Yesterday I saw first hand the face of American defeatism in the war against Islamic Fascist. My family went to Ashland, Oregon for the annual 4th of July parade. Ashland is an "Artsy /Crafty" community in Oregon that draws that crowd due to the fact Ashland is the home of the Oregon Shakespearean Festival and has become a place of refuge for Californians trying to escape the "rat race" of California. It's a beautiful almost "European" town at the base of the Siskyou Mountains. Think of Carmel with mountains in place of the ocean and you get the picture. I saw "Peace" symbols everywhere, on the side of house, on bumper stickers, lawn signs and on people. One house had Old Glory and a "Peace" flag side by side. Some people refused to stand for The National Anthem. This is truly where the aging "flower children" have gone to retire. As I walked through Lithia Park on the way to the parade I saw a vendor selling Tee shirts that were red and stated "The Peoples Republic of Ashland." The parade itself had many participants who expressed their anti war/Bush views. The only counter were two National Guard Vehicles and a fly over by two National Guard F-14s. Several years ago there was a movement in Ashland to stop the military fly overs.
Washington Post Columnist David Ignatius today has a column in which he asks the question:
How would America react to a future terrorist attack? Would the country come together to combat its adversaries, or would it pull further apart?
He goes on to say in part:
A chilling measure of Muslim anger is that several of the suspected bomb plotters arrested by the British are medical doctors. What kind of rage would lead a physician trained in the healing arts to pack together nails, explosives and propane gas in a mix that would shatter bones and rip apart human flesh? This is a revolt of the privileged, the uprooted, the disconnected. It speaks of self-mutilation, as much as mayhem against others.
What happens when the bleed-out reaches America?.....
Based on the tone of the national debate today, it seems likely that the American public would react angrily -- but not just at the terrorists.
Liberals would blame the Bush administration for making America a more vulnerable target. Didn't the war in Iraq inflame Muslim terrorists around the world? Wouldn't we have been safer today if we had focused on al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, rather than embarking on a costly war that has sapped the military and CIA and added to America's enemies? These arguments aren't imaginary: We hear them every day, almost as rehearsals for the post-attack finger-pointing.
And how would conservatives respond? They would blame liberals who, in their view, have weakened America's anti-terrorist defenses. Couldn't we have stopped the bombers if critics hadn't exposed the NSA's secret wiretapping program? Wouldn't aggressive CIA interrogation techniques have yielded more intelligence that might have prevented the tragedy? Didn't congressional demands to withdraw from Iraq embolden the terrorists? I can hear the voices on talk radio and cable news right now.
America's political disharmony is scary
I agree it is very scary. In preparation for a trip to England in the future I have been rereading William Manchester's biography on Winston Churchill "The Last Lion: Alone 1932-1940" about the "wilderness years" when Churchill tried to warn the English people of the danger of Hitler and was branded a "Warmonger." Manchester writes about the French in the months after England and France declared war on Germany for it's invasion of Poland. Manchester points out that many of the French were more angry at the English for getting them into this war than they were at Hitler who was the real menace. The lack of resolve on the part of French public infected their army and in a few month Hitler's Army was marching down the Champs Elysees in Paris.
Ignatius ends his column with these chilling words:
In a politically healthy nation, the news from Britain would have a galvanizing effect. Politicians and the public would pull together and take appropriate steps to prepare for future terrorist attacks on America. There was a moment of shared purpose after 9/11. It's frightening how totally that mood of national unity has dissipated. I can think of lots of people to blame for the current polarization, but that's not the point. The point is to get serious, and get ready.
Based upon what I saw in Ashland, Oregon, yesterday, we will not pull together after the NEXT terrorist attack and that scares me.