Saturday, September 11, 2010

"I'm not expecting to grow flowers in the desert,/But I can live and breathe and see the sun in wintertime."

The Song: "In a Big Country," Big Country. Words and music by Stuart Adamson, Mark Brzezicki, Tony Butler, and Bruce Watson. Track 1 of The Crossing, 1983.
How/when acquired: Illegally copied from boyfriend's roommate's LP, 1985. (Acquired legally on gift CD, c. 1997.)
Listen/watch here.

In a big country, dreams stay with you. I would hate to see this day turn into anything that ignores just how big we are — how resilient and optimistic and inclusive and righteous this country is supposed to be.

I don't understand the uproar about the proposed Islamic center in southern Manhattan (it's not Ground Zero, please), but now I think it's important that it go forward. America is supposed to be a melting pot, and New York is its most visible face. The surge in anti-Islamic prejudice has many precedents in American history; every new wave of immigrants has met its own customized opposition, from "No Irish Need Apply" to the WWII detention camps for Japanese-Americans. It almost seems to be a necessary stage in the process of assimilating new cultures, but it would be nice if we could skip it this time around.

The United States was the first nation in the world to create a citizenship based on a common acceptance of ideals rather than ethnicity or religious belief. We honor the people who died on September 11, 2001 by remembering the power of the American dream, and the promise of Lady Liberty, who still lifts her lamp beside the golden door.

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