Tracking down and cornering the cause of this unending, mindless attack on one’s own society -- this urge to suicide, this mindless assault on the very idea of strength, this death wish -- leads us down many winding and serpentine paths. I for one do not believe in conspiracies. So what could possibly explain why so many people feel the need to attack the most free and expressive society in the world and glorify the most awful and odious?
One analogy continues to fascinate me:
We know that allergies result when the defense mechanisms of the body’s immune system mistakenly attack healthy cells, falsely recognizing them as foreign and dangerous. The body’s defenses essentially go to war against the body itself.
Here’s what intrigues me: new research seems to indicate that the cleaner and more sanitary the environment we live in becomes, the more likely we are to develop allergies. Allergies appear in much, much lower numbers among farm kids, who are exposed to all manner of infectious elements -– not to mention the cuts and scrapes and so on caused by actual, physical work. And as we become more and more obsessed with ‘disinfecting’ everything in sight, allergies skyrocket.
What seems to be happening is this: the more we are exposed to real infection, the easier it is for the immune system to identify foreign cells from host cells, since there are dangerous foreign cells in abundance. These infectious agents constantly demand new antibody production, and the line between “host” and “other” is clearly and continuously redefined. In excessively antiseptic environments, that level of discrimination appears to break down due to lack of use, and the body’s immune system turns on itself.
These allergy attacks range from the mildly annoying to the almost instantaneously fatal.
And a serious and potentially fatal allergy attack is precisely what I believe is happening to Western Civilization today.
If you genuinely, honestly believe you can compare George Bush to Adolph Hitler, it is only because you are so removed from exposure to the genuine horrors of the Nazi regime -– routine street beatings, confiscation and destruction of businesses, homes and property, then deportation and extermination of millions of your own countrymen -- that you are functionally incapable of the most basic and fundamental level of discrimination. If you can compare Abu Ghraib to a Nazi death camp with a straight face, then you have never been to Abu Ghraib, or a Nazi death camp, or either -– that is patently obvious, and it would be comically so if the stakes were not so monumentally high. Having never been exposed to genuine evil, you have literally no conception whatsoever of what it looks and smells and tastes like.
(Immigrant Americans from Poland or Russia or Cuba, or Iraq, for that manner, exhibit virtually none of this madness. They know what a real secret police presence feels like.)
Let me clarify this if I may. Senator Kennedy claims Abu Ghraib is simply Saddam Hussein’s torture chambers “under new management -– U.S. management.” Taking him at his word -– a somewhat iffy proposition right out of the gate -– he apparently cannot see the difference between the humiliation and bullying of enemy combatants, which is shameful, disgusting and reprehensible, and the gleeful, mocking murder, torture and gang rape of over 300,000 innocent men, women and children -- which is something worse. So Senator, here is a helpful analogy which you may find useful: the difference is about the same as pulling over and leaving a young female secretary on the curb in the rain, which is shameful, disgusting and reprehensible, vs. leaving her trapped in the car at the bottom of a river while you look at the bubbles and ponder the political repercussions.
Which is something worse, Senator.
Americans living today have never known torture or oppression or state-sponsored murder, and so it becomes nothing more than a rhetorical concept for most of us. People who defend Saddam and Kim and Castro have no idea at all about what that life entails. None. And so, in their safe and antiseptic little worlds of coffee shops and chat rooms, it all reduces to rhetoric. And since, in the end, it’s nothing but words anyway, they feel they can win an argument because their rhetoric goes up to eleven.
