I'm a liberal Democrat, and at least two people want me dead this evening. They aren't radical Muslims, communists, Chinese, or even foreigners at all. They're Americans - just barely, and they gleefully support the destruction of our democracy. Sadly, they aren't alone.
It's impossible to put into words tonight how I feel about what I read just a few minutes ago. When President Bush won his first term, I wasn't all that upset about the man himself. The election fraud in Florida and the first ever election decided not by the people, but by a court who two-hundred and thirty years ago didn't even have the power of judicial review were upsetting, but go with the territory in a country where disagreement isn't a crime.
Under this administration, we've gone well beyond that point. There are people in this country that would certainly feel justified in seeing the President impeached, of which the only two possible results are exoneration or removal from office. It happened to Bill Clinton, and surprise, the world didn't end.
That does not justify calling those people extremists, for that term should be reserved for those who have so disturbed me this evening that I'm left wondering if I might be safer, as an American, living in Iraq.
It is unfair to compare the President, despite ample evidence of his disdain for the rule of law and democracy at home, to a madman like Adolf Hitler. They might qualify as distant relatives in how extreme each is in their idealism, with Hitler representing the absolute top of the crazy scale. Bush lay somewhere north of half way, but well short of the top.
I've not seen any liberal describe Bush as such that wasn't themselves extremists to one degree or another, and those that do should be condemned for it. The seemingly infinite gulf between the two parties dries up to little more than a pond when sensationalist rhetoric is put aside, and we examine our collective interests and see how close together they really are.
We all want strong national security, good health care, and otherwise to be left the hell alone.
Often, you'll find both sides of the political spectrum want exactly the same thing, differing only in how best to achieve those goals. I know of no liberals that actually like the idea of abortions, and like myself, find the practice morally objectionable, barbaric, and terribly shameful. Yet the divide remains on the how and why it should - if at all - be tolerated.
We all want to be safe in our homes from criminals on the streets, and secure in our nation from terrorists abroad. The peaceful disagreements only strengthen our resolve to get the best from any given situation that we can without resorting to self destructive actions where nobody ends up gaining anything at all.
Increasingly, some fringe elements are crossing that line on the crazy scale from Bush, all the way up to and perhaps past Hitler, seeking to set a new standard for the definitive monsters of our time.
The two people I spoke of would love to see me, their fellow American, executed by the state for the sole crime of dissent from their parties idealism. It is impossible to say with my own words the horror of the two following quotations where seemingly average people - women, and Republican - suggest that another building in New York should be taken out by a suicide bomber, and worse.
I take this from Glenn Greenwald's column on Salon, which in turn found these two home grown terrorists in an article from the National Review.
I lie on the beach with Hillary-Ann, a chatty, scatty 35-year-old Californian designer. As she explains the perils of Republican dating, my mind drifts, watching the gentle tide. When I hear her say, " Of course, we need to execute some of these people," I wake up. Who do we need to execute? She runs her fingers through the sand lazily. "A few of these prominent liberals who are trying to demoralise the country," she says. "Just take a couple of these anti-war people off to the gas chamber for treason to show, if you try to bring down America at a time of war, that's what you'll get." She squints at the sun and smiles. " Then things'll change."
Before commenting on the sheer lunacy of it, I openly wonder just what this woman thinks would change, should American become equally as sadistic and barbaric as Iraq was before the invasion, what precisely about the war would change. Even with 70% of the country against the war today, the President pushes ahead no matter what anyone else thinks or wants. Should that number suddenly flip to 100% support, the President would continue the war and we'd still be in this disastrous situation regardless.
I'm not sure which is more stunning, the fact that an American believes other Americans should be summarily executed by the state for the sole "crime" of thinking differently, or that she is she flippant about it, that the woman might as well be giving tips for sunbathing.
