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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Overreaching

Oh, do you remember the show?
Are you taking it slow?
You watched it go

Cold steel and glass
Came crashing down fast
Memories made to last
Do you remember the show?

All that rose from the ash
And the mountains of cash
Fear dread anger and hate
Yes you remember the date
Now so hard to create
Left congealed on the plate
A fate decreed in a flash

How I wish, how I wish we could see
Who we turned out to be
When we happened to bleed
What we couldn't perceive
Time healed the pain
Now the hatreds remain
And there's nothing to gain
Lessons learned turned to dust
Turned to hate, such a short time ago
Do you remember the show?
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RELATED ANNOY.COM EDITORIALS

'Tis the Treason
By CLINTON FEIN
December 24, 2005

Moral Mockeries and Lamentable Legacies
By CLINTON FEIN
June 15, 2004

Merry Muslim Christmas
By CLINTON FEIN
December 19, 2003

Keep the Change
The New America

By CLINTON FEIN
January 14, 2002

The Second Coming
The Age of bin Laden

By CLINTON FEIN
September 15, 2001

NOISE

Maybe it was because it was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil up until the time that this grave affront slipped under the radar. Perhaps people were just too grief stricken to make the perfectly logical, pretzel-twisted, acrobatic leap that rebuilding a Church right next to a planned memorial site would be nothing less than distasteful and indecent and disgusting when the man responsible for the carnage was himself a Catholic. Indeed, William and Mildred "Mickey" McVeigh, McVeigh's parents, were Irish Catholics. "If there is a hell, then I'll be in good company with a lot of fighter pilots who also had to bomb innocents to win the war," McVeigh said following his sentencing.

And so it is. The new flames of anti-Muslim violence are being fanned with a fervor that has infected even the most rational of minds. What was proposed as an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero, where a Burlington Coat factory stood before it, has morphed into a mosque on Ground Zero.

While most Americans recognize the constitutional right to build the mosque, just as many still want to forbid it somehow. Distinctions between what's right and what's wrong, indecent and decent, fair and unfair are forming the foundation for arguments that violate the very essence of what America's First Amendment is all about, while those with the biggest stake in preserving freedom of religion become increasingly shrill in their objections to its expression.

Clinton Fein, Making Mountains Out of Mosques, Pointing Fingers, August 17, 2010


This is War!" screamed the headlines, TV networks and cable channels, and while we -- vulnerable in our pain, grief, fear and shattered sense of security -- wept over round-the-clock heart-wrenching vignettes of the fallen and their families played to the tune of the national anthem everywhere we turned.

While we mourned and watched and read and listened and cried, an anti-terrorism bill was drafted that rivals South Africa's most draconian at the height of Apartheid. Within just one week of the attacks. Not to mention an almost unanimous vote by both chambers of Congress (save one brave voice of Congresswoman Barbara Lee) to give Bush full authority to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against terrorists linked to the attacks and against those that sponsor them as well as a unanimous $40 billion anti-terrorism package.

America's worst enemies -- hypocrisy and its unrelenting media machinery that cripples our intelligence and goads us into thinking and acting like dazed sheep before a slaughter -- has done and will continue to do more harm to this country than Osama bin Laden or any other terrorists anywhere could ever wish to.

We cannot, as a response, simply bomb other countries with vengeance or blame people with different beliefs or ideologies. Nor should we grit out teeth through our tears and sense of helplessness and resolutely commit to revenge. A dogged pursuit for vengeance, whether framed as self-defense by ancient Defense Secretaries or resulting from a deep-rooted, visceral and all too understandable desire to punish by continuing along the very same path is explosively dangerous. All we can hope to achieve with such an approach is to add new recruits to the cause of terrorism and alienate public opinion domestically and especially internationally.

Clinton Fein, The Second Coming:The Age of bin Laden, Annoy.com, September 15, 2001


The global furor over the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad as violent seems as inappropriate as the tepid condemnation over Pat Robertson’s call to assassinate Hugo Chavéz.