In extreme cases -– sadly rising in frequency -- these people not only hate America, they hate everything. They see nothing in American history beyond slavery and the Indian Wars. They often claim to live, or would prefer to live, in more refined, decent and civilized nations, like Canada and Britain and New Zealand: as if white, English-speaking Canadians grew out of the ground like corn on an empty, Indian- and Eskimo-free horizon, or the thousand years of English conquest over India, China, Africa, Ireland, Scotland and Wales was in a parallel universe, or that the warlike Maoris invaded and took over the North and South Islands from the peaceful, indigenous white settlers. As if France were not the most blood-soaked patch of land on the surface of the earth, as if Russia’s leaders never so much as raised a hand against its own suffering people, as if Scandinavia was not the epicenter of centuries of rape, pillage, murder and misery, as if the Aztecs said gracias in Castilian Spanish as they cut the living hearts out of their prisoners. As if the Spanish themselves had never known the Inquisition, Italy no Papal Wars or Duces or Ethiopias, as if Belgium had no Leopold and Leopold no Congo, as if Germany…well.
As if African slaves were only held by whites and Christians, as if Japan has practiced nothing but calligraphy and origami for a millennia, as if South America was a spotless white linen of freedom of expression and individual rights, as if China was a champion of democracy and the common man, as if Indians never spat on anyone, as if, as if…as if the entire bloody history of conquest and war and displacement were the unique domain of America alone, or, equally absurd, that we deserve to die for not being born perfect and without sin -– as they, in their own self-obsessed, one-person Universes expect everyone else to be.
And so they trot out every single example of human atrocity as if they were Atticus Finch sweating under the heat in that courtroom in their mind; these snipers and critics and ‘activists’ who have no plans of their own, no solutions, no answers to these dirty and difficult and eternal issues, and so sit in the warm cocoon of perfection afforded the man who attempts nothing. And while better men and women -– better men and women by every measure -– struggle and fight and bleed to make the world a better and safer place, they grow more and more disconnected from the essential ugliness and brutality that is half -– and only half -– of this flawed and broken and hopeful and noble human existence.
And because we are all born with this legion of devils inside every heart, more than anything else in the world they hate themselves. Carrying all the guilt of the world on their stooped and broken spirits, their eyes cast so far down that they can see nothing of nobility or progress or redemption of any kind, these people are broken. They are miserable, bitter, cynical husks. And we all know what misery craves.
See them for what they are: nothing more than the Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons: Worst. Country. Ever.
They are useless people. They have heeded the last and final boarding call and pushed back from the gate of reality. They have left the building.
Don’t argue with them, don’t engage them. They want to make this about rhetoric and sophistry, which they fetishize, and not about the simple difference between right and wrong, which is a world where they cast no reflection.
So is this nation, this culture, worth fighting for? Are our lives even worth defending?
Let me offer two answers; one hard-headed, pointy and practical; the other warm and fuzzy and easy to cuddle up to.
Okay, left brain: this is for you.
Hardly a person reading this has not sat, probably many times, on board a commercial jetliner, munching a terrible sandwich while watching television on a little screen at seven miles above the earth moving faster than the musket ball that ended the life of Sullivan Ballou.
The sheer mundane frequency of this miracle should be enough on it’s own, but I ask you to look much deeper.
Think, for a moment, about the endlessly intricate, stunning web of trust, cooperation and genius required to make this happen. Drop the obvious elements like the pilots and the air traffic controllers. Forget the armies of people who set their alarms every day to go and build, fly and maintain these wonders.
What about the chemist who determined the correct mixture to get that reprehensible purple dye just right for the fabric on the seat back covers? Who engraved DIANE’s name tag? How many hundreds of men cut how many grooves in how many trees to make the rubber that seals the handles on the restroom faucets? What were the names of the aerodynamicists who designed the wing section before the one actually finalized in the design of the airplane? Who made the air traffic controller’s coffee? What were the first words spoken between the parents of the person who cleaned and vacuumed your seat?
What were the names of the guys that laid the cement for the VOR station you’re navigating by, back in the 60’s? Who churned the butter in that little plastic container? Somebody forged the bolts that hold down that seat seven rows up. Who? Who delicately put into place that little paper diaphragm in the microphone the flight attendant is boring you with? The person who dry-cleaned the co-pilots uniform -– nice guy? Creep? Who pumped the gas into the little tug that pushed the plane back at the gate? Come to think of it, this crappy TV show you’re watching? Who edits this garbage? What do we know about that guy?
