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My Turn: From outrage to guilt to shame

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2003

On Sundays, I like to loll on the couch, slurp coffee, and read the paper from front to back. It usually takes me the better part of an hour, and after the coffee kicks in, I get a good start on the weekly crossword puzzle before my wife starts preparing breakfast. I never peek at the answers until about Thursday, and then only if that particular puzzle cheats by loading up with the names of teeny-bopper pop stars, gay authors, or other such obscure personalities.

But on a recent morning the enticing odors emanating from the kitchen didn't pique my interest in the least. It's been a long time since I've felt so utterly disgusted! Your Jan. 19, "What do you think?" column had turned my stomach like a 10-year old C-ration can of cold, greasy ham and lima beans! The question was, "Do you support an attempt by the United States to use military force to oust Saddam Hussein?" And, of 477 respondents, 279 (59 percent) said NO, 177 (37 percent) said YES, and 21 (4 percent) were unsure. Then to add insult to injury, some 40 persons offered supplementary comments ranging from, oh what a terrible mess we've made in Afghanistan, to how awful it would be to capture Iraq's oil supply, to the fact that we're losing our soul. And, not one person offered a comment in support of military action!

After lurching upright with the gorge rising in my throat, I suddenly realized that I had seen that query in the Friday paper and hadn't bothered to get on the Web or phone in my response. My emotions transitioned from outrage, to guilt, and finally to shame. Because, I realized as I sat there, many copies of that Sunday paper were undoubtedly winging their way to APOs and FPOs in the Middle East. I was chagrined to think of the effect it would have on the subscribers. I knew how they'd feel, because I'd been there. Not in the Middle East, but in Vietnam. And what's more, I swore an oath that when I was a geezer back home, I'd do everything in my power to ensure that when our troops were going in harms way, they would be given our full support to bolster their spirits and morale. A fine job I'd done, when the going got tough, I sat on my duff!

Then I got to thinking. Did this column accurately reflect Juneau's view of our nation's efforts to rid the world of terrorists and renegade regimes determined to develop and use weapons of mass destruction? Have the NO respondents already forgotten the twin piles of the WTC? I know we've got a lot of extreme environmentalists and anti-development whiners in this town, but could they be so shortsighted? Could they really believe that freedom and liberty are their birthrights, and that we could defend our nation from barbarism without the will to use force of arms? Were they naive enough to think that the U.N., European Union, or Arab League could be relied upon to protect our nation's interests? Yeah, there were undoubtedly some NO respondents out there on the lunatic fringe, but surely not 59 percent!

Then I got to thinking some more. Was there a great silent majority out there that recognizes the hard, but courageous decision our president must make, and that supports the difficult course of action before us, but chooses not to overtly display their ardor? Or, did the column's numbers have some veracity? And, if so, what was driving them? Was it a reflection of liberal Democrats, smarting from political defeats as the national, state and local levels? Were religious leftists trying to turn our other cheek? Did Juneau wind up with more than its share of drugged-out '60s hippies? Or was it symptomatic of some deeper corrupting national malaise?

And then my head started hurting, so I just resolved that when the next opportunity arises to support our president and the troops in the trenches, like those other 177 respondents, I'm gonna get of my duff!

John Kato has two sons preparing to protect their nation's interests.



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