohibiting the facility from being built. Nor do I find a reason in our best interest. We are a country that was founded on, and still celebrates, the freedom to worship as one chooses. We simply cannot add an “except for” list to that doctrine of free worship because we don’t like the way some of the believers behave.
And I still ache for the 2,750+ who died in New York during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and I grieve with their families. Having been visiting back east at the time, I was on my way to Newark airport for my return flight when the towers went down. I got home four days later when air travel resumed.
I am heartbroken over the loss of more than 4,400 American military men and women who served in Iraq and the nearly 40,000 who were injured in the line of duty there. And the 1,100 more whose lives have been lost in the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the thousands more gravely injured in that conflict. They have earned my complete respect, and I am so grateful for their service.
Many years ago, a bronze plaque was placed inside the Statue of Liberty on which was engraved a sonnet by one Emma Lazarus that restated the principles upon which this still great nation was founded. Among its words are the oft-quoted lines:
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Now is not the time to turn away from those words, and the promise of which they speak.
Timothy McVeigh killed 172 people in the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City federal building, and injured almost 700 more. No small assault. He, and his followers, were motivated by hatred for the U.S. government and wanted to bring it down. How do we cull some subset of white Americans from our midst to protect ourselves from their madness?
It is not easy maintaining the principles that support the freedoms we cherish. Born of Jewish descent, there are a number of places in the “land of the free and home of the brave” where the too-visible bend in my nose makes me unwelcome. Where characteristics are attributed to me because of my heritage that are untrue, but threaten those around me. And these are born-in-the-U.S.A., God-fearing Yankee-doodle-dandy Americans who wish me to go elsewhere.
I bridle when groups are permitted to march and speak freely who would gladly see my people wiped from the planet.
But I love that I can travel freely from East Coast to West Coast, from north to south, to any place in which I will feel comfortable, and I can speak my piece freely as well, even if it challenges the very basis of our structure of government.
My current political crusade is to urge all Americans to resign their registration with either the Democratic or Republican party, and shift to independent or unaffiliated as the case may be. Vote as you wish at election time, but don’t let the yahoos in Washington think they’ve got you in their pocket any longer. Make them sweat, and make them earn your vote every single time. And don’t answer pollsters who want to know how you’re going to vote. Those polls do you no good.
I think the two-party system is a dinosaur that no longer functions in our best interest, and I think it needs to be challenged by new ideas and steered in a new direction. We need at least a viable third party and maybe a fourth. Please consider voting in that direction.
Try putting that in print in some other parts of the world.
So, while the current conflict of ideas and culture that has the world in such a place of dis-ease terrifies me at times in the dark hours of the night, I believe that we will not bridge that gap of culture and understanding by shunning those who look like those we fear.
In the debate over construction of a facility devoted to the care and feeding of those of the Islamic faith on a street in lower Manhattan, I fall on the side of those who would say (and I really can’t believe I’m about to paraphrase Sarah Palin here), “Build, baby, build.”
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