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America belongs to the people

Dear Editor,

It has become apparent that in the minds of some Americans, America no longer belongs to us. I am an American. I love my country and our people. I love the land that is our home. As I see it, this great country is an evolving, and yes, still very promising experiment in the ability of government of the people, by the people and for the people to work.

I ask, since when does America belong to George W. Bush? Since when does America belong to Dick Cheney? It doesn’t. It belongs to people like you and me. America belongs to the champions of social justice such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Martin Luther King. America belongs to gardeners in Pennsylvania and window washers in Seattle. America belongs to the creative spirit of Martha Graham and Joseph Campbell as well as glass-blowers in Missouri and a cabinet maker in Maine. America is the legacy of Crazy Horse and Rosa Parks. America doesn’t belong to the Wall Street Journal or Dan Rather’s corporate mouth. America belongs to the unwavering perseverance of the Wright brothers and the penetrating vision of Helen Keller, to Abraham Lincoln’s steely leadership and Booker T. Washington’s commitment to education. Americans don’t owe their allegiance to Exxon and Mobile, Texaco and Shell, Unocal and Halliburton. American allegiance is tied to the courage of Mia Hamm, the compassion of Rachel Carson, the brilliance of Henry David Thoreau, the innovations of Louis Armstrong and the brooding honesty of Marlon Brando.



Lockheed Martin Corporation, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics are corporations, not people, they have no right to vote and they have no right to my flag, my stars and stripes. Wal-Mart, too, they had better take their profiteering and money-grubbing mitts off of my flag. That global superstore, that marketing empire has absolutely no claim to the cloth that Betsy Ross stitched in honor of America’s battle for freedom from just such a domineering global empire.

America is the brain child of some extraordinary visionaries such as Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and the offspring of courageous people like Laura Haviland who led slaves to freedom through the underground railway. America does not belong to Donald Rumsfeld’s corporate buddies that build bombs and missiles for wild profit. America has been usurped by corporations that are using it, using us, to do their dirty work, play their murderous games, kill innocent people, subjugate the world to something they erroneously call the “American Way.”



The real American Way is about acceptance of differences, about the conscious effort to tolerate and understand people who, for example, pray five times a day to a sacred rock in the desert. The reason I love my country so much is that we are able to recognize our pre-eminent position on a rapidly shrinking planet and summon the courage and leadership it takes to tolerate and embrace differences. It is our American experience as the world’s melting pot which allows us to make an effort to see the world from the perspective of an Arab country struggling to come to terms with its ancient and magnificent traditions in the midst of a rapidly modernizing world.

American greatness is the ability to recognize a conflict of interest or culture and rise to the challenge of finding common ground. I’m alarmed that the American flag, that our country, has been handed over, instead, to cowards who are turning such a conflict into a trumped-up moral battle with an extremist leader in order to justify the final act of cowardice which is to bomb, murder and destroy, rather than to listen and know and understand the people from whom such differences arise.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, they and their advisors, and the nightly news broadcasters who are fomenting the attack on Iraq, are transparently anti-American and they are traitors to the highest degree. As Bush tries to concentrate more and more power in the presidency, stripping Congress of its checks and balances and denying you and me of our civil liberties, we have no choice. Demand that your representatives and senators stop kowtowing to Bush. Demand that they deny Bush carte blanche for a war with Iraq. Demand that they safeguard your civil liberties. Demand that they stop the travesty of democracy which is the Bush administration. Demand that they give America back to the American people.

Respectfully,

Aaron Garland

Carbondale


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