Posted: 05 August 2008 Updated: whenever
As always, this is an expression of my personal opinion. Thus, until things get too far out of hand, my right to say what I wish is still protected by the Bill of Rights.
Recently, a relative of mine forwarded me something she'd received. The verbatim text (including errors) of that attachment follows:
WOULDN'T IT BE GREAT TO TURN ON THE TV AND HEAR ANY U.S. PRESIDENT, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN GIVE THE FOLLOWING SPEECH?
'My Fellow Americans: As you all know, the defeat of the Iraq regime has been completed.
Since congress does not want to spend any more money on this war, our mission in Iraq is complete.
This morning I gave the order for a complete removal of all American forces from Iraq This action will be complete within 30 days. It is now time to begin the reckoning.
Before me, I have two lists. One list contains the names of countries which have stood by our side during the Iraq conflict. This list is short . The United Kingdom , Spain , Bulgaria , Australia , and Poland are some of the countries listed there.
The other list contains every one not on the first list. Most of the world's nations are on that list. My press secretary will be distributing copies of both lists later this evening.
Let me start by saying that effective immediately, foreign aid to those nations on List 2 ceases immediately and indefinitely. The money saved during the first year alone will pretty much pay for the costs of the Iraqi war. THEN EVERY YEAR THERE AFTER IT'll GO TO OUR SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM SO IT WONT GO BROKE IN 20 YEARS.
The American people are no longer going to pour money into third world Hell holes and watch those government leaders grow fat on corruption..
Need help with a famine ? Wrestling with an epidemic? Call France .
In the future, together with Congress, I will work to redirect this money toward solving the vexing social problems we still have at home . On that note, a word to terrorist organizations. Screw with us and we will hunt you down and eliminate you and all your friends from the face of the earth.
Thirsting for a gutsy country to terrorize? Try France or maybe China
I am ordering the immediate severing of diplomatic relations with France , Germany , and Russia . Thanks for all your help, comrades. We are retiring from NATO as well. Bonne chance, mezamies.
I have instructed the Mayor of New York City to begin towing the many UN diplomatic vehicles located in Manhattan with more than two unpaid parking tickets to sites where those vehicles will be stripped, shredded and crushed. I don't care about whatever treaty pertains to this. You creeps have tens of thousands of unpaid tickets. Pay those tickets tomorrow or watch your precious Benzes, Beamers and limos be turned over to some of the finest chop shops in the world. I love New York
A special note to our neighbors. Canada is on List 2. Since we are likely to be seeing a lot more of each other, you folks might want to try not pissing us off for a change.
Mexico is also on List 2 its president and his entire corrupt government really need an attitude adjustment. I will have a couple extra thousand tanks and infantry divisions sitting around. Guess where I am going to put 'em? Yep, border security.
Oh, by the way, the United States is abrogating the NAFTA treaty - starting now.
We are tired of the one-way highway. Immediately, we'll be drilling for oil in Alaska- which will take care of this country's oil needs for decades to come. If you're an environmentalist who opposes this decision, I refer you to List 2 above: pick a country and move there.
It is time for America to focus on its own welfare and its own citizens. Some will accuse us of isolationism. I answer them by saying, 'darn tootin.'
Nearly a century of trying to help folks live a decent life around the world has only earned us the undying enmity of just a bout everyone on the planet. It is time to eliminate hunger in America It is time to eliminate homelessness in America . To the nations on List 1, a final thought. Thank you guys. We owe you and we won't forget.
To the nations on List 2, a final thought: You might want to learn to speak Arabic.
God bless America . Thank you and good night.'
If you can read this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a soldier
(Please forward this to at least ten friends and see what happens! Let's get this to every USA computer!)
I wondered what I might have done or said to be sent this message. Apparently, she either hadn't read much of what I've said in my numerous essays or she simply didn't pay much attention to the content. My response (lightly edited) follows:
I appreciate that many Americans feel strongly about the issues contained herein, in just the way expressed by this attachment. I also understand that we have many problems right now and it seems as if there should be easy solutions to at least some of them. Some parts of this make perfect sense to me - like getting out of Iraq - right now. This pointless war has cost more American lives than the 9/11 attacks did, to say nothing about the many thousands of non-combatants who've been killed in the process, and is driving the nation into a recession while important issues like repairing our infrastructure go unfunded. Must we wait until we reach Vietnam-like death tolls and economic bankruptcy to get out of there?
