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     Volume 4 Issue 21 | November 12, 2004 |

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It is said that one massive event usually acts as a catalyst for another, causing a domino effect. This seems to run true when considering America's 2004 elections. We can trace Bush's second victory back as far as we want -- say, Clinton's messy affair with Monica Lewinsky, or any of the other scandals during his time in office -- which may have strengthened right-wing America's claim that the Democratic party was not right for the nation as a whole. But rather than search our dusty memories for the details of Clinton's term, let's just start with September 11, since it seems to be the most catalytic event of the new millenium; one that people refer back to again and again to define and excuse the events of the past three rocky and nerve-wrecking years.

I sometimes wonder what side Osama Bin Laden is really on. A year after the controversial 2000 elections, after which America wasn't really sure who they voted for, he master-minded the bombings that transformed an otherwise mediocre president into the frightened nation's saviour and hero. For three years we have seen him not only mock the United States, but also the rest of the world with his cameo appearances featuring cryptic messages and threats of Islamic Fundamentalism, causing a torn and confused nation to swirl into an even deeper pit of fear and anger. After all, the ordinary American cannot tell the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim -- which was made evident when a Sikh gas attendant was shot in Phoenix, Arizona right after the WTC bombings -- so why wouldn't they be angry at being dragged into a holy war -- one which they cannot even pronounce, much less understand? Why shouldn't they believe what Bush says: that only he can annihilate and teach a lesson to these barbaric terrorists. It was with this "war on terror" slogan that Bush invaded Iraq. And although Americans were losing their sons and daughters, they figured that it was for a noble cause -- the betterment of society and an end to living in terror and fear of the scary bearded man that kept popping up from time to time on our TV screens.

So when Bin Laden conveniently made his most recent appearance on TV four days before the U.S. elections, threatening more destruction and claiming that the fate of Americans lay in their own hands, can you imagine what people were thinking? Do they choose the man -- the hero -- who has no tolerance for "these kind of people," and is fighting them with brute force and military might? Or do they choose the other man -- the "liberal" who wants to fight terrorism through alliances and non-combative strategies, only using military power when it is absolutely necessary? Although Bin Laden was diplomatic enough to mention that neither Bush nor Kerry could ensure the safety of America, the fear of a second September 11 itself is enough to drive people to a quick and resolute decision. Why choose a president who wants to fight an "informed and smarter war" against the same terrorists who are responsible for killing thousands of Americans? It's better to choose the guy who claims that he will hunt them down, dead or alive. As a result of the panic skillfully created by the Bush campaign, the people voted for intolerance over tolerance, little knowing that in the process they are destroying the same freedom that they think they are protecting.

Many people are disheartened and disappointed that Bush has secured his second term in the White House. What does this say about Americans and their morals if they are voting for the same man who is on the brink of starting a third World War? While I am inclined to agree with that sentiment, I guess I also have to wonder that if some American came to my country and bombed thousands of innocent people for no reason, and continuously threatened that there was more to come, how would I feel? How did we all feel on August 21, even though the people responsible for the grenade attacks were apparently our own? When we are faced with a choice between security and moral values, it is human nature for most people to choose security.

The world is shaking its heads at Americans, as I am doing right now too. But the truth is that it is not America or the right wing conservatives that we should blame, because at the end of the day, they don't know any better. The sad truth is that if America's new president had been John Kerry rather than George Bush, America would have made a statement. They would have been saying "yes" to change and "no" to the manipulations of the Bushs and Osamas of the world. Unfortunately for those of us who were hoping that the US would make this one step in the direction of human preservation, it did not happen. The majority of the population has not, as they probably think, put an end to terrorism and the likes of Osama. Rather they have given him fuel to cause more damage. The issue is not that the American people have said "no"to gay marriages and abortion, but that they have inadvertently voted "yes" to war and destruction. They have, sadly enough, erased all hope of peace and sealed a secure place for violence and destruction in the years to come.



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