Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Monday, September 04, 2006

A trio of fiery patriots

Last week was kind of rough for me so I have to apologize for not posting much. I also would like to get back to my Torah commentary at least after Rosh Hashanah. We will then be studying the sixth aliyah.

In the meantime, I'd like to highlight a couple of great speeches (well, one commentary and a speech) that took place last week. The first was given by Ross C. ("Rocky") Anderson, mayor of Salt Lake City, at an anti-war rally on the same day (I believe) that Dear Leader was arriving for a visit. Talk about chutzpah! One particularly memorable quote (although the speech is worth reading in its entirety):

Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.

A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.

That is not a patriot. Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience – a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular. And, I suspect, that person is afraid – afraid we are right, afraid of the truth (even to the point of denying it), afraid he or she has put in with an oppressive, inhumane, regime that does not respect the laws and traditions of our country, and that history will rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.
The second was a response by Keith Olbermann to Rumsfeld's speech to the American Legion (also in Salt Lake City), comparing those of us who oppose the war in Iraq to Chamberlain and the "appeasers" of Hitler and calling us "morally and intellectually confused." (As Frank Rich points out in his column from this weekend, "Since Hitler was photographed warmly shaking Neville Chamberlain’s hand at Munich in 1938, the only image that comes close to matching it in epochal obsequiousness is the December 1983 photograph of Mr. Rumsfeld himself in Baghdad, warmly shaking the hand of Saddam Hussein in full fascist regalia.") A quote from Olbermann:

[Rumsfeld's speech] demands the deep analysis - and the sober contemplation - of every American. For it did not merely serve to impugn the morality or intelligence - indeed, the loyalty - of the majority of Americans who oppose the transient occupants of the highest offices in the land; Worse, still, it credits those same transient occupants - our employees - with a total omniscience; a total omniscience which neither common sense, nor this administration’s track record at home or abroad, suggests they deserve. Dissent and disagreement with government is the life’s blood of human freedom; And not merely because it is the first roadblock against the kind of tyranny the men Mr. Rumsfeld likes to think of as "his" troops still fight, this very evening, in Iraq. It is also essential. Because just every once in awhile… it is right - and the power to which it speaks, is wrong.
...
From Iraq to Katrina, to flu vaccine shortages, to the entire "Fog of Fear" which continues to envelope this nation - he, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and their cronies, have - inadvertently or intentionally - profited and benefited, both personally, and politically. And yet he can stand up in public, and question the morality and the intellect of those of us who dare ask just for the receipt for the Emperor’s New Clothes.
Mr. Anderson, Mr. Olbermann, and Mr. Rich, we salute you!

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