You don’t see any of this, of course. You think nothing of it. But there it is. And this molecular structure does not run as deep anywhere else in the world. You’re it. You in 37B.
Now ask yourself if those five hooded murderers, those 19 hijackers, and those endless seas of raving, chanting, flag-burning lunatics could, together, manufacture one #2 pencil. You know, a perfect, yellow, three-cent pencil -– including the dyes for the enamel paint, the glues and presses for the wood, the mined copper alloy for the band, the chemists to make the graphite and then there is the eraser -– and no one knows what that is made of.
This web that keeps us alive and safe and free needs many things to thrive. Trust. Communication. Mutual respect. Genius. Hard work. And mostly passion.
Fear will kill it all. It will fall apart and unravel into smoke.
All the virtues of science, all the genius of seven thousand years is refined and built into the structure of this Western Society. If we lose this now, humanity will not see it return. To paraphrase Jimmy Doolittle, a great pilot and greater patriot, “we could never be this lucky again.”
And finally, for you soft-hearted, touchy-feely right brain types: a small quiz. Don’t worry: no grades, no trick questions, and no time limit.
If you are a Feminist: Do you think that women should be treated with respect and equality in all matters, and allowed to reach their fullest potential as individuals by making their own decisions? Or do you think that they should be kept locked in the back room, that they should suffer beating or death for being seen in the company of a man not their husband or relative, that they should never be allowed to study or drive a car, and that they must remain covered head to foot when outdoors?
I’m for the former. Which are you for?
If you are a homosexual: do you believe that sexual orientation is a private matter between consenting adults, that all people deserve the same measure of dignity and respect, and that you should be allowed to live your life and love the person you choose without intimidation and fear? Or do you believe that homosexuals are an abomination in the eyes of a vengeful God and should therefore be executed?
I’m going with “A” on this one, too. What do you think?
If you are an artist, a writer or a singer: do you feel that free expression is the soul of the artistic impulse, that artists have the right to explore whatever depths of emotion or feeling that their muse may drive them to, and that the free expression of the artistic impulse should never be inhibited no matter how offensive others may find your personal journey? Or do you believe that society should place strict limits on what is permissible expression artistically, and that some entire studies -– music, for example -– should be removed from society to prevent moral decay and people straying from the Word of God?
I’m taking the first one again.
So my real question is, if you agree that the former choices are better than the latter, why do so many of you take the side of murdering theocrats like the Taliban, or state-sponsored terror regimes like Saddam’s when they are in opposition to a culture that provides legal and cultural protections and freedoms unparalleled in human history?
I’d really like an answer, if you can spare the time. And so would a lot of folks.
Now while we’re changing the sets and costumes for the final act, how about a brief intermission? Let’s take a hypothetical, shall we? Something we’ve all seen on the old idiot box?
Police are at the scene of an urban standoff. Here are the details as they come in:
We can see right away that this is not a good neighborhood. Crime is rampant, and, as in most crime-ridden communities, a lot of nasty stuff goes on every day.
Now it seems that one lunatic -– your standard heavily-armed psychopathic loner -– last week had gone next door and shot the hell out of the neighbors. Of course, those neighbors were not exactly the Cunninghams or the Waltons, so there was no 911 call…but still.
Anyway, it’s a few hours later and it looks like he’s done it again: now he claims he owns the entire back yard of the people out back. SkyCam 6 is running aerial footage of him kicking down the fence, going into the neighbor's house and shots being fired. The camera work on the ground is shaky as the crews duck for cover, but you can hear the screams from inside. Lots of covered bodies seen coming out and being placed in ambulances.
The police arrive, and now he starts shooting at them; just goddam unloading on them. They shoot back, forcing him back into his house; he is severely wounded. They tell him to disarm and come out with his hands up. He shoots out the windows and keeps taking potshots at the police.
