By GENE H. McINTYRE
In August, 1945, at the end of World War II, a mere 68 years ago, a period shorter in time than the lives of millions of Americans still with us today, the most coveted citizenship was American.
Americans were the kingpins of the world back then, respected and honored everywhere, while most everyone who aspired for a “greater life and opportunity” wanted to be one.
Now, the only truly safe way to travel in Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Middle East is with a maple leaf on one’s passport. Actually, what with all the violence afoot inside the USA, it’s hardly safe to travel anywhere inside the USA either. You can’t even be sure you’ll survive a marathon and we’re not talking here about heart attacks.
What has happened to bring such a dramatic change to the lives of most every American? Mainly, it’s the nation’s foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. We were warned by a peace-loving president, who personally knew war, Dwight D. Eisenhower, that if we surrendered to the country’s “military-industrial complex,” we’d be headed down a path of ruin. Fifty-three years after Eisenhower’s presidency, in 2013, any American willing to look at himself in a mirror with eyes wide open, knows that we are nation under siege, by ourselves and so many others who arrive from elsewhere or are trying to arrive from elsewhere.
The bottom line now is that America is rapidly becoming something other than America. That is, America is under the demonized eyes of those who come here to destroy us and that means that, if we are to save ourselves, we are slipping and sliding inch by inch and foot by foot to surrender our highly valued civil liberties in a hit and miss quest to save ourselves.
Our law enforcement forces have proven themselves fairly effective in protecting us; yet, when something like the bombings in Boston occur, we find that the effort is much more impressive in reactive than proactive mode. Yes, the terrorist Chechen brothers Tsarnaev were shot to death in the person of one of them or captured, within five days, as was the younger, but what about the fact that the FBI was alerted about the older brother by the Russians some time before April 15 and did nothing but pass on anything other than an inadequate, cursory intervention.
Then there’s the fact that the brother’s family members and other Chechen relatives must have seen the brother’s photos on TV, as broadcasted throughout the country, but did not come forward to help law enforcement in their adopted country: Apparent indifference to their now fellow Americans.Further, they had to be discovered by citizens with cell phone cameras and found by a homeowner in Watertown, Massachusetts, who came outside for a smoke to find his shrink-wrapped-for-the-winter boat had blood on it. None of facts of the case are reassuring whatsoever.
It is sad in the extreme to see the America of freedoms pass into history: I know from having lived in both worlds. And, yet, even though we’ve already lost some of what we used to take for granted, happenings like the Boston bombings make one wonder every time he leaves home whether the next attack will occur at the his favorite 100-store mall, the super market he patronizes, the bridge he crosses to get to work or the sports event he attends or in which he participates.
The U.S. could get out of occupying, directly and indirectly, much of the world, as is the case today, and the reason for the most part that we are the target for terrorists, domestic and foreign. After all, where examples abound, Timothy McVeigh was radicalized after he soldiered in the first invasion of Iraq while Tamerlan Tsarnaev rather obviously went to Chechnya and Russia last year for training in how to kill Americans. Then there’s the fact our forefathers took on the British Empire to get it off their taxpaying backs while the British did not snuff out the lives of American patriots as we have done to the tens of thousands of collateral (mainly Muslim) deaths caused by our expeditionary forces.
We are under very serious-minded attack and we know it. We don’t know where it’ll manifest itself next and, no matter how bravely Americans ‘whistle pass the cemetery,” Americans have got to be uninformed or mindless not to think about it as we pass from one public place or gathering to another in the days of our current lives. Before 9/11, I never gave danger a second thought. Today, I’m not too macho to admit that I’m really quite nervous about going anywhere.
(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)