I find myself looking at the news these days with a darkened spirit. The transient in the city streets, holding a sign that says "The End is Near" has become somewhat of an American colloquialism. Now, it's as if I'm suddenly seeing him before me, but he isn't talking about the end of the world...he's talking about the end of the America I know and love.
The Left's ever-echoing refrain about the November 2006 elections is that America voted for change - a new direction. I'm not convinced that America, as a whole, voted for anything. Rather, America showed an alarming amount of apathy. In an election that was excruciatingly important - not just with regard to Iraq, but to the future of this country. 2006 voter turnout was approximately 40%
. Forty percent
of America gave a hoot. Sixty percent simply abdicated their choice - their freedom to have a choice.
I'm not sure if it's a collective lack of motivation, or simply a belief that this country is invulnerable. After all, it's been a long time since this country was attacked on its own soil, right?
Or has it?
I seem to remember a sunny day in September, a little over five years ago...but then, we're not supposed to mention that anymore. It's become unseemly to mention September 11th
, and all but illegal to mention it and Iraq in the same sentence - there's no direct connection, so therefore the entire War in Iraq has been invalidated, right?
I've said it before - we've forgotten the days when we called for blood. We've forgotten the days when we listened to the President tell us that this would be a long war, would have many fronts, and would not look like any war we'd seen before, and our only response was the rallying cry of that horrible day - "Let's roll."
The cynic in me says that it's simply a matter of the American desire to back a clear winner. Sometimes we're really petty as a country. If Iraq looked like Normandy, with grand assaults, happy little films at the beginning of movies, posters telling the average Joe he could be part of the war effort by using a little less butter on his toast, I guarantee you that we'd be seeing different numbers in the polls. But Iraq is a land of suicide bombers, shifting loyalties, and hard-fought gains. It's a land where the government of the country we're supposed to be backing alternately backs and criticizes us, where gains in building a native army suffer the setbacks of insurgent infiltration. Doesn't make for a nifty little fifteen-minute P.R. spot.
And Afghanistan has simply been forgotten in the public consciousness. Five years, and we've forgotten. My husband predicted it two weeks after 9/11. He said that in five years, no one would care - if it took that long.
The Anti-war movement is gaining steam again, bolstered by what they see as a vote for them in November 2006. Democrats act as if they never cast a vote to go to war, and Republicans backpeddle
as quickly as they can. Gone are those who loudly, consistently, said that what we were doing was important - that we needed to fight to win. Even the President has stepped away from the straight talk that infuriated the Left, and inspired the Right.
And meanwhile, the clouds are massing.
I have always believed, always known, that no foreign power would destroy my country. I have always known that my country was something amazing - something unique, and possessed of an innate will, an innate strength, which would always make her a fearsome enemy.
Others have known that too. Japan, in World War II, feared invading this country because they believed that Americans were - well, a little bit nuts. The American populace has guns, and they believed the nutty Americans would use those guns if invaded.
During the Clinton impeachment, the rest of the world laughed at us for caring about a President's impropriety - all politicians, wise Europe knew, were corrupt. How could we expect our President not to be? We were silly, naive children for expecting a principled leader. Secretly, they rejoiced at the fact that America was finally brought down a peg. Finally, we weren't better than they were. Finally, we looked fallable
From the days that a few colonists got their noses out of joint, the world has feared this country. Remember our origins. Never in the history of the world had a colony broken free. And the colonists over in the New World were taking on the British Empire - the massive empire over which the sun never set. It was insane - it was suicide - it had to fail.
But it didn't.
A scraggly little group of colonists had thrown off the largest Empire in the world. And then it did it again.
A violent Civil War ripped the country apart when it was not even a century old - over a group of people the entire civilized world saw as second-class citizens, no less! Granted, there were other issues - the very identity of the new nation was at stake. The world watched for the end of the little nation which stood for freedom, convinced that the war would tear it asunder.
But it didn't.
Rising from the ashes of the war-torn land came a unified nation, if bruised. The wounds of that war are still healing - the scars visible in the divided natures of those north and south. Certainly, the nation as a whole has seen the disgrace of slavery for what it is, but ill feelings linger in pockets here and there. And yet...
Half a world away, civilized Europe burned. Nations which supposedly had learned the ills of war, had learned to get along, suddenly erupted in a maelstrom of brewing hatred and resentment. The little nation that could entered the fray on the side of its former sovereign empire. And the world watched as suddenly it wasn't so little anymore. In the aftermath, the land of the free walked away from a negotiation table when Europe wanted to punish, not reconcile.
