AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL:
Days of Infamy and Extremism
It all started with this email from a friend:
I was wondering if any of your other e-mail pals have written their thoughts on the attack to you. I am interested in seeing what others have to say. Perhaps you could post comments on your website.
Well, that sounded like a great idea, except that nobody had given me permission to publish their communications. I've found a compromise, I hope, that will respect my correspondents' confidentiality while still allowing me to share their feedback.
If you see your note published here, and want it removed, (or you want to add your opinion to this page) click HERE and I will do so at once.
(Needless to say, the opinions expressed herein are the writers' -- and in most cases, definitely not my own. Also, you might want to brace yourself for some salty language -- not all my friends are as eloquent or work as "clean" as I do!)
First up is my first thought, banged out in a rush and sent to various friends and loved ones Tuesday morning. After that, all responses are in the order in which I received them.
We're gonna measure our lives as Before 9/11, and After 9/11. This is Pearl Harbor x 1000.
As a dedicated left-winger, I am freaking out - this country is about to go SCREAMING to the right. Anyone out there have any thoughts?
The first person to write back thought I was taking off on the government in a left-winged way (which I wasn't, and am not), to which I responded:
You got me all wrong, man. I was the first person in our new apartment complex to hang an American flag in his window this week.
All I was saying was, we need to watch ourselves for extremism in our response to this situation.
I'm not anti anything right now. I'm watching, waiting, and gathering information in an effort to keep my OWN head screwed on straight.
Remember (or maybe you didn't know) I grew up in a house headed by a decorated veteran of World War II.
I'm an old-school patriot.
But my eyes are wide open.
It's funny. I'm catching grief from my fiancee for being too far to the right, and from you for being too far to the left.
Maybe that puts me in the right place.
You know me probably as a conservative in some things, but a liberal in heart.
My thoughts at this moment are that we should undertake military action against both known terrorist organizations and the nations that are known to harbor them. I am talking the violent overthrow of the governments of these nations, and the eradication (as much as possible) of the terrorist cells, by any means necessary. It may take years, but I believe we should dedicate ourselves to this as we would did to defeating Germany and Japan in World War II. I recognize the terrible cost in human life this will mean on both sides, however, what happened today are acts of war. I believe today stands as the greatest single one-day loss of life in American history, in war or peace time. We are no longer talking about the value of human life, but the value and meaning of our way of life as a country, as a people. If we are to recover from this as a nation I believe we must react -- quickly, forcefully and with finality.
Kinda scary when you finally get your eyes opened isn't it? This is tragic and I'm so angry I could spit.
I'm pissed. Fucking towel heads.
Yeah, we'll probably veer to the right, but it may jump-start this economy. Worse immediate impact is that all of our lives are going to get a lot, lot more complicated. Travel will be impossible, and many other routine actions will become more difficult.
I think you're right. And they will condemn us "left wingers" instead of changing the behavior that helps to create these kinds of tragedy .
A Pinch Of Salt
Next time you ask me to tape anything interesting that happens, I am heading for the hills.
First reaction this a.m. at 6 - call pete.
It's the end of the world as we know it.
Let me collect that thought... I am in deep shock. Pete - pray for victims and their families. Pray for Justice and Mercy, both.
Some slavering Republican congressmen have already come out blaming the Clinton administration for being soft on defense. Evil fuckers. Already they're turning this into a cheap, sound-byte-ready political issue. They're almost as bad as the perpetrators of this crime. Stupid too. No amount of defense could have prevented this from happening. If you ask me, it spells out just how ridiculous Reagan/Bush's Star Wars program really is.
Are we going to turn to the right? I hope not. This could increase anti-Islamic sentiments, which is unfortunate. If people scream for more military spending, hopefully someone will clue them in that that won't do shit.
I think the Afgani people are going to suffer. They've been through civil war and an Islamic revolution, and now they'll probably have hell rain down on them from above, courtesy the U.S. people. Meanwhile, there are no guarantees we'll ever really know who's behind this whole thing.
