2001 letters to the editor

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FIRST IN THE STATE? (2/7/2001)

I don’t know if Union County has the distinction of being “First in the state” in any category, but if we accept David Friedly’s suggestion (Letters, 2/7/01) that the former Georgia State flag should fly as the official “county flag,” I’ll bet other Georgia counties would rush to get on the band wagon. Of course, a hundred coun
ties couldn’t all have the same county flag, so I have a slight modification to suggest: replace the Georgia seal with the Union County seal. In all other respects, the flag could be the same as the old Georgia State flag. The North Georgia News could start the ball rolling by conducting a survey to determine how many citizens would be in favor of this action. What say ye?


First, we need to acknowledge the distinction between excusing a behavior and understanding a behavior. There is no excusing the behavior of the Tuesday Terrorists (9/11/2001). America must retaliate and our reprisal must go well beyond the lip-wristed responses to previous terrorist attacks. We must reply with appropriate, effective, and decisive military actions. The collaborators, leaders, and the infrastructure which supported the Tuesday Terrorists must be destroyed. I was glad to hear our government officials admitting that this is the job to be done, and I hope that they, and we, the American people, have the courage too implement it. After the job is done we need to focus on understanding what caused the behavior, so as to enable us to preclude a recurrence of Terrible Tuesday, or something worse. Attributing their behavior to reasons like, “they envy us,” and “ they can’t stand our power, our freedom, our culture, our prosperity,” etc., is plain nonsense. The simple truth is that they hate us. And just who is “they”? Another simple answer: Radical Islam, in all its forms. Primarily that means Osama bin Laden’s organization headquartered in Afghanistan, and his host there, the Taliban. But it also means Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Israel, various Arab “liberation fronts” based in Damascus, and, of course, various governments in the Middle East, including Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya.

And why do they hate us? Virtually every instance of terrorist attacks against American and Americans has been a response to our interventionist foreign policy: The original WTC bombing a decade ago, the bombings of US Embassies in Libya, Lebanon, Kenya, and Tanzania the taking of the US embassy in Tehran, the destruction of PanAm flight 103, the US Marine barracks attack in Beirut in 1983 and the Embassy Annex the following year, … the list goes on. And all of the terrorist attacks were acts of retaliation for the US putting its nose in where it did not belong.

When we finish destroying all of those implicated in the current terror, and obliterate their enabling mechanisms, and we pack up and return home, we will have accomplished nothing if we don’t immediately change our foreign policy. As long as we provide financial and material support to one side of the other in the various conflicts in the region, and as long as we maintain a US military presence on foreign soil in the region, we willl continue to be the target for terrorist attacks. The long term solution is at hand – start minding our own business. The only question remaining is, do we, the American people, have the courage to persuade our government to implement it.



At the risk of incurring the wrath of some of my fellow Union Countians, I feel obligated to challenge the utterances of a few of the county notables, as reported in your coverage of the Constitution Day celebration. One of the speakers at the celebration described how the first 10 amendments “provide the most basic rights.” In fact, they provide no rights at all. They protect our rights but they do not “provide” our rights. And this is not a trivial distinction. Rights originate with the people, not the government, and both the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights make this point perfectly clear. Thinking that government provides our rights is a dangerous misconception indeed: anything the government gives us on Monday, it can take away on Tuesday. And that’s not what the Founding Fathers hand in mind.

Commissioner Paris’ proclamation beseeching every citizen to understand the provisions and principles in the Constitution is laudable, but he makes a mistake similar to another participant speaking when he speaks of the “foresight of the framers and the rights … they afforded us…” The word “afford” is a synonym for “provide,” and just as the government provides us no rights neither did the founders afford us any rights. What the founders did do, was to lists some of our rights in the Bill of Rights, in an attempt to protect the from the government. Unfortunately, their effort was not completely successful.

The keynote speaker is certainly entitled to his opinion in favor of an anti flag burning Constitutional Amendment, and I am entitled to express my opinion that flag burning is precisely the kind of political expression the Founding Fathers had intended to protect with the First Amendment to the Constitution. Let me be clear that I neither engage in nor endorse flag burning, but this is not about flag burning. It is about defending the right to burn the flag. And there is a difference. The keynote speaker is wrong in his understanding that “Thousands upon thousands of American men and women have laid down their lives in service to the stars and stripes. None of us who served in the military did so in service of the stars and stripes. We did so in service of what Thomas Jefferson called our God given “unalienable rights,” among which he included “Liberty.” Nobody who served this country did so for “the flag.” We all served to protect principles, not symbols, and if we dishonor the principles to protect the symbols, we dishonor those who served to preserve them. We owe it to those who served, and especially to those who did not return, to preserve the unalienable right of liberty, including the freedom of expression, especially when we disagree with how it is being expressed, Supporting freedom of expression is easy when we agree with what is being expressed, and how it is being expressed. The hard part is supporting freedom of expression when we disagree with what is being expressed, or how it is being expressed. Finally, a nit. The keynote speaker spoke of
“the work of 55 men in Philadelphia in 1787.” Although it is true that there were 55 men named as delegates to the constitutional convention, the work was done by no more than 36 because 19 of the 55 were never present. Some of the 19 declined, but others, (not unlike some of today’s elected officials!) merely neglected the duty. God Bless America.


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