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Let's not forget our very own Great Satan, Iraq, ruled indisputably by a lizard, but where our rage has been vented on the common citizens, not on their detestable master. When former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked in 1996 on "60 Minutes about the 500,000 children who have died in Iraq because of America's embargo, she icily responded: "We think the price is worth it.
Albright's successor, Colin Powell, commenting on the mega-crimes of last week, condemned the terrorists' "destruction of buildings and "murder of people to "achieve a political purpose. As human rights activist Kathy Kelly, of Voices in the Wilderness, gently scoffed: "Mr. Powell is correct. But ... he holds up a mirror to U.S. policy of causing massive civilian suffering to achieve political ends.
It doesn't fit our national self-image, but to much of the developing world, we are the perpetrators or abettors of terrorism on a massive state scale. That we can do so because no one else can lick us hardly elevates America to the moral high ground.
So our policies kill a half-million babies. The price is worth it, our leaders say. Can't you understand that? What's the big deal?
This is not, repeat not, an indictment of America. We are, indeed, a great and noble country. We have many faults, many sins for which to atone. Still, in sum, there has never been a country whose history is so marked by ever-broadening concern for human rights and justice. Our strength is our imperfection -- which births struggle that, in turn, brings more groups under liberty's umbrella.
Now we have suffered a vile injustice. With callousness beyond imagination, terrorists have propelled planes full of innocents into great buildings full of more innocents. The death toll is climbing above a sense-numbing 5,000.
Yet, one thought is nagging. In war, the first casualty is truth. In terrorism, I fear, the most grievous death will be that of liberty.
Right now, America is in shock. But much of the nation is immersed in rage. Arab-Americans and Muslim Americans are facing a mounting onslaught of racist attacks -- a new eruption of that same malignant disease that has so often plagued our nation. Mosques are desecrated, by people with the same insect mentality of the swastika scribblers of a few years ago or the Kluxers of a few years before that.
Moreover, we have firmly enshrined Osama bin Laden as the maximum bogeyman. In the finest tradition of George Orwell's "Two Minutes of Hate, we target our fury at that face on the screen, wiping out any reason and restraint. Ignorance becomes strength as we doublethink-disregard the fact that bin Laden, like many of the world's bloodstained monsters, is our creation. He was recruited, nurtured, trained and funded by the CIA to help the Afghans fight the Russians -- our government applauded bin Laden's terrorism then (and, little noted, the Bush administration gave his hosts, the thoroughly repugnant Taliban, $43 million in anti-drug cash this year).
Very deadly moral relativity.
This is what I fear: Our military will get a blank check. The generals and admirals, before the attack, had demanded $344 billion -- an extortionate sum that's three times the war budgets of all potential foes, including Russia and China. By comparison, our pittance for education is $42 billion.
We'll continue to scuttle international treaty after international treaty. The nuclear race will crank up to a fevered pitch.
Progress we have made at tolerance and equality will be slammed into full reverse. Already, America's vengeful would-be ayatollah, Jerry Falwell, is raising high the banner of hatred. The Not So Very Reverend seethed on the "700 Club that the blame for the terrorist attacks belongs to "the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians ... the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. Pat Robertson amened: "I concur. Let's go kill a secularist for God.
Minorities -- not just those of Middle East descent -- will have bull's-eyes painted on them. Whoever is different will be deemed dangerous. Xenophobia will become a national catechism; racial profiling will be a national pastime.
Likewise, we'll see a chilling of our nation's lifeblood -- free expression. Dissent will be declared treasonous. Commentators who are reluctant to join the "kill 'em all stampede were quickly targeted last week. Corporate critic, author and film producer Michael Moore, got this e-mail: "If you are the anti-Capitalist film producer Michael Moore who has made public statements favoring the assassins who attacked the WTC and the Pentagon, I would love to be the one introducing you to a Roman Candle up your ass. Moore, of course, made no statement "favoring the terrorists. He merely questioned the wisdom of the increasingly incendiary rhetoric that dominates the debate on how we should respond to the murderers.
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