I have to go teach a class right now. I was going to teach an Amiri Baraka play which is very incendiary in its rhetoric (lines like "If Charlie Parker had just killed 10 white guys, he wouldn't have had any more music left in him.") Don't know if I'm up for that today. Might just have a bull session about this whole thing.
Several thoughts: First, I wish Clinton was leading us instead of that idiot we call a president. Secondly, at least with Pearl Harbor we knew who we were at war with. Third, one of the partners in our daughter's firm was on one of those planes. I suspect as this unfolds, we will know more of the victims. Fourth, this is really shitty.
I can't look at the pictures. I can't
I want to act and in that wanting to act I realize there is only one thing I can do
I can change my mind
About hatred and fear and greed and separation
I don't know what else to do
I don't know how else to talk to my daughter except to tell her. . .be done with hatred fear, a belief in death
I don't know how to change. i only know i have to
I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN PETE. HORRIFFIC. NO WORDS TO DESCRIBE. COULD WE BE LOOKING AT WORLD WAR III? I AM AT WORK RIGHT NOW AND FEELING USELESS. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO US?
I was with a man this morning who has lived in New York all his life and is absolutely in love with his city. You should have seen his face when we saw the footage. He is devastated. I cried all the way home and I have no personal connection with New York, I can't imagine what he must be feeling.
This is only the beginning. Life will never be the same again. Our generation has been so protected for so long, it could not have lasted.
Everyone is clueless. Everyone is shocked. I felt compelled to get on my bike and check on my beloved Golden Gate Bridge, just to make sure she was still standing.
I don't know how to answer you except to have faith in your country and its leadership. Without a doubt, it's a sobering, horrific experience and we in our finite minds can not understand or imagine why things of this magnitude happen. I guess all we can do is to live our lives right and be kind and good to those whose lives we touch. None of us can solve all problems, but if each of us concentrates on those around us, maybe goodwill will spread. Let's hope so.
All I can say is say a prayer and keep the faith. You've got a good Christian background and I hope you will lean on that for support. It's often the glue that keeps one from giving up.
My heart goes out to the innocent and their families. And for all of us who hurt in a different kind of way. And that's OK for us to have mixed emotions. This, in all probability, will result in serious, far-reaching changes for us and for our country.
Let's start investing in the new "brown shirt" trend.
John McCain will overthrow the gov. It's a scary possibility. I hope I'm too old for the draft.
God save the Queen.
Does anyone else find it ironic that Bush Jr. has reaped the unseemly rewards of George Sr.'s war in the Gulf? I don't know about you guys, but I can't help but think that if George Sr. hadn't have been a blowhard, oil-hungry, Zionist-friendly War Pig we Americans wouldn't have been quite the blood enemies we now and forever will be to much of the Muslim world. These are people who remember insults to their people that go back hundreds of years. They certainly aren't going to forgot the war in Irag anytime soon.
I also find it ironic that everyone involved -- Jew, Christian, and Muslim -- is praying to the same Angry Desert God -- the God of Abraham, you know, the guy who told told his Numero Uno man to go kill his eldest son just to see if he was crazy enough to be worthy of his love. Hmmmmmmmmmm ... don't know about you guys, but I think we'd all be happier if we'd left all that "pie in the sky when you die" crap behind in the Middle Ages. Life is sacred. Not the will of a sun-baked desert God.
Okay, that's enough. I just cut a really long paragraph because I realized I was pushing the boundaries of good taste and common sense. Just hope George Jr. doesn't suspend the Constitution and round up all Arab-Americans and put them in camps. The ways things are going, that might please many Americans, as I've already heard rumblings that the loss of some civil liberties would be worthwhile if it increased our sense of security. Yikes ...
Hope all is well. (non-desert) God bless.
In the wake of inconceivable tragedy, let us all join together in remembering that peace is an individual choice. No group, no faith, no political ideology can force an individual to act against his or her good judgement. Also, let us join together to remeber, in each moment, that no moment is more precious than this one.
Let us hope that, from this experience, we can learn to be more patient, kind, and understanding to ourselves and others. If we do that, this awesome loss will be given some meaning.