20. November 2005 · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,

I recently saw a chain-letter regarding the holiday stamp issued by the U.S. Postal Service to commemorate the EID Muslim holiday. The chain-letter enumerated a list of terrorist actions commited by Muslims and urged a boycott of the stamp.
A copy of the actual letter can be found here at BreakTheChain.org, a site that does not support the intention of the chain-letter, but are dedicated to reducing junk mail and breaking pointless chain letters and this chain-letter is a case study.

The list goes like this…
REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of PanAm Flight 103,

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993,

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the Marine Barracks in Lebanon,

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the military Barracks in Saudi Arabia,

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the American Embassies in Africa,

REMEMBER the MUSLIM bombing of the USS COLE.

REMEMBER the MUSLIM attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11/01.

REMEMBER all the AMERICAN lives that were lost in those vicious MUSLIM attacks.

Followed by this message…
“Now the United States Postal Service REMEMBERS and HONORS the EID MUSLIM holiday season with a commemorative first class holiday postage stamp.
I strongly urge you to REMEMBER to adamantly and vocally BOYCOTT this stamp when purchasing your holiday stamps at the post office. To use this stamp would be a slap in the face to all those AMERICANS who died at the hands of those whom this stamp honors.”

This strikes me as nothing less than stark, raving racism. The World Almanac estimates there are about 1.1 billion Muslims in the world, which is about 17% of the world population. Other sources estimate larger numbers, reaching to 22%. So we’re going to openly demostratrate our hostility to approximatley a fifth of the world population based on a handful of actions by some extremists?

The person who passed the chain-letter to my wife, which is how I first saw it, is Irish-American. Well, I have another list for that person.*

REMEMBER the IRA abducting and killing Jean McConville, mother of 10. – 1971.
REMEMBER the IRA setting off 22 bombs killing 9 innocent people. – 1972.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing a coach carrying British Army personnel and their families. – 1974.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of two pubs killing 24. – 1974.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of a popular department store in London. – 1974.
REMEMBER the IRA assasination of Sir Richard Sykes, British Amabassador to the Netherlands, in front of his house. – 1979.
REMEMBER the IRA assasination of Earl Mountbatten and members of his family. -1979.
REMEMBER the IRA bomb planted in a fast-food resteraunt that killed the officer trying to diffuse it. – 1981.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing in Hyde Park and Regents Park in London. – 1982.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of a popular department store in London during the Christmas shopping season. – 1983.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton. – 1984.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of a Rememberance Day parade killing 11 civilians in Enniskillen. – 1987.
REMEMBER the IRA killing two Australian tourists in the Netherlands mistaken for off-duty British soldiers. – 1990
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of the London Stock Exchange. – 1990.
REMEMBER the IRA mortar attack on 10 Downing Street. – 1991
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of the London Bridge Railway Station. – 1992.
REMEMBER the IRA bomb that went off in a Fish & Chips shop prematurely, killing 10 people including the bomber himself and his child. – 1993.
REMEMBER the IRA mortar attacks on Heathrow Airport. – 1994.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing in London that killed two U.S. citizens. – 1996.
REMEMBER the IRA bombing of another shopping center in Omagh, Northern Ireland killing 29 innocent people. – 1998,
REMEMBER the IRA bombing outside the BBC studios in London. – 2001

I didn’t want this list to get so long that it would divert the focus of my message, so I only listed some of them. My message is that after all these attacks by the Irish Republican Army, most of which killed innocent people, I haven’t developed any hostility toward Irish people and I don’t write chain letters about “boycotting” St.Patrick’s Day because of the simple fact that I can distinguish the difference between being Irish and being a terrorist. And as I am sure is the case with most Americans, I can also distinguish the difference between being Muslim and being a terrorist.

* sources: www.wikipedia.com and the US Department of State

Since the election campaign seems to be so centered on the dangers posed by terrorism, I’ve decided to take a look at what dangers we really face. According to the U.S. State Department, the average number of deaths per year from terrorism from 1995 to 2003 is 775. How does this compare with some of the other dangers we face? How about the failing health care industry that Bush is so interested in protecting?

