19 April 2010

Misleading the misled

Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing*. While out and about this afternoon, I heard a news piece on CBC Radio One that caught my attention. I couldn't find the piece on the CBC website, but ABC News had the quote I was looking for from Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano:

We cannot put a glass dome over our country. We cannot guarantee there will not be another attack. No one can. But we are a strong and resilient country. And we can resolve that even a successful attack will not defeat our way of life.

Why do politicians in the US insist on making it sound like the only threat the US faces is from within? Is this how they get away with ignoring critical social justice issues domestically?

A glass dome over the US would not have prevented the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It was bombed by a US citizen, born and bred there (we share a birthday...), and his ideas did not originate with any particular religious ideology, Muslim or otherwise. He was, however, an angry man who never seemed remorseful for his actions. He was a controversial figure from the time of his arrest until his execution, three months to the day before the incidents of 11 September 2001.

In fact, before that fateful day when the USA turned its sights on the Middle East with swift and brutal intensity, most of the worst violence in the country was home-grown: the standoff of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas (which also shares today's anniversary); the shootings at Columbine High School (anniversary tomorrow); and on and on.

The US isn't alone in its violence and social problems. They aren't even alone in changing the context of past events. Personally, I'm more worried about how Canada fixes itself than how it might deal with other countries; and I say this as an active and dedicated member of Amnesty International.

Quite frankly, I believe that the US would have more success with reducing violence and creating domestic security if they focused more on how to take care of themselves while using diplomacy and foreign aid to stabilize the international community. Probably easier said than done, but it still seems like less work than the current strategy.

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