Justin Donner writes from Elgin, Illinois:
I graduated in May. I feel like I was robbed at my commencement service. Dennis Hastert (the Speaker of the House) gave the commencement speech at my graduation. The first part of it was pretty good but the second half was a big load of patriotic propaganda. I felt sick to my stomach and considered leaving. Jim Wallis, I want to thank you for giving the speech that I wish I would have heard at my graduation ["We are the ones we have been waiting for," SojoMail 6/16/2004]. Thank you Sojourners for making me think about my faith critically and deeply. I have been enriched and challenged by reading the newsletters.
Rick Raab-Faber writes from Albuquerque, New Mexico:
Larry Bellinger made a good point about us photographing ourselves at our worst ["Abu Ghraib: Is this America?" SojoMail 6/16/2004]. I was disappointed to see the link to the lynching postcards though. Not because of the graphic nature of the cards. Rather it was that Bellinger (or whomever created the link) made mention of the Jim Crow laws and selected an image (out of seventy-some postcards) of a black man being lynched. Yes, indeed we photograph ourselves at our worst. And yet there were images of whites who had been lynched as well... Yes, the lynching of blacks as a result of the Jim Crow laws was a tragic and evil part of our history. But is it any more tragic than the lynchings of anyone else? Misdirected reactions like these are the sort of thing that gives liberals a bad name.
Bellinger's statement, "That our soldiers abused, tortured, and killed Muslim prisoners and then photographed the acts to be shared and enjoyed by their compatriots is an indictment of our attitude toward the "sand-niggers" of the Middle East regardless of whether we want to believe it or not," was equally erroneous. That our soldiers did this is as much an indictment of military culture as anything. During my 6-year army stint in the Cold War, I heard very similar actions taken by M.P.s against fellow soldiers in training situations (granted, falling short of murder, but nonetheless, equally brutal and humiliating.) Bellinger misdirects the blame and misunderstands the situation in classic knee-jerk reaction.
Emily Taylor writes (town withheld, up north in Mid America):
Your article comparing the humiliation, torture, and photographs of Iraqi prisoners to 1930s' lynching post cards struck a chord with me. In the 1960s and '70s, the Klan was also active in the North, although this is rarely spoken about. It was both a painful time and a fearful time for the many families who got caught up in their trap of evil. As a 6-year-old child, I was led past a tall orange fire that contained the corpse of what was once a breathing, living being. Beer-drinking Klan members looked on, some smoking cigars, others enjoying women, and still others, back in corners, committing what can only be described as crimes against humanity. I have no doubt that there is a whole library of their pornography still kept somewhere - I can still remember the cameras and the cold detached glee with which they made their films. In 1969, child pornography was not illegal. It is a legacy that will forever remain in the minds of those who survived. My poor mother still cannot even begin to talk about this era, yet it too is America. As I think back, one thing comes to mind. For this, Jesus came to save. I am forever thankful.
Mary Arenberg, MD writes from Plymouth, Wisconsin:
I lived overseas for a year during Reagan's reign. It was much easier to see how awful his presidency was from Sierra Leone ["Reagan Roundup: Perspectives you may have missed," SojoMail 6/16/2004]. It is only all these many years later that I realize how desperate people (Americans) have been to feel good about themselves, even if it means believing in lies. We claim the moral high ground without having done any of the work since, I would guess, World War II. We want to believe that we would only go to war under the most noble of flags when in fact the "freedom" we are fighting for is another illusion - when my parents' generation responded to the demands of world war it was with a preparedness to sacrifice everything. Now, if we have to pay 10 cents more at the pump to fill the tank on our Suburban we flame with indignation at the people or country "responsible" for attacking our way of life. We are willing to send our neighbor's kids over there to protect it, too. Never mind that the American way of life is insupportable economically and ecologically and impossible to justify on a global scale. I have never been so ashamed of being an American. We are a lunatic people; we are mad, greedy, and shortsighted. We are deluded and want to stay that way.
Ronald C. Greene writes from Great Falls, Montana:
I have a great idea on a meaningful way to honor President Reagan. It's such a great idea that I'm sure others have already thought of it as a means of bringing all Americans together in celebrating Ronald Reagan's presidency. Let's put his face on the $10 bill and raise the federal minimum wage to $10 per hour. This move will prove that Reaganomics have a trickle-down effect for the working poor, including Burger King moms.
Boomerang is an open forum for all kinds of views that do not necessarily represent those of Sojourners. Want to make your voice heard? Include your name, hometown, and state/province/country in a concise e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org . We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.