a nation of cowards

cow·ard (kou' erd)
n. One who shows ignoble fear in the face of danger or pain.

I've argued for a year and a half that the only explanation for what has become of America since September 11 is its fear. Maybe we need this kind of kick to snap out of it.

For a brief moment after 9/11, we recognized some genuine heroes in our midst, those who put their lives on the line to rescue strangers and those who put their own needs in back of the needs of others in the middle of tragedy. The celebration of this heroism may have become a little gaudy, but it was sincere.

Since then we seem to have become a nation of cowards celebrating illusions.

There is a president, who, in reaction to the devastation of 9/11, does not act with forbearance, curiosity to understand the root cause, and as a world leader. Instead he lashes out at blurry targets with more force than we were met with. This is not the act of a brave man. This is the act of a coward.

There is a senator who sees his country yawing dangerously off course and, for the first time in its history abusing its power openly and shamelessly. The senator says nothing, though he knows better, because he is afraid of an emotional backlash if he engages in rational discussion. He is afraid he will lose the next election. This is the act of a coward.

There is a citizen who is unable to think. He succumbs to fear, believes every scary story he hears, buys duct tape for his doors and windows, when a bit of thinking would tell him he is in more danger from getting into his car. This is the act of a coward.

There is a journalist who knows there are young children dying in hospitals in Iraq, with their bodies horribly disfigured as the result of our country’s doings, yet he will not show pictures of these children so that people can weigh the consequences of war for themselves. He shows pictures of massively-armed Americans and reports every “coalition” news release as gospel truth. This is the act of a coward.

. . . .

It's also that we've simply become very stupid - a choice we've made ourselves, one which relates to an addiction to television and a general flight from reason, but I'll stop the crankiness right there for now.