September 30, 2004
A Letter to My Daughter-in-Law
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
Hi Mary -
What a great e-mail! Somehow, I always knew something of the sort was coming, and I have wondered from time to time when you would get around to actually writing it. Well done! It is always important, I think, to make one’s innermost concerns known to others. With your permission, I will treat your e-mail as a long overdue opportunity for us to get to know each other a little better.
I might also add, for what it's worth, that I think you are a good wife, and a good person, I dare say, to be concerned as deeply as you apparently are about Peter's well being. On that score, inasmuch as I am able to do so, please let me try to put your mind at ease.
With all due respect, Mary, here is the way I see the situation:
First of all, please try not to be so shocked. I have never believed that thoughts are "things on your [of my] own," as you write. To my mind, ideas tend to be morally irrelevant if they are treated as isolated, separate and apart cognitive possessions, per se. As with everything else, I believe, ideas only become morally relevant when they are forced out into the open, which is to say only when they become real for being shared with the world, a friend, or just a willing listener of some kind.
As I see it, If done right the fundamental purpose of the whole process should never be to persuade or convince anybody of anything. Indeed, to my mind, the very essence of free speech is to make ideas morally relevant by the simple act of voicing them in order that they may be further honed, polished, clarified and amended so as to arrive at some more or less accurate approximation of the truth, which is God.
To help make that approximation sufficiently unified and coherent in correspondence with God, our founding fathers gave us the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. This, I believe, is the whole idea behind our country's traditional adherence to the arts of democratic discourse (an adherence that unfortunately is being hideously betrayed every day for being under constant and relentless attack by the right wing of the Republican Party) as a unified and coherent way to help free mankind from the merely phenomenal conveniences of nattering, self-serving theory, dogma and ideology, so as to get at the superintending transcendent truth of things, which is God.
In consequence of all this, my intention in maintaining a running correspondence with Peter has never been to persuade or convince him of anything, or to propagandize, to "put all this stuff on others," as you write. It has always been an exercise in seeking God by trying to get at the truth of things with others.
As Peter will tell you from his experience of having grown up with me, except for what it takes to be well-mannered and open-minded, I have never cared one wit about controlling what it is that Peter chooses to think about or believe in. I still don‘t. He’ll work it out. He’ll choose right. I’ve always believed that. He comes from good stock.
Related to that, nor have I ever dreamed that Peter would think about things the way I do (hell, half the time I don‘t even know what that way is myself). Overall, in this regard, all I have ever cared about, or insisted upon, with Peter is that he feel and think honestly, which is to say sincerely and true to himself as the one who is actually doing the feeling and thinking, and not someone, or something, else. Please ask him about this, I think he will confirm the point.
Secondly, to my knowledge, I never compared Bush to Hitler and the Holocaust. I could be wrong, but I can’t even imagine having done such a silly thing. To what comments of mine are you referring specifically?
Mary, my complaints with Bush are simple. As you read them, if you chose to do so, you will discover that I have serious doubts that in good faith this guy has the best interests of me and my family at heart, or that he really is good for Israel’s present and long term security? You believe otherwise. You have no doubts about these things. That is good! I hope with all my heart that you are right, that your faith is justified, which will make things better for everyone, rather than my misgivings, all of which go to something a bit more problematical, to say the least. It is just that given the record. I can’t bring myself to believe that a healthy skepticism isn’t the better part of my hope and your faith in the matter. I can’t forget, for example, that it was members of Bush’s inner circle (before they came to power officially in 2000) who helped persuade Israel to abandon the Oslo Accords. For better or worse, I also remember that it wasn’t more than 6-7 weeks after the announcement of the "roadmap" that Bush unilaterally abandoned it.
(1) For whatever reason, without giving any credible reason or explanation, Bush summarily abandoned the effort to bring Osama to justice. Remember, the financial ties between the Bush’s and the bin Laden family, to say nothing about their ties to the Saudi royal family, go back a long way. Indeed, Bush Sr. was breakfasting with one of Osama’s close relatives on the morning of 9/11. By itself, that proves nothing. What is disturbing, however, is that …
(a) U.S. terrorism experts have known for almost ten years that the Saudis are among the top financial enablers of world terrorism. Notwithstanding, they have repeatedly been told by top government officials to soft peddle, shelve, terminate or actually abandon their investigations of the Saudis altogether as they pertain to terrorism. Indeed, the Bush White House even refused to allow the release of the report of the Senate committee impaneled to look into the events of 9/11 until any and all incriminating mention of the Saudi connection had been deleted from that report by the White House itself...
