Beauty, anger, and seeing the beast
This column was published January 25, 2003 on at the top
of the S-T editorial page.
Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror when you are angry?
It's an interesting exercise. I'll save you the trouble. You look ugly.
No matter how beautiful you are, no matter how youthful and healthy you
may feel, when you are angry you are ugly. It's a simple fact of nature
- each of us looks ugly when we are angry - and we sound ugly and we behave
ugly. Like beauty, anger is more than skin deep. Anger turns beauty into
And what about that beauty we call America? She was angered more than
a year ago, and understandably so, by a beast called Osama bin Laden who
took a fine religion and in his own anger, used that religion to empower
his anger and make himself ugly. And now we follow suit. Now we fulfill
his fondest wish. We grant him the victory he craved. He drags us down
to his level and we show to the world, America the ugly.
America, the country of freedom from fear, scaring the bejeezus out of
thousands of innocent people all over the world. Killing some. Maiming
others. Withholding medical care from still others. Why do we do this?
Some will say it is because of oil and perhaps for leaders, that is their
motive. I don't know. I don't think it's the motive of most of us.
I think most of us are simply angry and we haven't yet looked in the
mirror. But we should do so now. It's not a pretty exercise, but it's
well worth it.
Looking in the mirror
We will see our young men and women in combat gear, tearfully taking
leave of their families, to die in a war against a country that has never
attacked us. And this is ugly.
The mirror will show us our monstrous war machines - aircraft carriers,
fighter planes, missiles and bombs being readied not for the defense of
our nation, but to make us America the aggressor. And this is ugly.
We look ugly as we tell the world that our real mission is to free the
oppressed Iraqi people from their terrible dictator - while we negotiate
with an even worse dictator and oppressor in North Korea who doesn't happen
to sit on any oil fields. And we support oppressors in other countries
who favor us with their oil policies.
The mirror shows the mightiest military force the earth has ever known
claiming to be threatened by the beaten and pathetic forces of Iraq. We
can't find evidence of nukes in Iraq with UN inspectors crawling all over
the country, yet North Korea has nukes, can produce more in months, and
has kicked inspectors out of the country. What's more, North Korea has
a missile delivery system. They make missiles and they sell them to other
countries. And this double standard makes us look ugly.
We look ugly when we desperately scramble to find a way to connect Iraq
to September 11, and finding none continue to ignore the fact that Saddam
Hussein and Osama bin Laden are long-time enemies of one another.
We look ugly when we call September 11 an act of war instead of labelling
it as the crime against humanity that it surely was. Why did we elevate
these murderous criminals - these terrorists - to the honorable status
We look ugly when we support Israel in its mutual insanity with the Palestinians
instead of consistently condemning the unending cycle of mindless, arbitrary
And we look ugly beyond belief when we continue to ignore the reports
that more than a million Iraqis, half of them children, are dead from
our insistence on economic sanctions. Sure, we can blame this on Saddam
Hussein - and he bears some of the blame - but obviously we are complicit
in these deaths and no matter how much we try to ignore it, we can't wash
the blood from our hands. The only reason we are killing these children
is because we hope that will make their parents angry enough to turn on
Saddam. Isn't using children as weapons as cowardly as it is deplorable
- about as ugly as a country can get?
We need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. We need to see the face
of "America the angry" as others see it. Painful as it is, we
need to see America theugly. And we need to see it before we turn our
angry thoughts and words into the irrevocably ugly actions of America
the beast. America has been and can be beautiful - but not this way.
Last updated January 26, 2003