Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Our enemies are a godless people

When I was young, the Russians were our mortal enemies. They were an impoverished and filthy people who practiced a godless religion called Communism. And they wanted us dead.

My elementary school in Scottsdale, Arizona held air raid drills regularly so that young patriots in the third and fourth grade would know what to do when nuclear hell fires rained out of the skies. We would be safe from the atomic bombs ... but only if we tucked our tiny bodies beneath our little school desks and covered our faces with our hands.
On occasion, when the school's siren wailed, instead of crawling under the desk we'd go outside and line up in neat rows on the schoolyard, divided by grade and classroom teacher.

Jimmy Cooper was a friend of mine at that time. His father built a bomb shelter so the Coopers would survive the coming apocalypse.

Their salvation started out as a huge hole dug in the back yard into which a crane placed a large steel drum approximately seven foot tall and maybe 12 or 15 foot long. The floor of the bomb shelter was a poured concrete slab, which filled and flattened the bottom of this tipped-over can. There were narrow steel bunks bolted to the metal cylinder sides, and supplies of emergency food were stacked under some of the bunks.

Getting into the tomb-like sanctuary buried in their backyard required climbing down a steel ladder which was only accessible from the round steel 'hatch,' approximately level with a new-mowed lawn.

The circular hatch locked from the inside, which was important because when the end of the world came all your neighbors were going to try to get into your bomb shelter. You had to prevent them from doing that, Jimmy told me. There just wasn't enough room or food or air for everyone. Some people were going to have to die.
Even though we were friends, I knew there wasn't a place for me in Jimmy's bomb shelter.

I never forgot that secret vault buried in the Cooper backyard. A few years later his family moved to California and a new family moved in but I recall the bomb shelter, hidden behind the fence of the house on the corner ... even today, 45 years later.

Before I was old enough to be afraid of Russians, Americans were afraid of the Koreans in Southeast Asia. We were in a war to bring freedom to Korea. We were fighting to keep them from turning into godless Communists. The truth was we were actually fighting the Chinese. Even I knew that we were really fighting China, even in the fourth grade. The Chinese were an impoverished and filthy people who practiced a godless religion called Communism. They weren't god-fearing Christians and they were friends with the Russians, who wanted us dead.

After Korea it was Cuba and then Vietnam and then Granada and Iraq (the first time) and Panama and Cuba all the time. They all were impoverished filthy people who practiced a godless religion. And they wanted us dead.

Now the Russians and the Chinese and the Koreans and the Vietnamese are our friends. Our former mortal enemies have opened shops in our towns and they've purchased homes in our neighborhoods.

There are Vietnamese- and Korean-owned shops on Main Street. Pho, a Vietnamese one-bowl meal, is widely available, inexpensive and delicious. Korean barbecue joints are nearly as popular as soul food once was. Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Russian technicians handle our customer service complaints.
Asian concepts have influenced our clothing options and our religious and social beliefs.
American men now send off for young, white and lovely Russian brides; and for submissive, brown and lovely Asian brides.
Even the fabulously wealthy and powerful Rupert Murdoch, the master of America's 24-hour media sideshow and circus, recently acquired a young Chinese bride. These beautiful young women don't frighten American men.

What's more Coca Cola and McDonald's and Boeing Aircraft and Microsoft make hundreds of millions of dollars selling consumer products and practices to our former mortal enemies, in their own homelands.

When we began bombing Afghanistan I was working as a news reporter at the San Francisco Examiner on Market Street.
It was clearly the beginning of a whole new era of wars, this time in the Middle East. Now it was the Afghans, an impoverished and filthy people who practiced a godless religion called Islam, to whom we were bringing freedom. They were responsible for what we in America refer to as '9-11.' And they wanted us all dead.

Immediately below the Examiner's offices was a shop called 'Afghan Imports.' The frightened family of folks who owned and worked in the shop downstairs changed the name of the shop to 'Global Imports' a few days after American bombs started falling on their original homeland. When I asked they told me they still had family in Afghanistan.

To show my sympathy for their plight, I bought a traditional men's Afghan outfit -- a long flowing white shirt elaborately covered with white stitching, a pair of loose flowing white pajama-like pants and a thin white-knit skullcap.

I planned to be ahead of America's next fashion craze.

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