Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Fireworks Display

In case you didn't see it, a columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer named Chris Satullo wrote a piece titled "A Not-So-Glorious Fourth" where he took America to task for "crimes" committed by the Bush Administration ranging from having the world hate us to condoning torture. If you want to read the original piece, here's the URL for it:

After reading it, I was inspired to write the following. Feel free to pass it along to anyone who thinks America's worth fighting for.

An Open Letter to Chris Satullo
By Thomas Lindaman

Dear Mr. Satullo,

Your column of July 1 was…interesting to say the least. It worked a lot better than a hot cup of coffee to awaken me, that’s for sure. But, I do have to take issue with a few things you said in your column about how Americans don’t deserve a Fourth of July celebration this year because of the “atrocities” you say we’ve committed.

First, it’s not just the Fourth of July. The alternate, and in my opinion the more accurate and appropriate, name is Independence Day. Regardless of what you think we’ve done or even what we’ve done, calling it “America’s birthday” and, to a lesser extent, the “Fourth of July” diminishes the significance of the day. Without the Founding Fathers being willing to sacrifice everything for independence, “America’s birthday” wouldn’t be much of a celebration, wouldn’t you say?

I couldn’t help but notice that you took issue with how the current Administration has waged the war on terrorism. Without going into the fearmongering you’re probably predicting I’d utilize to defend the Administration’s actions, I’m sure we can agree that countries run by Islamic extremists aren’t exactly the freest countries in the world.

Being the informed individual you are, I’m sure you’re aware of the actions of Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and how they shut down newspapers critical of how they are ruling their respective countries. In many Muslim countries, women aren’t allowed to go out in public without being almost completely covered and a male escort. Rapes in Muslim countries are automatically considered to be the fault of the woman, even if she did nothing to deserve the treatment.

This, Mr. Satullo, is who we’re fighting in the war on terrorism.

I won’t cast aspersions on your commitment to human rights as some already have. I have no reason to believe you to be anything but an opinionated man who wants the best for America, warts and all. But, let me point out that you do no one a service by undercutting the current Administration, Congress, and the American people merely because we didn’t act in a manner you felt was timely or correct. You have fallen into the trap of so many anti-war folks: you assume that anyone who disagrees with you is fundamentally flawed and, thus, not worthy of your consideration.

If this were your only transgression, I would be willing to cut you some slack. However, it was not, so I cannot. Reading your column over and over again as I have, I noticed there was an inordinate amount of time spent lambasting the Bush Administration, not by name, but by deed. It should be pointed out that many of the actions you’ve pinned on the Bush Administration were practiced and condoned by previous Administrations. It doesn’t make it right, but it also doesn’t mean Bush alone is responsible. The singular focus of your outrage does not serve your argument well. If you are truly against torture and the other “crimes” you’ve attributed to the Bush Administration, then be against those “crimes” under all circumstances and treat those who condoned them with the same condemnation you’ve given to President Bush. Otherwise, you give your critics more than enough ammunition by which to tear down your rhetorical constructs.

I also noted the frequent use of anti-war and anti-Bush canards, as noted in the following passages:

“In our name, innocents were jailed, humans tortured, our Constitution mangled.”

“Heroes in uniform, judges in robes, they opposed the perverse logic of an administration drenched in fear, drunk on power.”

“We’ve shamed the memory of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin. All for a scam. The waterboarding, the snarling dogs, the theft of sleep – all the diabolical tricks haven’t made us safer. They may have averted this plot or that. But they’ve spawned new enemies by the thousands, made the jihadist rants ring true to so many ears.”

All of these are examples of partisan hyperbole without much basis in fact. The war against terrorism isn’t a video game where there are rules and you can restart a level if you don’t get past it. We are dealing with people who have no qualms about using our freedoms against us to serve their ends. They have no rules of engagement, no battleground honor, not even a sliver of remorse. They hate us and everything about us, and they have for far longer than George W. Bush has been President.

I urge you to think about what you’ve written. You’ve served no one, not even yourself, with your column.

And don’t worry. I’ll enjoy Independence Day enough for the both of us.


Thomas Lindaman
Des Moines, Iowa

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