President Bush,

Jess Cox

Your inauguration speech was great! Filled with hope for the oppressed all around the world, your words provided a progressive vision proving the existence of compassionate conservatives. And I know that you meant every word. Especially when you said that “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know: The United States will not ignore your oppression or excuse your oppressors.”

Your words were so passionate and therefore I feel obliged to tell you this: You don’t have to go to Iraq to find the oppressed because there are large communities of oppressed people right here in America.

I know it’s hard to see them aboard Air Force One or through the tinted windows of your limousine fleet. And this is probably why you’ve never noticed that some of the most oppressed and impoverished people in this nation live within a five-block radius of your big white house.

Perhaps those tall pillars impede your view, but the sight of all the homeless people loitering the nation’s capitol is embarrassing. Though we boast about saving the world from oppression, we are not able to save ourselves from poverty, illiteracy and high gas prices.

OK, well maybe I can live with the high cost of gas for a little longer, but what about the people dying because of the high cost of health care? Freedom extends to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, how can one be happy without a home or have a quality life without proper health care coverage?

Now perhaps these are problems that the individual should be solving instead of the government. However, if this rationale is used in America, it should also be applied abroad. There are plenty of Iraqi insurgents dying (literally) for the chance to solve their country’s problems without U.S. help. They’re strapping themselves up in explosives and flirting with the lives of our soldiers, hoping that one day they will be free and able to handle their own affairs.

I’m also having a hard time understanding why is it OK for our soldiers to fight for these ideals abroad , when they aren’t guaranteed the same liberties at home. Further, the less I hear of terrorism and the more I hear of the rising death toll, I tend to forget why we are over there in the first place.

Within your speech, I noticed that the words “terror,” “terrorist,” and “terrorism” never appeared. But I did hear “freedom” and “tyranny” quite frequently. Has the “war on terrorism” been renamed to “the war on tyranny?” This was confusing because initially I supported intervention in Iraq for the purpose of finding weapons of mass destruction. And even when they weren’t found, I supported the humanitarian effort to remove Saddam Hussein.

But I simply cannot support coercing the Iraqi people into a democracy. Freedom entails being able to choose your own government. America fought for its independence and our founders were at liberty to choose our government. Iraq should have the same pleasure.

Americans have been brainwashed to despise absolutist tyrannical governments because of their seemingly oppressive and immoral natures — think Adolf Hitler. However, tyranny is a sibling of democracy. And within this democracy exists a hypocritical past of tyrannical behaviors as well.

For example, just as Hitler was responsible for the Jewish internment camps in Nazi Germany, America had internment camps of its own for Japanese Americans during the 1940’s. It’s not my intent to compare the devastating effects of the two incidents or to minimize their consequences, but rather to highlight the tyrannical tendencies of our homeland. Within democracies, a tyranny of the majority often tramples upon the wishes of everyone else.

Within our very own American democracy exists tyranny as evidenced through the gay rights proposals that not only banned same sex marriages, but also any compromising relationship of that nature. Further, the racial profiling of Muslims and Arab people along with actions justified through the Patriot Act are two more of the many other instances of democratic tyranny.

Therefore, democratic governments also display inhumane and unjust tendencies. In the former Yugoslavia during the 90’s, nationalist leaders decided to use democratic means to determine the borders for the different ethnic nations through a referendum. In order to claim more land for themselves, some decided to slaughter people of different ethnicities in order to maintain a majority in the democratic process.

Due to these examples, I’m not too optimistic about the upcoming Iraqi election in which Iraqis will choose one president from a field of close to 100. Instead of saving Iraq from tyranny, maybe we should be trying to save the world from our own tyrannical practices of demanding democracy across the globe.

In short Mr. President, we can no longer afford to have soldiers dying for ideals that we know nothing of.

The most compassionate of the conservatives,

Jasmine M. Clair


Clair can be reached at jclair@umich.edu.

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