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The American Madness
A Raving Lunatic Dispatch
By Roehl Sybing (indef@infinitedeferral.com)

We have been lost in the woods for quite some time.

September 11 rocked our world to its core. It changed the way we looked at life and how we lived life. It put us in a place where we can never again feel safe. It gave us a whole new perspective on just about everything.

But here's the thing - and I really mean it - while four hijacked planes and three thousand funerals gave us a lot to think about, it gave us enough evidence that we should realize that nothing about America has ever really changed.

Sure, the icons of American strength and success - One and Two World Trade - are gone, and supposedly it has been replaced with a reborn sense of loyalty for our country. But there is nothing brand-spanking new about our brand-spanking American resolve and patriotism. It is, in fact, a madness that we have experienced before and now have conveniently forgotten.

We saw it in the Salem witch trials, where a number of girls cried spirits and a whole town sought to drive the heathens from its pristine community. We saw it in World War I and World War II, where Americans who were once German or Japanese were cut out of society and even suffered the consequences of the red, white and blue madness. We saw it in the fifties, where if it was 2002, little known Senator McCarthy could've just replaced the word "Communists" with "terrorists." And we saw it during Vietnam, where the lack of serious political discourse between warmongering conservatives and peacenik liberals hindered any real effort to a real solution half a world away.

And it is a madness. What's more, we are going through it right now. We just won't admit it until it's too late.

Upon my railing on others that Jose Padilla - a man that I do not like in the least - should at minimum be given the right to be held on charges and the right to have a proper hearing by way of due process, one of my fellow Democrats conceded that the abridgement of civil rights should be respected in order to feel safe and secure. Rest assured, this maniacal conservative-in-liberal's clothing will never be invited to any of my parties.

When a country singer was being snubbed by ABC News because of his inflammatory lyrics disguised in "love it or leave it" patriotism, the American music industry and supposedly all of Hicktown, USA was reviled, condemning the "liberal media elites" of being unpatriotic, no matter how just the reasons Peter Jennings gave.

When we have asked ourselves what we should do on the land where countless businesses and millions of people traversed the buildings that were the marvel of our genius and character, we have allowed the victims of September 11, driven purely by sentiment and not by progress, to mindlessly dictate the conversation, allowing them to call anyone who wants to rebuild unfeeling and inhuman.

When we have blamed the concept of religious establishment for September 11 (as well we should), we have allowed religious conservative nutcases to line up hapless Americans to raise their fists in Hitler-like fashion, proclaiming that we should Christianize Arab nations and force them into our fold. Never mind that they'd like to do the same thing to us and that we're appalled by the notion. Never mind that we tried to do THAT during the Crusades, and look what it got us.

And upon the news that the words of the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, never mind that technically it is; we have allowed a mindless diatribe of sentiment and traditionalism to override a true sense of patriotism and freedom that lends themselves to a symbolic piece of cloth that in itself has no purpose unless what it represents is truly defended. And in that respect, we've done a truly terrible job.

Unity among Americans is our greatest strength, and perhaps our most horrifying trait. We grow mad together, and we stay mad together until the proverbial feel-good bombs are dropped on the heads of our enemies, never mind the things that get helplessly caught in the middle, like civility, freedom, trust and innocence.

In the meantime, we have no comprehension for real discourse and serious debate, and we can't stomach anyone or anything that attempts to start those up again, because we are afraid that we might be wrong. And at the end of the day, we're probably still right, but we don't allow the possibility to be challenged. We've certainly reached the limit of our immaturity when a woman on a talk show program debating the flag ruling recites without feeling the Pledge of Allegiance and everyone who listens is suppose to take that as argument enough against the court's decision.

I should know, I stayed angry for a very long time. I live not twenty-five miles from where the Twin Towers once stood. For much of the better part of the first six months after September 11, I wanted to rip out the hearts of anyone with an Arab name or a penchant to praise Allah. I still don't love them, and I probably never will ("never forgive nor forget" remains my operative clause), but I have eventually grown to at least tolerate them. Perhaps one day I can be capable of more than being able to stomach being in the same room with them.

Upon realizing all this, there is the natural revelation of how soulless Americans have become. We have let our emotions dictate our actions, not allowing our actions to reveal our true character. We have forgotten what it truly is to be American, and that our identity cannot be defined by our military strength, the colors of a flag, or even the height of our tallest skyscraper. In an ideal world, America, borne out of a melting pot of nations and a multitude of peoples that sought out this place in search of a better life, defines itself, and doesn't allow its' identity to be dictated to by cultural and social conservatives who seek a false sense of stability or a restricting set of "values."

But, this is not an ideal world, as the Arab terrorists continue to demonstrate to us to this very day. Which explains our frustration. Our indignation. Our madness.

Perhaps one day we will be cured of our madness, and maybe we can get down to serious debate on serious issues - the ones we should've been taking care of all along, like domestic care, environmental concern, and nuclear defense. Perhaps from this serious discourse we can have serious progress. Perhaps from this we will no longer have to take ten steps back just to take one step forward.

We have been lost in the woods for quite some time. But we'll find our way out of the woods eventually. A united America is as wonderful as it is terrifying, and it is capable of just about anything that the human imagination can conceive (and I am sure it will take a lot to conceive a rational America once again). I have no doubts of our potential, squandered as it is at this very moment.

In the meantime, please forgive us our madness. It's just a cycle, a phase. What's more, we've been here before, and we'll be cured of it one way or another.


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