Friday, January 21, 2005

All we have left is hope, Jan. 21, 2005

All we have left is hope
Creators Syndicate Friday Jan. 21, 2005
By Ray Hanania

It is hard to find hope in America if you are not one of the privileged majority wrapped tightly in the “warm” blanket of the new American Patriotism.

Some of us are shivering in the chill of bigotry, discrimination and hatred.

The lines between us include the war in Iraq, which everyday is becoming a Vietnam-like battleground with insurgents doing a very good job of standing up to our high-tech and supposedly superior military.

The number of American soldiers who are killed continues to rise and the attitude among the tightly wrapped is that, well, we lost one, now we have to keep fighting for the honor of that loss.
No. We lost hundreds and soon thousands. Rather than fight an unwinnable war, we should pack up and leave with the lives we haven’t yet lost.

The terrorism of Sept. 11 has been so politicized it has been used to drive election results. This week, its greatest benefactor, George W. Bush, was sworn in to a second term most people before Sept. 11 didn’t believe he would ever have.

Whenever the politicians need to bump the polls, all they have to do is put an electrode to American fears and turn on the switch: We have to raise the warning from yellow to orange because two years ago, we learned someone might try to blow up a bus station.

Americans have become vigilantes against terrorists, walking around sneering at anyone with slightly darker skin who might look Middle Eastern. Amazingly, most Americans can’t tell the difference between a Pakistani or a Palestinian, an Iraqi or an Indian.

The debate has turned from a buzz to loud noise with the conservatives screaming and railing at anyone who questions American policy. The Constitution is a convenience, not a foundation for them. If they have to strip someone’s rights to protect themselves, they will do that.

Racism occurs without anyone blinking an eye. Arab Americans are losing jobs left and right, are being prosecuted without being the chance to defend themselves in our supposedly Democratic court system, and the primary strategy to fight terrorism is profiling, which was the very system that failed us on Sept. 11.

Bush tells us the world will be safer if we just bring Democracy to Iraq. But bringing Democracy to Iraq is an impossible and unachievable goal.

You cannot make a sectarian country divided by religion and ethnicity (Sunnis, Shi’ites, Kurds, Assyrians, Arabs, Iranians, Chaldeans) a Democracy when the people insist on voting on the basis of religion and ethnicity rather than on issues.

Bush says the terrorists are on the run. I don’t see them running at all, unless it is to blow themselves up at an American target.

Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind of Sept. 11 is still at-large, but we have Saddam Hussein in custody who, as it turns out, did not have weapons of mass destruction, did not pose a threat to the United States, had no plans to attack us and isn’t even popular with his own people who every year voted to return him to office rather than stand up for their own independence and Democracy.

Meanwhile, healthcare, social security, the war on drugs and street gangs, education and senior care remain out of sight and continue to decline.

Of course, we might console ourselves by saying that things could get worse.

What’s really frightening is that things just might get worse.


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