A tense standoff occurs. 13 hours go by, during which time, the neighborhood Roach Coach arrives on the scene. The police allow the man inside to buy food as a gesture of goodwill. The guy in the roach coach sells him a turkey sandwich for $150 and a can of Coke for $75.
As the standoff continues, we can hear him shooting his family inside. The screams are muffled; sounds like he’s got them down in the basement. A few of them manage to make it out the side and back doors; one or two escape. Most are shot in the back. And as the hours grind on, the shots, and the screams, continue. So do the potshots at the police cordon outside.
Finally, the police realize that they cannot afford to wait any longer. The negotiations have accomplished nothing except to give the lunatic more time to shoot more of his own family members and presumably reload. The only one arguing to continue negotiations is the guy running the Roach Coach: he’s made more money selling $80 hot dogs and $200 ice cream sandwiches for 13 hours than he has in his entire career.
The police make a final offer: come out with your hands up! The response is yet more potshots. The SWAT team gets into position.
They storm the house! Gunfire! Screaming!
The Crazed Loner runs out the front door, lowers his assault rifle at the police, and is cut down in a hail of bullets.
A liberal arrives on the scene, now that the danger has passed and the area is secured. He walks over to the dead lunatic, removes the gun from his hand, pulls back the bolt on the lever…empty! He removes the magazine. Empty too!
“This man could not have hurt anyone,” he shrieks! “The gun wasn’t loaded! He was murdered in cold blood!”
He turns to the TV audience, grabbing the microphone from the reporter…no, wait. Looking closely, I now see that the reporter has gestured wildly for him to step into frame and he is handing him the microphone, smiling, and making ‘go on’ gestures.
“Did he come into the police chief’s home and try to kill him? He did not!!
The liberal is really getting religion now. He visibly shakes; his eyes bulge and his forehead goes white with rage! “The man who ordered this assault,” he screams, spittle flying in righteous indignation, “knew all along that this gun was empty!!”
“He lied!! He lied and people died!!”
There was a time when a person making a statement as ridiculous as that would be tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. It would have been good for a laugh for all concerned. In fact, if the social consciences of today had one particle of the wit and genius that Mark Twain had, they might have said, as he did: “if it weren’t for the honor and glory of the thing, I’d just as soon walk.”
Sadly, these are different times. Why, just one of these fellers I’ve seen on TV would take the feathers from 150 geese and four miles of highway asphalt to cover adequately.
No, today such mock-serious people drive to work in new Hondas with GREENPEACE stickers on the bumper; they get 35 mpg to your SUV’s 26 mpg, so they are Saving the Planet while you are trading Blood for Oil. See how easy it is?
Remember all the outrage there was from these people about a pre-emptive war? Remember how President Bush was vilified on the left for floating the very idea that in a world of hidden weapons and shadowy, deniable delivery systems that we might have to attack an enemy before he has the capacity to cause us incalculable harm? Remember all the flak he caught for that?
The Cambridge dictionary defines Pre-emptive as something that is done before other people can act, especially to prevent them from doing something else.
So I’d like to know how it is a lie that we didn’t find something we told everyone in advance we were determined to stop pre-emptively. One -– one -- of the reasons for going to Iraq was to prevent Saddam from acquiring and using Weapons of Mass Destruction, weapons that no one denies he once had, he once used, and continuously tried to obtain again. No serious person can deny this.
We have prevented Saddam, and Iraq, from acquiring and using Weapons of Mass Destruction. The only other way to prevent him from doing so would have been to continue the sanctions, and the torture, and the mass murder -– indefinitely. That’s fine, as far as some people are concerned. So long as they don’t have to watch GWB on TV anymore.
