Sunday, August 27, 2006

We Protest Because We Are Patriotic



The woman's voice on the radio chilled my blood. "I'm going to die, aren't I? I'm going to die." Hearing Melissa Doi's last words from the 83rd floor of the World Trade Center, minutes before it collapsed, haunts me to this day. In my mind, I turn away, unable to contemplate the horror she felt, along with the thousands of others who died on September 11, 2001.

President Bush will be in town this week, and much is being made of the protests that are planned to welcome him to this, the reddest of States. I plan on being there, with my daughter Meigon, who also accompanied me last year to a similar protest. We go there in memory of those who have died in this nation's wars, and in memory of those who died on September 11.

We protest because we are patriotic.

I wrote an essay following a visit I made with my family to Philadelphia in 2003. We visited Independence Hall, stood where the Founding Fathers argued and battled in the formation of our government. I was impressed, and deeply humbled by the great gift those men bestowed upon this nation, gifts of individual sovereignty and protections against abuse by a tyranical government. My travels in China has shown me how precious those rights are.

It is known that the greater the price one makes for a belief, the more committed one will be to that belief. In Mormonism, those that serve 2-year missions have an extremely high activity rate throughout their lives. Soldiers who serve in the military work under the same paradigm. They have placed their lives at risk for a cause, and they remain fiercely committed to that cause. Whether as a missionary or a soldier, it is in their emotional best interest to continue to believe that their cause was just, even when those around them try to show that it wasn't. To change their perspective means that their sacrifice was in vain.

It is this tendency that explains the vitriolic response most in the military have against those like Cindy Sheehan and others who have come out against the war in Iraq. Questioning their patriotism is one strategy, asserting that their protests aid and abet the enemy is another. The Bush administration are experts at declaring that those who oppose the war in Iraq will bring more terrorism upon us. The administration stifles debate on the subject, refusing to consider opposing ideas and strategies, stubbornly pushing forward a demonstrably failed policy. I admire Cindy Sheehan, a woman who was able to make the leap into the emotional abyss of realizing that her son died in vain. I admire her courage to speak out, as a person who can speak out because she has personally paid the price. Her voice speaks louder to me than those of Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, et al, who have never faced death, either personally or in their families.

I view the actions of the Bush Administration in relation to the "War on Terror" as reprehensible. On September 12, 2001, top military officials convened to discuss plans to invade Iraq. Although there was no link between the government of Iraq and the September 11 perpetrators, George Bush and his administration cherry-picked evidence to convince Congress and the American People that it was justified to attack Iraq.

The spirit of the U.S. Constitution is the belief that power corrupts, and that absolute power corrupts absolutely. The Founding Fathers recognized the inate desire of all political leaders to increase their power, to insure their position, even if it involves conspiracy and dishonesty. For that reason they constructed a government with built in checks and balances -- Frequent elections, a free press, a judiciary branch. Anathema to the spirit of the Constitution is the idea that the government can with impunity monitor the actions and speech of its citizens, that the government can send its citizens to other nations to be held without bail, and out of reach of Constitutional protections.

I live in a culture that is taught not to question authority. We are told every Sunday that the leaders above us will never lead us astray, to do wrong. We are given to understand that the political battlefield is clearly marked between good and bad. For that reason, most Mormons continue to support President Bush, even as they quietly voice concerns over his policies.

But as President Theodore Roosevelt stated, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public" (http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/1730).

Wednesday Meigon and I will protest the policies of George W. Bush. I will join thousands of others who passionately feel that the war in Iraq was based on deceit and misguidance. We will protest not because we hate America, but because we love it. It is my hope that these protests will grow in intensity, until the voice of peace drowns out the hawkish ideology of this President. Only then will we be forced to change course. It happened with Vietnam. It can happen today.

8 Comments:

Anonymous shari said...

I know I am reading this a little late, but I just wanted to thank you for BEING PATRIOTIC.

11:18 AM  
Anonymous Elissa said...

I understand your point of view. It is very easy to get sucked into our society's view that hard or bad things should be avoided and don't have to happen. Unfortunately leaders have to make hard decisions that include war. A sad but inevitable fact of war is that it leads to death of young, brave and in this case, volunteer soldiers. It happened in the Bible and it happens today. It is a fact of life, difficult as it may be. I'm sorry you think it's optional, but I'm glad there are people with better information making decisions.

Thankfully there were more people who thought like the President rather than like you or Cindy Sheehan during World War II, or we'd be conversing in German right now. If you think the threat of radical Islam is any different than Nazism then I would recommend you do some more research. Try something other than the alphabet media and you're likely to get something other than Bush bashing and revisionist history (like "cherry picking of intel").

It's not popular to make hard decisions to preserve our safety and soveriegnty, as our President and Congress have, but I'm glad I live in a country where both regular people like you, along with public figures and the media, are free to openly disagree with those hard decisions. This stands in harsh contrast to the society that our little girls would have grown up in in China.

All this being said, I obviously respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree with your rather eloquent arguments against the war. As wrong as I believe you to be, I'm thankful that your little girls are growing up with a "patriotic" but wrong dad rather than no dad at all or a dad who could not speak out against the government for fear of persecution. God bless you.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Research-China.Org said...

