Published on Wednesday, October 22, 2003 by CommonDreams.org
An Open Letter to America: It's Time to Take Back Our Country
by John & Elaine Mellencamp
As the echo of the war drums fades away and the angry masses calling for blood slowly disperse, we, as a nation must now confront the truth. We face the unpleasant reality of an uncertain future, compromised safety, a failing economy, and the question of how a society of otherwise reasonable citizens was systematically lied to and manipulated into backing the political "hijacking" of Iraq.
Before a single bomb was ever dropped, some of us, formerly called the "anti-American and unpatriotic," have questioned or opposed this war. Now, each day, as the dust settles and the truth slowly surfaces, more and more people come to the inevitable conclusion of what a debacle this whole war was.
39,000 bombs later, no weapons of mass destruction uncovered, no dangerous dictators captured, no connection to Sept 11. What have we gained but relentless media coverage of a fallen statue and some stolen oil fields -- the spoils of this misadventure. Not to mention lucrative corporate payoffs and an enormous price tag of over 80 Billion dollars . . . some tax cut.
But what have we lost? We have lost the lives of over 300 Americans. Approximately 2 U.S. troop deaths each day, 193 deaths since the war was declared over. In total, an estimated 20,000 people have died, thus far, in this conflict.
In addition to the lives given for this effort, our nation has suffered the loss of respect within the world community, particularly the United Nations. We have managed to squander any goodwill we once had to now succeed in solidifying our image as the globe's leading bully. Arrogant and thoughtless.
The word Democracy means literally "by the people." This is the basis of our government and society. It is what this country was founded upon and what makes us American. It is not just our "right" but also our duty to speak out and voice our thoughts and opinions. How, then, was it possible that, in the land of freedom, those who opposed the common opinion were called."un-American?" Resentfully, we wonder.
The song "To Washington" was met with criticism and was labeled an anti-war song. That was not at all the case or intention; it was merely a report of the political climate, in the age-old tradition of the troubadour spreading the news through song and story. Professionally, we, the Mellencamps, have the opportunity to travel extensively, and we take full advantage of that by talking to, listening to, and experiencing the diversity our vast country has to offer. The lyrics of "To Washington" are not just a personal opinion, but also the view from a very wide horizon.
Who is to say what is or isn't "patriotic?" Do the flags that wave from every minivan really offer any support? Where is the support for the thousands of service men and women who return to the states to see their benefits cut, their health problems ignored, their jobs gone and their families living in poverty? How are they repaid for their efforts; for risking or losing their lives? So far, dismally.
This nation was founded to enable freedom and diversity of opinion, and many lives have been lost to secure that liberty. Paradoxically, some still resist the open mindedness that is the very foundation of this country.
The Governor of California was removed from office based on finance troubles. And yet George W Bush has lied to us, failed to keep our own borders secure, entered a war under false pretense, endangered lives, and created financial chaos. How is it that he hasn't been recalled? Perhaps this time we could even have a real election . . . but that wouldn't fit the Bush administration's "take what you want and fire people later" policy. Take an election; take an oil field; take advantage of your own people -- a game of political Three-Card Monte.
The fight for freedom in this country has been long, painful, and ongoing. It is time to take back our country. Take it back from political agendas, corporate greed and overall manipulation. It is time to take action here in our land, in our own schools, neighborhoods, farms, and businesses. We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time to take action. Now is the time to come together.
John and Elaine Mellencamp live in southern Indiana. John's latest album, which includes the song "To Washington", is Trouble No More.