We soon head up to Sonoma. Jan's parents still will not say whether or not they are coming, and, many of her friends see that as okay, and also, see whatever behavior they choose to display, as okay. I guess I don't yet understand, and, so it is. The dinner seemed rather precious to end up in the toilet, but that is where it is, and maybe that is the point. I continue to let go. It is up to me to empty and accept and receive what is.
Perhaps, I also need to comment on the subject of religion. I think last night showed me even more the importance of the words of the Dalai Lama, "My religion is kindness." I think those words are all we need.
Friday, September 8, 2006
The latest "let's scare everyone" campaign is in full swing now, because the president's approval ratings go up every time the threat level reaches red. With the enthusiastic cooperation of the media, the government has managed to convince us that we are surrounded on every side by crazed bomb throwers and that we must at all times be vigilant and allow the government "to do its job," which is code for "anything it wants."
Here's a headline from the Houston Chronicle that stayed on Google News all day last week: "Latest terror scares show airport threat lingers." As Steve Silberman of Wired pointed out, that's like saying, "Latest false alarms show fire threat lingers." Terror scares do not mean that terrorists are at work; they mean that people are terrified. Since the object of terrorism is to spread terror, the "latest terror scares" demonstrate only that the government is abetting the work of terrorists.
By contrast, the government does not seem to be doing the work of catching terrorists. The British police have arrested people who plausibly were involved in a plot to blow up airplanes. In the United States, the Justice Department has arrested guys who gave to charity, guys who went to Pakistan and guys who had the same names as guys who might be involved with al Qaeda.
Almost all of those arrests have resulted in prosecutions on matters unrelated to terrorism, mostly immigration violations. It is possible that these guys were terrorists, but no case was ever made against them, and we still have (in theory) a presumption of innocence as one of the bulwarks or our legal system.
Try telling a young Muslim man about the presumption of innocence.
Here's my favorite story, as reported by the Associated Press: "A United Airlines flight out of Chicago's O'Hare International Airport was delayed because a small boy said something inappropriate, according to a government official speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. 'He didn't want to fly,' the official said."
I hope that small boys do not hear about this. Mad at Mommy? You can turn her airplane around! You can ruin the plans for the vacation you didn't want to go on! Oh, what heaven for a 10-year-old. And, apparently, there was no airline official who was charged with applying common sense to a situation, because you never know. They're everywhere! The government says so! Maybe it's the old 10-year-old-boy trick!
Of course it's possible. There are young suicide bombers; we know that. But everything is possible. In order to live our lives, we have to engage in rational risk assessment. The guy in uniform on your front porch -- he might not really be a mail carrier. If you were a terrorist, wouldn't you choose something innocent like a Postal Service uniform? Better to call the cops just in case.
Better confiscate all that toothpaste. That's the best use of resources. Training people to speak Arabic would be good, but it takes a long time and looks terrible on television. Listen to the people interviewed at airports; they're convinced. "It's worth it," they say, patiently standing in line. Is it worth it to, say, raise taxes to pay for better veterans benefits? Let's not go overboard. Let's stand in line.
George Bush is apparently radioactive now. Republican candidates do not feature him on their campaign literature; Republican candidates gently discourage him from appearing at their campaign rallies. "No, that's OK, Mr. President -- we know you're busy suggesting that anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi appeaser. No need to come on out to Iowa. Go campaign for Katherine Harris -- she still likes you."
You'd think that, with all the setbacks, Karl Rove might want to change tactics. But no, he's going to dance with the girl what brung him, the secret-leaking, opponent-slandering, rights-eroding gal with the great big smile. And why not? No one has caught on so far. (Well, people did catch on, but then the Supreme Court decided to elect his candidate anyway, and -- OK, I won't go there. I am letting the past stay in the past, except at 2 in the morning when I chew the wallpaper.)
Maybe it's easier to be afraid. Maybe it's easier to blame the shadowy forces of international terrorism for everything that's scary or evil or mean. Maybe it's easier than saying that poverty has killed more people than the terrorists have; that preventable diseases have killed more children than the terrorists have; that the rights we don't fight for are the rights we lose. You're in good hands now. Take off your shoes.
How do we know that shampoo is really shampoo? How do we know that your postcard was not a coded message to the terrorists? Better come along with us.