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Opposing Bush doesn't make you an opponent of freedom, soldiers or religion

October 30, 2005|By DAVID BUSSARD

One of my favorite classes here at New York University so far has been Waiting For Beckett. The seminar, devoted to the works of the revolutionary playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett, is something I look forward to every week.

And everyone that I know can attest to my adoration of this class, considering that I mentioned it in nearly every conversation I had this summer.

The class started with "Waiting For Godot," Samuel Beckett's most well-known play. In the play, two downtrodden tramps basically sit around and say in a highly repetitive manner that there's "nothing to be done." To be perfectly honest, there's not a lot of difference between the existential tramps of Beckett's no-man's land and the American public. Both are simply sitting around, waiting for better days with no real plan of attack.

It's pretty safe to say that the Bush administration has elicited some sort of response from the American public. America is polarized, the red states and the red people and the blue states and the blue people. The state of American politics is interesting to observe, mostly because there is such a clear and apparent distaste for many of the actions of the current administration - and yet the Democratic party is not strong enough to efficiently oppose its Republican counterpart.

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It's not difficult to realize that the power of the Republican Party lies in the Religious Right. By hijacking one ideology to fight another, President Bush has made it more difficult for people of faith to distance themselves from him. If you disagree with Bush, you're not religious.

President Bush is the only president to fight the "War on Terror" as he has termed it, and as we know it today. Other presidents have had to deal with the potential threat of terrorism, but never on the scale that exists now. The administration's knee-jerk and belated knee-jerk reactions of invading Afghanistan and Iraq were portrayed as the only actions to be taken. Thus, if you disagree with Bush, you don't support the American soldier.

Bush also has conveyed many times his ardent support of "freedom," both here in the United States and abroad - the freedom to live life in a peaceful and prosperous state, the idea of justice for all people and an end to repression are all ideas and concepts upheld by the current administration. If you disagree with Bush, you don't support freedom and equality.

But this is a lie. A big one. And yet the Bush administration has somehow convinced the American public, especially people in more rural, disconnected areas, that the debate, as he has framed it, is true. It's not. At all.

The Bush Administration is a lot like Phillip Morris. Instead of selling cigarettes, Bush is selling war, religious duty and that elusive and paradoxical freedom. Both the Bush Administration and Philip-Morris produce fatal products, but the American public keeps consuming them. And there's nothing to be done.

But there is something to be done. Let's talk about religion. How can the Religious Right justify a war that kills innocent American men and women, as well as innocent men and women in Iraq or Afghanistan? It does, somehow. I cannot comprehend how someone could say that, as a liberal, I don't support the American soldier.

That is more absurd than any of Samuel Beckett's plays. I don't want anyone to die - American or Middle-Eastern, or anyone. It seems that the best way to make that happen would be to not put our soldiers in harm's way for no real gain. Logical, right?

And my favorite is freedom. President Bush talks endlessly about how we must, as the most advanced and powerful country in the world, go out and fight for the freedom of people half a world away. Has he forgotten the people in his own country?

Every day, people in this country are discriminated against, are not given what they deserve, are treated as second-class citizens because they are black or gay or simply unable to speak up. And so we sit and wait for the freedom that we give to others. We wait for the peaceful existence we promise to others. We wait for the future that we can't give to others, and probably can't give to ourselves. And we think there's nothing to be done.

Something can be done. But we have to do it. Don't be ashamed to disagree. Social and political change is only possible if the American public rises to the challenge and makes it a reality. We have to start somewhere, whether it be by the water coolers or a letter to the editor. Eventually, enough people will start talking. And eventually, instead of waiting and hoping for more to come, it will come.

Call me an optimist.

David Bussard is a Clear Spring
resident attending school in
New York City.

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