However, other parts represent some very troublesome aspects of some Americans. Let me address what troubles me about this:
1. Severing diplomatic relations with any nation that doesn't support our wars is effectively treating a difference of opinion as just cause for having NO dealings with anyone who disagrees with us. Whether you like it or not, politics is not religion and saying that anyone who is not with us is automatically against us would be catastrophic for our future. Being truly isolated in today's world would at best result in a huge societal upheaval. Like it or not, our current societal structure has our fate closely intertwined with that of the rest of the world and if we cause our current society to collapse (which is what being truly isolationist would do), we might not like the society that emerges from the ashes. Do you have friends with whom you disagree about some important issues? I do. If individuals can remain friends without having to agree about everything, then surely nations can do the same.
2. Sending environmentalists packing because you believe (erroneously) that plundering the oil in Alaska's Arctic Wildlife Refuge would solve our current oil crisis is pretty much a totalitarian-type response to a disagreement over issues. At current rates of consumption, those oilfields in Alaska as yet undrilled will NOT take care of our need for oil for "decades to come". I don't know the numbers exactly, but those reserves (as currently estimated) would last at most only a few years at the US's current consumption rate. We'll have destroyed a precious, one-of-a-kind environment to delay the coming catastrophe regarding the loss of cheap oil by only what amounts to a relatively few months. The problem is not the environmental protection issue at all - it's our unreasonable dependence on cheap oil, which is destined to lead us to a bad end. Again, just because you happen to disagree with someone over an issue, is that really due cause to invite them to leave the country? Do we really want a nation filled only with people who agree with us about everything? That's going to be a pretty small nation, time we get to that point! I always thought the idea behind our constitution was that having a diverse set of ideas was a good thing, not something to be stamped out. The Bill of Rights was designed to protect the rights of the minority. Do you want to apply it only to the people who agree with you?
3. One of the reasons that many people around the world dislike America is that we've become bullies, threatening anyone who disagrees with us and carrying out that threat often enough to make many people very uncomfortable. This begins to sound very comparable to pre-WWII Germany to me. If you think we're not capable of Nazi-like behavior, then you've not learned very much about humanity. Look around.
4. My father, I, and now my son, have all served in the Army as enlisted men in foreign wars. When you do so, you gain a new appreciation for diversity and the ironclad desire to avoid the ugliness of war except as a last resort. I'm far from any sort of stereotypical "peace at any price" person, but if we must send our young men and women off to do battle for us, it should be for a really good reason, tied to our own best interests and those of the world as a whole. It shouldn't be done on trumped-up charges, faulty intelligence, and the logically absurd notion of imposing democracy at the point of a gun. Since when did we take on the responsibility for unilaterally deposing national leaders we don't like? That isn't exactly something to make the rest of the world look to us for the moral high ground. While my father, my son, and I served our nation when it called us to do so, I don't resent anyone who manages to skate out of serving in a foreign war, for any reason. What I DO resent very much is when those same people who managed to avoid military service come across as favoring invasions of nations who aren't threatening us. They'd likely feel very different if they or their own sons and daughters, spouses, sisters and brothers would have to do the fighting and dying, so I call them "chicken hawks".
5. I believe our best hope of creating a better world for ourselves and for others is to live by the principles that inspired the patriots who founded this nation. As of recent history - in particular the GWB administration - we've been doing our best to alienate most everyone around the world. In the process, we've created a situation where the rights of many Americans have been threatened in the name of "homeland security". If we want to have other nations follow our example, we should be setting a GOOD example of how we want them to behave regarding their own citizens, and the rest of the world. Instead, we've become paranoid about anyone not an American. Chauvinism and xenophobia are being promoted to keep us from seeing the damage being done here at home by the policies of the current GWB administration. What *I* would like to see an American president announce is an end to all of this and a return to a more rational, inclusive society that would welcome diverse cultures and the widest possible range of viewpoints. I believe that was what the founders of this nation wanted.
I guess I'm not going to pass this around to ten friends, but I might well use it in a Web essay ...
Something I probably should have said was that the amount of money we give away in foreign aid wouldn't go very far to ensure the solvency of the Social Security system, which is in deep trouble thanks to the short-sighted behavior of both the executive and legislative branches of our government. And I doubt very much that the money saved in the first year by withholding foreign aid from List 2 would pay off our Iraq war debt! Just imagine the fuel bill alone for the operation of our aircraft and military vehicles in the desert. It seems to me that the far right-wing "thinking" embodied in the aforementioned email attachment is characteristically long on emotional content (unpaid NYC parking tickets? Good grief!!) and extremely deficient in facts and logic.