A SOLDIER'S RANT: I WANT TO HEAR AMERICA AGAIN
by Capt. Gabe Scheinbaum, U.S.A.
American Reporter Correspondent
MOSUL, Iraq, June 10, 2006 -- This was going to be an anonymous rant - for my legal protection, if nothing else. But I want the content of it to speak to America's John Q. Public as much as the Saturday morning cartoons convince kids that "Trix are for Kids," and maybe that means tJohn Q should know who's talking. I'm an officer in a hard-working combat brigade; I want to tell you somthing that's really important to me.
The year was 1883, and shortly before her death Emma Lazarus wrote a poem. A poem? So what? Except that it happened to be a poem that was an international invite to immigrants from all over the world. The promise of a dream, an American Dream. It would adorn the base of the Statue of Liberty in 1903 and it stands today for all to see. And it did not include a caveat, as it would seem to today. A lot of Americans seem to hear Liberty saying, "Bring me your poor, but not at my expense."
"Give me your tired, your poor," Lazarus wrote. "your huddled masses yearning to be free, the wretched refuse of our teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me; I lift my lamp beside the Golden door." No caveat.
Yet today as I live, breathe, bathe, work, eat, and sleep in a country that we are here to help liberate, I read tales from back home that disgust me about the "anti-invitation" to an influx of immigrants and illegal aliens. What happened? As my mother says, "When did when did we become so high and mighty?"
I have my own thoughts and opinions. But since I live each mortars-pending day as if it were my last, I can't research the issue properly so, mostly, I have concerns. The World Cup started yesterday and for the first time ever, ever, the U.S. team is in the top five in the world. Never before have we been ranked as high. And never before have we been so hated on the world's stage.
I am hearing so much talk about our USA team's bus being the only one without its country's flag adorning it for fear of violence. Soccer, people... Futbol. This beautiful game is being smeared by war and politics and money. And it is a shame.
Whatever your take on the war, you have to believe there are good and bad points about it. I feel that way and I certainly feel I have done more good than harm while over here.
I have lived in the desert and the city. I have seen sand and mountains, palm trees and biblical rivers. I have seen shanty homes and opulent and immaculate palaces within a stone's throw of each other. And I have seen love. But there is so much hate for what we do. So much anger at us for attempting to bring to these people what we, as Americans, have come to take for granted: Freedom.
Take for granted? Us? Hell, yes. If we aren't taking our civilliberties and civil rights for granted, then what is theexplanation for such immature policy on immigration? Stupidity perhaps?
John Smith. Immigrant. Illegal Alien. American folklore legend.
The Colonials. Not wanted. Took jobs and resources from the natives. Eventual patriots and founders of our great nation.
Your great grand-grandparents. Escaped oppression, tyranny,war, genocide, potato famine, and plague. They begot your grandparents. Hardworking folk. First generation Americans with more than a trace of accent who dropped the "Stein" or changed "O'Sullivan" to "Sullivan." They begot your parents, the Baby Boomers, who made more money than they ever thought, saw an ugly war unfold around their youth, endured trickle-down economics, and sired the X Generation. And we turned our backs on our allies by electing mundane excuses for leadership. We chose to allow people more concerned with their pocketbook than the foundation of our country to represent us.
And now we want fences. We want great, far-reaching fences that tell our neighbors to the south, "Adios, Amigo."
If we want fences so much, then let's pull out of Iraq right now. Let's not help with tsunamis and earthquakes. Let's not have the UN's headquarters in one of the world's greatest cities. Yes, immigration should be regulated. I agree with nearly all of our anti-terrorism policies and practices, but what we are doing on the Mexican border is not about winning the war on terrorism. The recent arrests of terrorists in Canada who were driving back and forth our northern border only prove my point = terrorism is not the issue there. Believe me, I have sat on the border of Mexico and New Mexico for three months assisting the Border Patrol in catching drug traffickers and turning back illegals, and I know what it's all about.
