Middle America is just plain tired of it all

November 28, 2003|JOHN NELSON

The news doesn't change.

Forever, it seems, Americans have been reading and watching disturbing reports from the Middle East. And forever, it seems, our country has been blamed for the problems there.

We are said to be too sympathetic to Israel, too interested in controlling the flow of oil from Iraq and Iran and Saudi Arabia, too arrogant about our greatness ... too rich, too free. Our flag is burned regularly, our leaders, regardless of their party, burned in effigy.

Yet our sympathy is often sought most by those who want to advance their political agendas, and we always get the sense that no one would turn down our money, and certainly not our weapons, no matter how evil they think we are.


They'll take what is ours; they just don't want us.

Even some of our so-called friends seem to forget what friendship means when times get hard. They forget our liberation of Europe in World War II. They forget our generosity with the spoils of war. They forget what might have happened had others gotten their way.

They show distrust in us that is inexplicable, even in their attempts at explanation.

That weapons of mass destruction have not been found in Iraq is disturbing, since that was the primary reason for going to war; but our detractors seem to simply brush away the clear evidence of mass murder by Saddam Hussein, which should have quickly made up for the curious disappearance of those evil weapons. They ignore the lessons of World War II, when much of the world, with similar evidence, refused to accept what was happening to the Jews until millions of them were gassed.

There is more interest among the critics of this war on whether the administration lied about the weapons than whether the Saddam's slaughters would have otherwise been discovered.

We vowed we would never let such a thing happen again, and we are trying to keep that promise, but among the major players, only Britain seems to notice or care.

If it isn't enough that most of the world appears to despise us, we seem to enjoy despising each other. Never have we been more polarized as a body politic. And never has it made less sense.

At the risk of speaking for Middle America, it wouldn't be a stretch to say that we're tired of it all. Tired of the anger between otherwise religious people, tired of the blame aimed in our direction, tired of doling out money and equipment and arms and education and food and clothing and the lives of our young warriors - anything, everything we perceive a need for - only to face disdain, in the end, in return.

And that's only the beginning:

We're tired of the media giving more of a forum than is deserved to inflated numbers of demonstrators fixated more on the cameras than on the issues they claim to be so passionate about.

We're tired of elected representatives who bemoan our dependence on foreign oil but refuse our industrious citizens the opportunity to mine our vast and unlimited resources under any circumstances.

We're tired of special interests. Period. They are most always consumed with what is good for them at the expense of everything else. And they always presume to know what is good for us.

We're tired of party faithful whose warped idea of political debate is to take the opposite position on whatever is proposed by the other party, at the expense of solving any problem and in the interest of advancing the party instead of the party's philosophy.

We're tired of the race card trumping everything in the deck. We're tired of "tolerance" being more closely aligned with "acceptance" in every challenge to our basic values.

Evidence of our weariness appears sometimes in the form of apathy. Those predisposed to do so ignore what is going on, concentrating instead on "heroes" who don't confuse them, like football players and musicians and actors.

Others retreat into anger, declaring trust in no one, particularly in government, and refusing to participate in the process.

Is it any wonder?

But the positive side of all this weariness and anger is that most of us now, despite the polarization, can still find unity in the love of country, can still come together when it really counts.

And the polarization itself, void of the violence in other societies with such differences, characterizes the reasons we promote democracy - however imperfect, however frustrating - to the world.

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