Symbolism, rhetoric and idiots on parade

Today is 9/11 (2010)
Up until 2001 if you said it- I thought of a Porsche. German engineering at its finest.
Of course, the association of German engineering overlooked the German-engineered genocide during WWII.
But, as Americans, we’re not going to let go of a terrorist attack so easily. We can’t- because it has been used as justification for two wars, the unconstitutional addition of the “Patriot Act” and the creation of the department of “Homeland Security” which may be a bigger oxymoron than “military intelligence.”
The latest round of firecrackers added to the fire and brimstone that we conjure up with 9/11 has been to threaten to burn the Qur’an. A stunt crafted by a sociopathic man of the cloth- who’d rather preach hatred than love. The media has given him the fuel to feed his publicity engine for more than the 15 minutes of fame that everyone should be entitled to according to Andy Wahol.
But, burning books is nothing new- especially here in Dayton.
It was soon after I arrived here- that another “Minister” decried that books were tools of the devil and staged a book burning on W. Third Street near Gettysburg. I was incensed- because this wasn’t the America I had sworn an oath to protect with my life- it was a cruel caricature, a series of side-shows, hell, one big sideshow. What our founding fathers had created, after a profound amount of intellectual discussion and debate, had been turned into something only P.T. Barnum could relate to.
The days of four hour debates by candidates is long gone. In fact- the art of debate is a dying skill, replaced by sideshow symbolism and the rhetoric of scalawags.
25 odd years later- that same preacher who burned books in Dayton somehow managed to find his way into my office seeking help in communicating his new message. It took me a while before I made the connection, and was surprised at how time and maturity had changed both the man and his message, because after the cameras leave, and the papers stop writing about the stunts and speeches we still have to step back and account for our actions. He’s now a pioneer in urban aquaculture- teaching inner city youth how to farm fish. He’s still a bit on the fringe- driving a H1 Hummer with a message to accept Christ or suffer eternal damnation, but he’s not burning books anymore.
The terrorist action of 9/11 2001 was a made-for-the-media event. However, the rules of media physics are totally different than Newton’s laws- events now create reactions by orders of magnitude greater- and the big ones, it’s on a logarithmic scale. Bin Laden understood the symbolism and the effect- and did if for the expected knee jerk- we complied.
How do we rationalize the responses to 9/11? Was giving up much of our freedom and privacy really what we wanted to do? Or is it what Bin Laden wanted?
Attacking a Third World nation like Afghanistan and losing thousands of our soldiers and trillions of our dollars to achieve what? Bin Laden is laughing at us from a cave somewhere.
The folly of Iraq, where we’ve also spent trillions and lost thousands- how do we justify it?
Never mind how many civilians we’ve killed- or Afghani and Iraqi patriots who are defending their countries in the same way we’d defend ours. It amazes me to think that any proud people would ever accept an invasion- and accept the rule of another country- because we sure wouldn’t. You know you’d be tempted to take pot shots at foreigner who dropped bombs on us? Of course you would, it’s the American way.
Terrorism is a poor man’s way of waging what professionals call an asymmetrical war. It’s how the little guy topples the big guy. It’s why conventional warfare is obsolete, even though America hasn’t accepted it yet.
With our economy in shambles, over 10% of our population unemployed, the gap between the haves and the have-nots widening at a pace never before imagined, Bin Laden and his 20 suicidal warriors have inflicted what could be considered a near mortal wound to our nation.
Trillions spent on the war, another trillion or two on propping up the economy with no end in sight- and we’re allowing an idiot who wants to burn a book to take central stage?
What is the appropriate symbol we need to set this country back on track, where we worry more about solving our problems and rebuilding our own economic engine?
It’s not hope or change as spoken by our President, we’ve cashed those chits out. It’s not a revolt against taxation as the tea party rants on. What will it take to get our country back to thinking about itself in a macro healthy way?
It’s this same kind of economic mess that helped lead Germany to the “National Socialist” party. Are we heading in the same direction? Closing off our borders to immigrants and the strong anti-immigration policy is reminiscent of the Nazis’ “Master Race” ideas.
To me, 9/11 is becoming less significant every year, to others, it’s become a near holy day. I’d much rather celebrate a day of our triumphs than a day of travesty, but, that won’t keep the rhetoric engine stoked as well.
It’s 9/11 and if you want to do something patriotic- hire an American, buy local, and call for our troops to come home. It’s time to move forward again.
It’s time to stop allowing the sideshow of a book burner to distract us from the true task at hand- rebuilding America and our global reputation.
It’s not politics or the power of the best military in the world that will do either- it’s the principles espoused by the golden rule- do unto others as you’d have others do unto you.
We’ve forgotten that.
We’ve been caught up in too much symbolism and rhetoric, led by idiots on parade.

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