It is about greed. It is about a snobbery that also befell the Romans and Greeks and Spartans, and it is what has made a prophet of George Santayana, the philosopher who first proclaimed, "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
Why my concern? Maybe because I feel a bit freer since I put my life on the line for a nation that is downright confused about how grateful they should for the service and sacrifice of the men and women who fight this war. Or perhaps it is because the only news I get from back home is negative, and I don't like that.
But to be honest, I think I am so peeved about what is going on in my beloved country nopw because I am at an age when I am thinking about having a family, And right now, I am a little embarrassed to bring children into a world that would have its strongest nation act like a prima donna ice princess.
We owe it to the men who fought for the world in World War II. We owe it to the men and women who fight now. We owe it to Emma Lazarus and to ourselves, who originally were "the wretched refuse of our teeming shore." I didn't read on that plaque at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty, "wealthy foreign businessmen who purchase our factories and Treasury notes." The tired. The poor. The homeless. Those that struggle to get to America and earn a living. I have seen the Latinos take to the street recently. I am on their side. I am not Latino. I saw blacks in the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Yes, it was insanely violent, but it all stemmed from something bigger. America has a disease. It is called racism and it still exists.
Last week, Spike Lee was honored at the MTV Movie Awards for his contribution to American life by making the movie, "Do The Right Thing." That movie came out almost 17 years ago and it spoke of racism. It could be released today and still have an impact because Americans are so busy fighting South Park and issuing subpoenas for baseball players and chasing Brad and Angelina that it has largely ignored the problem for the past decade.
Meanwhile, the KKK this very day, June 10, 2006, has become the first group of any kind ever to hold a demonstration at Antietam, the bloodiest battleground of the Civil War. When will we get a real life?
If our country is to stay a world power than we need to realize that sometimes change is good. Blacks, Latinos, and even Muslims are not really a minority anymore. At least, I don't see them that way. Our cultural cloth depends upon us seeing that the only colors that should matter are red, white, and blue. But too many times it is green that has tarnished our image as perceived around the globe. Ask anyone against the war. Ask someone not from America.
Why are we in Iraq? Oil. Oil. Oil. And that is not why I fight. No one is going to say, "To find weapons of mass destruction." Those don't exist anymore, and even if they did, that is not why I fight.
No one is going to say, "To oust a dictator," Saddam is history. But that was not why I fought. And no one is going to answer, "To help the Iraqi people."
And that is why I and brave men under me fight each day.
We are helping, I can assure you. But that is not how CNN is choosing to spin it.
Just two days ago we found and killed the most wanted man in Iraq. What did the media want to know: How many innocent civilians were hurt or killed in the bombings?
Al-Zarqawi was a man who made it his life to use civilians as shields while he attacked us and the Iraqi people, who cared so little for human life that he blew up an entire apartment building filled with people to escape capture. And the media chooses to insinuate war crimes on our part because we blew him up.
"War" - and Patton's words ring true here in Iraq - "is Hell." There are no winners, and there are plenty of losers. But sometimes was is necessary, and what we did to kill Al-Zarqawi was a right amd mecessary thing to do in this war.
I will wrap this up. You can tell I have skewed issues and rambled on, and you may think I am on a pedestal. You may scold me for not basking in the shade of anonymity. But the only point I am trying to make is this: Think about the future.
Do you want to live in a country that is hated more and more by the minute? I don't. So I challenge you to look at immigration and take pity, for you likely came from those huddled masses. Look at what we do in Iraq as a good, not as a self-serving evil. We soldiers want to leave, but we want to leave Iraq better than we found it. And we will. And finally, look at yourself.
Seriously, take a look at yourself and wonder, for a moment. Do you live in the land of the free or the land of convenience? Only you know.
And as for me, I want to hear the voice. Only you can open America's Golden Door once more.
The author is a decorated officer on active combat duty in Iraq. His opinions are not those of the U.S. Army.