Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Cowards Path - An open letter OF APOLOGY to Ralph Nader By Linda H Riegler

03/28/06 -- ---

Dear Mr. Nadar,

Sir, I owe you an apology…

It is now the season of Lent, and although I am a recovered catholic, old habits such as guilt and self-loathing are difficult habits to break.

I grew up in the south, during the civil rights/Viet-Nam era in a home of Dixie-crats (allow me to clarify briefly the term Dixie-crat). A dixie-crat is not a conservative democrat—a dixie-crat is a republican, in every sense, who registers to vote in the democratic primary in order to manipulate the outcome.

Consequently, as a result of growing up around all of this cynicism, I became a democrat—a life long democrat. I became a democrat because, where republicans were corrupt, democrats were courageous; where republicans were self-interested, democrats were committed to the common good; where republicans were advancing the “military industrial complex”, the democrats were trying to end the war…

And whenever democrats where exposed as being less than honorable…I told myself that the democratic platform is larger than any single corrupt democratic legislator. Our platform advances the common good.

Well…I was young…

However, in the 2000 elections even as I was impassioned by your words, and although inspired by your courage in a way that has alluded me since my youth. I sat silently applauding you (I even considered “vote-swapping”), but in the end, I cast my vote for Al Gore. I was completely secure in my convictions. As desperately, as we needed you, it was far more critical to elect Al Gore than to risk (I’d been doing my homework over the last twenty years) allowing America to fall into the hands of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

When the 2004 elections rolled around--again I was mute, but this time I was even more resolute in my convictions, that a vote for you was a vote squandered. You were a luxury that we could not afford. Our constitution was under threat—Bush must clearly and definitively be re-defeated!

Moreover, as the Downing Street Memo exposed Bush and the lies he told taking us to war in Iraq, a war of profit, a war of pestilence wrought on the peoples of Iraq after so many years enduring the tyrannies of Saddam Hussein. A pestilence that will haunt the peoples of the Middle East as well as the men and women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, who’s patriotism has been exploited so unconscionably by this regime. Depleted Uranium is the legacy that will resonate for generations to come. Brutality, torture and empire will now be the values most often associated with the United States. Mean-spirited debate and incivility are the new currency in Bush’s America.

Yet, while the lies and corruption continue to spill forth, we have in our democratic leadership, people unwilling to stand up, unwilling to stand up to protect our representative democracy, our basic civil liberties and our constitution. I like many across the country have stood by, nearly pulling out my hair, making phone calls, writing letters, signing petitions, watching in anguish, as our democratic leadership serves up more power and legitimacy to this regime.

Now, here we are, a year and a half into Bush’s second term—Lent. Lent, and although I no longer consider myself a catholic, I still find myself falling into the ritual of self-reflection, and a good habit indeed—one of my few...

and sir, I owe you an apology...

I understand now, that I am a war criminal. I am responsible. I am complicit in disseminating depleted uranium throughout the Middle East. I am responsible for the renditions, for Abu Ghraib, for the torture, for the illegal spying, etc. I am responsible. I am responsible for it all.

I am responsible because, when we choose the cowardly path as we step into the ballot box, we choose cowardly people to represent us. We choose fear to dictate our actions rather than courage. Little wonder that that is what we see reflected back to us by our leadership. More importantly, in choosing weak and cowardly people, we choose to allow unspeakable acts to be committed in our name and for that, sir—I owe you and the world, an apology.

Linda H Riegler