I am amazed that people like Elissa still equate the blunder that is the Iraq fiasco with the war on terror. Not only was Iraq a secular government, and thus a partner in the battle against radical fundamentalist Islam, but Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11 or any other reason Bush has given justifying our invasion of that country. To say that "war happens" in the Bible and thus we should accept it today is patently absurd, and displays a naieve view of history. Furthermore, to equate Iraq with WWII is simply pernicious. There are no parallels except that England's Chamberlain also called those that questioned his assertions of Hitler's peaceful intentions as unpatriotic, called those that disagreed with him unpatriotic, and that he ultimately fell on the wrong side of history. Time showed the fallacy of his position, as it will show the flaws of Bush's.

The fact is, this war was the result of a lack of imagination. There was no urgent need to invade Iraq, and myriad voices, both domestic and international, tried to make that known and heard prior to the invasion. But Bush listened only to the voices he wanted to hear (a problem that plagues him still).

So, continue believing the nonsense uttered by Pres. Bush and his cohorts, but history will relegate him and his ideology to the ashbin of history.

Brian

8:18 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Brian

Like Elissa I believe that you are on the wrong side of this issue. But I am glad that you and I have the right to have this open discussion.

I am a former military man and served in the first Persian Gulf War. I served in Saudi Arabia and in Kuwait. It is hard for me to believe that you can actually think that the former government in Iraq was a PARTNER against racial Islam. Having lived in Kuwait I can tell you that this is the furthest thing from the truth. Try telling that to the families in Kuwait who watched their brothers, sister, mothers, and/or fathers who were killed or raped at the hands of the Iraqi soldiers. Iraq invading Kuwait had very little to do with LAND RIGHTS but had everything to do with the people of Kuwait’s liberal views on Islam.

Now please notice that I have not said that Iraq had something to do with the 9/11 attacks. To be truthful, I personally don’t think that they did but I also don’t have access to intelligence reports and satellite pictures and neither did you. However I do believe that Iraq was harboring terrorist and hosting terrorist camps, who want to do nothing more than to see America and Israel fall. I have personal spoken to a number of Muslim who has told me that America is evil. One of these Muslim converted to Christianity and has told me that there are racial Muslims who want to hurt Americans and Jews alike. Truth be told is that I think this is a religious war more than anything but we Americans would NEVER accept this thought.

Now with my “getting rid of the terrorist” reasoning was the real reason behind the war, the question comes up as Why Iraq? Why not take out North Korea or Iran, both of who have harbor terrorist or have terrorist camps in them? The answer to that question is simple, because America could never stomach a War like we would see against these countries. The facts are that we have lost over 3,000 soldiers in Iraq in 5 years. If we were to wage war with Iran or North Korea we would have seen many many more lives lost.

The next question is why even go to war? Why not turn the other cheek? Sorry but I personally could never have accepted this as a resolution and neither should any other American, if we want to live safely. You can relate the terrorist to the school year bully who will push you and push you until you finally fight back. How many more innocent lives had to be lost before we stood up for ourselves. In my opinion not one life should have been lost. We should have had the resources in place before 9/11 to have stopped this from ever happening. But because of Presidient Clinton's military cuts, this was not the case.

I can go on and on about this subject but I don’t expect that it would ever change your mind or others about what we are doing in Iraq. The bottom line is that a lot of good is coming from our soldiers being there. I recently spoke to someone who was in Bagdad in mid 2006 and he told me that you will never see anything in the American press about the good we are doing over there because that is not what sells ratings or newspapers. Please don’t believe what the press is telling us. Use that same critical thought process you have with our government with the stories you are hearing from the press about our soldiers in Iraq. Talk with different people about what is going on over there. Talk with ordinary people, not to try and persuade them about your ideas and thoughts but about their ideas, thoughts, and life experiences and then form your opinion. Stop the criticism of our government but instead present your solutions. To say that Bush, Cheney, and/or Rumsfled have never faced death, is just a ridiculous comment. You don’t know them, therefore you don’t know their life experiences. I am sure that you would agree that it can’t be easy to send the people you command into a life/death situation. It is not and I am sure that President Bush lives with the thought of the 3.000 lives that have been lost because of his decisions. Perhaps he lives with himself because is thinks about the number of lives that have been saved because of these 3,000 soldiers.

God Bless America and our Military who gladlly lay down their lives for ours.

Ed

1:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm just reading this post almost a year after the fact, but I'm asking you to read Elissa's comment again. Our whole country will obviously never agree on everything, but do you honesly believe that if we leave Iraq, and all Americans join together and hold hands singing "I'd like to teach the world to sing..." that the terrorists are going to say, "That's sweet. We should leave them alone." I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but even if we leave Iraq, the problems will not stop. I'm not sure why so many people think that's the answer.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Research-China.Org said...

"I'm not sure why so many people think that's the answer."

Because it is the truth.

It is simply amazing to me that there is even a single person in this country that still thinks we should be in Iraq.

Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism.

Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction to use against us.

Iraq supported no terrorist organization.

There was no reason to go there, and we were deluded into going.

To leave now will create chaos and death in Iraq, but remaining there IS creating chaos and death.

And that is the evil of George W. Bush.

Brian

10:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian, I too am reading this over a year after the fact ... but I support you completely. As a Canadian it is reassuring that there are Americans who see the bigger picture, who see what the rest of the world sees ... and does anyone really believe that had the Americans not gone into WWII that we'd all be speaking German now? Come on!
You go!
Bernice

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian,
I've just stumbled upon your site.
I am totally agree with you.
The one that created the Sept.11 issue is still at large. What ever happened to going after him??? Wasn't his name um....Bin Laden??

1:38 PM  

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