A response to "AMERICA: THE GOOD NEIGHBOR" posted by Mark Doukakis (OT)

Kevin Howard kevish999 at excite.com
Wed Sep 19 12:47:50 CEST 2001

The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the
self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public
figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing. The voices licensed to
follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize
the public. Where is the acknowledgment that this was not a "cowardly"
attack on "civilization" or "liberty" or "humanity" or "the free world" but
an attack on the world's self-proclaimed superpower, undertaken as a
consequence of specific American alliances and actions? How many citizens
are aware of the ongoing American bombing of Iraq? And if the word
"cowardly" is to be used, it might be more aptly applied to those who kill
from beyond the range of retaliation, high in the sky, than to those willing
to die themselves in order to kill others. In the matter of courage (a
morally neutral virtue): whatever may be said of the perpetrators of
Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards.

Our leaders are bent on convincing us that everything is O.K. America is not
afraid. Our spirit is unbroken, although this was a day that will live in
infamy and America is now at war. But everything is not O.K. And this was
not Pearl Harbor. We have a robotic President who assures us that America
still stands tall. A wide spectrum of public figures, in and out of office,
who are strongly opposed to the policies being pursued abroad by this
Administration apparently feel free to say nothing more than that they stand
united behind President Bush. A lot of thinking needs to be done, and
perhaps is being done in Washington and elsewhere, about the ineptitude of
American intelligence and counter-intelligence, about options available to
American foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East, and about what
constitutes a smart program of military defense. But the public is not being
asked to bear much of the burden of reality. The unanimously applauded,
self-congratulatory bromides of a Soviet Party Congress seemed contemptible.
The unanimity of the sanctimonious, reality-concealing rhetoric spouted by
American officials and media commentators in recent days seems, well,
unworthy of a mature democracy.

Those in public office have let us know that they consider their task to be
a manipulative one: confidence-building and grief management. Politics, the
politics of a democracy—which entails disagreement, which promotes
candor—has been replaced by psychotherapy. Let's by all means grieve
together. But let's not be stupid together. A few shreds of historical
awareness might help us understand what has just happened, and what may
continue to happen. "Our country is strong," we are told again and again. I
for one don't find this entirely consoling. Who doubts that America is
strong? But that's not all America has to be.

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