I was mourning the death of a Lady who used to call the four cardinal points loud and clear: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
I was one among the latest Pew global opinion poll who thinks that President George W. Bush and his misguided war in Iraq have dragged the United States far, far down in the world's eyes. The poll also showed a widespread perception that Washington acts without considering the interests of other countries. I mourn for the more than 3600 sons and daughters who have died in this senseless and unprovoked war and the 26,000 injured. I also mourn for Iraq, a country that has lost over 400,000 of its sons and daughters—with over 3 million refugees—for a senseless vendetta that has no rhyme or reason. I mourn the lies of an administration that led us to this war, and the continuous stubbornness to sell the blood of our citizens for a few drops of oil.
I agree with the same poll that sees the United States as the worst culprit in "hurting the world's environment." I mourn for an administration that caters to the big oil interests to the point of to sacrificing the health of our planet.
I mourn the death of a nation that used to stand for: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
I mourn for the loss of our liberties, the spying of our citizens in our phone calls, our emails, our libraries—all without due process of law. Like every other American, my life was crushed by September 11. But if we give away our liberties, we lose. Why can’t we learn from the British? Their rapid and coordinated response still offers an example of how a liberal democracy can work to prevent and punish terrorism - without operating outside the law or sacrificing individual liberties. In the two years since bombs exploded in London's transit system, Britain has kept close watch on extremists, extradited those who are wanted for crimes committed in other countries and has explored the affiliations of individuals involved in terrorist plots. The British approach is not without its questionable features. Under a controversial legal change instituted after the 2005 bombings, police may hold a terrorist suspect for 28 days without issuing an indictment. Nonetheless, there are worthwhile lessons to be learned from the British effort. In their effort to deal with terrorism, authorities can work within the law. They do not require unconstrained power.
Finally, I mourn for the utter disrespect of the law by our president. When he was running for president, George W. Bush loved to contrast his law-abiding morality with that of President Bill Clinton, who was charged with perjury and acquitted. For Bush, the candidate, "politics, after a time of tarnished ideals, can be higher and better." Not so for Bush, the president. Judging from his decision Monday to commute the 30-month sentence of I. Lewis Libby Jr. - who was charged with perjury and convicted - untarnished ideals are less of a priority than protecting the secrets of his inner circle and mollifying the tiny slice of right-wing Americans left in his political base. Presidents have the power to grant clemency and pardons. But in this case, Bush did not sound like a leader making tough decisions about justice. He sounded like a man worried about what a former loyalist might say when actually staring into a prison cell.
My biggest disappointment is America's failure to live up to its own ideals and standards. Bush and his team are famous for not listening to anyone but themselves. But they need to listen to what the rest of the world is saying when they refuse to plan for a rational exit from Iraq or block serious efforts to control global warming or insist that the time is still not right for an Israeli-Palestinian settlement. It's not just their reputation that is suffering. It's America's—and for that reason I can’t believe in fireworks anymore.