Sunday, July 24, 2005

I'm Not A Terrorist. Good to Know.

Latest Newspaper Column

Well, that’s a relief. A person who recently wrote a letter to this paper wrote back to clarify that they didn’t really mean to call me a terrorist.

For the record, I never really thought that that’s what the writer meant. After all, calling me an actual terrorist would be silly. I’m a Southerner. Southerners can’t be terrorists. We love pickup trucks too much. We’d never waste a perfectly good one by driving it into a crowd and blowing it up.

After reading the clarification, my son turned to me and said, “I never thought you were a terrorist, Dad.” I have to confess, I got a little choked up at that, even though he may have just been trying to get an advance on his allowance.

But seriously, folks, what troubles me is the sentiment expressed in the letter that I’m trying to “hurt America” because I criticize George Dubbya Bush (Dubbya, by the way, was his nickname back in Texas, and one he apparently embraced, so I figure it’s OK to call him that). It’s not the first letter I’ve gotten that expresses that sentiment.

But here’s the thing. George W. Bush is not America. He’s the president. He’s a politician.

This is not the United States of George W. Bush. It’s not the United States of Dick Cheney. It’s not the United States of Donald Rumsfeld, or Karl Rove, or Condoleezza Rice.

Just as, a few years ago, it wasn’t the United States of Bill Clinton. People who were teed off at “Bubba” or “Slick Willie” (as he was known to his detractors) weren’t trying to get him removed from office because they were trying to “hurt America.” The people opposed to Clinton ordering air strikes in the Balkans didn’t “love Slobodan Milosovic” and they weren’t “pro-genocide.” (Ironically, some of the very same people who are now the loudest exponents of the “if you criticize Bush, you endanger the troops” idea didn’t seem to feel that way when it was American airmen getting shot at over Kosovo.)

George W. Bush is not America. He’s not a king. He’s a man elected to do a job. But I think he’s lousy at it.

I think he’s done a terrible job in fighting the war on terror. He started off good with Afghanistan, then told us he “really wasn’t all that concerned” about Osama bin Laden, the man who ordered the murder of almost 3,000 Americans.

Let me ask you this: If, after the Oklahoma City bombings, Bill Clinton had said “Yeah, we know it’s this McVeigh guy, but he’s on the run, he’s neutralized, he’s not really a viable threat, so we’re not all that concerned about him,” Clinton wouldn’t have been impeached, he’d have been hauled out of the White House in tar and feathers, and I’d have been standing there warming up the tar.

As for that War on Terror, it’s becoming more and more obvious that the invasion of Iraq has done nothing to stop the problem. In fact, it’s apparently made it worse. According to a recent study by an Israeli think tank, “the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq.”

The vast majority of them “had nothing to do with al-Qaeda before Sept. 11 and have nothing to do with al-Qaeda today,” said Reuven Paz, author of the Israeli study. “I am not sure the American public is really aware of the enormous influence of the war in Iraq, not just on Islamists but the entire Arab world.” As cartoonist Garry Trudeau archly observed, it’s not the terrorists who have a recruiting problem.

Hurt America? If I wanted to see my country hurt, I’d be rubbing my hands and cackling with glee right now at the way Bush is mismanaging things. Trust me, I’m not. But just because I think Dubbya and Rummy and Condi and Dick are making a massive botch of the war on terror, don’t think for a moment I don’t think the war should be waged or that it can’t be won.

If I didn’t love America, I wouldn’t be so almighty teed off at what I see this administration doing to it in its time of greatest need. And if, by some wild freak of chance, these sentiments ever get broadcast on Al-Jazeera, I hope the reaction of the viewer would be, “Whoa! I sure wish I was free to say that kind of thing about my ruler!”

God bless you all, and God bless America. And God bless and keep George Dubbya Bush — from screwing my country up any worse in the next three and a half years.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. He says he’s not really sure what the Arabic word for “Whoa!” is.

8 comments:

Guyot said...

“if you criticize Bush, you endanger the troops”

There is nothing endangering our troops more than Bush himself.

I rarely discuss this issue because it can so easily bring me to tears. I've spent a fair amount of time with some guys who were lucky enough to make it home from Iraq. Real soldiers. In the shit and all that.

And when I hear their stories - NOT the media's version of their stories - it crushes my spirit to know how and why this "war" is really being fought.

You would think I'm a little right of Cheney the way I respect and admire the people that keep us safe. No one has more love for cops and soldiers than myself. They are a special, special breed of human being. And whether you love Bush or Al Franken, you should hit your knees every night and thank God for these people.

But I'm a lefty. I don't want to be. But I am. Bush and his billionaire boys club has pushed me farhter left than I ever thought I'd be.

Now some less understanding folk may freak out at what I'm about to say... but you want to know the greatest time in our country this century?

It was the first three months following 9-11. Because for that short pereiod of time there were no democrats and republicans - there were only Americans.

David J. Montgomery said...

I'm as Right as rain, but I'd never call you a terrorist, Dusty. Anyone who would is an idiot.

JD Rhoades said...

Bush and his billionaire boys club has pushed me farhter left than I ever thought I'd be.

Yup. Hell of it is, I used to be quite moderate. I voted for Reagan. I backed Gulf War I and the war in Afghanistan. But since I opposed Dubbya's Wacky Iraqi Adventure, I've been called a traitor and a terrorist. I've gotten thinly veiled death threats in e-mail. All this has done is push me farther and farther to the supposed "Left", because if being on the Right means associating with these assholes, I'd rather join the Socialist Workers Party.


you want to know the greatest time in our country this century?

It was the first three months following 9-11. Because for that short pereiod of time there were no democrats and republicans - there were only Americans.


Yup again. And part of my anger at Dubbya is that he manged to piss all that away, along with the goodwill we felt from the rest of the world for that brief shining moment. The first time I broke down and cried after 9-11 is when I saw the flags flying at half mast over the Kremlin. Now, it's "who cares what they think?" Did any flags fly at half mast in the US after the subway attack in Britain?

They are a special, special breed of human being. And whether you love Bush or Al Franken, you should hit your knees every night and thank God for these people.

Yup.

JD Rhoades said...

Thank you, David.

Duane Swierczynski said...

Great fuckin' column, Dusty. Speaking truth to power cannot be underrated.

D'Artagnan Blade said...

Uh, come on please.
No you are not a terrorist, but while I am reading these comments I have to wonder who you folks are.
I am a lefty too just not a far left crazy like the kiddies over at the dailykos. Don't give me this crap about Bush's war, For christ sakes look at all the comments made from everyone and I mean everyone on the Senate had the exact same opinion of saddam as bush. So explain to me where the lie is and why you insist this is bush's war.

http://www.gpoaccess.gov/serialset/creports/iraq.html

D'Artagnan Blade said...

Should have said Senate armed services committee

JD Rhoades said...

explain to me where the lie is and why you insist this is bush's war.

As soon as you show me where in this column I said Bush lied. I think I'll be waiting a long time.

I swear, it's like you people are arguing with the voices in your head.