(b) the Saudi’s counted 14 of the 19 known 9/11 terrorists among their citizens, but because of a relentless propaganda assault waged by Bush &Company against its own people most Americans still believe to this day that most, if not all, of the hijackers either had a direct link to Saddam or were themselves Iraqi citizens...
[c] 1-3 days after the 9/11 attacks members of the bin Laden family and other Saudis who were known supporters of world terror movements were allowed to leave this country secretly for Saudi Arabia without first being properly questioned or investigated pursuant to those attacks…
(d) neither Bush nor any of his inner circle lifted a finger to protect Americans against a 9/11 type of attack, despite the fact that they knew that either it, or something else very much like it, was imminent. In fact, upon learning of the imminent danger we were all in on 8/8/01 (which had people running around the White House "with their hair on fire") Mr. Bush elected to remain on vacation at his Texas ranch for the next 28 days…
(e) since 9/11, Mr. Bush has seemed to go out of the way to intentionally neglect and even defund those needs that are most urgent to bring our most crucial homeland security efforts up to speed…
(f) to date, no one, not a single government official, nobody, nada, zilch has been held accountable for behavior which, given the recorded testimony of the 9//11 Commission, as well as all the hard evidence on hand, can only be described, at best, as being criminally negligent, and, at worst, as treason itself, as it relates to the tragedy of 9/11...
(g) until it became too embarrassingly partisan to continue the effort, after the events of 9/11 Bush repeatedly quashed any and all efforts to form either a Senate committee or a bipartisan 9/11 Commission to look into all aspects of what really happened on 9/11 so as to arrive at a better understanding of the unalloyed truth of the matter.
Mary, this is not propaganda. These are facts that can be studied and verified by any scholar, or any other interested party. They can be poured over, discussed, debated and interpreted any number of different ways until "hell freezes over," as they say. But, one thing is certain. These things happened. They are part of the record. Individually, they may not mean much. Taken together, however, they speak to me of an attitudinal and behavioral pattern that just doesn’t feel right, doesn’t smell right, doesn’t track right.
Under the same circumstances, I believe that people of good faith, people like you and Peter, and myself (as I prefer to think), would have been more honest, more caring, more alert, more concerned and more proactive on behalf of the truth, God.
All of which brings me to my final complaint about Bush.
(2) He lied to everyone -- himself, his neighbor (me, you, Peter, Adam, et al.), his God and the world at large. About everything -- the true enemy, the real danger, the WMDs, the Niger nuclear material, the Iraqi terror linkage, everything.! In fact, Bush’s top people all lied to everyone. About everything! Moreover, they continue to this day to lie. All of them - Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz.
Speaking strictly for myself, I can’t help but wonder what sort of odious creature I am to them that I should be treated so dishonorably and contemptuously. By the same token, I ask myself what I ever did to these people to be so undeserving of a decent respect for simple approbation and human dignity at their hands.
Mary, I guess my problem, if I have one, is that in all of my sixty-plus years in this life I have NEVER, EVER encountered anything that was good and decent that wasn’t also great art - in other words that couldn’t stand by itself on its own merits in the fullness of the truth, that instead had to be lied about in order to convince people that is was in fact something good and decent and true.
Maybe that is what it all comes down to for me. Art - more specifically the difference between good art, which our founders gave us in the spirit of ordinary truth, honor and human dignity under the rule of law as expressed in our Constitution, and bad art, which, from all appearances, would seem to be first the egregious, gratuitous and opportunistic nullification of, and secondly the utter and final destruction of, everything the founders and our Constitution stand for by Mr. Bush and his sundry minions simply to suit themselves.
Well, that about does it for now, I guess. I hope I haven’t alarmed you Mary, or worse, bored you half to death. Please let me know any thoughts you might have about anything I’ve written, or about anything else, for that matter. In searching for the truth in our mutual, interdependent freedom together I would be most interested in hearing from you again.
If I may, let me leave you with a final thought by one of the great Jewish world souls of our time, a man who was held to be the dean of civil liberties scholarship on the Harvard faculty for decades. It is something I have always admired, and tried to keep uppermost in my mind when it comes to my attempts to be morally relevant in a world that forces me to cope effectively and well, if I can, with the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" in matters of the state:
As always, I send my love to you, Peter and Adam.
A BUZZFLASH READER CONTRIBUTION
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