Ordinarily, I’d thank you for writing.
But truth is, I am not grateful you wrote; your note last week was one of the more troubling things I have read. I do not blame you for leaving it unsigned.
“We stand together,” I had written. “We stand defiant. And we stand with Boston.”
“Your wrong pal we do not STAND TOGETHER.OH MY GOD we need a CIVIL WAR.The American people against the LIBERAL DEMACRAT SCUM that we have let allow SCUMBAGS like those that would BLOW UP people in BROAD DAYLIGHT to be here … WE NEED A CIVIL WAR.Those demacrats that happen to still be breathing after that CIVIL WAR will have a choice. BECOME NORMAL or you are LEAVING with the 11 million illegals that ARE GOING HOME … THIS IS SO CLOSE TO HAPPENING THAT EVERY LIBERAL IN THIS COUNTRY SHOULD START LOSING SLEEP … THERE IS A CLEAR REASON WHY WE ARE ARMED TO THE TEETH …”
And you know, there was a time, not so long ago, I’d have laughed off your semi-coherent, misspelling-riddled rant. But I don’t laugh so much anymore, because you concretize a question I have been struggling with: Is America sustainable? Can a nation pulling so energetically in opposite directions survive?
We call it hyper-partisanship, polarization, balkanization. But those are SAT words, polysyllabic expressions that make abstract what they describe. So let us face what you embody and call it by name. It is hatred. And it is contempt.
It’s not just you. It’s Arkansas state legislator Nate Bell tweeting, “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?” as the hunt for bombers closed that city down.
Before that, it was that man in Florida who committed suicide because Barack Obama was re-elected. And so-called “patriots” in the woods plotting against the government. And a sign promising death to the First Lady and her “two stupid kids.” It’s the true state of the union, the America we have come to be.
Yes, I know. Bill Maher once called Sarah Palin a crude and sexist name. Shame on that smarmy little man. But no, that does not suggest an equivalence of hatred and contempt. In volume, vociferousness and pure venom, Maher and the handful of other left-wing pundits who mistake name-calling for argument and coarseness for wit have nothing on the army of Hannitys, Coulters, Savages, Santorums, Limbaughs, Palins, Bachmanns, Malkins, Nugents, Trumps and Becks trolling the sewers of American disunion.
Now, to them, we add you, my nameless countryman, advocating for war. War.
And I am struck by the fact that I am not struck by the fact. Even this is just business as usual now.
A nation is more than common geography. It is also common values, a common way of looking at the world — not that everyone agrees on everything always, but that we are at least tethered by similar understanding of who we are and what that means.
It is that test this country fails now with regularity. We can’t even agree on who we are anymore, so swamped are we by the rage red holds for blue.
The road to Civil War began 153 years ago as Southern states, led by South Carolina, passed ordinances of secession from the Union. But, as a nation is more than just geography, so, too, is secession therefrom. The act represents a tearing away that is as much spiritual and emotional as it is geographic. Maybe even more.
So if the likes of you and Mr. Bell are right, if it is really beyond us now even to stand shoulder to shoulder with stricken fellow citizens, then we have lost more than bombs could ever destroy. And secession has already occurred.
By: Leonard Pitts Jr., The National Memo, April 24, 2013
“It Isn’t Just Boston”: An Event Like The Bombing Brings Out The Best In People, No Matter Where They’re From
We’ve heard many inspiring and heartwarming stories from Boston about how people acted in the aftermath of Tuesday’s bombing—rushing to aid the injured, opening up their homes to strangers, being kinder and more considerate than they would have been a week ago, in ways small and large. Many people elsewhere have expressed solidarity with the city of Boston, and I think that’s great. But amidst it all there are some strange expressions about how all that admirable response is somehow uniquely Bostonian. I’m not trying to condemn anyone, but it’s something we always seem to fall into when there’s a shocking and tragic event like this one. It certainly happened after September 11, when stories of heroism and generosity were so often followed with the sentiment that “Nowhere else in the world” would people have acted in such praiseworthy ways, as though had a similar tragedy happened in Tokyo or Copenhagen or Johannesburg, people would have just left each other to die on the sidewalk. I’m not the only one who thinks this way; at Slate, Luke O’Neill is a little discomfited by the way people are talking about his city:
This line of thinking cropped up more and more frequently as the night wore on. This is Boston! Now we’re about to show you what we’re made of. What does that mean? Are we sending a team of our most drunken, sports-crazed townies over to—where exactly?—to find the people responsible? Are we going to settle this terrorist attack with a fistfight outside The Fours? “Clearly … someone forgot what happened the last time evil showed its face in Boston” read another meme friends have been posting over an image of two icons of Boston cinema’s trademark roguish Irish outlaws. I can’t decide if that’s more or less infantile to think the fictional characters from The Boondock Saints are going to materialize to fight terror than to post pictures of Charlie Brown and Snoopy offering Boston a hug. Elsewhere, Today trotted out “Boston” prop Mike Barnicle to explain how owah tragedies ahh moar powerful than yowahs. “This was as if someone came into your living room and attacked you in your home,” the longtime Boston newsman said. “That’s the feeling, that’s the sense of the crowd. This was an attack on family.”