To say that such thoughts violate - no rape - everything this country stands for, was founded on, seeks to fight against in these wars, should hardly need be said at all. The foundation of democracy is the right of dissent, without it, what you have is precisely the world this woman described. When you criminalize dissent, you have a nation of little Hitlers that seek to exterminate any idea and to snuff out any life they wish - just because that life is different than their own.
When I look to Al Qaeda over seas and this woman in California, I can't help but to shake my head at how amazingly successful bin Laden has been over the past six years. Destroying the World Trade Center and killing those innocent Americans was just the setup. The pay off was to turn us into psychopaths that will finish the job by becoming something more evil than has been seen on this earth for quite some time.
While this woman chides foreign terrorists for killing innocent Americans, she in the very next breath advocates the gassing of yet more innocent Americans, this time to fit her agenda of one-nation, one-brain, one-ideology, the ideology of Hitler to exterminate anything remotely different and unworthy.
Yes, accusations that Bush is like Hitler were inappropriate, for such accusations should be reserved for the truely dangerous would-be terrorists amongst us such as this.
Losing the battle in Iraq pales in comparison to losing the battle at home against these budding extremists, and while perhaps this womans courage of her convictions probably ends where her brains clearly exited her body - her ass - that isn't to say that her sentiments are unique or limited.
To my left, I find a middle-aged Floridian with a neat beard. To my right are two elderly New Yorkers who look and sound like late-era Dorothy Parkers, minus the alcohol poisoning. They live on Park Avenue, they explain in precise Northern tones. "You must live near the UN building," the Floridian says to one of the New York ladies after the entree is served. Yes, she responds, shaking her head wearily. "They should suicide-bomb that place," he says. They all chuckle gently. How did that happen? How do you go from sweet to suicide-bomb in six seconds?
These home grown extremists weren't converted in the past six seconds, they've been desensitized to death and murder by their very own government over the past six years. That's how it always begins. Murder becomes righteous, war a tool of Good used to vanquish Evil. If innocents must die to secure victory, let the blood flow like a river from heaven straight down to hell.
For its numerous flaws, the United Nations - which the United States was instrumental in helping to build - stands as a force for peace in the world that extremists such as this can never understand. Every day the President grandstands on national television, threatening The Bad Guys, saying "everything is on the table" which is practically the equivalent to the failed shoot first on the playground mentality, every-day citizens become a little more used to an overbearing overcompensating leader that wants us all to believe that the most severe response possible is a justified solution to any and every problem.
Again, I point out that this country has come to the tipping point at which seemingly good people are now advocating the agenda of the terrorists they so desperately fear and hate. Suicide bombing is wrong not just because Muslim radicals do it, but because it's just plain fucking wrong. To go then, and advocate such, transforms you from a person living in a tough world to a desperate coward that is everything you claim to hate.
There is little else to be said here by me other than perhaps to leave you with the following to think about. Al Qaeda globally, Al Qaeda-in-Iraq, and now Al Qaeda in Florida and California. Do we not have enough to worry about already, that the lesser of us seeks to destroy this country from within? Do they not see that thoughts like this mirror those of bin Laden?
To speak of treason and then twist it as so; I couldn't think of anything more frightening or treasons than Americans wishing for, and thinking justified, the murder of other innocent Americans just for disagreeing about how this country - which they own just as much as anyone - ought to be run.
This country has truly fallen from grace.
Update: July 20, 2007
I misstated that quotes from this essay appeared originally in the National Review Online, or that it was written by an NRO contributor. It did not, it was written by Johann Hari of The New Republic, and originally appeared in The Independent as well as on The New Republic website. Hari wrote his story based on a cruise trip he took put on by National Review for 500 of its readers.
Glen Greenwald's article where I found this exists on Salon.com, though you'll have to deal with their advertisements to get to the content.
I regret my errors, and pledge that nothing of the sort will happen in the future. Thank you Rebecca, for reminding me that obligations for transparency and accuracy do not disappear merely because we are emotional about our subject matter.
The text of this article is Copyright © 2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL.