(As an homage for the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11,
here is an essay I wrote on September 30, 2007.)
Some time ago, I received, along with who knows how many other people on the internet, an e-mail, the subject of which was simply, “Angry New Jersey Housewife.” I don’t know where it originated, or how long it may have been floating around cyberspace. Also, I couldn’t find a name on it anywhere. So, either whoever wrote it lacked the courage to take responsibility for it, or whoever copied it left off the name and e-mail address. Anyway, here is the version I received:
Written by a housewife from New Jersey and sounds like it! This is one ticked off lady.
“Are we fighting a war on terror or aren’t we? Was it or was it not started by Islamic people who brought it to our shores on September 11, 2001 ?
Were people from all over the world, mostly Americans, not brutally murdered that day, in downtown Manhattan, across the Potomac from our nation’s capitol and in a field in Pennsylvania? Did nearly three thousand men, women and children die a horrible, burning or crushing death that day, or didn’t they?
And I’m supposed to care that a copy of the Koran was “desecrated” when an overworked American soldier kicked it or got it wet?…Well, I don’t. I don’t care at all.
I’ll start caring when Osama bin Laden turns himself in and repents for incinerating all those innocent people on 9/11..
I’ll care about the Koran when the fanatics in the Middle East start caring about the Holy Bible, the mere possession of which is a crime in Saudi Arabia .
I’ll care when these thugs tell the world they are sorry for hacking off Nick Berg’s head while Berg screamed through his gurgling slashed throat.
I’ll care when the cowardly so-called “insurgents” in Iraq come out and fight like men instead of disrespecting their own religion by hiding in mosques.
I’ll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs. I’ll care when the American media stops pretending that their First Amendment liberties are somehow derived from international law instead of the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights
In the meantime, when I hear a story about a brave marine roughing up an Iraqi terrorist to obtain information, know this: I don’t care.
When I see a fuzzy photo of a pile of naked Iraqi prisoners who have been humiliated in what amounts to a college-hazing incident, rest assured: I don’t care.
When I see a wounded terrorist get shot in the head when he is told not to move because he might be booby-trapped, you can take it to the bank: I don’t care.
When I hear that a prisoner, who was issued a Koran and a prayer mat, and fed “special” food that is paid for by my tax dollars, is complaining that his holy book is being “mishandled,” you can absolutely believe in your heart of hearts: I don’t care.
And oh, by the way, I’ve noticed that sometimes it’s spelled “Koran” and other times “Quran..” Well, Jimmy Crack Corn and –you guessed it — I don’t care ! ! ! ! !
If you agree with this viewpoint, pass this on to all your E-mail friends.. Sooner or later, it’ll get to the people responsible for this ridiculous behavior!
If you don’t agree, then by all means hit the delete button.
Should you choose the latter, then please don’t complain when more atrocities committed by radical Muslims happen here in our great country! And may I add:
“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world But, the Marines don’t have that problem.” — Ronald Reagan
I have another quote that I would like to add AND……I hope you forward all this.
“If we ever forget that we’re One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.” Also by.. Ronald Reagan
One last thought for the day:
In case we find ourselves starting to believe all the Anti-American sentiment and negativity, we should remember England ‘s Prime Minister Tony Blair’s words during a recent interview. When asked by one of his Parliament members why he believes so much in America , he said:
“A simple way to take measure of a country is to look at how many want in… and how many want out.”
Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you:
1. Jesus Christ
2. The American G. I.
One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
YOU MIGHTWANT TO PASS THIS ON, AS MANY SEEM TO FORGET BOTH OF THEM. AMEN!
Wow! What a tirade! But, hold on to your “you-go-girl” cheers and stop waving your flags for a minute. There is – dare I say it – another point of view here.
Those who know me, know I tend to be something of a contrarian and a critic of the establishment, especially when presented with something as loaded and provocative as the rant from an angry housewife from New Jersey. So, since I had a little down time, I took up the challenge and proceeded to deconstruct this e-mail message for my own amusement. I’m happy to share my thoughts from this little exercise here, but please be aware:
THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS CRITICISMS OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION, THE IRAQ WAR, AND THE RIGHT WING POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY. PROCEED WITH CAUTION!
