Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fear Factor

Someone once described courage as not never being afraid, but going on in spite of the fear. As a nation and as elected officials we seem to be running dangerously low on courage. Oh we have the tough talk down, we have the posturing, but do we really have true courage? Since 9/11 when at least 2,985 people died from the terrorists attacks I think that what has been lost in all the hype is some perspective. While this was surely a tragedy, the population of the United States in the year 2001 was somewhere around 290 million people. Based on those numbers the terrorist attacks killed less than .02% of the population, yet since the attack we have responded by invading sovereign nations, torturing our fellow human beings, and gutting our Constitutional protections.

We currently have a sitting President with plummeting approval ratings in the last year of his failed presidency and yet he is still able to bully a frightened Democratic Congress still fearful of the “national security” question in the upcoming election. This President should not be able to get even universal health care passed at this point. But when courage is needed in the face of not only terrorism, but also tyranny, once again our elected officials can’t seem to find any. Because of these fears Democrats have caved on a number of issues trying to appear “tough” on terrorism. My question is what have we gained the last eight years with warrior sheep Bush in the White House being tough on terrorism? We must as a nation begin to demonstrate real courage by not allowing what the terrorists couldn’t take away to be taken away by the fear of terrorists.

Wiretapping orders approved by secret orders under the previous version of the surveillance law were set to begin expiring in August unless Congress acted. Heading into their political convention in Denver next month and on to the November Congressional elections, many Democrats were wary of handing the Republicans a potent political weapon.

The issue put Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, in a particularly precarious spot. He had long opposed giving legal immunity to the phone companies that took part in the N.S.A.’s wiretapping program, even threatening a filibuster during his run for the nomination. But on Wednesday, he ended up voting for what he called “an improved but imperfect bill” after backing a failed attempt earlier in the day to strip the immunity provision from the bill through an amendment.[1]

It is a sad day when even the presumptive nominee of the opposition party feels compelled by political expediency to succumb to the political reality that is now America. The thing that I can not understand is how can we as a nation ever expect unity when we can’t even look at the same information and agree on what we are seeing. It’s like looking at a man being lynched and someone calling it a suicide. We as the governed of this country must begin to exert some courage of our own and start demanding an end to this childish bickering and obstructionism. It is time for some truth and honesty about what is going on in the name of freedom.

If we continue to allow our freedoms to be eroded then the terrorists will have created another Tet offensive. In the Tet offensive in Vietnam the Vietcong engaged in an all out offensive throughout the South in an effort to demonstrate that no area was safe from their reach. While the offensive was a military disaster it was a political windfall for the Vietcong. It was the turning point of the war for many Americans because it showed the disconnect from what the government was saying and the reality on the ground. Do you think it mattered to the Vietcong that it was a political decision to leave their country and not a military victory?

In many ways we are encountering the same thing today with the war on terror. If we lose our freedoms then the terrorists have won. It won’t matter that it wasn’t a military victory, they don’t have the numbers or technology to accomplish a military victory. They will have won in the sense that we will live in a constant state of terror and we will no longer have the rights we are suppose to be fighting for. They will care less if our rights were taken by a jihad or loss to a fear mongering political class.

The real courage will not be found in Washington, they have proven over and over that many of them lack the courage of their convictions or they have no convictions. No my friends the courage must come from the people. Just as with the Tet offensive it was the grassroots movement that turned the tide against the war. It wasn’t the “dirty hippies” but just everyday folks saying enough was enough. They demonstrated the courage that was missing in Washington. They were willing to take to the streets to reclaim the idea of “government by the people”. We have never needed courage in this country more than we do now. Today we face the lost of our freedoms in the name of saving them.

Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character. - Margaret Chase Smith


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