Saturday, December 23, 2006

Christmas Card to the President

Everything Changed and Yet Nothing Has Changed

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Bush:

I was going to write this snarky fake card to you, because I was very angry that you were taking time off for the holidays, while we are responsible for destroying a country in the Middle East and not rebuilding a city in the Mississippi Delta. I was going to write a backhanded piece praising you both for being able to stay above it all, while everything seems to be crumbling around you. So, I started thinking about how we keep being told that everything changed on September 11, 2001, and that is the singular reason for the decisions made over the last five years. But it all does not square with reality. My world changed and the world around me changed, but my government did not change. You would be in exactly the same place as you are now with or without the 2001 terrorist attacks. Everything changed in my life, but nothing seemed to change in your life.

I firmly believe that we would still have invaded Iraq, because in the end they really had nothing to do with the attack on the United States. We could not change the weather, and so the hurricane would have still wiped out New Orleans and Brownie would still have been in the office responsible for preventing the death and chaos. The devastation of New Orleans changed me, but I don't think that it changed you. The destruction wrought on this country by Cheney and Rumsfield will reverberate down to my children's children, but the two neo-conservatives advocated extreme positions before 9/11/01. Cheney and Rummy will be producing homeless veterans long after they are gone, thus guaranteeing another generation will deal with injured war vets sleeping on Superior Ave. and nursing wounds they received in a distant land.

The problem is that I believe that you would have tried to invade our privacy much like Richard Nixon did with or without the World Trade Center attacks. Because, hell, many in your administration are long ago "fighters of freedom" from the Nixon/Ford era. Everything in my world changed, but you received a whipping boy to justify all the changes you have brought to this country. I have an extra hour to get on an airplane, you got a Congress that did not question you on anything. I never get to hear from the Islamic Center of Cleveland anymore, and you got the power to detain U.S. citizens without charge forever. I have to contend with the reality that not one subsidized housing building has been re-constructed in one of the oldest cities in North America because federal funding priorities are on one of the oldest cities on the planet.

I believe that the compassionate conservatism stuff was a way to get elected, and you would have not followed up on it with or without those suicide bombers from the Middle East. Mr. and Mrs. Bush you would have treated the media with disdain and scorn with or without the alleged "war on terror." You would have rejected real engagement with Americans opposed to your policies with or without Michael Moore. You would have swift boated honorable men who willingly served their country just to get elected and you still would have told America that if the Democrats win then our enemies win even if Osama Bin Laden had not become public enemy number one. I am now more suspicious of government and especially the Justice Department because they have the power to spy on me, hold me without charge, and even torture me without consequence, and you still go about the routine of government by pardoning one turkey a year, making a video in which your dog talks, and playing t-ball on the White House grounds.

I was never asked to sacrifice. I turned around for a minute to grieve and when I looked up the Bill of Rights was much different. It looked a lot like that redacted opinion piece in the New York Times the other day with black lines covering parts. The first year after the attacks, in fact, I got $600 back from you in a check. I don't know if I thanked you for that by the way, but I had no idea the strings that were attached to that refund. I don't know if others feel this way because the television shows are the same, the news has the same detached stories centering around celebrity, scandal and blood. My world has changed so much in the last five years it is hard to keep up with everything that has reduced my security, freedom and liberty. I know that before an Arab population attacked our country, we had big problems with the sons and daughters of slaves. Today, we have big problems with every minority group that is not lily white, and the sons and daughters of slaves are now incarcerated at unbelievable levels.

This is all unsustainable. I would not patronize you with the words of your predecessors like a "House divided..." or "The death-knell of the republic had rung..." or "We shall pay any price, bear any burden..." but it just seems like you have cast off all those noble ideas of 230 years and used them as Animal Farm style slogans. I know that you are a decisive personality and you see reflection and re-evaluation as a sign of weakness. But I also know that you love this country and have deep seated and long family loyalty to the United States. Please, I ask you in the new year to change direction to keep this country together. Family and friends of Veswald Hall, firefighter Dana Hannon and Elena Ledesma who all died in the World Trade Center had their world forever changed, and they need you to show us a new direction. You have nothing to lose, but my children have everything to lose if we don't heal some of these deep wounds opened.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.


Anonymous said...

George Bush does not love the country we have; he loves the country he knows. He loves people of privilege, people of influence, people who agree with him, people who protect him from reality. He disdains the poor, and prefers to think that all of us stand around at cocktail parties, sampling caviar and making small talk. Mrs. Bush is as bad as her husband. She recently said that the media are responsible for the chaos in the Middle East, because they don't tell the good news.

In all my years on this earth, I have never seen a worse president, and I still have trouble forgiving those who voted for someone other than Al Gore in the year 2000. Don't expect George Bush to read your letter. Despots cannot be bothered with the opinions of the masses.

Kevin E. Cleary said...

Brian, I think that is possibly one of the best letters you have ever written.