As many of you know, I'm fully opposed to the "war" in Iraq. However, I'm not a hippy, I'm not a well-to-do liberal, I've never attended a sit-in. I just always become angry, though, that I've become labeled as such whenever I speak out against our Iraq intervention. In my mind, a good American is one who is willing to speak out, because when one doesn't do so, things like the fucking HOLOCAUST happen.
So, call it vanity, call it ego, but I thought I'd give a background on my political views and how they evolved through the years.
Growing up, an Asian kid fully embedded in upper middle class suburbia, I always had staunch conservative views. I remember during the 1980 election, everyone in my fourth grade class wanted Ronald Reagan to win, except for the only other Korean kid in the school (he was literally a genius, very intelligent even at 9 years of age), because "the Democrats caused those Iranians to take our people hostage." My father was and still is a hard core Democrat. I turn my back on independant thought and join the mob. It's a sad day when a 9 year old boy disappoints his father with his so-called political views.
During high school, I maintained my conservative views. Why not? We were winning the cold war, Reaganomics were powering our economy to be robust, muscular, and good times for everyone except those evil Communists. George Bush rolled through our town for the 1988 election, he got the royal red carpet treatment. Sure, he wasn't as strong or decisive as Reagan seemed, but he was a good man to keep the cause going. I volunteered with his local election effort, handing out flyers to morning suburbian commuters who were going to vote for him anyways.
Desert Storm happened in 1991. My mom was freaked out, afraid I was going to get drafted, that it would spark off a world war. Hell yes, I'd go, I emphatically stressed. It was a just cause, it was a noble cause, liberating these fine people of Kuwait. When President Bush elected not to invade further into Iraq, it made his foreign policy decisions seem like Midas gold. I still believe to this day that that was the right decision. The resolve in my flowering political activism for the GOP strengthened. Bush's approval ratings were the highest since FDR.
In 1992, the economy woke up from its Reaganomics hangover and realized, hey, it wasn't that good even when the good times were rolling! I got laid off for the first time. It was only a part-time job at a tile and carpet store that I didn't care for, but it made me realize, "Hey, this economy stuff is no fucking joke!" But, I also realized, it's not the President's fault the economy tanks. The rest of America disagreed, and voted Bill Clinton into office. My first voting election, and I voted for the loser. I am disheartened, but join the Young Republican society at my college anyways. Communism as we knew it was dead. We won the Cold War.
I didn't know what to make of Bill Clinton. My initial knee-jerk reaction was that he was a, gasp, Democrat! Eeeww. The rules of engagement laid down by his administration in Somali caused a lot of good men to die. But he was relatively young, he did have a sense of JFK to him... hell, he appeared on the Arsenio Hall Show! Woof woof woof! He remains an enigma to me as I begin my campus journalist career as the conservative commentary columnist in the school paper.
1994 rolls around and the GOP manages to gain control of both the House and Senate. I gloat about this very fact in several columns. If nothing gets accomplished during Clinton's term in office, it will be HIS fault, because everything is getting passed through Congress and the only thing stopping bills from becoming laws is a Clinton veto. I still remember the "Contract with America" days of Newt Gingrich. Nothing gets accomplished and it wasn't because of vetoes. Political in-fighting starts to break down my faith.
Clinton easily wins re-election. Most deemed Dole too old, too close a representation of a now former President Reagan suffering from advanced Alzhemiers that no one can attribute when it started. That would be twice I voted for a loser. I'm 0-2. The ugly head of murky political inaction starts to rear its head in places we really never knew of; Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia... the black and white of the Cold War is quickly becoming shades of Picasso gray.
I start working at the Chicago Tribune in 1997. It is the largest Midwestern daily newspaper. It is also hard core conservative. I get a front row seat to the Republican party making a complete and utter jackass of itself with the Monica Lewinsky debacle. The government spends over $250 million to find out our President gets a blow job from an intern. Wasn't it suppose to be about a loan scandal? Deep hard core cynicism starts to set into the psyche of kken.
Two years later, I quit the Tribune, fully disgusted with the newspaper industry and media in general. The only other time I have seen humans fucking over their fellow humans... just for the sake of fucking them over was in the movie "Aliens." I surf the dot-com craze. History repeats itself. Political activism goes out the window when everyone is too busy with dollars, quid, yen, euro, currency. A small voice in my head whispers, "Remember Reaganomics?"
A new George Bush is elected into office. Holy Batman, it's the return of the John Adamseses! Is it even legal for a son to become President only 8 years after the father??? Americans learn a new electoral term: chads. Both parties look really stupid. I won't mention who I voted for here. Do we really need a two party system? One look at Japan's electoral system tells me, begrudgingly, yes we do for simplicities' sake. The economy continues to slide.
Even in an area like San Francisco, birthplace of the political activist, people seem to have forgotten that there is life beyond Google.com. I grow even more disgusted with establishment. Commerce is good, because you need money to survive in this world. But there is something out there beyond our borders, I try to remind people. I've been lucky enough to travel to most of Asia several times up to this point and see a POV beyond blue-blooded Americaness. It falls on deaf ears too busy thinking about the latest PDA gizmo or the year's new color for the Audi A4. The economy starts to falter but who will cry over a dead sock pet? Economic Darwinism in effect, right?
It's terrible, it's riveting. It really is a shock. The insulation that Americans have become accustomed to - even after Oklahoma, even after the first World Trade bombing - it's all ripped away. A somewhat disheveled President Bush manages to keep his cool, look strong and stoic from an underground bunker somewhere in Nebraska. The ultimate wake-up call.
I really hope for patriotism, but SMART patriotism. But I know that's too naive a thought. Unfortunately, too many people in this country cannot discern that Muslim != Sikh != Hindu != Terrorist. Too much to hope for, I guess. We invade an Afghanistan that we abandoned right along side the Soviets in 1989, leaving behind a huge vacuum. Is it any wonder something or someone called the Taliban fills the void? Still, we are only striking back. I become unemployed for the second time in my life.
Months go by and it seems with all the firepower in our arsenal, our ability to annihilate every living thing on this planet twenty times over, that we can't either catch or kill two guys named Osama bin Laden and Muhammaud Omar. One has severe kidney problems, the other is missing his right eye. You almost can't buy this kind of comedy. Bush coins a new term, not that original tho: "Axis of Evil." I can almost hear Iran and North Korea both go "Huh???" at the moment Bush utters this term.
When you're unemployed, you've got a lot of free time on your hands. I thank a God or higher being or something non-denominal for the Internet. But in times like these, doing nothing but reading the news only deepens the mental chasm you create, it doesn't alleviate anything. The chasm becomes filled with resentment, contempt and even hostility for an administration that makes all the wrong moves.
Security at the expense of civil liberties.
Burdening an already-burdened airline industry.
Creating an increasingly angry and isolationist attitude toward the rest of the world.
For whatever good graces, I become employed again. With the U.S. Government. I'm conflicted. Do I just thank my lucky stars I'm employed again in these dire times or should I feel like a dirty fucking whore, taking money ultimately from the very man and administration I have come to detest? I don't know. My department does good things for the world. It works closely with the U.N. It's respected. I decide not to feel like a whore but I start taking longer showers anyways.
One month into my job, Saddam Hussein.
Is it any fucking wonder I start rolling at this point?
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