Some of the support from outside the city was even worse. One particularly parasitic example came from page-view profiteers BuzzFeed, whose list of 29 Reasons to Love Boston (subhead: “Wicked awesome”; sample entry: the Citgo sign) explained to the world that we’re a city that has things to do and look at. Thanks for the reminder. One of those things we’re known for here is Dunkin’ Donuts, which, somehow, inexplicably, showed up in numerous expressions of defiant pride. What does a fast-food and coffee chain have to do with how Boston specifically reacts to a terrorist attack? It’s like people were just listing off things that they associate with Boston in order to … well, I don’t really know what the motivation behind that is. I’m not sure what the missing steps are between watching videos of people rush to the aid of bombing victims and pledging your allegiance to a specific brand of iced coffee.
It isn’t that cities don’t have particular personalities, born of history, the particular mix of people who live there, the industries that dominate, the way geography and weather shape the lives people live, and so on. Of course they do. For instance, I used to live in Philadelphia, which takes pride in a certain boorishness (Did we boo Santa Claus and throw snowballs at him at an Eagles game? Yeah, well, he had it coming). I also grew up in New Jersey, whose motto, I’ve long maintained, should be, “New Jersey: Fuck me? No, fuck you.” Washington, where the Prospect is based, certainly has some things to commend it, but it has far less of a distinctive municipal personality than many other cities do. But the point is, the things that distinguish different cities have virtually no impact on how their citizens will react to an event like this bombing.
What does? Our humanity, that’s what. It turns out that confronted with a shocking, dramatic, tragic event like this, people instantaneously find what’s best in themselves. They become braver than they might have thought they’d be. They extend a hand to each other. They come together. That’s what people do.
By all means, we should shower praise on the people of Boston for how they’ve reacted; they deserve it. And we should hear from them about how this event has affected their city. But it would be wrong to convince ourselves, in our understandable eagerness to laud them, that the good things they’ve done wouldn’t have been seen elsewhere, too.
By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, April17, 2013
Six years ago I celebrated Thanksgiving on a small Iraqi base in western Ninewa province. Nearly halfway through my year-long tour on that day me and 9 other members of the military transition team I served with (one man was home on leave) settled in to watch a game of football. No, not the Cowboys or the Lions. In this case it was a soccer match between the young members of an American cavalry troop who were co-located with us at the time and ringers from the Iraqi battalion. Final score, 1st Battalion: 20, B Troop: 2. Or something like that. (The energy and fitness of the young troopers could not overcome the superior passing skills and finesse of the Iraqis.)
The weather in the high desert was changing from the arid heat to the cooler fall. We sat down that afternoon to a meal of hot, or at least warmish, and plentiful “A” rations of some form of pressed turkey loaf and fixings. This certainly was not the feasts available on some of the larger American and coalition forward operating bases throughout the country, and certainly was not as joyous an occasion as being surrounded by friends and family and favorite foods and beverages as available back here in the United States, but in retrospect it was quite good. It certainly was much better than what I am sure some soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines will be having tomorrow in remote combat outposts in Afghanistan. The fellowship of being surrounded by fellow soldiers, American and Iraqi, made the circumstances of being so far from home in a war zone bearable.
