Thursday, February 10, 2011

Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame

Part two of the China/Social Security post will be up tomorrow. Miami-Dade College hosted a breakfast discussion with Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame yesterday and I went. They have become heroes to me, insiders, public servants who chose to stand for something larger than their careers. They knew the risks of speaking out, suffered mightily for it and now in grand American style, have been richly rewarded. Too bad most whistle blowers are not so well received and rewarded.

I was very moved to see them in the flesh after so many years of photos and TV clips. Very moved. I am so grateful to them! And perhaps a little jealous. They did what I seriously doubt I’d have the courage to do. I like to think I’d do it, but I don’t know. But as both of them pointed out, in spite of everything they went thru and it was a lot, it turned out well for them. Their twins who were three, eight years ago when the Bushies leaked Plame’s identity, are now eleven and fine; both Plame and Wilson wrote best sellers, had a movie made about them and are reimbursed for their speaking engagements.
Their messages were many, but primarily they emphasized the need for each of us as citizens, to exercise our own judgment and intelligence and hold our elected leaders and ourselves to a high standard of integrity; to not be fear driven sheep and allow ourselves to be stampeded into irrational actions with deep and lasting ramifications, many of which, are still unfolding. Listening to them, I felt a sense of shame for the horror we unleashed in Iraq, Afghanistan and on ourselves, and a deep sense of sadness that we seemed not to have learned or taken responsibility for what was done in our name. The culture of fear, blame and irrationality is more alive and well in the USA than ever.

Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way or continue. As both Wilson and Plame pointed out, if insider, establishment types like them had done what they did in other countries Russia, China, perhaps even some Western democracies, they’d have been put in mental institutions, jailed or silenced in some other way. But here, they’ve become media celebrities, heroes to people like me and millionaires. God bless America. People are still dying and being maimed in Iraq and Afghanistan, as are our soldiers, but Bush, Rumsfeld and Rove are also best-selling authors, and all’s well that ends well.

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