I'm angry. I protested the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. I talked to everyone I knew, most of whom were very pro-invasion. Most of them bought into the whole lie about the link between Iraq and the WTC/Pentagon bombing. One person (fifteen years my junior) went so far as to tell me that I am "politically naive." Nobody seemed to remember that from the day he took office, George W. Bush has been openly looking for a reason to invade Iraq.
I talked to people about the diversion of resources from a country already depriving its citizens of access to basic sanitation, education and healthcare (the U.S.) to a country who didn't have those things largely in part because we took it away from them. And we took it away from them so that a few American companies could make obscene amounts of cash "rebuilding" it. The invasion didn't free anybody. If you think that freedom looks like living in a city without electricity or running water where you run the risk of being shot on sight if you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, I have a city in mind that you can move to right this minute.
I'm bewildered. I read an article about Karl Rove shortly before doing my last podcast. Karl Rove, as you all know, is the man responsible for putting George W. Bush in the White House. He's done it by a series of underhanded, quasi-legal things to undermine the Democratic party's candidates just to see whether he could. It's all a game for him. The people he's hurting aren't even real to him.
The single most effective way he's doing it is by positioning the Republican party as the outsiders - as the ones who are fighting against the elite, whom he paints as being only in it for themselves. But here's the rub - he does not use the term "elite" in any way that agrees with its standard usage. When Karl Rove (who never graduated college) uses the term "elite," he means intellectuals. That's right. Smart people. He specifically DOES NOT mean people with money or power. So...what Karl Rove is doing is creating a social environment that says "Don't do what the smart people think is good. Do what the people with all the money and power think is good."
I'm determined. I know that my voice is small. I understand that my impact is limited. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to stop saying what I think. And here's the last of what I think: I don't know anybody in New Orleans. I don't have family there, I don't have any friends there. For a very small part of my life when I was around two, my family lived on the Florida panhandle, but I barely remember it and it really hasn't left me with emotional ties to the area. On the other hand, there are people right here in my own town who are hungry, who are without running water and electricity all the time. They are victims of all kinds of circumstance, some of their own making, some not. But the thing is, my determination says that it makes no logical sense for me to fire off a check to some charity, or to give blood or donate food and clothing to people I don't know and to whom I have no connection when there are people I do know who need it every bit as much. I'm made angry at the people I know who only respond to tragedy when it's far away and somebody else's tragedy. If you're willing to give up your lunch or a pair of new shoes or whatever so that you can give a little more to the victims of the hurricane, why can't you do that regularly to the victims of the present administration right in your own neighborhood?
So, I'm all for helping people. Help your family first, certainly. Help your friends second. But don't forget to help your neighbors.