So on this Thanksgiving I say we give thanks for many things, even though individual circumstances may dictate the depth of our thanks. But collectively we Americans should be thankful for living in a country where violence and intimidation are not the norms for resolving political differences. Sure, we just exited from a contentious presidential election. And yes there was some hyperventilation about the results from some quarters (just as there was following the 2000 and 2004 elections) and the economy continues to sputter along, but we do live in a country where the deliberate, indiscriminate use of explosives or mass violence to systematically target to kill people simply due to their race, ethnicity, religion, or creed is not the norm. Yes, tragic incidents occur from time to time, but their rarity makes their occurrence all the more shocking.
We should also give thanks to the men and women of the armed forces and other members of the U.S. government and supporting contracting personnel who are separated from friends and family and are providing for the common defense and the advancement of U.S. interests abroad, whether they be in war zones or not. We hope to see you back home soon. For those in harm’s way be as safe as the mission allows.
By: Michael P. Noonan, U. S. News and World Report, November 21, 2012
“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you…. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.”–Abraham Lincoln
On January 20, 2009, Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of The United States of America. For me, this was the most historic event of my lifetime. I was so thrilled and excited to attend that ceremony with my wife and my daughter. The pride, the sense of progress, the sense that this America, my America, had finally ascended to the pinnacle of the American spirit…the spirit that says no matter who you are, no matter where you live, no matter the color of your skin, you too can achieve the American dream.
I watched intently as our president took the oath of office. Barack Obama, a man whose story is an American story, a man with values from the heartland of America and middle class upbringings, a man whose convictions emphasize his commitment to the service of others.
America, or I should say, most of America, was prepared to show the rest of the world what it means to live in a democracy, to show ourselves that democracy works for all Americans. As I look back over these last 4 years since that inauguration day, I wonder with dismay, where and when did we decide to make a U turn?
Apparently, the turn began on the night of the inauguration. While the goodwill and good feeling of the many was being celebrated, a 15 member group of power hungry legislators were meeting to undermine the rest of the country. This was no ordinary four hour meeting. Everyone knew the nation was in crisis…an economy in the tank, millions of Americans without jobs, millions more without healthcare, and two ongoing costly wars. Representatives Eric Cantor, Kevin McCarthy, Pete Sessions, Jeb Hersaling, Pete Hoekstra, Dan Lungren and Senators Jim DeMint, Jon Kyl, Tom Coburn, John Ensign and Bob Corker, along with former Speaker Newt Gingrich and pointman Frank Luntz were strategizing on their grand plan to “take back America”. Since no one seemed to know where America had been taken to, their meeting was to enact a plan on how to block and obstruct every possible legislative idea and policy that would be put forth by President Obama. No matter how bad things were already, and no matter the fact that these same people had contributed to the downfall that we were all experiencing, these men, and I use the term cautiously, were essentially plotting to overthrow the government. Some would say that their plan bordered on treason, myself included. Their actions did not represent simple politics, they represented complete disdain and contempt for “we the people” and the first African-American president.
From that point on and for the next four years, history returned with a vengeance. Lead by Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House and Senate Republicans went on the most despicable campaign of desperation, disruption and obstruction never before seen in American history. Mitch McConnell went so far as to say:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
In other words, we don’t care about what is happening in America, we don’t give a damn if the country goes to hell in a handbasket.
Then came the drum beat from the even “farther right”…Michele Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, John Sununu, Donald Trump. President Obama is now the “other”, “not born in America”, “not one of us”, “lazy”. These are all people who say they believe in America, they believe in democracy, they believe in the American dream. Barack Obama is the 44th duly elected President of the United States. The disrespect, contempt and hatred shown to him is plainly despicable and unacceptable. It simply shows how they feel about the rest of us, especially the 47%. What changed? Race. The occupant of the White House is now an African-American. That’s what changed. During this election cycle, there were bumper stickers that said “put the white back in the White House”. This isn’t a dog whistle, it’s pure racism. Republicans saw this, and still do, as their way to stoke the fears and insecurities of so many who harbor the same sentiments. Mitt Romney, having no core convictions other than to have the title of President of the United States, went along with this agenda.
It didn’t stop there. In order to advance their agenda to return to power, republicans needed to energize their “base”. They had to make the case that America is being taken over by undesirables, by people who do not believe in the same America that they do. Anything less and anyone who disagrees is un-American. America is no longer about “freedom and liberty”, that is “our” brand of freedom and liberty. Women’s rights, abortion, contraception, civil rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, pay inequity, gay and lesbian rights, attacks on the middle class, medicare and social security, all became tools to disenfranchise those who dared not to fall in line. The wealthy wanted more tax cuts and more power, the only two things that mattered.
