I think it is time to consider changing the last few lines of our National Anthem: "The land of the free and the home of the brave."
Today, I see far too many people acting in fear and willing to give up hard-won freedoms. Let me be clear that I do not question the bravery of our service men and women. Their bravery and dedication are beyond reproach.
Mundane and ordinary events that we hardly pay attention to are responsible for far more deaths than the "Axis of Evil" could ever be responsible for.
Far more people die in automobile accidents caused by drunk driving, cell phones or simple inattention than die in terrorist attacks.
In fact, more people die of the flu each year than were killed in the twin towers. These are not caused by evil people doing evil deeds but by things that we don't even think of as a threat.
We laugh dismissively at those people who have filed suit against fast food vendors for causing obesity when far more people die of heart attacks each year than die from terrorist attacks.
Why then are we spending so much time and money out of fear of a relatively small risk, one that is really next to impossible to stop, when we daily accept more immediate risks without working to prevent them? How does this reflect on our bravery?
During World War II, we recognized a real threat, unified to address that threat and did not succumb to the rhetoric of fear. As illustrated above, today we are manufacturing a threat and reacting to an imaginery enemy.
Because of this pervasive fear of an imagined threat, we are willingly giving up freedoms that have been central to the American idea for more than two centuries.
We are closing our ears to the essential diversity of views that are imperative for a health democracy. Our founding fathers recognized and valued vigorous debate even during the Revolutionary War, knowing that blind adherence to a single view destroys democracy.
How can we now be so intolerent of the very democracy that we claim to want to share with the Middle East?
Artists like the Dixie Chicks, Martin Sheen and Michael Moore represent the voice of democracy as much as political figures like Dick Cheney.
It might be noted that Dick Cheney might even have a conflict of interest because of his involvement in the oil business. He was an officer of Halliburton who now have a multi-million contract to rehabilitate the oil fields in Iraq.
Let's embrace the National Anthem and truly be "the land of the free and the home of the brave."
In the last few weeks since images of "Operation: Iraqi Freedom" have been splashed across television screens everywhere, the American people have been toxically exposed to a frightening disease.
That fatal sickness is left wing, American liberalism.
Those who have spewed the intoxicating venom, and who are now in critical condition include John Kerry, Peter Arnett, CNN, Peter Jennings, Michael Moore, Janeane Garofalo and Natalie Manes.
Such poisonous vipers leave people desperately seeking to wear white surgical masks of truth to protect themselves from a lack of journalistic integrity and actors turned politicians.
A cure however, has been found. Reaching through the images of celebratory Iraqis, to the hearts and minds of viewers, is healing. The Iraqi people are not limited by proper American politics like the Bush administration who are refusing to boast and are choosing to by pass the "I told you sos" that could justifiably be valentined to the skeptics.
With each soul that strikes a portrait or statue of Sadaam Hussein, one desires that Jacque Chirac, Gerhard Schroeder and Vladamir Putin were under the same shoe. As smiles of freedom dawn on the faces of the Iraqi people, those with the fatal disease would do right to picture uninfected
American, British, Australian, Spanish and Iraqi people collectively saying "I told you so."
Conservatives feel vindicated. An evil, despotic madman was tossed out of power and people in his country are rejoicing.
Gee, who would have thunk it?
Guess we were right to ignore the United Nations and take over another country after all.
There are plenty of other countries with evil, despotic madmen in control. North Korea springs to mind. China too. People in those countries would also appreciate it if we took out their trash.
So who's next?
Are we going to oust every ruler who terrorizes his people? We are awfully good at supporting such people -- including, historically, Saddam Hussein.
Maybe we ought to take a turn at removing them.
But is that any way to get along in the world? If we beat up every bully on the playground, how long will it be until we become a bully ourselves?
Conservatives like Cal Thomas crow that liberals have been proven wrong because so many Iraqis actually like the idea of a world without Saddam Hussein.
No one likes Saddam Hussein. Not liberals. Not anyone. Get it through your heads. No one likes Saddam Hussein.