The John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health estimates there are approximately 250,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes (causes induced by a physicians activity, manner or therapy). Broken down into specific catagories and compared to deaths caused by terrorism, this is how the numbers stack up…

The cause, according to the Institute of Medicine, is not so much recklessness on the part of doctors, nurses and other health providers as it is basic flaws in the way hospitals, clinics and pharmacies operate.

For instance, doctors are notorious for poor handwriting, too often leaving pharmacists squinting to decipher the dosage, the terminology makes things worse, “milligrams or micrograms?” And too many drug names are confusingly alike. Consider the painkiller Celebrex and the anti-seizure drug Cerebyx; or Narcan, which treats morphine overdoses, and Norcuron, which can paralyze breathing muscles.

To read more: (Doctors Are Third Largest Cause of Death in the US…)

The article also discusses how the US health statistics rate poorly compared to other developed nations – 12th out of 13 compared. the article also dispells the myth that this poor performance is due to the personal choices Americans make by presenting the data that reveals that Americans, on average, make better choices than people in many of these other countries. So it comes down to a system that should really be fixed. It seems that these studies are not only spitting out disappointing statistics, but they are indicating that the system can be fixed and how it can be fixed.

But what kills me, is how the Bush administration is trying to fix health care by limiting our ability to file lawsuits. What – are we relying on bean-counters to solve medical problems now? Sure, frivolous law suites are a cost that can and should be reduced but you can’t call a law suite frivolous simply because the financial claim is above a certain limit.

If 250,000 Americans die every year from a sub-standard health care system compared to only 775 from terrorism, wouldn’t it make sense to assume that we could be saving many more lives by putting money into the health care system instead of funding a war in Iraq?

11. May 2004 · Categories: Politics · Tags: , ,

I’ve just emerged from an online discussion where some people were suggesting that we are loosing the war on terrorism while others were slamming these naysayers for being unpatriotic of course, but also for being dead wrong. Elsewhere on the Internet I’m seeing lots of suggestions that we are winning the war.

Those suggesting the failure seem to support their arguments with the negative impressions that others have of our actions, such as the prisoner abuse and large numbers of killed civilians. They seem to suggest that we have ourselves become terrorists, which may in itself be a valid suggestion, but is that a direct corollary to loosing the war on terrorism? Does it make sense to fight fire with fire?

The people on the other side of the argument seem to take a more concrete and perhaps a more narrow-minded approach to the argument, producing lists of key terrorists that have been captured.

So which is it? Are we winning or are we loosing?

I’m starting to think neither is true, and more significantly, I’m starting to think that the absence of conclusive success or failure is precisely the intention.

To me declaring war on “all the terrorists in the world and on anyone who helps them” seemed to be a pretty clear message that the Bush administration wasn’t looking for an end but for a process. If you really think about this, you can see that only an idiot could actually believe that we can put an end to terrorism around the globe. I think the Bush administration was not only aware of the impossibility, but that they were betting on this impossibility to guarantee the legnth of the process. So really this is more like Batman fighting crime in Gotham city, it’s a career not a task.

Another clue came when Bush flew in on an airplane with a big smile and declared the end of major operations in Iraq. This announcement created an incremental victory that invoked a feeling of winning a war. Like a sugar substitute that allows people to continue drinking coffee without real sugar, this incremental victory allows people to continue to bear the war without a real victory.

The human violations by U.S. soldiers is an indication that this process is in full swing and the mission is anything but lost. Bush and Rumsfeld are right, the offenses do not reflect the moral conduct of the U.S. armed forces per se. What it reflects is the disturbed sentiments of a significant part of the American population. It just so happens that some of this population serves in the armed forces, resulting in direct access to those they have conditioned themselves to hate. I think many more Americans at home would do the same things if they had the same chances. This conditioned hatred is being fed by the process that we call “a war on terrorism”. The hatred reverberates in our culture and feeds back into the process.

So while I agree that the immoral behavior of a few soldiers compromises the support we get from the international community, it nevertheless feeds the hatred on both side of the war and perpetuates the process. Understanding this, it’s easy to see that the mission is coming along quite well. So there you go, we aren’t supposed to loose and we aren’t supposed to win. If either of those things happened it would mean an end to the process of war.