Top issues with the local proletariats
I read with interest Carl Strock's column on the top issues presented by Saratogians at the Masie Center during one of the “village green meetings” being held nationwide for ordinary folks to let President-elect Obama know what they think his top priorities should be. They listed health care and the economy as their top concerns.
Strock was struck by the fact that no one mentioned terrorism – and it's only been seven years since 9/11. His suspicion is that this was because these were a bunch of liberal Democrats and they historically have “been inclined to give the Muslim world the benefit of the doubt, even fanatical suicide bombing Muslims.”
Because I live in Saratoga County and wear Birkenstock sandals, I get tarred with both the “Democrat” and “vegetarian” brushes, but I'm neither of those things.
Before I set a couple of things straight, let me say once again that I am a fan of Mr. Strock, who is one of the few real journalists left.
I am concerned about terrorism and the future attacks that will certainly befall us. I probably should have attended one of the meetings.
I see Muslims and Muslim suicide bombers as two distinct and separate groups. I don't lump the two of them together, just like I, as a Christian, do not like to be lumped in with the Christian Right or the Sarah Palins, Oral Roberts or Jerry Falwell (even though he is dead) types.
I do think our policies and treatment of Iraqis and Palestinians have invited the ire and hatred of the Arab world. That is not to say that we deserved 9/11 or that anyone deserves to be attacked, for that matter. That behavior is reprehensible no matter who is doing the attacking or what their motivation is.
There is no such thing as “redemptive violence.” This is just a myth given power and promulgated by governments and groups all over the planet to achieve their own ends. The welfare of ordinary citizens has little to do with it.
I do believe the commandments of Hebrew Bible prophets, Jesus and Buddha to treat people with respect, dignity, compassion and kindness will go a longer way towards keeping us safe from terrorism than the present policies or actions - the so-called "Bush doctrine" - has (or what the Obama doctrine is shaping up to be).
That is not quite the same thing as just being nice to people and singing Kumbaya together around a campfire (and for the record I hate that song), as Carl says. It involves trying to live in a community, and that's real hard work.
Biblical archeology supports my belief. When everyone was doing OK, every one was doing OK. It's like the saying, “We all do better when we all do better.”
The biblical archaeological evidence shows that when folks had food, shelter and their basic needs were met there were significantly fewer wars and conflicts in general.
While adherence to the above will make it dramatically more difficult to recruit terrorists, I know that even if we do adhere to the above we will not totally get rid of terrorism – we'll have much, much less, though. Terrorism is one of the principalities; it will always be around. It is how we deal with it that will make the difference in how many people are killed and/or maimed.
Maybe if Carl's colleagues in the press did their jobs and actually reported what really happens day to day, liberals and conservatives could make better decisions on who to elect and how to told them accountable. For example, here is what was not reported in the “Great Shoe Toss” that Carl refers to in said column: The reporter said when he threw the second shoe, "This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq." Apparently the second comment didn't make the cut for either of my local papers. The videos of the incident I saw on our national news left that out, as well.
Remember Rumsfeld saying, “We don't do body counts”? A couple of years ago the British Medical Journal “Lancet” estimated about 600,000 Iraqi citizens (translation: the counterparts of you and me) had died due to the war and subsequent U.S. occupation. Maybe if the press brought attention to the body count in Iraq we would place more value on the human lives there and we'd be in the streets demanding - in voices so loud that no politician could ignore them - an end to the Iraq war and occupation.
Ah, but that's exactly why the body count is not reported.
Here's a concern for the Obama transition team that Carl missed: Let's stop the censorship of the press, whether it's self-imposed censorship or from the government – one is as destructive as the other.
And while I'm on the topic of what was and was not mentioned at the Masie meeting, I hope someone mentioned our country's march towards fascism. I'd like the Constitution that the “Foundin' Daddies” (as Molly Ivins affectionately called them) put together returned to me, thank you very much.
As for Carl asserting that Barack Obama would respond to ordinary citizens listing the economy as a priority with “Hey, the economy! Why didn't I think of that?” Even George Bush is smarter than that. It was not one of Carl's finer moments.
Here's my thought on ordinary citizens participation in this transition process:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead (Thanks Ms. Mead!)