Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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05/12/2004: "No News is Good News?"


I知 a very political person. I try not to write too much about political issues because I really started this blog to primarily talk about art, but some days I just have to vent.

First off, let me mention that now that I have a TV I use my TIVO to record a lot of news programs (Hard Ball, CNN Headline News, NBC Nightly News, The Daily Show (fake news), Nightline, Frontline, the Lehrer News Hour, Telemundo, etc.) I知 kind of a news junkie. As soon as I get home at night I turn it on and listen while I cook dinner, paint, or work on the computer; during the day I listen to the BBC or Air America streamed at work (I知 a great multi-tasker), and I listen to NPR or APRN in the car on my commute to and from work.

I also read a lot of news during the day. I値l scan the English version of Aljazeera and the BBC. Sometimes I値l read foreign papers like El Mundo from Madrid or Die Welt from BerlinI just can稚 seem to get enough and now all the news stories are focusing on the torture, rape, and murder of Iraqi detainees (many of whom have not been charged with any crime) by the US military and I feel myself getting more and more depressed.

What did those in charge expect when they put poorly trained and uneducated reservists in charge of 都oftening up Islamic prisoners for interrogation? I mean, we have a volunteer military. Who volunteers? At the grunt level most (but not all) are poor and uneducated, which translates into also being the most jingoistic and xenophobic.

I mean no disrespect for the military or the reserves because I know a lot of them who are wonderful, patriotic, well educated men and women etc. It wasn稚 their decision to invade, or decide how many troops were needed to secure the country afterwards or anything else but I think the abuse issue goes beyond the 吐ew bad apples they池e trying to play it off as. Those in charge need to quit making scape goats out of the little guys and start prosecuting some with responsibility in the upper ranks. For one thing Rummy needs to stand the hell down. He has done the WORST job as Secretary of Defense in recent memory and he is making targets of every US citizen everywhere.

The entire point of all these invasions and the literally BILLIONS of dollars spent (while our education and health care systems crumble at our feet) was to make US citizens safer. Ask yourselves this: Do you feel safer today than you did 3 years ago? When I saw part of the video of the US civilian that was slowly beheaded by the militants declaring pay back for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners, well, that is an image I can not get out of my head. Even though it was only described to me, I can see it and hear it happening in my head in crystal clarityover and over again. I致e been having nightmares and I値l probably never feel safe enough to travel through Morocco again, which is one of my favorite countries, let alone Egypt, which was next on my list. If people become too afraid to expose themselves to people from different cultures, how will we ever learn to understand each other better and live in peace?

I have to admit that when the photos first came out I was disgusted but I wasn稚 都hocked. In fact, I felt a certain amount of relief. I have been trying to convince my mostly conservative relatives for years that the US was responsible for putting self-interests above the lives of people in every other nation in the world and that there are legitimate reasons why people in other countries hate our government. They always seemed to believe that we were, in every single instance, the good guys with totally altruistic motives and as Americans, simply incapable of being or doing wrong. It was impossible for me to convince them otherwise.

I believe that people are people all over the world. There will always be those who get their jollies by being cruel to people they see as being different from themselves (i.e. subhuman). It doesn稚 matter if you池e from the Middle East or the Mid West. And when you put these people in a position of authority or they gain weapons etc. it痴 a recipe for disaster.

Everyday I feel more despair at how things are unfolding in the world. I ran into a faculty member in the cafeteria today who was in a terrible mood because her Snapple spilled in her purse. I said to her 妬f that痴 the worst thing that happens to you today you池e already better off than 99% of the world. She agreed. I am so afraid of what will happen if Bush is reelected. I really will lose all hope. And part of me wants to just disconnectand not stay apprised of what's going on, because being aware of how fucked up things are only makes me feel like everything I do is small and pathetically meaningless. Which way to the nearest bridge please?