Beauty, anger, and seeing the beast
within ourselves

This column was published January 25, 2003 on at the top of the S-T editorial page.

by Greg Stone

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 the beast.

And America?

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.

No connection

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 of warriors?

We look ugly when we support Israel in its mutual insanity with the Palestinians instead of consistently condemning the unending cycle of mindless, arbitrary murder.

Killing children

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

Column index page

Site home page