It is true that Saddam had managed to convince the President, and the Congress, that he was further along with these programs than he actually was. In fact, it appears that many in his own regime had lied to him regarding this progress, and these lies and communications were intercepted, analyzed, compared to his known previous efforts, and presented to the President and the Congress. Those politicians now howling that President Bush lied to them were accessing the same information he had. The record of them condemning Saddam’s WMD programs has filled volumes. Presumably, even a Congressman is capable of weighing evidence and making his own decision. Page after page after page shows they reached the same decision, based on the same evidence, that the President, the former President, the British Prime Minister, The Secretaries of State and Defense, and countless other bright people from all across the political spectrum had done.
Does anybody actually think that the President would make such a case, knowing full well that no WMD’s existed? Do you honestly think he planned this action based on a lie, and therefore pinned his entire political career and the Nation’s credibility on the hope that everyone in the world would forget if none showed up?
The WMD intelligence was clearly at fault regarding Saddam’s progress toward WMD’s. This does not affect by one particle the fact that Saddam had repeatedly used chemical weapons, had at one time a universally acknowledged nuclear weapons program, and had enormous amounts of biological weapons material the destruction of which he could not provide documentation for. These are undeniable facts.
And if you are one of the people howling with outrage over the fact that significant WMD’s were not discovered, perhaps in the future we can count on your support the next time some genius wants to gut and field dress the entire military intelligence establishment.
Saddam’s progress was irrelevant to the motivation. The man had used them before, and if he obtained them, would use them, or threaten to use them as he has done time and again. He was pre-emptively -– don’t forget the outrage! -– stopped in these designs, and so the risk of an Iraqi nuclear or germ or gas attack on the US or his neighbors has dropped to zero. Maybe the threat was overrated, based on his previous predilections. But that threat is zero now. I spell that M-I-S-S-I-O-N A-C-C-O-M-P-L-I-S-H-E-D.
We’ve become hated overseas for this pre-emptive action, and it often seems to me that this alone is why so many Americans have opposed it; not because it was necessarily the right or wrong thing to do in and of itself, but because it makes us unpopular. This is our vital weakness, this desire to be loved by the rest of the world. How many currently opposed to the War in Iraq would have changed their minds had it been cheered and applauded by the French and the Germans?
But what difference would that have made to the rightness or wrongness of the action?
Consider this: we know, for a fact, from records and interviews with top German OKW (Army High Command -- Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) commanders, that large segments of the Nazi army command structure were violently opposed to Adolph Hitler’s decision to violate the Treaty of Versailles by placing a small contingent of troops in the demilitarized Rhineland. These Generals, in interviews after the war, had agreed that if the French had placed so much as a platoon in their way and contested this violation, Hitler would have been immediately overthrown in a military coup. These officers were astonished that the French made no such response. Hitler knew his enemy far better than they did.
A platoon. 30 or 40 soldiers, applied to simply stand in the way, would have seen Hitler overthrown. So think about this…
What if President Franklin Roosevelt, seeing this failure to enforce Versailles -– which, like UN 1441 et al., was an international agreement designed to contain a militant and dangerous nation -– decided to unilaterally place a regiment or two in the Rhineland and force the Germans to comply with the agreement they had signed?
What would have happened is this: the widespread and extremely vocal pacifist establishment would have decried it as an unwarranted act of aggression against a far weaker foe who was, after all, only moving within the bounds of his own country. We would have been accused of beating up on a poor, battered and defeated nation whose leader had done nothing but build roads and schools and hospitals, all because our President feared the international competition or still harbored a sick desire for revenge against a weak and essentially harmless member of the family of nations.
Americans, rather than being loved as the good-natured liberators of 1944 and ’45, would be hated as swaggering militant aggressors wherever they went. And what would we have to show for it?
Nothing but the prevention of 50-odd million deaths and the destruction of a continent.
I swear to God, you just can’t please some people.
The United States and her many allies went to war in Iraq for many reasons besides preventing Iraq from developing Weapons of Mass Destruction; not the least of which was to give the United Nations a chance to show itself for what many wanted to believe it really was: a champion of world security, willing to enforce its resolutions to preserve peace and stability... rather than a morally, intellectually and financially corrupt debating society with no goal other than tony Uptown addresses for cousins of tin-pot dictators and a chance to bash the West from the pulpit in its very heart.
