Footnotes from the British Underground

This blog began as venue for my stories as I traveled in Africa. 18 months later, I return to it as I travel to study as a Marshall Scholar in the United Kingdom. My hope is that this blog can be a conduit for you - my family, friends and secret/strange admirers - to track my movements, see a photo or two and get a glimpse of my days in the UK. Apologies once again to Dostoevsky for the blog's name...

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Location: Bradford, United Kingdom

After graduating from Notre Dame, I'm off to England for graduate study. I'll be studying for a M.A. in International Politics and Security Studies. When not studying, I'm continuing to coordinate Uganda-CAN's efforts to end the 20-year war in northern Uganda!

7.9.06

Mis-History: The Republican Strategy in 2006

With the passing of Labor Day weekend, mid-term election campaign season is underway. According to a New York Times article this Sunday, the Republican electoral strategy will boil down to the two T's the party has used since 2002: "turnout and terrorism." And with the latter, the Bush Administration have been striving to draw historical ties that call upon our greatest fears and our most acute sense of patriotism. Comically and tragically, these ties are short on rigorous (or even basic) historical sensitivity. Here are a few examples I've noticed:

1.) "Islamo-fascist" - The Associated Press calls this the new "buzzword" for the Bush Administration in this election season. The idea, of course, is to draw parallels between the Iraq war and the fight against Nazism in World War II. Conservative bloggers have picked up on this language and used it pervasively.

2.) Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, recalling the missteps of former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, has politely labeled any who would criticize the administration's policies as guilty of "appeasement" against a "new kind of fascism."

3.) Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice compared America's war in Iraq to the American Civil War, arguing that both were worth their struggles to free an enslaved people. Rice notes that there were many critics of both, folks who were wary of the value of the cause.

What's next: that America's war in Iraq is like the American Revolutionary War and that those who challenge the administration's policies are Tories?!? These statements by Bush Administration officials call on our worst sense of our national history; they distort complex narratives into oversimplified generalities. Their goal is simple too: to play on our fears of challenging authority, being on the wrong side of right and most of all, change.

And in the end, they're stripping away the fabric of an informed and meaningful American democracy. Their greatest fear is that we, the American electorate, will demand more. That we'll demand a serious interrogation of our current foreign policy; a serious inquiry into whether our involvement in Iraq is making us more secure.

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