2001-11-03 / Columnists

From the G-Man

These Days, We Are All Americans!
By Gary G. Toms

These Days, We Are All Americans!

Hey people! The last two months have been extremely difficult for us as a people and a country in light of the attack on the World Trade Center. Now, we are engaged in an all out war on terrorism, which may spread far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. The war is expected to last for several years, and there is no guarantee that we will be able to rid the world of terrorism or those who are agents of it.

The American flag and patriotism have found their way into the framework of our everyday lives. We are saying the pledge of allegiance a lot more these days. We are looking at the NYPD, FDNY, and President of the United States in a totally different way, as compared to six months ago. Even those from underserved and low-income communities have a newfound respect for the police and firefighters of the city of New York. This is a good thing.

Still, with all the love and unity that has been displayed as result of this tragedy, there are those who refuse to acknowledge their association with this country in any way.

To some degree, their anger and resentment of this country is understandable, and you would have to have a firm understanding of international politics, affairs, religion, diplomacy and the inner workings of all the countries in the world to grasp what our true role and relationship has been with other countries and regimes. It took a well-rounded college education for me to realize that we have not been perfect with regard to how we have interacted with certain countries in the past and currently.

While these conditions and sentiments exist, the one thing that must be kept in mind is the fact that there were many people, from many different races and religions that died in the attack on the World Trade Center. Those who killed thousands in the name of Allah also murdered fellow Muslims who worked inside the Twin Towers. The people running around shooting and abusing members of the Muslim community should remember this fact. Those planes were on a seek and destroy mission, and they were not the least bit concerned with race or religion. They were solely concerned with killing as many Americans as possible.

For those who harbor resentment over this country’s past, because of slavery, the Holocaust, religious persecution, Jim Crow, the struggle for civil and gay rights or women’s sufferage, it is important to realize that we are in a life and death struggle as this war rages on. Although the issues of race, poverty and social injustice are ever-present, we must strive to focus on the fact that we, as Americans, are under attack. We can be as vocal as we want to about how bad America and its policies are, but none of that is going to matter when you’re lying in a hospital bed, in critical condition, because of a bio-chemical attack or bomb blast.

I have major problems with this country and its policies. I have a particular resentment for it because of its role in slavery. However, when I realize that there may be a bomb or a biological agent out there waiting for me, and that my close friends may be taking part in the ground war in Afghanistan, I can make a rational decision to put my political feelings about this country to the side until this war and terrorism situation is resolved. If more people could find a way to do the same, it would go a long way into proving that first and foremost, we are Americans.


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