Sunday, March 24, 2002

LETTERS AND ISSUES
Many great letters have come in from new readers. Thanks much to all. Most have been positive, although Sadie looked at the Saudi newspaper blurb below and wrote Are you serious? We live under what is probably one of the world's most racist regimes ever. Period. Don't let the gloss fool you. Dig deeper.

Wow. I have no clue what to make of that. Is she saying the US is more racist than Saudi Arabia? Suggesting the canard about Jews baking with the blood of non-Jews is true? That the reasons for dealing with the Saudis go deeper than our lust for oil?

Whatever, I disagree on every count. Okay, maybe the oil issue can be augmented by US geopolitial needs (wanting a large country with a friendly government in one of the world's hotspots, near Russia). Hey, I can do the obvious liberal chants too (ca'mon, I was a folksinger!). Yes, racisism exists on a large scale in this country, but face facts - the US is by far the most integrated country in the world (especially for its size). We have more people from more nations living successfully here than any other patch of dirt in the world. We're one of the few countries whose population is almost completely imported. That alone makes us unique and drives us to face ugly problems like racism years before other nations deal with them. Europe is just starting to wrestle with some race issues the US fought over in the 1950s and 1960s. The Middle East, Africa and Asia continue to be virtually tribal (and highly sexist) in their outlook on outsiders.

Our country's ruling class is far more based on economics than race or nationality. As annoying as that is, economics is a field on which anyone can compete. There are wealthy male and female blacks, Jews, Latin-Americans, Eskimos and white Anglos. You want to play that game? Play it. Wall Street is there for everyone. I know, I used to work on it. Yes, you have to wear a suit and follow certain long-established rules, but the door is open if one is willing to make those concessions. Frankly, with the internet, a suit isn't neccessary anymore. In fact, clothing is optional for day-traders.

I tend to shy away from patriotic flag-waving because it's often used as an excuse to intimidate others. But the reason I fight and argue about the direction and policies of America is because I care deeply about its existence. The ideals on which America is founded are good and deserve to succeed. Those ideals are often twisted to fit somebody's need for money or power (hello John Ashcroft), but it's our job as citizens to twist them back into something more respectable.

So yeah, complain about racism all you want. Fight the good fight. But admit the truth - the US is years ahead of almost any other country in this issue.That doesn't mean we're perfect or close to solving the problem. Sadly, it just means much of the rest of the world is still divided into xenophobic tribes lying about the baking needs of Jews.

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