It would soon be back.
A few short decades later, Europe shuddered as that same foe rose again. Burning from the sting of the retribution of the previous conflict, and seeking a little vengeance of its own, that foe chose as its leader a man who promised greatness - and delivered. Europe capitulated, surrendered, knuckled under, gave way.
In the still-young land of the free, there was indecision, hesitation. Many voices said that this was not an American fight - not an American concern. It was Europe's problem. In the shadows, tales of great horrors were whispered. People were being killed - rounded up and sent to work camps. People were being exterminated for how they chose to worship. Even in the dark days that had led to a shipload of intrepid men and women coming American shores, it had never been like this. America watched with concern, but hesitated. Was war really worth it to save people that lived that far away?
At any rate, America was busy with other atrocities. Another empire was creating havoc. While America only half-heard the evils from Europe, it knew full well those in the East. Still, calmer heads prevailed, and it came to the table to speak.
It was about to learn a hard lesson in double-talk. Even while civilized discussions were being conducted, Japan was preparing for war.
This time, the Americans would be destroyed. Estimates of the American ability to recover from the attack on its Pacific fleet put the time needed at many, many years. The Americans would be crippled by an attack on Pearl Harbor. They would never be able to rebuild their navy in time. By the time they once again had fleets to send, there would be no point. One voice said that the American ingenuity was being underestimated. He was overruled.
America reeled when the bombs fell at Pearl Harbor. Massive casualties, indescribable horror, and incomprehensible damage. It should have been enough to send America scrambling for cover.
But it didn't.
In the previous World War, one sunken ship had been the impetus for war. One. Now there were many, many sunken or damaged warships. There were thousands killed or injured. And almost instantly, the world knew that this attack had been a grave miscalculation.
America had risen. The sleeping giant had been awoken. And finally, she realized that evil like this was everyone's
problem. That an affront to others' freedom was a threat to freedom as a whole. And she cast her eyes on the enemy with a clear gaze.
On two fronts, the Americans fought. In Normandy, Iwo Jima
, and hundreds of other locations, American troops taught the world a lesson about invoking the wrath of freedom's greatest defender.
And then, things started to change. An ugly little war in Asia, under the new U.N.'s watch, didn't play nearly as well in the press. The growing power of ideologies like Communism and Socialism took root in the nation that protected free speech. War had been so brutal that people began to once again forget that sometimes, there was no other option.
Another ugly war in the East. This time, the forked-tongues were ready. Preaching peace, and yet violently reacting to warriors, they hijacked public sentiment. A war that was decisively won on every measurable scale, until the party America had come to help made its choice to give in, became an abomination - an orgy of American atrocities. No one spoke of the atrocities commited
ON the troops. No one spoke of the atrocities commited
in the wake of the American departure. America became desensitized to the sacrifices of her heroes in daily broadcasts, lists of names that soon meant little. A departure that came as a result of the enemy being forcibly brought to the negotiation table became a return in disgrace.
Years of hijacked planes, bombings, rhetoric, and vitriol went unanswered. The giant slept again. America intervened here and there - but the efforts were halting, tentative, and devoid of her former strength. Not on the part of the boots on the ground, but in the heart of the nation, and in the commitment of its leaders.
Until a sunny day in September. Again, the sleeping giant rose in indignant rage. Again, the world trembled. Again, the nation that consistently defied civilized European wisdom showed that it knew how to deal with its enemies.
All but one. America has never, ever learned how to deal with the enemy within.
The finest country ever to exist has one great flaw - ironically, it is the very same freedom that makes her so spectacular. Out of that sweet freedom has come a twisted perversion - "political correctness" twists the nation that has offended the world from day 1 into a nation that fears offending anyone - even those who seek to destroy her.
She has always saved herself in the nick of time - until now. But she has never been so beguiled by lies as she is now. Now, she contemplates "dialogue" with those that will never abandon what they see as a religious duty to obliterate her. Now, she speaks of lives "wasted" in her defense. Now, she allows a friendly nation to be besieged by terrorists, and sends envoys to temper that nation's reaction. Now, she contemplates abandoning a war - in the face of her most dangerous enemy - and creating another generation of heroes who will wonder if they did the right thing. Now, more than half of her population abdicates its voting rights in one of the most important elections in her history. She once again hears the voices of the appeasers, the redistributors
of wealth, those who snicker at the very freedom which allows them speech - but now she says nothing; her leaders run for the path of least resistance.
