Thursday, June 08, 2006


America has been bothering me lately. The concept of America, the image we portray to other countries. That statement feels too simple for what's been going on lately.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is dead, and the world is most likely better for it. But is it necessary to take a picture of his lifeless head and broadcast it, surrounded by a gold frame, for everyone in the U.S. and the world to see? Is it appropriate that enticed readers to "watch" the deadly safe-house bombing today, complete with real video? To me, it's disturbing that we've adopted this savage warrior mentality. We are -- with 2006 technology -- essentially spearing al-Zarqawi's head on a pike and riding on horseback around the torched village. "Look at what we've done. Look at who we are. We're stronger. We're bigger. Watch out for us."

Especially as a New Yorker, and especially post-9/11, I am not denying that al-Zarqawi is an awful influence who needed to be trapped and killed so he can't orchestrate more attacks. But how we went about reporting it is so intensely American to me -- so boastful and arrogant -- that it made me ashamed to live here. As I read the news today and heard both my gut and how sickened everything made me feel, I wondered if I've become too liberal. Should I be rejoicing along with the rest of the country and the media? Should I spit on al-Zarqawi's lifeless image and anticipate a swift end to the Iraq insurgency like it seems the Bush administration wants us to do?

But then I read this intense interview with the father of Nicholas Berg, an American businessman who was beheaded on-camera by al-Zarqawi himself, and I thought, "Thank God someone else is seeing the big picture."

There are no easy answers to our terror, to our government problems, to obesity, and to the growing stratification of the rich and the poor in this country -- not even simply electing a Democrat to office after the culmination of all of those things. I'm going to be in the Midwest visiting my immediate family this week (so I probably won't be updating this blog unless I can find an Internet connection that doesn't run on tin foil and rubber bands), and although my family isn't political, per se, they are religious. And I'm hoping that they and their friends will see past the conservatives' rallying cry of hatred for homosexuals for what it is: a last-ditch effort to win back the power they never deserved in the first place and that got us into this horrible mess where American soldiers are dying. Dying.

I'm going to wait for the rest of the country to be horrified -- by something little or something big, and I'm going to wait for the consciousness shift that crosses party lines. That (and vote, I guess...?) is all I can do.


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