July 09, 2004

Something I Hope We Can All Agree On

This is great news:

A U.S. Marine who was reported missing in Iraq more than two weeks ago is alive and at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, where American officials are meeting with him, authorities said Thursday.

Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun is safe and appears to be in good health, said a Pentagon official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The joy his family must be feeling I cannot imagine. While it appears there are some unusual circumstances to this case, for the moment I'm just happy he's on his way home, head intact.

This is not such good news. Not surprising, perhaps:

The U.S. has ``credible'' evidence that al-Qaeda is planning a large-scale attack to try to ``disrupt our democratic process,'' Ridge said. The U.S. terror alert level, now at yellow indicating ``elevated'' risk, won't be raised, he said.

``We lack precise knowledge about time, place and method of attack,'' Ridge said. ``But along with the CIA, FBI and other agencies, we are actively working to gain that knowledge.''

Only tangentially related, maybe, but I'm going to get this off my mind while I'm thinking about it: If there's one thing I dislike, it's conservative pundits and would-be pundits using news like this to harp on the theme that a vote for Kerry is a vote for the terrorists. The rationale goes that because terrorists used the Madrid bombing to influence the outcome of the Spanish elections, they're now planning to use a "large-scale attack" in the U.S. to influence ours. And because it's a given that they probably wouldn't be doing this to influence more people to vote for Bush, it must mean the terrorists prefer Kerry. So a vote for Kerry . . . .

If you're going to say something that'll make you enemies, you might as well say it bluntly, so I will: That's fucking un-American, you pricks.

Yeah, un-American. Because in this country we don't tell people "vote such-and-such because that will keep out the terrorists" anymore than we say "be more like France because that will keep out the terrorists."

In a democratic republic, the people are sovereign and every person eligible to vote is trusted to vote in accordance with his or her beliefs. You can hate another person's beliefs, you can argue with them, you can promote your own as superior to theirs--all that's fair game. But don't tell people they're voting for terrorists if at the end of the day you have failed to reach them and they still want to vote Kerry.

We are not supposed to be a nation that lets thugs, despots, murderers and rogues tell us what to do. If you won't let terrorism keep you from going to D.C. or New York this fall, you shouldn't let it tell you who to vote for, either.

(End soapbox.)

I want to thank everybody who helped out on the centrist post today. You amaze me, all of you. I'd particularly like to thank the bloggers who linked it and pimp 'em if I may: CrabAppleLane, which recently celebrated its fourth (yes, fourth) year of weblogging goodness; Everyday Stranger, all done up in some beautiful new skins (my fave is definitely the callbox, but they're all terrifically elegant, just like the author); Feministe, where many of my favorite posts out of the past are being reposted for inclusion in the archives after a freak blogging accident; Snooze Button Dreams, whose proprietor is on limited posting duty while getting settled into his new home and whose proprietor's mama never had her name on a "D" paper; and Various Orthodoxies, where the author and wife are expecting a new arrival "any day now" (congratulations!)

I'll try to get something up tomorrow on the subject. Of course, then it will be Friday, and traffic really falls off over the weekend, and . . . .

Posted by Ilyka at July 9, 2004 02:49 AM in i don't know you tell me

Amen, amen Ilyka, i am glad the man is home and i hope the explanation for his disappearance bodes well for him.

i also agree with your statemen re: kerry. i want issues, not games, hey, I'm probably one of the few still among the undecided. I am just glad i'm in Israel now.

Not the the gov't is working oh so squeaky clean here and everything is hunky dory, but at least i'm home.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at July 9, 2004 02:29 PM

Stay on that soapbox, sister. That one was right on the money. Expressing a dissenting view or casting a vote for an opposing candidate is as American as you can get. Thanks from those of us who swim against the tide on occasion.

Posted by: Rob at July 9, 2004 02:48 PM

Well, not to be the lone voice of dissent or anything, but I have to disagree with the rant this time, Ilyka.

Telling someone, "a vote for Kerry is a vote for the terrorists," is not unamerican. It's reality. It's not trying to unfairly influence your vote, it's telling you a rational and causally related effect of your vote.

Treating terrorism as a law enforcement problem is doomed to failure. It's a military problem: we're in a war. And our enemy is smart, determined, motivated, and has access to vast resources. And they are not limited by any notions of conscience that we would understand. They are bound only by their imaginations. And while we limit ourselves dramatically as to where, when, and on whom we will use force, they face no such limitations. Killing babies? Fine. As long as they're American babies. Using children to kill, even if they are killed in the process? Perfectly OK, as long as Americans or Jews die with them.

Treating this as if some beat cop can put a stop to it, and some prosecutor is going to deter them with threats of life in an American jail, is simply not going to do it.

And voting for Kerry, you insure that's the attitude America is going to put to the problem. That's playing into their hands. And, yes, I take it personally. Not only was I there on September 11, but if some bomb gets put on a plane headed into JFK, it's my family that's going to die. If some guy detonates a sarin-laced bomb near city hall, it's my kids who are going to be fatherless. So yeah, voting for someone who is going to make it easier for the terrorists to kill me is a personal thing with me.

All this talk about crushing dissent is BS. Name one first amendment right you've had taken away in the last three years.

What is perfectly American is making people aware of the consequences of their actions. It IS an issue-related statement. Kerry's stated positions would be disastrous -- disastrous -- for our national security. And if national security isn't your major issue for this election, you're in denial. Personally, I'm not voting my pocketbook this election, I'm voting for the candidate who is most likely to keep me and my kids alive. Because my pocketbook doesn't take precedence over my life.

I wouldn't call telling people that unamerican, I'd call it waking people up.

Posted by: Jiminy at July 9, 2004 04:25 PM

It is in the interest of Kerry and the democrats to publicly support the democratic nation building efforts in Iraq.

There is no separation of terrorism from politics. If the nuking of NYC before November could guarantee a Kerry presidency, you'd be a fool to continue living in NY.

Some people say the terrorists would rather see Kerry in the White House. Perhaps. But Kerry would be crazy to encourage that idea by even hinting that his administration would radically change Iraqi policy, a la Spain.

Posted by: Blythe at July 9, 2004 04:29 PM

I am wide awake. National security is my primary concern. I have no confidence in either candidate on that issue.

Posted by: Rob at July 9, 2004 07:47 PM

I side with you on this one, Ilyka (which is hardly a surprise). If we want to get into that whole "a vote for someone is a vote for the bad guy", then why not just offer up the brainwashing propoganda which tears nations down? That'll serve us right.

Jesus, man. I can't believe the ridiculous river of fear that is running and feeding everyone's brain waves these days.

Posted by: Helen at July 10, 2004 02:08 PM