Here is a commentary by an Indian woman that was at the end of one of the books I recently read:
"Some of you will think it bad manners for a person like me, officially entered in the Big Book of Modern Nations as an "Indian citizen," to come here and criticize the U.S. government....
But when a country ceases to be merely a country and becomes an empire, then the scale of operations changes dramatically....
So here we are, the people of the world, confronted with an Empire armed with a mandate from heaven (and, as added insurance, the most formidable arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in history). Here we are, confronted with an Empire that has conferred upon itself the right to go to war at will, and the right to deliver people from corrupting ideologies, from religious fundamentalists, dictators, sexism, and poverty by the age-old, tried-and-tested practice of extermination. Empire is on the move, and Democracy is its sly new war cry. Democracy, home-delivered to your doorstep by daisy cutters. Death is a small price for people to pay for the privilege of sampling this new product: Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (bring to a boil, add oil, then bomb.)
Apart from paying the actual economic costs of war, American people are paying for these wars of "liberation" with their own freedoms. For the ordinary American, the price of "New Democracy" in other countries is the death of real democracy at home.
.... The battle to reclaim democracy is going to be a difficult one. Our freedoms were not granted to us by any governments. They were wrested from them by us. And once we surrender them, the battle to retrieve them is called a revolution. It is a battle that must range across continents and countries... but, if it is to succeed, it has to begin here. In America. The only institution more powerful than the U.S. government is American civil society."
I thought she brought up some interesting points. First is that the globalization of major countries, such as ours, does lend some credence to her thought about us becoming an Empire. What happens here in America often affects peoples in many other countries. I think it's fair, then, that those other people also get to voice their opinions on what our government is doing, just as we ought to be able to. I think it's a shame to live in a country where we have willingly (and often unknowingly) given up our own freedoms in the name of being patriotic and in order to wage a war on "terror." I think it's disgraceful that average American citizens are thrown out of political rallies because their viewpoint doesn't match that of the person speaking. It's especially disturbing when a President has the power to take our country to war but won't let any dissenting voices be heard anywhere in his vicinity.
How can we be united when a great number of our own citizens are not even allowed to exercise their own freedom of speech? I'm not talking about someone being allowed to burn a flag or bomb a building. I'm talking about being free to wear a t-shirt that says that you don't support the Iraq War. Or the freedom to know that the government isn't going to gather information on you or your children "just in case" they need it further down the road. We've gone through similar eras of stupidity and fear in the past and look how they turned out: does McCarthy ring a bell? How about Japanese internment camps? When our government leaders act out of fear and attempt to limit our freedoms in the name of security we all lose. The terrorists just sit back and laugh because a) they can still attack us at almost any time (check out how easy it is to get past our borders) and b) they can see us self-destructing in the name of fighting them!
I believe in our Constitution and I believe in our government, but I also believe that if we are to have a government for the people and by the people we need to make sure that everyday people are actually involved. I love this country and I think it's high time we started to see every citizen pulling together to build this country into something greater than ourselves. It's time to put aside religious, political, racial, and socio-economic differences and work for the greater good.
Okay, I'll hop off my soapbox now. (Besides, you don't want to get me started on the presidential race or the war in Iraq...) What are your thoughts on this?