Letters to the Pilot

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

A bad year for facial hair


This has not been a good year or so for people that sport face hair repetitively. First, there is that nasty bin Laden fellow, with the proclivity to always wear a long, scraggly beard. Of course, one might say that with his recent luck in avoiding capture in the longest running manhunt in recent history (other than Elvis, of course) his recent year has been lucky and maybe even good (but he still has lots and lots of bad press to contend with, and rightly so). Then there is his deputy that recently got pinched (that guy looked just plain sloppy and I'm not sure if the scraggly face hair he sported in recent photos was purposeful or not).

Then there is this guy Hussein - the Saddam one, that is - that keeps to his mustache only, and true to form, it is only a few hairs away from Hitler's famous 'stash look. (And I can't for the life of me recall any recent president of our country that wore a stash later than Teddy Roosevelt...)

Of course, the most puzzling event of this week is that guy Mitehell (with a religious moniker similar to that rap singer that keeps getting in trouble, starts with "E"), that kidnapped Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom and kept her living quite close to home in the hills for much of the last nine months. If the guy really wanted to evade capture, why wouldn't he adopt a more "conforming" look and lifestyle, to avoid being the target of discriminating eyes. I mean, tourists as far away as San Diego and Florida are offering photos of the threesome (which includes "E's' girlfriend, wife, whatever) because they all looked so odd walking down the street. We are, of course, lucky that this guy kept sticking out of a crowd.

I am, of course, just a little bit ticked off that you have taken the bearded (visual) form of Jesus and turned it into a symbol of treachery, kidnapping and forced resettlement and captivity. Jesus never gave us a photo-op with a clean shave for the books. I have to wonder just what so-called "normal" people think about us people that venerate the life of a shabbily clad and unshaven prophet (I'll use that euphemism for the purpose of this bit) that looks a lot like that bin Laden fellow or this "E" guy.

What is this world coming to? A place where conformity is required, for the perceived safety of the tribe. A place where any note of "suspicious" behavior is cheerfully reported to the authorities, even if the "suspicion" is merely borne of independence and individualism...

And what is this country coming to? A place where First Amendment freedoms are being reigned in with great regularity. I mean, last week a retired lawyer out East bought an anti-war T-shirt in the mall and was arrested for wearing words that would "incite violence" (since it now appears that we as a people are so warmongering that the word "peace" is considered a word that will incite violence!) Let's get this straight right now - we allow U.S. citizens to be arrested on our lands and held without charges, without contact with a lawyer, in an "undisclosed location," without the public being able to know the identity of the accused. Many deportation "hearings" are held in secret.

Now, I want you to know that I do not support that mustachioed burglar of Baghdad any more than as an example of why the United Nations needs to exist in the first place, and why well-meaning nations need to cooperate to avoid these little henchmen gaining the weapons of mass destruction. In fact, it looks like we had to orchestrate a show of force powerful enough to threaten that mustache to allow the U.N. inspectors open access to Baghdad. It even appears that the recent explosion of the biggest non-nuclear bomb in history in Florida (118,000 pounds of explosive, called the "MOAB") was aptly timed as a cogent showing of military strength, and I hope it works.

MOAB (acronym: "Mother of all bombs"), just happens to be a Biblical name, (from 2 Chronicles, where the "sons of Moab" joined the sons of "Ammon" and the Meunites to do battle against Jehoshaphat.

Well, the problem I have with this MOAB bomb is that the rationale for such an air detonated explosive is to "demoralize" the troops into surrendering or something. If Iraq really does have weapons of mass destruction in waiting, the thorough demoralizing of his troops might just convince some tin-horn general or other to go ahead and unleash the full brunt of these weapons on our troops.

Scarier still is the prospect that our own president, Bush (I'm starting to get used to the clean face on that guy finally), is using his own Biblical imagery to further beat the drums of war, what with him calling for a "crusade" after 9-11 (which apparently touched a sensitive nerve in the Middle East) and invoking the support of our national religious symbol as justification for this military campaign.

Just Friday it was reported on CNN that our leader's "evidence" of the mustache's attempts to purchase nuclear materials (for his own MOAB, it would seem) was, in fact, a lie.

I'll tell you one thing, in closing: I'm glad that the U.N. exists, I'm glad that the press works really hard at getting the truth out, I'm glad that there are countries in the security council that, for reasons wrong or right are hesitant to go to an invasion of Iraq, I'm glad the French and Russians are threatening vetos, I'm glad that Britain's Tony Blair is in trouble due to his support for the adventuresome Bush, and I'm glad that Hans Blitz, the U.N. inspector, has become something of a media star in his own right, because any hope for peace at this time, in this place, for these circumstances, requires a little more time and patience.

Our economy would be better served to spend our money and time right now in threatening war, rather than going to war. Let's just hope that Bush still hopes for peace, not war. Let's just hope that once it appears that the mustache has complied "reasonably," our leader has the self-control to bring our troops home without having actually invaded (with great loss of life throughout). And let's hope that by the time this is all behind us, that we haven't given up all of our freedoms for security and all of our "checks and balances" for efficiency (and individualism for conformity). I'm thinking it may be time to grow a beard after all, even if it may yet plunk me in some "undisclosed location" on "indefinite charges" for an "extended stay..."

Paul Peterson,

Storm Lake