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J Michael Kearney

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Everything Matters!
by J Michael Kearney   

Last edited: Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Posted: Wednesday, July 09, 2003

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This is a response to a piece by Sister Joan Chittester, entitled "It Does Matter."

Everything Matters!




After reading,



"Subject: It Does Matter


"This is what I don't understand: All of a sudden nothing seems to matter.

"First, they said they wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive." But they didn't get him. So now they tell us that it doesn't matter.

"Our mission is greater than one man.

"Then they said they wanted Saddam Hussein, "dead or alive." He's apparently alive but we haven't got him yet, either. However, President Bush has told reporters, "It doesn't matter.

"Our mission is greater than one man."

"Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Apparently that doesn't matter either.

"Except that it does matter.

"I know we're not supposed to say that. I know it's called "unpatriotic." But it's also called honesty. And dishonesty matters. It matters that the infrastructure of a foreign nation that couldn't defend itself against us has been destroyed on the grounds that it was a military threat to the world.

"It matters that it was destroyed by us under a new doctrine of "pre-emptive war" when there was apparently nothing worth pre-empting.

"It surely matters to the families here whose sons went to war to make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction and will never come home.

"It matters to families in the United States as their life support programs are ended, whose medical insurance has run out, whose food stamps were cut off, whose day care programs were eliminated so we could spend the money on sending an army to do what did not need to be done.

"It matters to the Iraqi girl whose face was burned by a lamp that toppled over as a result of a U.S. bombing run.

"It matters to Ali, the Iraqi boy who lost his family -- and both his arms - in a U.S. air attack.

"It matters to the people in Baghdad whose streets are unsafe, whose 158 government ministries' buildings and all their records have been destroyed, whose cultural heritage and social system has been looted and whose cities teem with anti-American protests.

"It matters to the United Nations whose integrity was impugned, whose authority was denied, whose inspection teams are even now still being overlooked in the process of technical evaluation and disarmament.

"It matters to the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world, both now and for decades to come, perhaps.

"And surely it matters to the integrity of this nation whether or not its intelligence gathering agencies have any real intelligence or not before we launch a military armada on its say-so.

"And it should matter whether or not our government is either incompetent and didn't know what they were doing or were dishonest and refused to say. The unspoken truth is that either as a people we were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war. Either we made a huge - and unforgivable mistake, an arrogant or ignorant mistake, or we are swaggering around the world like a blind giant, flailing in all directions while the rest of the world watches in horror or in ridicule.

"Of what are we really capable as a nation if the considered judgment of politicians and people around the world means nothing to us as a people?

"If Bill Clinton’s definition of "is" matters, surely this matters. If a president’s sex life matters, surely a president's use of global force against some of the weakest people in the world matters. If a president’s word in a court of law about a private indiscretion matters, surely a president’s word to the community of nations and the security of millions of people matters.

"And if not, why not? If not, surely there is something as wrong with us as citizens, as thinkers, as there must be with some facet of the government. If wars that the public says are wrong yesterday - as a majority of U.S. citizens did of a unilateral attack on Iraq – suddenly become "right" the minute the first bombs drop, what kind of national morality is that?

"Of what are we really capable as a nation if the considered judgment of politicians and people around the world means nothing to us as a people?

"What is the depth of the American soul if we can allow destruction to be done in our name and the name of "liberation" and never even demand an accounting of its costs, both personal and public, when it is over?

"We like to take comfort in the notion that people make a distinction between our government and ourselves. We like to say that the people of the world love Americans, they simply mistrust our government. But excoriating a distant and anonymous "government" for wreaking rubble on a nation in pretense of good requires very little of either character or intelligence.

"What may count most, however, is that we may well be the ones Proverbs warns when it reminds us: "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks the truth." The point is clear: If the people speak and the king doesn't listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.

"It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly.

"From where I stand, that matters.”



[by Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine Sister of Erie, who is an author and international lecturer. She is a past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. She’s an active member of the International Peace Council.]



I had to offer my response:







Everything Matters!




The good Sister Joan Chittester, claims that “finding Ossama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein suddenly doesn’t matter.” The Bush administration never said that and the U.S. Military is not acting on that supposition, in fact, they are actively pursuing both bin Laden and Hussein...or more likely, their remains.


She is right that the intent of the current U.S. action in the Mid-East is "greater" then these two men. Sister Chittester makes the mistake of viewing the 9-11 Terror Attacks as "a police matter," not a military one. This view is wrong, and thus she is wrong because the current administration has the right to determine America’s response, not individual American citizens. The Bush Administration has called for a war on Islamic fundamentalism as a response to what it claims was de facto military attack on U.S. soil.


Bush made clear in his National Address of 9-23-01 that the U.S. was now at war with ALL those nations that harbored the likes of al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad (Afghanistan), supported the likes of al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya) or financed the likes of al Qaeda and the Islamic Jihad (Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia).


The Bush administration wisely sought a way to avoid having to fight the entire group (Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria, etc) all at once, so it devised a strategy to isolate them and take them on one at a time and in different ways. This might not seem fair to those who already perceive the U.S. as a bully, but it was a tactical stroke of genius.


Beneath the U.S. Military maneuvers, there is an ongoing economic war in which the financial assets of “suspected terrorists and terrorist groups” and an ideological war that is seeking to make the ideology of Islamic fundamentalism as repugnant to most of the world as Nazism and Communism are.


This ideological war is vitally important to U.S. business interests, which need to have the entire world opened up to the American interest of global corporatism. Yes, Nike, Coke, GE, McDonald’s, GM, Viacom, Ford, Microsoft and others NEED the world freed from petty religious fundamentalism.


Those corporate interest ARE indeed vital to the future of America, and there is little doubt that a showdown between the forces of Islamic fundamentalism and Corporatism was inevitable, but it’s also undeniable that 9-11 forced that showdown upon America.


Why does every poll show that the vast majority of Americans support the “Bush Doctrine” that states that America is at war with any nation that harbors, funds or supports terrorism. What has Sister Chittester vexed is that her point of view is in the decided minority of the U.S. Electorate.


The fact is the U.S. Military action in the Mid-East was not about Saddam or Osamma or WMDs, it was about America’s war on Islamic fundamentalism. That war was started by the forces of Islamic fundamentalism on September 11th, 2001 and it continues to be rightly prosecuted and hopefully will continue to be prosecuted until the forces of Islamic fundamentalism no longer exist.

Web Site: J M

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Reviewed by Debra Conklin 1/9/2005
You have said everything I've been wanting to say! Well done, Mr. Kearney.
Reviewed by Mary E. Frazier 7/29/2003
JM Kearney writes, ".....thus she is wrong because the current administration has the right to determine America’s response, not individual American citizens."
I must remind you that this Administration holds power as the result of a stolen, very dirty, election that was not conducted in the American way! Every citizen has an obligation to challenge its every thought and move! THAT is the American Way!! This Administration is simply NOT entitled to rule!
Reviewed by Elizabeth 7/9/2003
Sister Joan Chittister is a poster girl for why there is separation of chuch and state in this country. And if you look to the 'religious' [sic] regimes in the middle eastern countries, you realized once mor how lucky our forefathers were in insisting we do just that. Religion rears its ugly head every century trying to gain a stranglehold on the lives of others. Thank God there are still enough thinking voters to put out the zealots fire. We'd all be called 'Ali' or 'Mohammad' in this country too. [grin] Three Hail Mary's and a fine rebuttal Michael. Bravo.
Reviewed by Julie Donner Andersen 7/9/2003
Excellent article, J. Michael!! Well done!

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