Friday, September 15, 2006

Who We Are

In yesterday's New York Times, Bob Herbert wrote an editorial entitled, "The Stranger in the Mirror," in which he suggests that "the very character of the United States is changing, and not for the better." Our collective reaction to 9-11, beginning with the invasion of Iraq, has changed the nature of who we are as a people:

There was a time, I thought, when there was general agreement among Americans that torture was beyond the pale. But when people are frightened enough, nothing is beyond the pale. And we're in an ara in which the highest leaders in the land stoke - rather than attempt to allay - the fears of ordinary citizens. Islamic terrorists are quated with Nazi Germany. We're told that we're in a clash of civilizations.
If, as President Bush says, we're engaged in 'the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century,' why isn't the entire nation moblizing to meet that dire threat?"

Herbert goes on to conclude:

The character of the U.S. has changed. We're in danger of being completely ruled by fear. Most Americans have not shared the burden of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Very few Americans
are aware, as the Center for Constitutional Rights tells us, that of the hundreds of men held by the U.S. in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, many "have never been charged and will never be charged because there is no evidence justifying their detention."
Even fewer care.
We could benefit from looking in a mirror, and absorbing the shock of not recognizing what we're become.

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