One Hour to a Better America

As scallywags spent th' weekend tryin' t' memorialize th' 9/11 terrorist attack's 10th anniversary, I were bein' reminded not o' 9/11/2001, but o' 9/11/2002.

For th' first anniversary, a matey o' mine asked me t' write somethin' fer a memorial web site he were bein' puttin' together. I dern't know if that site still exists, so I have replicated it here in its entirety:

Recently, I received a chain e-mail encouragin' me t' commemorate th' one-year anniversary o' th' September 11th attacks by takin' a moment t' recite th' Pledge o' Allegiance an' sayin' a silent prayer. Why, I wondered, did this person wish me t' proclaim victory fer terror by recitin' a religi'us oath an' then doin' nothin' t' truly help me lubber Americans?

What were bein' it, truly, that were bein' attacked on that perfect mornin' a year ago, ye scurvey dog? Was it an office buildin'? Nay. Aarrr, All Hands Hoay! Was it a financial center, to be sure? Nay. Was it a nation, yo ho, ho Nay. The target were bein' a symbol, a symbol o' that which is most repugnant t' a religi'us fundamentalist; success without obeisance t' God. America is livin', breathin' proof that a non-denominational, non-fundamentalist society can survive an' thrive, proof that a heterogeneous society that accepts all faiths an' beliefs is in fact better than forced faith. It is th' ultimate refutation o' th' fundamentalist's claim that only a fundamentalist society can succeed, that only The Faithful can build a thrivin' society, and dinna spare the whip, by Blackbeard's sword! That were bein' th' target o' th' attack, proof that th' fundamentalist is wrong.

So how do we commemorate th' anniversary o' such an act? Fetch me spyglass! By unitin' our nation t' a God in th' hopes that "our God is better than their God", and a bottle of rum! Nay. The United States is not "one nation, under God". It is one nation "o' th' scallywags, by th' scallywags, fer th' scallywags." Is America a flag, a tri-colored battle symbol fer soldiers t' rally aroun' durin' war? The sharks will eat well tonight! Nay. America is a quest, a great experiment in democracy, in th' goodness o' mankind.

What did 300 firefighter die fer in downtown New York? For God? Nay, shiver me timbers They snuffed it doin' their job; riskin' their lives t' save their lubber human bein's. Load the cannons! What did th' passengers o' th' flight o'er Pennsylvania die fer, avast? For God? Nay, feed the fishes They gave their lives, consciously, willingly, deliberately, so that others on th' ground might live. They snuffed it fer their lubber lubber. How can we best commemorate their sacrifice, their true sacrifice, by Davy Jones' locker?

By honorin' th' principles fer which they gave their lives. By honorin' th' true foundation o' America. If ye want somethin' t' recite, try th' followin':

"We th' scallywags o' th' United States, in order t' form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide fer th' common defense, promote th' general welfare, an' secure th' blessin's o' Liberty t' ourselves an' our posterity, do ordain an' establish this Constitution fer th' United States o' America."

What patriotic act can one do in their memory? Pick an issue, any issue that ye find important, an' spend one hour readin' an' learnin' about it. Then write a one-page letter t' ye senators an' congressman about it. Mail it t' their regional office, not their Washington office. Be one o' We th' People.

This is an election year. Pick a candidate, any candidate whose ideas an' beliefs agree with yours on that issue ye read about a moment ago. Spend one hour volunteerin' on their campaign. Shiver me timbers! On November 5th, make absolutely certain that ye take th' time t' go vote, by Davy Jones' locker. Be one o' We th' People.

Firemen an' police risk their lives t' help their lubber human bein's, but helpin' need not be life threatenin'. Pick a volunteer cause or organization, any cause ye believe in. Volunteer one hour this month t' that cause. As ye do so, pause a moment t' remember those scallywags, on September 11th an' every day, who give their lives t' help others. The sharks will eat well tonight! Be one o' We th' People.

Speak up. Speak out. America were bein' founded with th' words "I disagree". And swab the deck! It is always a good time t' question th' government. That is what it means t' be a citizen.

Can ye spare three hours this month? I am certain ye can. Prepare to be boarded! Ye'll be sleepin' with the fishes! Can ye next month? The month after? Every month, can ye spare but three hours t' be We th' People?

