Cindy - Column for 9/21

Operation Infinite Justice

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."

- Theodore Roosevelt, as found on a WTC Memorial website.

"Someone ought to dig up Teddy's Roosevelt's skull and slap it for ever spouting that kind of irresponsible crap."

-- Cindy Dutra, September 21, 2001.

For a time, I felt overwhelmed.

Consumed by sentimental concern for those who lost so much in the tragedy.

Forgetting how deeply it used to piss me off when people threw around the word "tragedy" as if it just meant "a really really bad thing." There's about 2400 years of Aristotelian scholarship behind the word, seventeen major schools of thought, wildly different but interconnected interpretations across different regions and different times, and here I've tossed it out the door just so Oprah can have a fancy word to use when she gets all weepy.

In short, I stopped being myself.

I drove by strong, proud Americans -- people I once would have simply dismissed as rednecks -- draping red white and blue flags across overpasses. I honked my horn in support. I even rolled down my window and gave them a thumbs-up. Wait, wait, I should have given them a two-fingered "V for Victory" instead! But would that be misconstrued for a peace sign?

It seemed a time to come together in unity. To put aside those things that divided us. Because in times of trouble, it would be unity that would see us through the darkness. This wasn't a time to belittle our President, even if I didn't vote for him. Even if I didn't agree with him. Even if he got fewer votes than the guy I did vote for but was still somehow President of a Democracy. My cynicism was wiped clean. This was a time to rally behind the United States of America.

I was so very close to losing who I was, to become part of a greater whole. A whole that would respond swiftly, that would strike its enemies from on high. Whoever did this, whoever chose to ally with whoever did this, whoever was even thinking of doing something like this again would fear for their lives, and for the lives of their children.

Then, just last night, they announced what this action would be called.

Operation Infinite Justice.

And somewhere, deep in the core of my being, my Bullshit Detector kicked in. Icy tendrils slipped out of my spine, slithered throughout my central nervous system, and found where I'd bound, gagged, and hidden my brain. My inner eyelids clicked open, and I once again saw the world as it was.

Thank you, thank you. Thank you, you stupid bastards.

No one with anything I'd call sense uses words like "Infinite Justice". These people are complete and utter morons. And congress just authorized 40 billion dollars for them to start a war anywhere they want to. We just gave a man I wouldn't trust with a rusty spoon carte blanche to send armed forces into any nation Osama bin Laden's ever been near, and to try to replace their "terrorist friendly" governments with ones more to our liking. Democrat and Republican representatives alike just joined hands and cheered a man for creating a cabinet position for the OFFICE OF HOMELAND SECURITY. For the life of me, I can't tell if this is the second to last chapter of "The Fall of the Roman Empire" or the third paragraph of a particularly bad science fiction novel.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I'm very likely to be wrong. This may well be a time for action, and I don't envy the people in charge of deciding what to do next. But it is not a time for unthinking Unity. We are not so badly wounded that any response is better than no response. Times of great turmoil are exactly when you need dissenting voices to speak their loudest. We are about to put a very heavy war machine into motion, and it is important that we hold on to our ability to stop it before it gets out of our control.

Columns by Cindy