May 19, 2004
Open Letter to My Pro-Bush Brother-in-Law
BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
For two years I have struggled to write this letter. Indeed, nary a morning has passed when I have not sat at my desk and labored over the right words to express my sorrow that anyone I know could support the cruel, misguided and hopelessly immoral wars being waged in our names.
During this period, as each sordid chapter has unfolded, as each new lie has been exposed and each new horror has stared us in the face, I have longed for the day when your eyes will finally see the truth. I have dreamed of the moment I can put my arms around you, cry with you and embrace your painful recognition that, in the immortal words of Pogo, "we have met the enemy and he is us." Your steadfast loyalty to an administration steeped in archaic concepts of world domination is a source of daily anguish, as you have come to represent, in my microcosm, that other half of our nation that will always believe "my country right or wrong" – no matter how horrific our government’s actions.
At the beginning of this global nightmare, you typified the patronizing attitude of those in power who claimed to know what is best. "You just don’t understand," you told your dear peace-loving sister, my gentle wife, one who could not possibly understand what drives men to kill each other. "Can’t you see that it is Saddam or us?" you reasoned. You told her she was naive, while you believed every word out of the mouth of Dick Cheney, who graduated in 2000 from CEO of the moribund Halliburton to Vice-President of the United States. As the months passed and the deceptions unfolded and Halliburton reaped untold billions from this despicable venture, I resisted the urge day-by-day to ask you, "Who is the naive one here?"
Occasionally, I would email you articles that exposed the lies or succinctly and eloquently reflected my agony over the murderous and self-defeating policies to which you continued to cling. I ceased and desisted, however, when Rebecca conveyed to me how much it annoyed you. "Leave him alone," she implored. "It will only cause a rift between you that I will have to live with."
But I can keep my peace no longer. Today the camel’s back broke. As the story emerges that the torture and abuse and genocide have been condoned and sanctioned at the highest levels of this corrupt administration, I am once again compelled to reach out to you and ask, "Is there no limit to your acceptance of these dreadful policies? Are you not big enough to admit when your president is wrong?"
I have wondered many times during this escalating ordeal what you would have done had you lived in Germany in the 1930's. Would you have been a good Nazi in the same way that you are a good American? Would you ever have possessed the objectivity or detachment, even after the war and the liberation of the death camps, to step back and say, "My God. How did I let that happen?" I knew you would scoff at a comparison that today seems less and less remote.
A week or so ago, on her Air America Radio show, Janeane Garofalo mused: "To continue to support this administration at this point you’ve got to have a serious character flaw." I have to agree, which is why I hope and pray that by now, you have joined the many well-intended Republicans, conservative columnists and pundits, generals, career intelligence officials, and many others who can longer countenance what is being done in their names. How many more American boys and girls must die and lose limbs for Halliburton? How many thousands more Iraqis must die defending their own country from those who claim to be liberating it? How much more anti-Americanism must be sown across this shrinking globe before those who put the perpetrators in power say "Stop!" How much longer will it take to "connect the dots" that link the litany of anti-human policies that are transforming the relatively peaceful forward-looking world Bush inherited into one that resembles more the Age of Attila?
I have repelled the urge to ask you whether this war is worth donating the lives and limbs of your own sons. If this combat is so important, would you sacrifice Johnny’s legs for Dick Cheney’s war? Would you donate Jacob’s sanity? Would you support Brad joining the National Guard and ending up in Iraq? If not, how are you so willing to donate the bodies and minds of other peoples’ sons and daughters? Thankfully, your boys are still too young to serve in this abominable and disgraceful endeavor. Give Bush four more years, however, and they will be old enough. Is that what you want?
In love and friendship,
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Jimmy Lohman is a human rights lawyer and activist and musician in Austin, Texas.
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