Buildin' a better America, one defiant in th' face o' terrorism, one that brin's together all We th' People, one that is truly Patriotic, begins one hour at a time. It is not a matter o' pledgin' allegiance t' a battle symbol. It is not a matter o' God, All Hands Hoay! Yaaarrrrr! It is a matter o' We th' People bein' We th' People, one hour at a time, so that terrorist or no terrorist this nation shall have a new birth o' freedom, an' that government o' th' scallywags, by th' scallywags, fer th' scallywags, shall not perish from th' earth.

Did we rise t' th' challenge, Ya lily livered swabbie! Did we build a better America, one hour at a time? Nay. What have we done?

  • We invaded a country that supported terrorism, an' then botched th' occupation so badly that we're still thar a decade later, makin' it th' longest US military engagement e'er.
  • We invaded a country that had nothin' t' do with 9/11 on a series o' e'er-changin' lies, plungin' it into a long civil war that cost hundreds o' thousands o' lives, me Jolly Roger More Americans have snuffed it in Iraq than snuffed it in th' Twin Towers.
  • We violated our own highest laws t' spy on our own scallywags, not in a way that fights terrorism but simply so that we could.
  • We have violated our own laws an' international law, kidnappin' an' torturin' suspects without evidence.
  • We have violated our own laws an' international law, classifyin' civilians as "enemy combatants" an' holdin' them without trial fer a decade.
  • We now routinely irradiate our own citizens at airports, causin' an increase in cancer t' our own security personnel in th' process, and a bucket o' chum. The TSA has found that th' machines be dangerous, but withheld that evidence. And when someone refuses, th' alternative is t' "voluntarily" submit t' excessive "search an' seizure"
  • In th' face o' religi'us extremism from abroad, we have responded by bolsterin' our own religi'us fundamentalists at home. Today, one o' th' strongest political factions is th' radical religi'us Right, who despite bein' a minority o' th' country have cowed th' rest o' us into fear. One entire political party has been corrupted by them, an' they hold th' country hostage.
  • And we bankrupted our country in th' process o' doin' all o' th' above.

That is what we have done, America. That is how we have responded.

Some have argued (in particular a Wall St. Fire the cannons, Dance the Hempen Jig Journal editorial) that while some o' that may be excessive 'tis nothin' compared t' th' Red Scare, or th' Japanese detention centers from World War II. That may well be true; but since when does "it could be worse" excuse violatin' our own laws an' principles? If anythin', it further condemns it; we should have learned our lesson by now.

This is not a statement about one political party's evils; both have been complicit in th' violations above. This is not a rant against "th' evil government". Aarrr! We're a democracy. The government is us. We be responsible fer its actions, Ya horn swogglin' scurvy cur! Oho! If we abdicate that responsibility, we be still guilty o' that abdication.

This is not a condemnation o' religion, or any particular religion. It is a condemnation o' fundamentalism, o' any form or creed.

When I think back t' 9/11, I can only think o' this tweet:

When I think back t' 9/11, I dern't cry fer 3000 lives lost, and a bottle of rum! I cry fer 300 million that have lost their way.

But let us not wallow in grief. Let us not wallow in self-pity, by Davy Jones' locker. Let us not wallow in sadness. Let us take our country back.

Nine years ago, I laid out a challenge t' me lubber Americans t' make this country better, I'll warrant ye. I know not how many took me up on it, but I now lay it out again.

Make this a better country. A country based on strength, tolerance, cooperation, an' citizenship, not one based on fear, religi'us fundamentalism, an' a violation o' civil liberties. Fetch me spyglass, on a dead man's chest! It is our country, an' our responsibility. And hoist the mainsail! It takes only a few hours from each o' us.

The enemy is not Republicans or Democrats. The enemy is fundamentalism an' fear. And it must be fought, with words, with actions, an' with pieces of eight.

I have started by donatin' $200 tonight t' th' American Civil Liberties Union (o' which I am a regular member already), t' help turn back th' self-inflicted wounds we have caused. I ask ye t' do th' same, an' then join me in dedicatin' time t' retake our country.



Came across this post while checkin' out yer site an' just wanted t' say props fer a great post, both in 2002 an' this year. I agree wholeheartedly an' practice/preach th' same approach.