Calling for the beheading of an artist for creating a caricature depicting a religion as violent is hypocritical. About as hypocritical as assaulting or killing a woman for appearing in a degrading beauty contest. Or like amputating Ann Coulter’s legs for her immodest vagina flashing on Fox News. Or castrating and sodomizing men who rape.

As fanatical, intolerant Muslim clerics continue to incite violence over the depictions of violence, and as Israeli Jews deliberately incite riots by building unauthorized new structures in settlements, America’s religious righteous -- armed with justifications from their churches, mosques and synagogues -- are mincing into gay bars with machetes and guns and opening fire. Others are frantically preparing to picket Coretta Scott King’s funeral because she supported gay rights. The Pope, lost in the haze of his Nazi Youth is too busy purging the symptoms of his dysfunctional, homocentric Church -- in between satin dress fittings and Prada shopping sprees -- blissfully oblivious to the blatantly obvious causes. The one certain thing all of these Torah-touting, Koran-clutching, Bible-thumping, Scripture-screeching religious zealots seem to share, is an unbridled lust for violence.

While all the world’s major religions -- Judaism, Christianity, Catholicism, and Hinduism – shoulder responsibility for fueling extremist factions spewing hatred, violence and intolerance, Muslims do need to drop the victimization act and realize that just as they condemn and judge others with impunity, so too must they learn to cope with being subject to criticism.

Until people stop, in Allah's name, stoning woman to death, killing homosexuals, cutting the hands off children stealing food to survive, flying passenger planes into skyscrapers, car-bombing innocent people, forcing their religious convictions onto others, and other such atrocities, and until Muslims loudly and clearly reject and condemn the violence perpetrated by those who have hijacked and perverted their religion, the likelihood of cartoonists depicting Muhammad as a gentle, olive-branch carrying dove is not particularly high.

Clinton Fein, Sticks and Stones Can Break Your Bones, But Cartoon Flaps Can Kill You, February 4, 2006


We need to stop for a second before bedtime channel surfing between NASCAR and Howard Stern while dripping genetically engineered McDonalds burger grease onto our GAP sweaters, only to wake up just early enough and strive just hard enough to earn just enough to replace it with one from Banana Republic instead.

We need to pause before we tap our Budweisers in tune to a lecherous Bob Dole sitting in a darkened room transparently pawning Viagra in Pepsi commercials while watching Britney Spears flaunt her underage crotch in his face. And then mindlessly tune in to a two-hour JonBenet Ramesy special and wonder who killed her. And why.

We need to find balance, where criticism of Rudy Giuliani for his horrific record on arts funding is not ignored or suddenly no longer relevant because of the incredible sense of comfort and security he has been able to inspire in the wake of the attack on New York.

We need to still be able to vigorously condemn the horrific ordeals faced by the likes of Abner Louima or Amadou Diallo at the hands of corrupt New York policemen without negating or trivializing the admirable and incredible heroism displayed by brave men and women from the same Department that continues to give credence to the phrase New York's Finest in the wake of the attack on New York.

We need to parse information being fed to us by an amateur, stammering Press Secretary Ari Fleisher, (who remember, was fainting in anxiety and threatening the media during the tense furor surrounding Jenna Bush's underage drinking escapades), with the appropriate grains of salt and respect for freedom of information.

We need to learn to not confuse extremist conduct with necessary and strong criticism of policy or appreciation of an alternative ideology. Nor refrain from critical self-analysis. We must stop oversimplifying wide ranging complexities by lumping everything into an Us v.Them paradigm that leaves too many people cornered, scapegoated or unfairly branded.

We need to realize that the declarations of war, the political rhetoric on all sides and the sweeping tide of emotion and patriotism right now are potentially the most dangerous and damaging to our civil liberties if left unchecked and unbalanced. And the threat posed by our willingness to blindly trade our freedom for a heightened perception of security cannot be underestimated.

Clinton Fein, The Second Coming:The Age of bin Laden, Annoy.com, September 15, 2001


 
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