I must admit that when I first read the Angry New Jersey Housewife’s rant, I thought it was one of the most vitriolic, judgmental, holier-than-thou, hate-mongering, un-American, un-Christian, uninformed, immoral, twisted, and offensive compositions I’ve ever had the misfortune to read.
But then, after rereading it a few times, I came to believe that maybe this probably otherwise very nice lady from New Jersey might well have lost someone, most likely a family member, in the 9/11 tragedy and that she would be, understandably, full of rage. Or not. Maybe she’s just be a another latter-day Howard Beale railing against the hypocrisies of our time and saying, in effect, and repeatedly, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.” Either way, a response is in order.
In the days immediately following 9/11, many Arab-Americans were harassed, their homes and businesses were attacked, and at least one was shot and killed. Reflecting on this inappropriate aggression in a speech at the Islamic Center in Washington D.C., on September 17, 2001, President George W. Bush said, in part,
“…those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger [on Muslims] don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.” (See http://www.religioustolerance.org/reac_ter1.htm)
Our angry New Jersey housewife would seem to be one of those the President is talking to. She implies that she agrees with and even encourages the degrading and inhuman treatment of the Muslims held as “enemy combatants” (prisoners of war) saying numerous times, “I don’t care” [how they are treated.] She obviously sees all Muslims, or at least those living in the Middle East, as religious zealots who hate America. She further implies that torture is justified and that it’s acceptable to suspend the rule of law when it comes to the people she hates.
I believe such a callous, mindless, disparaging attitude toward other human beings is more appropriate in a meeting of the local Ku Klux Klan or the Neo-Nazis. In fact, if we took her e-mail and substituted “Jew” for Muslim, and “the Great War” for 9/11, then we could have something that just as easily might have been written by an angry German housewife circa 1935! But who knows, maybe our housewife was brought up in an atmosphere where bigotry, self-righteousness, and hate speech were acceptable.
“I’ll care when the mindless zealots who blow themselves up in search of nirvana care about the innocent children within range of their suicide bombs,” our angry housewife says. Well, she might be interested to learn that, according to http://www.iraqbodycount.org,(September 25, 2007) there have been somewhere between 73,000 and 80,000 Iraq civilians killed as a direct result of military action by U.S. forces; many being children of course. Then there are the 2 million or so Iraqi refugees in Syria and another 2 million who are homeless. Of the 25 million Iraq citizens trying to live “normal” lives, many are without electricity, drinking water, and sanitation services; lines at the gas pumps last hours, sometimes days; and an unknown number of schools and hospitals are closed or have been blown to smithereens (or have been so poorly built by American contractors that they are unsafe for use.)
By any measure, the conditions in Iraq are nothing less than a humanitarian nightmare, dwarfing even the highly publicized atrocities in Darfur. (For more information, check out http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/iraq.html.) (Note: “Nirvana” is a part of the Buddhist religion, not Islam. Maybe our housewife knows something I don’t, but I’m not aware of any Buddhists involved in any acts of terror, as suicide bombers or otherwise, against the U.S. Although, trying to get into one of those convoluted Yoga positions might be considered an act of terror.)
The New Jersey lady’s e-mail also refers to Nicholas Berg, who was captured and beheaded in Iraq in 2004. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_Berg, Berg’s killers claimed that his death was carried out to avenge abuses of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison. It may not have crossed our angry lady’s mind that, if President Bush had not made Iraq a war of choice, then there would not have been any abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison and Nicholas Berg might still be wearing his head today! In point of fact, Berg’s father, Michael Berg, blames George W. Bush for his son’s death. And, I believe, justifiably so. (Note: Neither Saddam Hussein nor any other Iraqi official had anything to do with 9/11; zero, zilch, nil, nada, nothing.)
One might also argue that our President, through his less than brilliant plan to rid the world of Saddam Hussein and his WMD’s, has, in effect, only aided and abetted Osama ben Laden, the person virtually everyone on the planet agrees IS responsible for 9/11, in ben Laden’s desire to kill Americans. Bush’s actions have caused the deaths of an estimated 3,800 U.S. soldiers in Iraq alone (as of September 25, 2007) Therefore, it would seem more appropriate for our New Jersey housewife to direct her anger at President Bush since he stopped the search for ben Laden in Afghanistan and diverted those assets to Iraq instead.