People opposed to the war never said that Saddam Hussein was a good person who deserved to stay in power. That was not the point.
The point was whether or not it was in the long-term best interests of the United States to embark on a foreign policy of invading and taking over other countries.
Whether the pretext is the other country's potential threat or its human rights violations, the question remains valid. There are a lot of bad actors on the world stage.
Is war the best way to deal with them?
This is not the World According to Martin Sheen. These are the same concerns raised by Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Brent Scowcroft and scores of other thoughtful conservatives who could hardly be described as "peace-niks."
Nothing has been proven on the battlefield.
We succeeded militarily. Duh. We're the United States. Only an idiot would have bet on Iraq in this bout. Does anyone seriously think that Saddam, left unchecked, had even the potential wherewithal to take over the United States?
A large number of Iraqi people are happier now. Double duh.
No one likes Saddam Hussein. Say it with me. "No one likes Saddam Hussein." Not Janeane Garofalo. Not Martin Sheen. Not Bono. No one.
Maybe if people lke T.Q. Warren considered other points of view worth worth listening to, she and her fellow conservatives might have at least understood the point.
But I doubt it.
So many people these days are scared. And they would rather be angry than scared. Anger is easy. It works fast. It also takes less time to break the world down into right and wrong, good and evil than it does to consider an issue in all of its complexity.
Conservatives seem to think if you oppose the war, you support Saddam Hussein. Of course they do. Anything else would require them to listen, and God forbid, to think.
There is an expression being bandied around which is called "thinking outside the box."
This term seems to invite a viewing of the United States from a position away from a flag waving or flag burning mentality to an examination of what is happening to the American people.
My small business experienced a severe decline at the beginning of our government's war in the Middle East. There is normally a decline in business just prior to tax time, but the decline this year was longer and more extreme than anything I would have known in nearly 30 years.
I talked to another business owner from Tillamook who had also experienced his worst day in all the years his doors were open.
He has operated his business for more than 30 years.
Our customers tells us that restaurants are experiencing a decline in business which seems to be more than a reaction to the economic conditions.
We normally stop at a Salem restaurant the last day of our working week for a snack. Last weekend, we noticed that the televisions were all dark.
We asked the manager why the change and were told that it was a decision from upper management, probably in response to a customer complaint.
It didn't take much thought to realize that the television sets were turned off because of the constant overriding war news.
War news does not brighten the atmosphere of a restaurant, or for that matter, any other business.
The corporate-controlled news media constantly put a positive spin on the war news, but even ol' Joe Six Pack is beginning to realize that something is wrong.
There are no terrorists, no weapons of mass destruction, chemical weapons or anything else in Iraq other than people trying to defend their homes and families from a foreign invader.
We see a sanitized news in our local papers and on television, but still we cannot escape the feeling of horror at what we are doing to a populace who have done us no harm.
We have destroyed millions or billions of dollars worth of priceless architecture, buildings and homes.
We have killed thousands of civilians and traumatized children in all the cities we have bombed.
The average American was, at first, hopeful that there was some justification for our horrible "shock and awe" tactics, but as time passes, the ability to rationalize wanes.
We are sick at heart at what we are seeing and a gloom of desperation has fallen over the entire nation.
We are participating in the same inhuman carnage of our fellow human beings that we as a people have abhorred since this nation's inception.
There is a cliche common to our generation that states "what goes around, comes around."
Most Americans consciously or subconsciously realize that we have committed an unforgivable crime against other human beings and also know that nature does not allow such arrogance to pass with impunity.
But from my grave across my bow
Plays no wind of healing now,
And fire and ice within me fight
Beneath the suffocating light.
T.Q. Warren claims to be a "real American" while saying opposing points of view "are not worth considering."
Warren also criticizes Fred Brown, who served his country for 28 years in the United States Army, as a "so-called" American."
I guess Warren only supports our men in uniform if they hold the "right" opinion.
Warren draws a distinction between "real Americans" and those who are "incompetent, uneducated and unintelligent." I think I know who's who.