“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
W. B. Yeats
September 15th 2001 was the day that my love affair with America ended. Admittedly substantial cracks had developed when George W. Bush was elected, but this was the day that finally did it.
On this day Balbir Singh Sodhi a forty-nine-year old father of three was shot and killed while he was opening up the gas station he worked at in Mesa Arizona. Frank Roque shot Mr. Sodhi five times, killing him instantly. Prior to the shooting Roque had boasted at a local bar that he was going to “kill the ragheads responsible for September 11th.” When arrested for murder, Roque declared: “I stand for America all the way! I’m an American. I am a Patriot . Go ahead. Arrest me and let those terrorists run wild.” Roque did not even care to know that the turbaned man he killed was not an Arab or a Muslim, but an Indian Sikh.
Within 25 minutes of his death, the Phoenix police reported four further attacks on people who either were Middle Easterners or who dressed with clothes “thought: to be worn by Middle Easterners. Welcome to America post 9/11 for those of us whose hue is a little darker.
What I could not fathom on that day was the arrogance and pride of being so ignorant. Why were people not shocked and surprised that there were people in this country that were so deliberately stupid? There was just silent resignation and an subtle justification “well, they all do really look alike”. I could blame certain faux news networks and right wing radio hosts but it is the people that rely on such malevolent sources that should really be feared. Supply and demand. Give the people what they want; and what a huge demand it was and unfortunately still is ; hate mongering against so many .
The fall from grace was inevitable, but I had never imagined to this extent. After September 11th, I waited for answers. They didn’t come, because we weren’t allowed to ask the questions. No attempt to understand why this attack had happened. No examination of CIA covert and overt meddling in the Middle East for decades. Any mention of blame was deemed blasphemous. So what if we overthrew elected leaders for oil, and propped up vile dictators at the expense of those living there. So we sold biological weapons to many undesirables, one being Saddam Hussein ( our then ally and “friend”) who used them to commit genocide, it didn’t matter. First rule of litigation; never admit blame.
There was no demand for reasons or facts to justify two horrendously managed wars in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people were killed, no inquiry into the very close ties between the Bush and Saudi Royal family, the racketeering by Halliburton and other private contractors.
My initial infatuation had began from afar. To me, Bill Clinton was the quintessential American; cool charismatic, intelligent and funny. I did a three month internship in New Orleans during my second year of university, and really fell in love with this country . Unlike our old antiquated legal system , you had the constitution and due process; America was a leading authority in science and education, cutting edge in all things technological. I was in awe. Americans were funny and witty, loud and obnoxious, and always painfully honest . The first amendment gave inalienable rights to free speech, and so of course people were going to be outspoken, they had the right to tell the truth. The pinnacle of democracy, a shining beacon calling “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”
Ten years on and I still haven’t got my America back . The election of Barack Obama was a glimmer that has been overshadowed by the obstruction of so called “patriots” to prevent him from accomplishing anything. Not hugely unexpected from the people that re elected a man that could barley read nor articulate a complete sentence, but disappointing nonetheless.
The Republican debates have pushed me over the edge. Enough is enough. Today I am taking away the mega phone from those who use tragedy to be openly bigoted, those hypocrites who claim, so loudly, that they are patriots and want to honor victims by refusing the people who tried to save them, healthcare coverage for complications caused by toxic fumes and dust; those hypocrites that claim to support the troops but deny them the equipment they need in combat and the care and rehabilitation needed upon their return; those who claim life is sacred, but do not even blink at the death of innocents elsewhere; those who claim to be religious but espouse hate and division, those that want us to regress back in time, questioning the credibility of proved science but yet believe in the literal word of their scriptures alone.
Yes, I am angry. I am hereby revoking the right of the neo-cons, the right wingers and tea party supporters to pollute my space with their vitriol. I can do this because I have my exceptional Americans; those who have embraced us with open arms; those who have taught me so much; who are funny and witty, cool and charismatic; those that started out as neighbors but have now become friends, those who are truly religious or spiritual and live their life with kindness, compassion and empathy, an example to us all. They are the ones that make me believe that my America is still here.