As I watched the election results, I had no doubt that the better angels in America would prevail. I had no statistics that I could simply rely on. I only had a sense that there is a better America. I had a sense that my America would not reward these wayward ideological republicans although this ideology has put hate and racism front and center. I had a feeling that my America, the “majority of minorities”, would “shut this whole thing down”. I do not believe that America wants to return to the dark ages. Racism, greed, inequality, suppression of voting and civil rights has no place in this society.
Barack Hussein Obama has been re-elected President of the United States of America. This is a good thing for America, for our future, for what we stand for and what we should stand for. This is my America, my President. The republicans had the money in this election but the people had the will to say, enough is enough. It seems that for republicans, the past is never dead and buried, it is not even past.
America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves–Abraham Lincoln
America has spoken. It’s time for republicans to become a part of the solution…you have been the problem for far too long.
By: raemd95, mykeystrokes.com, November 6, 2012
Not the president. Barack Obama is holding a huge global and domestic crisis in his hand. To use a Washington metaphor, he’s dangerously close to being left “holding the bag” on the Treasury debt ceiling limit. He keeps talking sweet reason about the art of compromise to Republicans in Congress—not a language they speak. Obama played golf with the House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican who drones on about “small business” every chance he gets. Obama is not getting traction or making friends with Boehner because he does not grasp the conversation about the debt limit is not about the debt limit. It’s about taking his presidency down—this week—even if it hurts the United States of America, which it will. A small price to pay for this tea-drinking crowd of 87 GOP House freshmen which turned the chamber upside down six months ago.
“This is no way to run the greatest country on earth,” Obama declared in a belated speech, sounding a call to arms around the country, last night. That in itself says so much—he’s right, but he’s the man who’s elected by the people—not John Boehner who was elected by a small-town slice of Ohio—to run the country! Everything was calculated to leave Obama in the lurch—by Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of the old Confederate capital, Richmond, Va. and at least one other mastermind. The conspiracy has succeeded flawlessly so far. They separated Obama from his own party in Congress; in his dealings with only Republicans he went way beyond Bill Clinton’s “triangulation” strategy. Obama made allies feel like they were shut out of the deal-making room when he offered concessions that cut at the heart of the Democratic Party‘s proud history on social programs dating to the New Deal.
The GOP—and I mean the George W. Bush years and the current crop of Senate Republicans, too—has a new deal for you, too. It’s called the New Steal. It goes like this: we’ll take all the peace and prosperity of the Clinton tax code years up until 2000 and then squander it on a couple unwinnable wars of choice—and by the way, make rich people pay less into the Treasury than they did during those golden years. They might start one of those illusory “small businesses.”
The reason President Clinton was acquitted at his impeachment trial in the Senate for a fling with Monica Lewinsky was because he built bonds of loyalty, teamwork and camaraderie with Democrats in both houses of Congress. Not one of them came forward on the floor to speak against him, except pious Sen. Joe Lieberman, who suggested a censure. He was utterly alone in his opportunistic little ploy. Clinton’s true friends all stood by him in the Senate—because he was their president.
Obama, a bit of a loner, needs more bosom buddies among lawmakers. In a crisis, you find out who your friends are. The one who could have steered him straight, sailing into the wind, was the late great senator, Edward M. Kennedy. When Kennedy got his Irish up and roared on the floor, he scared the forest. Obama does not scare the Republican jungle.
Let’s impeach Rush Limbaugh as the master of public dis-coarse. He’s the real reason we have so many angry white men in office who are plotting against the president. He’s writing the back-story of this debt drama, consulting closely with House Republican leaders step by step. I believe it even if I can’t see it because he did the same thing in 1994, in cahoots with Newt Gingrich, who recruited a new House Republican freshman class to take over the House. Yes, I saw Rush with my own eyes getting all the glory as class mascot at a fancy dinner at Camden Yards in Baltimore for the new Republican victors that enabled Gingrich to become speaker. The government shutdowns and showdowns against President Clinton resulted—remember?
By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, July 26, 2011