Two more bear mentioning. I believe that one of the unstated reasons for this war was to return the oil wealth of Iraq to the Iraqi people, to rebuild their infrastructure and fund the restoration of the fabric of their society. To those who claim we launched this war to steal their oil I refer you to your local gas pump.
Oil is an essential resource for modern society. To those on the far left, all I can say is that without oil there would be no trucks to deliver the entitlement checks. The United States remains dependent on foreign oil -– both less so and more so than other industrialized nations. Those of you howling about the improprieties of this as an ethical basis for war had best be reading these words in book form by candlelight. Anyone using electricity to do so while they whine about ethics are hypocrites who as usual want to have things both ways in order to preserve that essential fix of moral superiority that seems to be the only thing to make life worth living for the Bitching Classes.
Liberating Iraq from the depredations of a madman accomplishes many political goals: first, it means we can remove the troops from the Sacred Sands of Saud. They were there, at the Kingdom’s reluctant request, to make sure that Saddam didn’t go postal again and pull a Kuwait to the southwest this time, instead of the southeast. Presumably, this will make the nasty stain on the cave wall at Tora Bora rather pleased. It was the only coherent political demand Osama bin Laden ever made in his life.
More importantly, I believe it is part of the Administration’s daring, farsighted and unspoken vision to establish a replacement supply for Saudi Arabian oil. Once that economic pistol is removed from our heads we will be in a better position to deal with the very heart and source of all this unpleasantness. We pay for the oil and gasoline we use. Being able to send that money via the gas pump to an Iraqi school or hospital, while at the same time putting us gradually into a position where we can ask some pointed questions of our Saudi buddies without fear of economic meltdown… well, that’s just a twofer. But that is a story for another time.
Finally, there is the moral argument. Not just the liberation of Iraq from three decades of fear and torture that reached down to every single person in that poor, battered and abused land. We who have never lived in fear might have expected more from the Iraqis during this past year, but we do not know what three decades of terror will do to a people, and we are having this discussion today because many among us are determined that we shall never know.
When the brave and the bold lie in shallow graves next to their wives and husbands and children, where does that leave Iraq in its search for a Washington or Jefferson, or a Lincoln, or a Roosevelt, a Truman or a Reagan? We who will stand up and fight for freedom do so because it is what our fathers and their fathers have done, and as Lincoln so hauntingly described, the Mystic Cords of Memory do indeed stretch back from every battlefield and patriot’s grave to touch the hearts of we who are alive today. How deep would our courage lie had they been taken out in the night among screams and squealing tires, never to return?
There are many who are claiming that the moral argument came only after the WMD’s turned up missing. Re-reading my own thoughts on this matter, I found them co-existent and roughly equal. Having attacked one side of the rationale for faulty intelligence, they now attempt to discredit the other half for the mortal crime of having not given it top billing.
Again, to the crossroads of our being: the North launched the Civil War to restore the Union. Many in the North opposed abolition at the outset. But the war changed them. And on that night those soldiers turned south toward eventual victory, it was the Battle Hymn of the Republic they were singing.
As he died to make men holy
Let us die to make men free
The war, and its awful arithmetic, had elevated them and Lincoln too. The Better Angels of our Nature had touched us, once again.
The primary reason for us to be in Iraq is not to liberate her people so that they can be free. It is, quite bluntly, to liberate her people so that we can be free.
Freedom, prosperity and progress are antithetical to the Death Cult rising in that region and spreading its hatred and violence throughout the world. Iraq presents an opportunity, a chance, for a different way. A free and stable and prospering Iraq demonstrates to everyone on this Earth that Arab society can be free of both secular and theological totalitarianism alike. A functioning, modern Iraq, where people can live their lives free of fear and oppression, where they can worship as they themselves see fit without imposing their beliefs on a neighbor or having them imposed on oneself, where they can perform the simple miracles of going to work each day, earning a living and coming home to a night of television with the family without knowing terror every second of every day: that is what will set them free.