Where is my country? Where is my America?
Where are those voices who have always risen? Where are the "cowboys" who remind the world of who we are, and are not afraid to defend us against any enemy? Where are those who will call evils like Communism what they are, and recognize that things like "universal" healthcare
are means to punish those who dare to get ahead? Where are those who recognize such things as the very antithesis of what this country is, and ought to be?
Do they not see the storm on the horizon?
Radical nations (some of whom have already shown themselves to be a firm enemy) are ready. They call for the destruction of the land of the free, and of all those who would dare to stand with her. Civilized Europe, for the most part, does what it has always done in modern history - trade freedom for a place out of the direct line of fire; trade doing the right thing for doing what is expedient.
One nation (oddly enough, one born out of the same Empire, and of similarly humble stock), speaks as loudly as America used to. Australia sees the black, boiling threat on the horizon.
If we fail in Iraq, we lose a battle in the most important war in our history. This one is not just about a sandy land in the Middle East. This one is once again about the little experiment that started in some British colonies a little over 200 years ago. If we fail in Iraq, we don't immediately lose the war, but we end up at a disadvantage that may eventually prove fatal.
If things continue as they are now, the population that is apathetic at best may end up with a pacifist President - one who despises the very fire that forged this nation. Follow that progression and the results are catastrophic. Political correctness will rule the day. Capitalism will give way to "redistribution," "fairness," and so called "justice." Said "justice" will consist of giving everything to those who work for nothing, and leaving those who work for everything with nothing left to lose. Voices like mine (and many far more talented) will be silenced under the guise of "fairness," so that the only option is watered-down, airbrushed, "progressive" language. The arms of the people will be seized under the guise of ensuring safety, and they will be left vulnerable. Freedom will perish, and fear will rule.
We will be weakened by those within our own lands, and vulnerable to those who gather and wait for the first stumble, the first sign that we can be defeated. They have always been wrong in the past. But if we are weakened from within, it will not matter what armor we have on the outside. Like a hollow tree, we will crumble.
Our enemies - all of our enemies - hate what we are. They hate that we continue to snub convention. They hate that we flourish, because it exposes their failures. They hate that we exalt the individual achievement, because they see their own weaknesses. They hate that we do not apologize for greatness, because they see their own inadequacies. They hate our courage, because it exposes their cowardice. They hate those of us who speak plainly, who call terrorists and murderers and cowards what they are, because it exposes the thin veil of their lies.
Half a world away, men and women willingly risk their lives for a country that we would simply give away. To do so is the ultimate betrayal. It is an offense that is unforgiveable
I have a fear now that I have never known - a fear that my nation, my America, who I know can never be defeated, will simply choose to commit suicide. Like eternal Rome, crippled by a welfare state she couldn't support, and paranoia that sabotaged her united identity, this nation may very well buckle under the weight of political correctness, self-deprecation, and cowardice. I fear that years from now, children will learn of a once-great nation that stood for freedom only in history class, and then only in harsh tones that ridicule her for her idealism.
And yet, I hope. For in me is that spark, handed down from the generations that preceded me - from my ancestors who were among the earliest explorers to seek a better life here - the defiant spark that has on occasion burned like a bonfire in the hearts of the greatest among us.
We have beaten the odds before. But the clock of the world is ticking, and we are running out of time. If my nation is to be twisted into something vile, something cowardly, something weak and subservient to lick the hands of its enemies, then it may very well be better for her to be destroyed. For if that happens, she will already be dead inside, and the destruction would be a mercy killing.
Either we wake up, and we stop apologizing for who and what we are, or we dissolve into apathy and eventual obliteration. Either we take a stand against those who once again threaten to bring us down from within, or we betray all of those who have risked life and limb to defend this country against any and all enemies. Either we deal with those who threaten us - without mincing words and without playing games, or they win. Either we learn from history, or like France, we simply rewrite it and wipe from the slate any record of the upstart nation that dared to speak for freedom, and dared to refuse to apologize for it.
Either we face the gathering storm head-on, or like the cowards who change position with the shifting winds, we simply watch the destruction.
Half a world away, those who represent the best in us are waiting for an answer.
Labels: My Two Cents, opinion, politics