Saturday, August 18, 2007

Does America Really Need Another 9/11 ?

Latest Newspaper Column:

Does America Really Need Another 9/11 Terrorist Attack?

That was the provocative question posed in the headline of a column by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky.

"America's fabric is pulling apart like a cheap sweater," Bykofsky moans in his Aug. 9 column. "What would sew us back together? Another 9/11 attack."

He then goes on to detail the number of juicy targets as yet unhit by Islamic extremists: "The Golden Gate Bridge, Mount Rushmore, Chicago's Wrigley Field, The Philadelphia subway system." Bykofsky glumly presumes another successful attack is inevitable, and necessary.

Now, to be fair, Bykofsky insists that he wasn't actually calling for another attack on American soil and that the headline distorted what he meant. The true thrust of his column, he says, is that "we have mislaid" 9/11, that the unity we felt after that tragic day has degenerated into "endless sideshow squabbles...we bicker over the trees while the forest is ablaze."

I read Bykofsky's column shortly after I heard this week's announcement of the resignation of White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove -- aka "Bush's Brain", aka "the Architect." It was Rove, political observers agree, who was instrumental in engineering George Dubbya Bush's rise to the White House in 2000 and his election in 2004.

Unfortunately for America, Rove did so by engineering some of the nastiest, most divisive campaigns of the last 100 years, campaigns that relied on what was called "energizing the base."

What Rove and company "energized the base" with was fear -- fear of gay marriage, fear of terrorism, and most of all, fear of Democrats. He wasn't above playing to petty racism, either. Rove reportedly organized a whispering campaign in the 2000 South Carolina primary that claimed that John McCain had "fathered a black child." (McCain's' adopted daughter is from Bangladesh.)

Waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 while claiming that the election of a Democratic president or congressional majority would inevitably lead to another attack was a keystone of the "energize-the-base" strategy, and Rove also wasn't above shameless lying in pursuit of it.

A famous Rove quote from a Conservative fundraiser in Manhattan, not far from Ground Zero: "Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers."

This was a blatant falsehood that ignored the fact that when the vote came up to authorize a military attack against the al-Qaeda terrorists and their Taliban allies in Afghanistan, it passed the House 420-1 and the Senate 98-0.

So with all due respect, Mr. Bykofsky, when you say "we" mislaid 9/11, I immediately think of the immortal words of Tonto, "What's this 'we' stuff, Kemosabe?"

It wasn't "we" who ginnned up an attack on a country that had nothing to do with the attack on us on Sept. 11, 2001. It wasn't "we" who encouraged American citizens to call their fellow citizens "traitors," "terrorist sympathizers" and "un-American" for questioning those particular plans of the Dear Leader.

It wasn't "we" who accused 9/11 widows who criticized the administration of "enjoying their husbands' deaths too much." It wasn't "we" who gave the finger to countries who supported us after 9/11 with idiotic stunts like changing "french fries" to "freedom fries."

It wasn't "we" who did this, Mr. Bykofsky, it was Karl Rove and people like him.

The answer to unifying America is not another 9/11. The answer is not to have another few thousand of our citizens die at the hands of religious fanatics.

The answer is, first, to get rid of the people who believe that "leadership" in this country means getting that magical 51 percent of the votes and then afterward telling the other 49 percent to sit down and shut up.

We need leaders who'll remind us that we're all one country, and we're all in this together. We need leaders who'll keep reminding us that, in the words of FDR, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

We need leaders who remind us, in the words of a more recent Democrat, Barack Obama, that "we worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don't like federal agents poking around in our libraries in the Red States.

"We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we've got some gay friends in the Red States. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

We don't need more dead Americans, Mr. Bykofsky, we need better leaders.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes, and practices law in Carthage. His third novel, "Safe and Sound" is available now.

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