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Cry Me A Riverbend II

Monday, May 31, 2004

Reading Faiza (if America were reported on as Iraq is)

Faiza got a letter from, Joan, an American woman. If you want to know what a news story about America would look like if the same media standards were as those currently for Iraq...check it out:
Dear faiza
I read your blog and everything the other American women told you about us losing our rights is true. After the planes went into the trade centers Americans were afraid and angry. The Bush administration took advantage of the fear and anger to pass some laws that I think are unconstitutional. The right to go into your home without a warrent, to take your belongings, to arrest you and hold you indefinetly without charging you with a crime. We were told that the Government had to "get" the terrorists and these laws
would help them to do that. Most Americans believed that at the time.

For those outside the US, let me exegete this for you. The phrase "The Bush administration took advantage of the fear and anger" means Joan has been listening to Al Gore, the former Vice-President-turned-TV-Evangelist. The laws she's talking about is the "Patriot Act" which as I understand it (I'm not a lawyer [background information]), primarily gave law enforcement the same rights to prosecute terrorism that they already had to prosecute the Mafia. "Hold you indefinitely with out charging you" refers to Jose Padilla who was labeled as an "enemy combatant" for conspiring to blow up a "dirty bomb" (a conventional bomb with radioactive material mixed with it) in the United States (an act that would have made 9-11 look like a traffic accident). This case is making its way through the courts and the Bush Administration will probably lose. But if the Administration lets any terrorists slip through their fingers and if any of those terrorists take part in another major act, Al Gore (and Joan) is not going to give them any points for their adherence to civil rights.
And yes, we do have a lot of very poor people here. We have a lot of social welfare programs, but they don't give the poor people enough to live a decent life. There are jobs, but the jobs for unskilled help don't pay enough to live on. Many families struggle to maintain their families. In rural areas people are very frugal and grow their own food. That helps.

oh. my. blog. Joan's picture brings to mind Bangladesh rather than rural America.
The cost of living is very high. I don't know what things cost in Iraq, but here it costs almost $4.00 for a gallon of milk, a small apartment cost about $700 a month to rent. To feed a family of four would cost about $125.00 a week, and that would be just for basic food, not the prepackaged fancy kind.

Yes. The cost of living in America is high. This is not due to shortages, but because of the high standard of living. I grant you that $650 a month is a lot of money in some countries, but here it can be made by any high-schooler working 20 hours a week.
Our schools are not the best any more. Some of the schools are dangerous. Angry city youth have formed gangs and they fight each other, often killing innocent bystanders. All of this has happened in the last 20 years.

Okay. Everyone got the picture of "West Side Story" meets Riverdale High School? Note: what she says is not exactly untrue (especially in Washington D.C.). But if you didn't know better...
America is in a moral and social decline. Many American families took their children out of the public school system and schooled them at home. We call it home schooling. In fact, I home schooled my children for five years. They went to a public high school, but they went with their morals intact. Drugs and alcohol are a big problem, many kids start using them in high school and before. Drugs are illegal, but it doesn't seem to matter, kids are still able to get them if they want them.

Just as Jeffery recently pointed out that Faiza seems to be a likely Dubya-booster, Joan is her doppleganger in America. Did everyone note that things are so bad that American parents are keeping their children home from school?
In America we still have the freedom to work towards change. There is an opportunity to challenge laws that you don't agree with. One of the things that I worked on for 4 years was a summer program designed for kids at risk of failing in school. It is just one example of a way of trying to help. There are people all over America working for change. I just pray that it isn't too late.

Amen, Joan. And keep up the good work. This last paragraph is an inspiration. Even, Joan, who sees things so darkly in the U.S., recognizes that she is not powerless to make a change. The power of Freedom.

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