Furthermore, in his efforts to garner support for the Iraq war, Bush and his minions have tried to equate that debacle with the war on terror. For many, like our housewife, that bait and switch argument worked. But, for others, including yours truly, not so much. As we now know, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other Jihadist “death-to-America” groups have been reinvigorated due to the mischief caused by the Bush Administration (See the NIC’s July 2007, National Intelligence Estimate at http://www.dni.gov/press_releases/20070717_release.pdf.) Many intelligence experts have said repeatedly that we are less secure now than we were before 9/11.
The author says of her commentary, “If you don’t agree, then by all means hit the delete button.” This statement is revealing because it illustrates an important aspect of the new right-wing political philosophy: “You’re either with us or you’re against us,” “You either support the troops or you don’t,” “If we don’t fight them over there, we’ll have to fight them over here,” “Agree with me or hit the delete button.”
This is a mind-set where Bush, Cheney, et al, reserve to themselves the exclusive right to be the “deciders” of what is “good,” to identify, unequivocally, who the “evil doers” are, and to be the final arbiters of that which is moral or not, and that which is Constitutional or not. Those who dare to question Administration policy or suggest a semblance of checks and balances are called unpatriotic and told they are aiding and abetting the terrorists. So, if you thought authoritarianism in this country was stopped by the Revolutionary War, think again.
In a society where there is little or no meaningful debate, where there are no real offers to compromise on the important issues of the day, where opposing points of view are considered disloyal, where the rule of law is regarded as an annoying inconvenience, where the news media are manipulated to distort or avert the truth, or denied access to it, where freedom and liberty are held hostage to fear-mongering, then democracy cannot survive. And from there my friends it’s a short trip to Totalitarian rule. As Sinclair Lewis said, “When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross.” (For more on this subject see John Dean’s Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, Glenn Greenwald’s A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, and Chalmers Johnson’s Nemesis, The Last Days of the American Republic, among others, or re-read It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, or anything written by George Orwell.)
Sorry angry New Jersey housewife, your little harangue is unacceptable. Bigotry and intolerance are not the values that represent the best in America. I vehemently disagree with your malevolent e-mail, not only for the reasons stated above, but for many others that time and space do not permit. Suffice to say, whenever I receive a message as vitriolic, as hateful, as arrogant, as wrong-headed, and as un-American as this one, I most assuredly will not hit the “delete button,” but will, to the best of my ability, respond in kind.
Well, let’s see, our angry housewife left us with a few quotes as support for her rambling rant, including a few from President Reagan. I’ll leave another one for her to think about:
“The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.” – Ronald Reagan
Perhaps if she and President Bush had read that quote first and thought about it some, then maybe they would have taken pause before making a mockery of freedom, justice, and the American way. But, that’s just my opinion.
I have also received this screed via e-mail, and many others of the same ilk. Members of my family whole-heartedly agree with it. In fact I think many, maybe even a majority of Americans agree with it. Witness the unwillingness to try 9/11 perpetrators in the US courts. The preference for the perceived sure conviction in military court was preferred, and to hell with the terrorists’ rights.
I don’t share this view, and I liked your post.
One thing that I might add is that to defeat Islamic fascism, or the like the mind-set of the New Jersey lady won’t work. She basically equates Muslims and terrorists. Instead, I think that we need to assume that at least a huge majority of Muslims are not homicidal maniacs. They mostly want to live their lives, care for their children – in peace. They may agree if asked with many precepts of a conservative Islam. They may not even have a lot of sympathy with murdered US citizens that they think about only in an abstract way, but I don’t think they would kill Americans they could see as people just like themselves. In other words most Muslims are not insanely predisposed to violence against Americans or westerners generally. To defeat Muslim terrorist, I think we need to make common cause with sane Muslims against them. If we just lump all Muslims into an undifferentiated lump as in the e-mail, that common cause will never be made.