At RSBS, we’re critical of the things that go on around us. We’re critical of the things going on in baseball (especially Bud Selig’s machinations and the continued but completely baffling employment of Kyle Farnsworth), we’re critical of events in the world at large and we’re critical of the turn our country has taken in the past couple years. But make no mistake, just because we’re critical doesn’t mean we love our country any less.
I spend a lot of my time outside the US and each time I come back, I’m reminded of how great it is. In fact, I don’t think you can truly appreciate the US until you’ve spent some time outside. One of the things that strikes me each time I return is how accepting we are. I have never visited another country where people of all different religions, ethnicity, socio-economic class and so on and so forth live next to each other, work with each other and generally get along with each other.
But recently I’ve begun to wonder what’s going on. For a country that accepts so many different people and allows these people to express themselves in so many different ways (even when it’s tasteless and abominable), why have we all of a sudden decided to focus so much hatred on one group? Take a look:
And it would be easy to say that this is just one isolated incident but it isn’t. As I’ve said before, the people who blow themselves up or go on some ridiculous rampage represent Islam about as much as Timothy McVeigh represents Christianity. Which is to say that they don’t. I’m not a religious person myself but the Constitution, the document many of these people claim as their justification, codifies the right of any person to worship as they will. You don’t have to like that but you can be civil about it. Civil doesn’t mean picketing and ruining their events, for instance. Do they show up and drink all your wine during mass or or run around naked during your Knights of Columbus dinner?
Anyway, I just wanted to make sure I put that out there. The USA is a great country. In my opinion, it’s the greatest country in the history of the world. It would be nice if these douchenozzles could stop attempting to prove otherwise.
Note: Apparently the video has been taken down due to a copyright claim by George Collins. We’ll keep looking for a new version so you can see it. In the meantime, here’s a brief background on what happens in the video.
A couple of years ago a guy in Canada made the international news when he killed a fellow bus passenger for seemingly no reason at all. Even that probably wouldn’t have been enough except that he proceeded to cut the dead man’s head off and hold it up for everyone else to see.
Thankfully, this type of crazy remains relatively rare. Sure, we get the occasional nut job like Jose Offerman but he’s the exception rather than rule. And, to be fair, he didn’t cut anyone’s head off either.
Here in the US we also get our fair share of far-out nuts. These stories run the gamut from the tragic (Timothy McVeigh and the Columbine Killers) to the macabre (Jeffery Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy). However, every once in a while a story hits the wires that just can’t be categorized. For instance, Richard Elwood Sanden.
Honestly, I’m not even really sure where to start on this one. And I’m not even really sure why I’m bringing it up except to spread the horror a little wider in hopes that my own will dissipate. I mean seriously, who uses telephone dating services? That’s why the internet was created.
….Oh, you’re horrified for other reasons? Oh, yeah, ok. I guess I can see where you’re coming from. That part is pretty bad, too. But seriously, I didn’t even know that telephone dating services still existed or that anyone used them.
Whether you like him or not, whether you agree with him or not, one thing can definitely be said about our President. He has some cojones. I don’t mean this in the pejorative sense, as in, “Where he does he get off saying that?” No, I mean nothing but respect. His stances may not always be popular but at least they reflect a sense of integrity and a fundamental understanding of the law.
Let’s start with sports. The President is a White Sox fan and even though I don’t like the White Sox, I respect him for sticking by his guns. When he showed up at Nationals Park to see the Sox during interleague play, he didn’t throw on the home team cap. He wore a Sox cap, same as opening day. In fact, one of my many issues with Bill Richardson during the primary campaign was his claim that he liked both the Red Sox and Yankees. We all know that’s not possible. Baseball law says so. There’s none of that tomfoolery with Obama.
And when you get into what are often referred to as more “substantive” issues, Obama also rejects tomfoolery. Like health care or “Don’t ask, Don’t tell.” People may not like his stands but what he does is based on a firm understanding of the Constitution.
Which is why I’m also proud of the President’s stand on this ridiculous Ground Zero mosque kerfuffle. Yes, I understand that the men who crashed those planes into the WTC claimed to be Muslim. Timothy McVeigh claimed to be Christian. Does that mean no churches should be built near where the Oklahoma City Federal Building stood?
You can argue that the President may not have chosen the best time to weigh in on the controversy. But what you can’t argue is that the United States is a country built on the rule of law, the foundation of that law being the Constitution. When the Constitution grants the freedom of religion, that’s not just the freedom to be Christian. It’s the freedom to follow any religion or even no religion at all.
Sometimes this freedom isn’t pretty, like when you’re dealing with Hare Krishnas at the airport or Moonies milling about in Central Park. But it’s also the reason your mom and sisters don’t have to shave their heads and why we men don’t get in trouble for trimming our beards. It’s sad that a public figure being willing to say this requires cojones.
Is it good or bad at this point to be a citizen of or coming from a “country of interest?” If you look at the upside, you get to enjoy the feeling that comes with the friskiness of a full body pat-down. On the downside, well, you get the feeling that comes with the friskiness of a full body pat-down.
If you tend to think that this smacks of profiling, congratulations, you are now able to recognize the obvious! Of course this is profiling. There’s a reason why fourteen countries are on the list and there’s a reason why it’s a specific 14 countries. It’s the same reason why any PED testing scheme should focus on people who suddenly change shape (I’m looking at you, Giambi), people who are performing at very high levels after sickness or late in their career (this means you, Armstrong and Clemens) or people who’s production suddenly and inexplicably increases (yeah, Sosa, you’re on the hook for this one). If you’re looking for fire, it’s not a bad idea to try checking out the smoke.
Now, I’m not saying that I agree with the idea of profiling. Basing any kind of scrutiny or regime on just someone’s ethnicity or some other factor is not going to stop anything in the long-run. Timothy McVeigh wouldn’t have been caught by this nor would the Unabomber. There’s no real substitute for random testing, good intelligence and rigorous processes. Short-term, though? Something has to be done.
The real issue is that when problems are identified, whether it be security lapses or inadequacies in testing, knee-jerk responses tend to be the flavor of the day. The reality is that we need to find the balance between being authoritarian and being lackadaisical. Would a pat down have necessarily stopped the alleged Northwest flight bomber? Who knows but I’m guessing probably not. Would a fully implemented randomized testing program have kept Barry Bonds from the home run record? It’s hard to say. But it’s a place to start.