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Make You Wanna Holler

May
17
2004

Osama Bin Laden is having a pretty good month. He’s a good ways toward showing his supporters that the best-armed, wealthiest, the most politically and economically powerful nation in the world can be reduced to his level.
The stories of the past few weeks – the stories that won’t end – demonstration for all to see that the United States is operating on fear. Fear of fear. Fear of being seen as powerless. Fear of being attacked again. Fear.


How else can you explain the stories of torture, humiliation, degradation and torment coming out of Iraq and now Guantanamo Bay? How is it that a half-century of international agreements about how prisoners, enemies, and combatants are to be treated is being brushed aside in a desperate – it can only be desperate, of course, if it’s not, it truly is evil – attempt to turn back the clock, to restore the U.S. government to its pre-9/11 sense of invulnerability? How is it that officials up and down the command structure were involved in detailed and complicated legal arguments to work around these agreements – agreements this nation led the way in crafting? Why are visitors to this country coming to study, to do research, to perform, having to jump through new hurdles to entry? How is it that government officials have pronounced judgment on prisoners in defiance of the very principles – due process – that we consider the bedrock of our democracy? And how, most appalling, is it that sane, rational people debating the merits of one form of torture versus another?
I used to think that the Bush Adminstration had cynically used the World Trade Center bombing to serve its political aims. I still think that’s true. But I also think they’re scared to the core of their beings. They can’t believe a guy with $500,000 and a dedicated band of followers could show them up. The smell of fear is deep and dank and ugly and ultimately it will defeat them. It may well defeat us. Because fear is the result of a profound lack of leadership that goes far, far, beyond politics.
Last week, in an otherwise rollicking appearance, Sen. John McCain told Jon Stewart that fear was a healthy emotion. It’s natural. Courage, McCain said, is the ability to rise above fear. That, he noted in passing, is why it’s so difficult. And so scarce.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 12:10 PM | Permalink

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