July 11, 2004

Your Country is Safe from Me
Elena Lappin
First, Get a Green Card. Next, Hire a Publicist
Gary Shteyngart

The Enemy Within -- “Terrorism” is the new “Communism” -- a catch-all excuse to promulgate fear, censor the free exchange of ideas, strip away basic rights, wage war and prosecute anyone who fails to look, sound, behave or believe the same as the people in power. With the “fall of Communism” it was only a matter of time before the corporate-military alliance that runs the United States found a new great enemy in the world; after all, a soul-less system like capitalism that values profits over principles and dollars over people can only be defined positively when contrasted against nothing less than sheer evil itself. The truly disgusting -- and clearly dangerous -- downside to this political shell game is that terrorists are a real threat in a way that communists never were: missiles in Cuba posed a threat, yes; but hijacked airplanes used as missiles led to thousands of deaths on U.S. soil. The fact that Bush and his war councilors are doing so little to combat our real enemies while they build up and knock down vicious straw dogs like Saddam Hussein is grounds for treason. And it’s shocking (though not really surprising) that Americans remain asleep, obese and sedated by a culture that can’t get enough fast food or “fast news.” If we would only open our ears and eyes for longer than a passing moment, we might actually learn something about ourselves from the immigrants and new citizens like those described in these two essays from the New York Times Book Review (July 4,2004). They realize that the rights and responsibilities which come with being an American are, indeed, quite precious. Instead, we doze on the sofas of our living rooms, tummies full and minds empty, our doors closed and locked against the wrong intruders.


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