In Which Linda States It The Way She Sees it...

Patricia Ann Miles' body was found in Arkansas, and I'm sick with helpless rage. The rush of emotion: horror, and sorrow and pity and empathy for what her poor mother must be going through inevitably brought me to thoughts of what it is we're fighting for, anyway?

Some days, it seems so dark. Everywhere I look, I see another account of horror; another child is hurt, another man loses his life. Then there are the politicians, using good and evil as flashcards to advance their own agendas, and I see the darkness and the light in these men, and I have no choice but to choose the man whose inner light is brighter than his darkness, and I revile the other man with every fiber of my being.

So what are we fighting for? Why are we involved in "imperialistic" activities in the Middle East? Why do other political entities repudiate us?

It comes down to protection. Our national emblems represent a deep-seated conviction. Here, in America, is refuge for the downtrodden and dispossessed. Of all the nations on earth, this is the one where anyone, from anywhere, can come and succeed or fail by their own lights. This is the one place on earth where an immigrant can come, and during his or her own lifetime, become one of us: an American.

It's worth defending. Our very spirit is one of shelter. We welcome those without a home. Of any place on earth, this is the one that is closest to the dream of the Shining City. We welcome and protect those who are weaker than ourselves.

So, we fought in WW I and in WW II. We fought Korea and Viet Nam and Gulf War I, and now we fight the War on Terror. We fight to protect ourselves, and the small ones in our midst: our children, our mothers, our elderly and infirm. We fight in foreign lands to keep danger away from our home towns, and we even fight to protect the people of lands ground under the heel of despotism and facism.

We went most recently to Iraq because there was a chance that their despotic leader had weapons he could use against us. Our duly elected President, George W. Bush, led us into Afghanistan and Iraq in case the intelligence was true. It's better to be wrong than to lose thousands more countrymen. Bitten by 9/11, we weren't going to let that dog close with us again. Since we were going anyway, we could do something for the people of those two lands. Some of us realized that although the political structures of those nations had to go, the people weren't to blame. It was that concern for the helpless that kept us from pushing the "Instant Win button". The human atrocities committed by the Taliban and Saddam Hussein in the years leading up to the invasion are well-documented, no matter how hard the press and politicos try to hide and forget about them, now. So, we've put an end to the rape gangs and human shredders and the blinding of toddlers because Daddy one day passingly questioned an edict of Saddam's.

They can hate us. It's OK. We've still done them a service. Tens of thousands of Iraqis are alive today; unabused, free of rape, and whole of body, with food to eat because we came along. At the rate Saddam was going, those folks would be rotting in a mass grave somewhere. We intervened the same way in France sixty years ago. They revile us now, too, and I wonder how much of that dislike is due to their own shame because they didn't have the power to free themselves without a leg up from us.

Abu Ghraib acknowledged: I have damned the perpetrators of those heinous activities before, on this blog, and Gods damn them for it as well. They are a disgrace to their uniforms and their country. They betrayed the most basic precepts of human dignity and liberty; ideals upon which this nation was founded. Damn them. May they end like the dogs they are.

'Hatred!" Someone will scream, "She's engaging in hate speech!"

Perhaps, by a narrow and uneducated definition, I am. I hate anyone who would hurt a child. I hate anyone who would commit rape or murder. I hate someone who would hold the entire population of a nation under his thumb -- and by that I mean real repression, Iraqi-style; not the free dissent of ideas and opinions like we have in this country. Last time I checked, we were all still locked in acrimonious debate about what this nation should be, and exccept for those who commit violent acts, no one's been hauled off in the dead of night.

I hate people who use violence to impose their theopolitical views on others. Yes, I hate terrorists. I hate the very idea of Hamas, Hizbollah, al Qaeda, Al Aqsa, and the PLO.

I hate anyone who would harm someone weaker than themselves. I hate anyone who uses fear and propaganda to cow others. I hate liars, traitors, thieves and thugs.

That seems like a lot of hate, doesn't it? Maybe it is, but my hatred of evil, destructive people is only counterpoint to the love I feel.

I love my family. I will do anything to protect them. I love my friends and countrymen, even the ones I've never met, and yes, even the ones with whom I passionately disagree. I love my home, my gods, and my country. I will fight anything that threatens them.

That's why we Americans fight, when it comes down to it. Our richness has given us a vision of greater love, greater empowerment. We see someone who doesn't have it, and we want to share. It feels so damn good to be free that we can't stand it when someone else doesn't have what we have. We'll work to remove the block so they can breathe without fear, and have hope in the dawn.

With that said, I hope you'll understand what I mean when I say that I hope someone shoots Patricia Ann Miles' killer in the head. It may not bring her back, but it'll keep another child from being harmed by the same animal.

posted by Linda on August 20, 2004 07:18 PM