October 19, 2004
America the belovedBy Christopher Orlet
There's this fellow at our office, a devoted Kerry man and opponent of our mission in Iraq, a man so impressed with Michael Moore's celluloid whimsy that he went out and bought the thing on DVD the day of its release. There is no talking sense to the man. He is under Mike Moore's devilish spell. Talking to him is like trying to reason with a disciple of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon or Hare Krishna. A man so brainwashed you can smell the bleach.
Sometimes when I am bored —— a not infrequent occurrence —— I will allow my friend to debate me for a round or two. (I am not so quick on my feet as previously, but he too is a lightweight.) Lately he's adopted a new line of attack. He attempts to wear me down with his incessant jabs about how the entire world is against us. Even our allies are against us, he cries. France, Germany, all the British people except the soon—to—be ex—Prime Minister Tony Blair. It is educational to know what the plain people of America are thinking, and apparently they are thinking we are despised by the entire humanoid species. Like all liberals, my friend believes America's number one priority should be to be loved. Not respected. Not esteemed. But cherished and prized like a new—born babe.
I counter that the world's most powerful nation is seldom the recipient of unbridled affection. Were the pre—World War II Brits loved? Were the Turks the darlings of the Ottoman Empire? Was the Soviet Union the beloved of the Bulgars and Voyvodinans? What kind of reception could Rome's legions expect when they hoofed into town? When has the world's superpower ever been the beneficiary of undying devotion? And, on another front, didn't we fight a war 225 years ago so Europe couldn't tell us what to do?'
This knocks my friend back on his heels, but he quickly regains his balance. 'That's what made America so unique,' he says. 'Until Bush II the world did admire us. Okay, maybe not the pissy French, but the rest of the world sought to emulate us; they heartily adopted our pop culture, our folkways, our calorific cuisine. Besides, it's absurd to compare America to Rome and the Soviet Union. Those were evil empires. America is not an empire. At least it wasn't until W and the Neocons took over.'
It was nice to hear my friend quote Ronald Reagan, but I let that pass. I was more interested in his depiction of America as the guys wearing the black hats. 'Where is the evil in liberating a country from tyranny?' I query. 'If anything we are too generous. But perhaps we should allow tyranny to flourish unchecked?'
'The Iraqis didn't want to be liberated!' my friend cries.
'That's why they are massacring our troops!'
'So they want Saddam back?'
'No,' my friend fumbles and fumes, "that is...'
I sense I have him against the ropes. The room fills with the smell of fresh blood. I go in for the kill. But there are signs of life left in him yet.
'We cannot send our troops into every country where there is a shortage of liberty. We'd be invading a quarter of the planet!'
'At last we agree on something,' I say. 'So we have to choose our battles carefully. And those battles, once chosen, should be fought well and to the finish. You liberals never want to finish anything. Kerry didn't want to finish Viet Nam, and look at the result. Maybe liberating Iraq was a mistake. But it would be a greater mistake to pull out now.'
My friend brightens. 'So you admit George W. made a mistake?'
'Only if it is a mistake to offer people the choice between liberty and tyranny,' I say. 'But the bigger mistake would be to listen to the French and the Germans as you suggest.'
'It's all about the oil companies, and Halliburton and revenge for George Bush's daddy! That's what this war is really about.'
I am weary, outgunned and outnumbered. I cannot battle the idiocies of both my friend and Mickey Moore. I stagger to my corner office and close the door. We will see who triumphs on Election Day.