Thursday, September 11, 2008

Nine and Eleven. And Sixes and Sevens.

A good friend of mine sent me an op-ed by Roger Cohen in this morning's New York Times. I found it brilliant and cutting, but once again, the phrase, "If you're not appalled yet, you haven't been paying attention." came to mind.

This country has been raped and plundered by an administration that is beholden to the financial elite, big oil, and a sense of entitlement that boggles the mind. I want to say it's unprecedented in American history, but my husband the history major is quick to point out that it's been done before -- we just didn't have CNN covering it any of the previous times.

In reading this Op-ed, however, and pronouncing it "Brilliant!", I find myself wondering if I'm suffering from hypocrisy.

Yes, in case you're wondering, this entry is about to enter the Scope Creep Zone. We'll see if I can bring it back. ;)

Someone who shall remain nameless sent me a link to an op-ed by Jon Voight that was published in the July 28th Washington Times. She pronounced it insightful and reflective of her own fears. I wrote back to her that I thought it would be better titled "OMG! There's N*ggers in the Woodpile!" and I suggested she was too smart and too good-hearted to spend her time listening to the language of bigotry and hate. I pronounced the piece to be nothing more than mean-spirited, white-fear pandering and I told her I was offended that she thought I might be interested in seeing it. I told her never to send me anything of this sort again, or I might be forced to lose respect for her.

It probably wasn't me at my diplomatic best.

And today, I find myself wanting to send her the Cohen Op-Ed, which makes me wonder if I'm a hypocrite.

And yet, I'm not sure.

The nature of the dialog from the two faces of our nation is wrought with subtle but important differences.

Cohen looks back on actions and opines on their worth and their consequences. Voight postulates on a potential future and plays to the emotions of those who look to be emotional. Cohen asserts that the current administration is damned by its action and deliberate inaction, Voight asserts that our nation is damned by an unnamed evil that will be wrought from association and conjecture.

I find this reflective of the dialog that is taking place all over the nation. On one hand, we have the look back at the last seven years of this administration: the patterns of behavior that have emerged, our shared shame at the loss of standing our country has suffered, our economic hardship that seems not to affect those who make our policies, our loss of sons and daughters for a cause we can no longer easily define. And we look to the a team that has stated they support the actions that have brought us here. The condemnation, in this case, is related to the actions and the words spoken by the candidates that seek to lead this country.

On the other hand, we have a look at a candidate that is characterized as "different", "other", "untested", "inexperienced" other words, an "unknown". The language we hear speaks to a potential future that might be different from our past, and that future is cast as undesirable, evil, subversive. There is little, if any, reference to specific words and actions. I think these words are meant to convey one thought, and one thought only: "If these people are allowed to rise to power, they may disrupt the status quo. Those who have been in power might lose power. Those who have been on the sidelines until now may help shape the agenda from now on. You should be afraid of this. This is dangerous. We must protect our power (our empire?) at all costs."

I find myself wondering why we, as a nation, tolerate this double standard of linguistics and logic. I wonder if our nation has been willfully blinded into believing that the two arguments are equivalent. They're not.

What has this to do with the seventh anniversary of 9/11? I was in the kitchen of a friend in Heidelberg, shortly after the attacks. He turned to me and said, "Do you think your nation will learn the important lesson to be had here?"

I think the answer to that question will be revealed in the choices we make in November. Will we choose the language and philosophy of change, tolerance and unity that reflects an administration that promises to open up seats at the table for people who have been too long on the sidelines, or maintain the language of divisiveness and imperialism that reflects a future still beholden to those elite few who have always been at the table.

I know my choice. And I hope you make yours with both your heart and your head, and not based on either blind devotion or blind fear. We have too much at stake.


Mermaid Melanie said...

I am all about the "unknown". I find people that I am amazed are being swayed by the pandering. Are they using their brains at ALL?

the unknown will win.. it must in order for there to be ANY progress in this nation.

bhd said...

Tell me you submitted this to your paper. Please.

winter said...

What BHD said.