What is Freedom Worth?
Reader comment on item: 'Become a Muslim warrior'
Submitted by J J Matthews (United States), Jul 3, 2002 at 09:06I find it understandable that the reaction to 9-11, and the subsequent violence in Israel, has awakened the American mind to the problem of the Middle East. The Left, in the name of compassion, would have us come to understand the Arab/miltant Muslim situation by a cultural study that includes looking at us (the USA) from the Arab/Muslim point of view. I guess the Left thinks that once such a cultural understanding is achieved, we can give the proper concession that will bring about a lasting peace.
There are good things to be said of this type of reaction. Each of our mothers or peers has at some time in our lives encouraged us to walk around in another's shoes. An experience of that kind is intended to give us a feeling of universal brotherhood. It is an appeal to the similarities in all of us. We only hope that the person whose shoes we are wearing is feeling the same way.
The Right would have us believe that there is a vast conspiracy against the federal government, and the only means we have to thwart the evildoers is to reduce or eliminate some of our rights as individuals and as citizens under the Constitution. The Right believe that, in the name of national security, we should all happily give up the convenience of personal privacy so that the government may have broader powers of search and seizure to protect us from those who might be terrorists among us. The Right would also like to circumvent the constitutional right of due process, which may be why our government is delivering suspects to military camps with the explanation that they are prisoners of war.
The problem is not understanding or a conspiracy. It is both and neither. Yes, we do need to understand the cultural disparities between the Arabs/militant Muslims and ourselves in order to understand why we cannot agree on peace. I find it admirable that we are always looking for the peaceful solution.
And there are those in this country that want to see our government destroyed. We have many embittered people who each hold a personal grudge. Therefore, there is a definite need for internal security so we do not see our cities become bitterly contested like Jerusalem and Belfast.
What it will take is courage. Presently, America seems afflicted by moral cowardice. Years of education have taught us that war is not an answer. We have been told that there is no need to fight for anything, most battles can be won by waving a placard and staging a sit-in. Internal movements like the civil rights movement, and the anti-Vietnam protests were typically non-violent and, for the most part, effective. However, I think Americans fail to realize the difference between a peaceful civil movement and a foreign war. Not all problems can be solved with words, particularly a rift like the one that exists between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Our freedoms were bought with blood. They are also perpetuated at the expense of more blood. The condition we are in is we no longer feel our freedom is worth its cost. It is terrible to think that someone has to die in a foreign field to give us the liberty we think we deserve by default, but it is naive to believe that there is no price for freedom. How many veterans believe this? How many young men has America buried to keep our way of life?
President Bush called this a war. It is, but it is a war that will be won in ideology as much as it will be won with bullets. It may cost us good soldiers- many have already paid with their lives. This time, there may also be a price at home. How many of us are really prepared for a bomber on a bus? How will we react to the coverage of mutilated bodies on CNN when the bodies are lying on the street of Hometown, USA? Will we think freedom worth it then? Or will we pale and surrender our freedom at the first sign of resistance?
The destruction of the World Trade Center has left us numb and scrambling for the Why and the Who and the What. Our enemy does not care about any of these questions. His only question is how many innocent people can I kill with a bomb on a bus? We need to steel ourselves for the worst and hope for the best. We need to get back the spirit that won two world wars and lost thousands of men in others. We believed in something then. We believed in the idea of America. We need to start believing that again. We need to start asking:
What is freedom worth to you, America?
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