Saturday, September 11, 2010

Two Wrongs

My parents often used the expression, "Two wrongs don't make a right" when cautioning me against retaliation (especially after I had been taunted to a point bordering on madness by my older brother or  Irish Twin). In doing so, I expect that they were like many parents before and after them ... including me. It's with that in mind that I contemplate the 9th anniversary of the horrific event that this day will forever mean to those of us in this country. 

While I am, like most Americans, deeply moved in recalling what can only be called the 2nd 'day that will live in infamy'; I am also struck by the failure of this nation to learn from it, and to commit so many 2nd offenses in its name. Pastor Terry Jones and his flock at the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL will not be burning any Qurans to mark the event; having evidently gained enough national press face time in recent days, as well as some well publicized negotiations in New York. However, Fred Phelps and the congregation at the Westboro Baptist Church (already infamous for their protests at soldiers' funerals) has taken up the soiled gauntlet cast down by Rev Jones and is promising a book burning of their own. (Besides, this is a repeat performance for them, having already burned the Quran during a 2008 Washington DC protest.) 

But these churches and their leaders are not the only ones to have forgotten what must have been the lessons of their youth. President Obama has weighed in with well-intentioned criticism of the burning of a holy book, having decided that such protest falls outside the boundaries of good taste and may create a poor impression of this country to Muslims around the world. 

Strange that he should take this step (or misstep) after failing to comment on Westboro's other activity and creating a poor impression of this country, not only to those around the world, but to the parents of soldiers that have died defending it. Strange as well that we should be concerned with whether such exercises of free speech can be used as a recruiting tool for this country's enemies while failing to consider that pandering to people that will hate us no matter what we do (even if it's nothing at all) is likely a tool to the same end. Strange as well that this should come on the heels of a Presidential address on the level of success of this country's efforts at nation-building in the Muslim world (which many consider wrong in and of itself) in both Iraq and Afghanistan; acts which are certainly used by extremist Muslims for recruiting. 

One might also consider it a 'second wrong' for the President to weigh in on the 'Rights' of those building a Muslim center so near to the sight of the the 9/11 attack, after some of those with similar beliefs seek to build this center committed the first wrong by such an attempt in the first place. One might further consider the wrongs committed when Pastor Jones announced that he called off his book burning because he had negotiated the moving of this Muslim center, only to have it announced by the Imam Muhammad Musri that no such accord existed; and have Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf (who is one of many who seem to be in charge of this project) likewise repudiating that such an agreement exits. (No wait, that's 3 wrongs...) 

While we're at it we might also take note that while 9/11 is of itself a horrific event, some of the freedoms and liberties that we have sacrificed for the sake of a supposed increase in national security must certainly qualify as a 2nd wrong that does little more than add insult to this national injury. Blindly accepting the continuance of the Patriot Act and its restrictions, living with increased government surveillance, and increasingly onerous airport screening that only provides job security to TSA agents should certainly be viewed as ongoing series of 2nd wrongs ... and the abridgment of the covenant in this country between the citizens and government promised by the Declaration of Independence and guaranteed by the Constitution. 

The most grievous potential offense however, yet awaits. In the media madness surrounding the building of this center and the attention being paid to the circling carrion feeders currently in the spotlight, we might lose sight of the sacrifices made on this day. In our haste to grant attention to these media vultures, we might somehow forget the sacrifice of 2,977 innocent people that we remember and mourn. We could forget the two landmarks of Manhattan (as well as other buildings) that were destroyed, the damage done to the Pentagon, or the scarred earth near Shanksville, PA where Flight 93 went down. 

So while it appears that so many around us are ready to commit another foolish wrong in a an attempt that should be considered both misguided and doomed to make a right, let us choose instead to set all of this nonsense aside and remember the true meaning of the day.

1 comment:

Roland Hansen said...

Muy excellente, amigo.