Tuesday, July 4, 2017

They hate us for our freedoms . . . which is a reasonable position

Coming to terms with why they hate us, and I sometimes do too, on the 4th of July.

On September 20th, 2001, 

in the wake of the horrible terrorist attacks earlier that month, President George W. Bush addressed the nation. He answered a question that many of us were asking at that time:
Americans are asking ``Why do they hate us?''
They hate what they see right here in this chamber: a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
Of course, like all statements made since the internet boom of the mid-nineties, the statement was quickly mocked.
And like all mocking, the mockers had their point. There was certainly more to it than that. American foreign policy with regard to the parts of the world in which Islam is dominant is, to say the least, fraught and complicated. Furthermore, anyone can understand the notion that if you are on the fence regarding your opinion of a country, and that country bombs your children, you will pretty quickly choose a negative position.

But make no mistake, they do hate our freedom. The Islamic Caliphate, known as ISIS, which has risen in years since
 then makes that clear. The Caliphate is worldwide. The Caliphate is the only legitimate expression of Islam. The Caliphate is opposed to any sort of Western Liberalism.

It is not just against bombings. It isn't just against Western oil companies on holy soil. It is opposed to Western Liberalism.

And I get it.

I don't care what side of the political spectrum you are on, if you went to the 4th of July parade today there was something to offend you, deeply.

I was offended. I was offended at baseball teams who were playing music on their floats, full of minor children, playing music with lyrics that were openly misogynist and graphic in their depictions of sexuality. I wasn't exactly offended by the somewhat provocative dances performed by teenage dancing crews in fairly little and fairly tight clothing, but I know how interested my 3 year old daughter is in taking dancing lessons. Will I be as calm about it in 10 years? Will she feel free to wear something other than these uniforms if she's not comfortable with it? I don't have anything against women, even young women, wearing what makes them feel comfortable and desirable, but I do not like people feeling that they must conform to the hyper-sexualized society.  There were floats from religions that I really don't want to have their message legitimized. There were floats for people whose politics disagree with mine. There were floats from groups whose lifestyles I would really prefer my daughter didn't even know existed parading their twisted views in front of everyone. There were open displays of disrespect for authorities that I see as God ordained. It made me angry.

So, I understand an impetus to dress them all in burkas, beat the ones who are disrespectful and un-submissive into respect, submission, or death, murder those who you find offensive. I really do get this. I really do hate our freedoms too.

And you get it.

Like I said, whatever your side of the political spectrum, there would have been people who you would have liked to silence too. There were showcases of American military respect, honoring veterans. There were floats arguing that you can never respect a country that uses violence. There were Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Atheists, etc. etc. etc. Think of some group who you think is dangerously nuts. They had a float in our parade.

And even though I get it, I love it.

Did my Grandpa fight at Iwo Jima for people to get up and say and do all these things that make a mockery of his values? Yeah, kind of.

See George W. Bush was right. They DO hate us for precisely the values he listed: "our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other." It's not just our religion they hate, it's the freedom of religion. It's not just our speech they hate, it's our freedom of speech. It's not just that we disagree with them. It's that we have the right to disagree
And we all have that authoritarian living inside of us. There is that person who says "they shouldn't even be allowed to say that." Or "if they think that way, fine, let them think that way at home. Don't make me look at it." But that is not the American in us.

I disagree with what you say, but I hope that I would have in me to fight to the death for your right to say it. 

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