Syria, Iran, Al Qaeda and all the rest fear this very greatly. If we succeed in Iraq -– we and the Iraqis, together -– they know that their own downtrodden and oppressed people will start asking pointed questions about their own corrupt and joyless societies. And when it is possible to be a Muslim, and have a sense of quiet pride that does not come from death and revenge but from hard work and a safe and prospering family…well, I believe -– we, many of us believe -– that they will follow Frankie’s advice.
They will Choose Life.
They are human, like we are. They will choose life over death. I believe this with all my heart.
My friends and my countrymen, this is one of those rare things worth fighting for. It is worth dying for. It is even worth killing for.
Take the number of people Saddam has murdered in unmarked graves -– at least 300,000 and rising, and add to that the number of his own conscripts he has killed in wars against Iran and the various coalition forces deployed against him.
No less than a million Iraqis have died at his hands. No less than that, surely.
In the twenty-five years or so that he has had absolute power, that averages to 40,000 men, women and children a year -– no less.
This past year, despite the number of casualties we inflicted, there were perhaps thirty thousand Iraqis who were not killed because we invaded that country. Next year there will be forty thousand more -– forty thousand who will survive, and have children, and grandchildren, because we did what we did in 2003. And the year after that, another forty thousand will live. Ten years from now, which in the world of our critics might have been year three of Uday or Qusay’s reign, there will be five hundred thousand people alive -– because of us. Because of what we did. Because of what we are fighting and dying to do today.
Don’t abandon those people. Do not make meaningless the deaths of our own sons and daughters -– and, for that matter, their sons and daughters. We can end this thing for the nearly unbearable, awful, horrific cost of around a thousand American lives -– and not a bill far, far worse, which will come due to us if we fail now. We -– humanity -– can prevail. We must not lose hope. We must not abandon our ideals. Disgrace and dishonor such as Abu Ghraib we can learn from, and correct, and redeem. Do not abandon this fight now. Not while we are winning. Not while success is within our reach but not yet within our grasp. Not this time.
This is the right thing to do. And we must continue to do it. We must.
Find the strength. We have it in abundance. Find it. Hold on to it. In our hearts -– as in the hearts of that very different and yet identical people we have bound ourselves to in this endeavor -– victory and salvation lie. Together, we together -– we are the weapons, we are the targets, and we are the battlefield.
Throughout this collection I have done my best to try and show how deeply my life has been affected by the miracle that is this country and the family that is her people.
We have been doing a lot of arguing lately, this family. Many things have been said in anger. Well, these are critical, dangerous times…we can all agree on that much, at least.
But we are a family, whether we like each other or not. We are in this together. I would never urge any free man or woman to take sides contrary to their principles, and our principles vary as widely as our places of origins, our accents and our skin colors -– no two exactly the same.
I am asking you now, as one voice among millions -– nothing more -– not to cease criticizing the government, the President, or our actions in Iraq. Without the crucible of heated debate among passionate believers, we will lose our way.
All I ask is this:
Do not destroy this house. Do not destroy this house to make a point. It is a magnificent house, a grand and sturdy home to us all. Do not let the stains upon her floor cause you to set her aflame. We have fought amongst ourselves for as long as we have been a people; that will never change, and in its own unpleasant, annoying and wonderful way, it should never change.
But for our sake and for those across the oceans: argue about the paint. Argue about the sleeping arrangements. Argue about how best to wash those stains where they appear.
But for the sake of all who have gone before us here, and all who will come after: help me defend this house.
Posted by Proteus at May 22, 2004 4:33 AM
It is a great pleasure for me to add Belmont Club to the roll of WINGMEN on the right sidebar. I owe a great deal of my current optimism to him and his steadfast and extremely well-thought-out analyses. Wretchard, it is an honor to be on the same side as you.