Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Sleeping Giant

America is a great nation, a great people. We are not doing great things internationally right now, and the world may very well believe we have lost our greatness, but we have not. This nation is its people, not its elected officials, and we are still here. We may have gone to sleep, or lost our way, but we are still here. We will be back.

In 1941 Japan thought we had lost our greatness, but Yamamoto warned against “waking the sleeping giant.” Japan saw us as unwilling to go to war and today we have a world that sees us wrongly in the opposite way, as a nation that thrives on war. We do not.

We have elected officials who through fearmongering and demagoguery have led us into a war that a large majority of us do not want today, but those officials continue to glorify that war and pledge to continue it because they believe that they are in control. They are not. This is America. The people will prevail.

The people of America are the “sleeping giant.”

Al Gore spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations on Feb 12, 2002 and said in part,

"Draining the swamp" of terrorism must of course in the first instance mean destroying the ability of terrorist networks to function. But drying it up at its source must also mean draining the aquifer of anger that underlies terrorism: anger that enflames the hearts of so many young men, and makes them willing, dedicated recruits for terror. Anger at perceived historical injustices involving a mass-memory throughout the Islamic world of past glory and more recent centuries of decline and oppression at the hands of the West.

Notice that he spoke of “perceived oppression.” He did not accuse this or any other country of perpetrating injustice or oppression. But his words speak to the importance of perception as an element of world leadership. To presumptuously summarize his words, he pointed out that while we must us military force as needed to destroy existing terrorists, the longer goal is to exercise world leadership by example to reduce future terrorism.

America has so much to offer the world in the way of freedom and hope, and our elected officials, I will not call them “leaders,” are doing so poorly in conveying the message of America’s hope.

America is not a corrupt nation. This nation is filled to overflowing with honest and hard working men and women; with businesses that treat their customers and employees with fairness and respect. I see them every day. I am surrounded by them. They are not seen on the evening news because there are too many of them; they are not unusual, they are not “news.” They are the fabric of America, the cloth from which this nation is sewn.

But when we allow a few corrupt corporations to represent us overseas in rebuilding a country that we destroyed, the Middle East sees us as a corrupt nation. Iraq remains in ruins, we increase the “perception of oppression” and we breed more terrorism.

When the elected officials of our nation attempt to stifle dissent by branding those who disagree with them as treasonous the world sees our Constitution under attack. It is not some two-bit congressman doing this, but our President, our Vice-President and members of the Cabinet. When the world sees a dissenter arrested and carried off merely for wearing a tee shirt with an anti-administration slogan on it, the world sees the bulwark of our First Amendment lying crumbled in ruins.

Don’t you believe it. In time these egomaniacs will be dumped on the slag-heap of history and our great Constitution will be standing untarnished. It has withstood attacks before, and it will withstand this one.

When this country’s elected officials support corrupt governments in the Middle East, the very ones in fact that have incited the terrorist’s anger, our avocation of democracy is meaningless. When we support corrupt and undemocratic governments throughout the Middle East while attempting to install democracy in Iraq at the point of a gun, young men see us as advocating not democracy but power. In so doing we increase the “perception of oppression” and we breed more terrorism.

But what America supports at home is not corruption but fair dealing and honesty. The reason there are so many honest businesses is that they are the ones that succeed, they are the ones that we will support. Politicians who are corrupt and thirst for power succeed for a while but eventually we, the American people, bring them down.

Awake America, take your country back. Tell the world who we really are.

We do not support corruption and greed. We do not support the imposition of ideology, ours or any other, at the point of a gun. We do not approve of change by means of violence. We have been lazy and complacent, we admit that, and we have been deceived into electing men who do believe these things, but that is not us.

It is time for the “sleeping giant” to awake.

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