Editor's note: The following was sent by the author to a relative in Colorado Springs who had recently visited him in Maine. It is reprinted with permission.
It was good seeing you and your wonderful family again. It's so important to stay in touch and we welcome the times together.
I write now, however, because of something that really disturbed me. Before your visit, I promised Marilyn [my wife] that I would say nothing about the upcoming election that might cause you any discomfort. You were, after all, a guest in my home.
I tried to keep that promise and rarely brought up my feelings about the incumbent president and his holy crusade to take on the Muslim world in battle. In fact, had you wanted to have an intelligent discussion on the topic, I would have been more than happy to share my views on Bush's numerous errors and his inability to prevent 9/11 before it happened. However, out of respect for you, I did not do that and did not bring up the subject.
My concern arises from the rather cowardly way you decided to present your distorted right-wing view of the Iraq war and the current president with my sons. Rob informed me that you went on and on about how this is the right war and Bush is the right one to lead it.
In your worldview (borrowed from Bush's worldview), we should attack any country, anywhere, that crosses Bush's line of thinking. I fear there will be more of this happening if Bush is elected. This policy stems from a man who admits he doesn't read, ignores urgent presidential briefings, alienates many of our traditional allies, and can't even string an intelligible sentence together! This is not the guy I want to follow into war. And, of more concern, not the guy I want my teenage sons to follow into war.
What you are saying when you talk to my sons this way is that they too, when they are 18, should offer their lives for the next Bush war. I, as a caring father of two teenage boys, won't simply offer them up for sacrifice. Remember, anytime you support a war you must ask yourself, "Would I offer up my sons (or daughters) to die for it?"
In fact, if the president and members of Congress were required to send their own sons first, we would never be in Iraq. I'm not a total peace-loving liberal; Afghanistan was the right war. The attackers were supported from Afghanistan, trained in Afghanistan, and the real enemy escaped from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
Iraq, however, is only a diversion -- and if you believe otherwise, you have been hanging around the ultra-conservatives for too long. The world isn't reduced to simple black and white, good and bad. The world situation is complex. Before the invasion, Iraq was contained, it was being regularly inspected, it was not a threat and Saddam was blowing hot air. Read some real papers, break out from the conservative fallacies; you'll see this is all true.
Bush had accurate information about all this, and yet he invaded, and now we are in a mess. Bush lied about the reasons for going to war. To date, some 1,100 men and woman have died. For what? Is this the price we pay so that you can take holidays and get $600 back from your taxes? What would you give up to bring back one soldier to his mother?
Every year since 9/11 more terrorist incidents have occurred worldwide. Do you feel safer? Thousands of American families pray every night that their young boy or girl won't die in the sand, so that you and Halliburton can get oil and tax breaks and sell burgers in the Mideast.
As for me, I would never stop my sons from doing anything they believe strongly in doing. I can only counsel them in what I think is right. At the same time, I don't appreciate you, or anyone else, portraying this really bad situation under the rosy guise of positive, Christian fundamentalist values. Please keep your ultra-conservative war posturing views with your own sons. If you want to encourage them to fight and possibly die for oil and big business and to rid the world of Islam, you go ahead. But do so at your own risk!
Lawrence Fritz, Ph.D., is the chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of New England in Biddeford, Maine.