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Russell Morse, Call me America: A young man contemplates going to war

Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAR, ret., What can we do about terrorism?


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How I feel (the uninfluenced view)

There’s a very serious matter,
Needin’ discussion,
The Pentagon and Manhattan,
Destroyed in eruption,
Airplanes hijacked,
Full of fuel,
Security lacked,
Now a terrorist’s tool,
Thousands dead,
Economy on hold,
The statement said,
Is large and bold,
They hate America,
Our economic interests,
As world police center,
So they kill innocents,
Exactly why, who knows,
What is it we’ve done,
But those in control,
Are the politicians,
So why not get them,
Why must we pay,
Look at the victim,
What more can I say,

It could have been many,
But we jump to conclusion,
Accuse Afghan and Pakistani,
For a quick solution,
But there is little proof,
We need hard evidence,
Maybe the truth,
It was U.S. residents,
Or our own president,
To pass the defense plan,
Or maybe they were sent,
By some hired hand,
The media says Bin Laden,
Causin’ racist attacks,
Soon to be bomb droppin’,
These are the facts,
They fuel American hate,
Often used in the past,
I wish Japanese internment,
Could be the last,
Overall it’s tragic,
It’s got everyone confused,
Much sorrow and panic,
Everyone glued to the news,

Bush speaks of revenge,
He must want war,
I ask when it’ll end,
Must we even the score,
We should find the reason,
And increase prevention,
Establish peace, then,
Kill the aggression,
It wasn’t my relatives,
That died,
But violence only gives,
Loss of much more lives,
I know if I’m drafted,
I’ll burn my card publicly,
I refuse to be blasted,
For this corrupt society,
So I’m not patriotic,
But that’s my right,
War is chaotic,
So I refuse to fight,
Don’t think I’m cold hearted,
I feel much pain,
For those departed,
And life will never be the same.
Scott Erickson, 19, is a writer for YO! where this poem appeared on September 17, 2001. YO! (Youth Outlook!is a publication of the Pacific News Service.) See Cybervoices for another view from YO!




my girlfriend is a beautiful
filipina named jennifer
she is smart funny and compassionate
jen has a cousin named martas who
is also smart funny and compassionate
martas is now planning her wedding to
her long time boyfriend jay
they are in true love
anyways they are calling martas “missing”
while i call her “savagely murdered by cowards
in the most horrific way i have ever seen”
you see martas came from a dirt floor in the
islands to the public schools here in the states
she then worked her way thru college and graduated to
land a good job on floor 104 of the world trade center
in new york city
...and now all i can do is stare into the t.v.
...and now i have watched the screen scream burn and
drop over and over and over for weeks
in fact the only laugh ive had in days was at the
rally when a man named “turquoise” said to me “hey
man, war is not the answer. violence only creates more
violence” . i then replied “ if violence only
creates more violence as you say — then how do you
suppose we all dont speak german today?”
“fuck off man” turquoise fired back
“peace bro” i said laughing my ass completely off
walking back to my beautiful girlfriend my sad t.v.
screen and to the little peaceful shrine of candles
and flowers
left out for a “missing”
girl named
thene (ghost_children@yahoo.com)


Lips, loose & otherwise

Once again, as I often have in the past few weeks, I’m flip-flopping between fear and fury.

I’m looking at an op-ed piece in the October 18 New York Times by Richard Butler, “ambassador in residence at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the forthcoming ‘Fatal Choice: Nuclear Weapons and the Illusion of Missile Defense.’” Butler also served as executive chair of the UN special commission charged with weapons inspection in Iraq.

The piece is an extended example of an increasingly common practice: building a case upon unfounded suppositions. The opening statement, tossed off in a whispered aside, acknowledges, “We have no evidence for X,” followed by a slightly louder, “but if we did…” Then the fanfare begins, ushering in the whole point of the exercise.

The sudden appearance of anthrax in our midst has encouraged what was already a bad habit. President Bush: “I wouldn’t put it past [Osama bin Laden], but we don’t have hard evidence yet.” National security adviser Condoleezza Rice: “There isn’t any hard evidence of a link of any kind, but we don’t want to be blind to that link.”

But Butler’s article turns the habit into an art form. “If,” he begins, terrorists want “to use biological weapons to kill on a large scale, they have not succeeded — not yet.” If we discover that the anthrax “was supplied by a state,” he continues, then the situation will be very grave indeed. Was the anthrax weapons-grade, “which could only have been made by skilled people in possession of expensive equipment? The findings from the office of Senator Tom Daschle, although they are still quite tentative, may suggest” that it was.

Tada! Enter The Point: Iraq may be responsible. “If the scientific path leads to Iraq as the supporter of the anthrax used by the terrorist mailers in the United States, no one should be surprised.”

“If … quite tentative … may suggest … if.”

Circumstances may confirm Butler’s reasoning. If they do, we’ll manage to factor the new facts into our own reasoning. But for now, it feels like we’re being manipulated, op-ed piece by op-ed piece, official statement by official statement.

While the official pageant continues, real people try to continue with real lives. The president vows to “do whatever it takes to defeat terror,” and I worry that my son visited Duke University during the same week that Robert Stevens, the first anthrax casualty, was there. A friend pales at the thought of her thoughtful free-spirited son being drafted and sent into combat. Another tries to explain to her eight-year-old daughter why all the grownups look worried, and includes the little girl in her daily visits to a neighborhood Jordanian-owned market.

Women’s work? Perhaps. ZNet commentator Cynthia Peters notes that women “are being told that shopping is their patriotic duty, that their unpaid caring labor is now part of the war effort, that they must obsess about the minutia of daily routines and not focus on the larger issues, and that they should stand united with the rest of the country as if it were one big family.”

Peters traces this pattern all the way to the White House: In his October 7, 2001 war announcement, she says, Bush shamefully showcased the ideal feminine gesture during this tragic time — literally to be willing to sacrifice our men. He said, “I recently received a touching letter that says a lot about the state of America in these difficult times, a letter from a fourth grade girl with a father in the military. ‘As much as I don’t want my dad to fight,’ she wrote, ‘I’m willing to give him to you.’”

But in times when the country’s wars are fought by volunteers, most men are relegated to cheerleading roles as well, to sharing with women the frustrating burden of concern for loved ones, in effect creating a nation that stays at home, baking red, white, and blue cakes, while daddy goes off to do important work.

What can we do to undo this kind of damage?

Scuttle loose lips before they sink you. Watch out for signs of the “no evidence, but …” syndrome and insist on straight answers.

Counter loose lips with some stiff talk of our own, which tries — as many of the contributions to this week’s Call do — to address the present situation directly. Honest, open conversation creates a wonderful barrier to hype.

And then, when all the talking is done, go home and kiss your loved ones.

Betsey Culp