"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Thursday, October 14, 2004

to Andrew Sullivan

You wrote:

"Yes, much of this is myth. But myth matters. A nation that is not
built on race or creed or an ancient history must build itself on
something else. And Americans built themselves on an idea of liberty
and wrapped it in the myth of elsewhere."

I was wondering where the American Indian fits into your land of
'embedded sanctity', how did the American Indian prosper in what you
describe as a place where "Its founders saw....as a place apart" a
place "to escape persecution....where their tormentors could not
follow." What torment did the American Indian escape 'to'. This rose
coloured picture you attempt to paint is understandable in light of
the attrocity of 9/11, but the fact is America has a long history of
minority (in the case of African slaves, the African-American
people, the American Indian, Mexican immigrants etc) persecution,
which, to attempt to pass off as a myth but "a myth that matters. A
nation that is not built on race or creed or an ancient history must
build itself on something else. And Americans built themselves on an
idea of liberty and wrapped it in the myth of elsewhere" is
basically intimating that in your opinion, it is true.

The purpose of this historically eulogistic piece is not evident
until you mention the "demons" who "have done....something that
reflects not an ignorance of America. The war they have launched is
based on a fierce insight into the American psyche." This is not
disputable, the actions of those responsible for 9/11 and the
bombing in Madrid is unforgivable, but as the piece continues the
terrorists become more general, until it becomes clear that
terrorists are the Arab people, "They have seen that, as Israel has
been pounded by the same murderous thugs." Your coloured view of
history continues with "This country is at its heart a peaceful one.
It has done more to help the world than any other actor in world
history. It saved the world from the two greatest evils of the last
century in Nazism and Soviet Communism" where you fail to even
envisage a reason why these terrorists commit such acts. The US is
not the peaceful omnipotance you entertain, but one envloved in
dirty dealings, arms sales, government coups, dictator support etc,
American politicans are not infallible, neither are histories most
famous (not in-famous) leaders (Churchill "I do not understand the
squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using
poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.").

You are right to assert that "they have no ability to match American
military force, they chose to use no weaponry at all". Then you
begin to realise that terrorism is closer to home "The Muslim sect
that pioneered the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993
was connected to Osama bin Laden, but had as its inspiration a
demonic mullah who lived in New Jersey," but you fail to connect the
dots between the terrorists and those who trained the terrorists.
The CIA are much closer to home, perhaps too close.

I would also like to bring to your attention two other things
Abraham Lincoln stated, "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve
it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain
it;" "As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This
expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the
extent of the difference, is no democracy."

On a final note, do you think it appropriate to refer to dropping
two atomic bombs (resulting in 260,000 civillians killed, wounded or
missing) on Japan as getting "down to business."

and, on April 23rd 2004


After reading your article "hope for iraq" I was stumped by the use of the word "hyped" in reference to news emanating from Iraq in the last few weeks. I wonder how infact the news of "fierce fighting" as some newspapers like to describe could possibly be "hyped." I don't wish to linger on this one word, but hype insinuates "sensational promotion" which is far from the truth. The truth for that matter is that the reporting of events in Falluja has been, for the most part, biased towards the anguish endured by coalition troops. Further confusion arises when you refer to the Iraqi "insurgents" as only trying to appear to cause chaos. In this line of thinking, do Iraqi civillians only appear dead, half mutilated or burnt beyond recognition. Because if this is case then thank you for informing me, I will cease feeling any remorse for countries role in this war. This critisim may seem glib, but that is not my intention. The ongoing violence in Iraq is claiming the lives of many innocent civillians (to amend your figures, the actual ratio of 10 to 1 was Iraqi civillians and insurgents to US troops, the order here representing the most casualties to the least) which is not being fully realised in the popular press. Thank you for your time.