The Guns of August

Forget the news analysis and all the previews leading up to tonight’s third evening of the Republican National Convention. Common wisdom would tell you that the heavy hitters of any political convention traditionally come on Wednesday, with the nominee set to wrap things up on Thursday. But all a person would have to have done is watch the past two nights out of Madison Square Garden to realize that the most powerful presenters of the Republican platform weren’t named Bush and Cheney, but were named McCain, Giuliani, and Schwarzenegger. Continue reading “The Guns of August”

This is What Democracy Looks Like

As I rounded the corner of Broadway and 17th Street yesterday, finishing up a march that had begun almost two hours before, I was unaware that thousands of people were still gathering and waiting for their chance to march at the staging area miles behind me. I had no idea it would still be over an hour before a small group of black bloc anarchists would set a paper mache dragon ablaze in front of Madison Square Garden (the only serious infraction of the day). I had no idea that on that day, more Americans would take to the streets in opposition of a sitting president’s party’s nominating convention than at any time in American history. Continue reading “This is What Democracy Looks Like”

Dissent is Not Patriotic

The life of a city and its residents is one typified by close contact. The rubbing, pulling, pushing, and shoving that goes on one must become accustomed to, whether by birth or by months of constant exposure. Most people grow up with an idea of personal space that is nonexistent in a city the size of New York. This becomes ever more apparent aboard the trains, barreling their way through the stagnant air of the tunnels or lofted above the street, packed fresh and full with souls to or from...wherever. Continue reading “Dissent is Not Patriotic”

A Godless Heathen’s View of the World at Large

Other than the possibility of going to Hell for being a non-believer, what is the single largest disadvantage to being an atheist? Answer: atheists lack the type of group cohesiveness that is typical of religion. There is no deity to worship, so atheists (for the most part) feel no need to gather and revel in their beliefs. Or is it non-beliefs? There are organizations that cater to the atheistic point of view, but honestly, what is the point in showing solidarity in not believing in an omnipotent creator? I see none, as do most atheists. Continue reading “A Godless Heathen’s View of the World at Large”

Meaningful Deaths and Those Based on Lies

I cannot think of one American death in Afghanistan that was not meaningful in some way. The attacks on September 11th left no doubt of the need for an overwhelming response. The Taliban government of Afghanistan had made no secret that it was harboring Al Qaeda. We had known for years that one of the greatest recent threats to the United States had found a safe haven among that government of radical Islamists. When the death of Americans was no longer something that happened far away, but was something we watched live, the collective cry of anguish that the nation issued upon the collapse of the first tower was fed by an equally strong and instantaneous lust for revenge. It wasn’t a sleeping giant that had been awakened, but rather a giant that had taken its safety for granted. Only rarely before in the history of man could a nation feel as safe as ours. The nineties were not a time of untouchable tranquility for America, but it might as well have been. Having come out of the long nightmare that was the Cold War as the victor, it was only natural to assume the worst of times were far behind us. We had walked the razor’s edge of deterrence, and despite ourselves and our enemy, deterrence had worked. The world was now safe — for Americans, anyway. Continue reading “Meaningful Deaths and Those Based on Lies”

Ignoring the Inevitable

Every now and again the feeling will rise up, a little prick at the back of my mind to remind me of the times we live in. I find myself taking a morbid outlook at my surroundings when the feeling arises. I think of tactical vulnerabilities. I look around the train, or the station, or I gaze at the skyline and picture the scene becoming mangled and grotesque in an instant. But just as quickly as the feeling comes on, away it goes. It would be impossible to live in this city from day to day if I were to think about the inevitable. After all, the odds are with me. There are eight million people living in this city, with millions more visiting it every day for work or play. An explosion tearing its way through a bus, a subway train, or a crowded movie theater represents a grim lottery that only a few will lose. It’s the knowledge, that “it’s only a matter of time” mentality which becomes a strain. So the inevitable explosion, the inevitable carnage, the fact that this grim lottery is being played out despite the participant’s unwillingness to play, is ignored, otherwise I would think myself a fool every time I walked down the steps to the subway platform.