In Search of Universal Love


Axis of Light

[source: Toronto Globe & Mail, March 28]

DEAR AMERICA LETTER BY CANADA'S PREMIER AUTHOR, MARGARET ATWOOD, ENDS BY URGING THE UNITED STATES TO CALL UPON THE GREAT SPIRITS OF HER PAST,

 "the men and women of courage, of conscience, of prescience.

"Summon them now, to stand with you, to inspire you, to defend the best in you. You need them. " 

The much discussed letter in Canada was printed in the {Globe & Mail}, with a front-page banner headline. 

Margaret Atwood begins:

"Dear America: This is a difficult letter to write, because I'm no longer sure who you are.... I won't go into the reasons why I think your recent Iraqi adventures have been -- taking the long view -- an ill-advised tactical error. By the time you read this, Baghdad may or may not look like the craters of the Moon, and many more sheep entrails will have been examined. Let's talk, then, not about what you're doing to other people, but about what you're doing to yourselves.

"You're gutting the Constitution. Already your home can be entered without your knowledge or permission, you can be snatched away and incarcerated without cause, your mail can be spied on, your private records searched. Why isn't this a recipe for widespread business theft, political intimidation, and fraud? I know you've been told all this is for your safety and protection, but think about it for a minute. Anyway, when did you get so scared? You didn't used to be easily frightened.

" ... You're torching the American economy. How soon before the answer to that will be, not to produce anything yourselves, but to grab stuff other people produce, at gunboat-diplomacy prices? Is the world going to consist of a few mega-rich King Midases, with the rest being serfs, both inside and outside your country? Will the biggest business sector in the United States be the prison system? Let's hope not.

"If you proceed much further down the slippery slope, people around the world will stop admiring the good things about you. They'll decide that your city upon a hill is a slum and your democracy is a sham, and therefore you have no business trying to impose your sullied vision on them. They'll think you've abandoned the rule of law. They'll think you've fouled your own nest.

"The British used to have a myth about King Arthur. He wasn't dead, but sleeping in a cave, it was said; in the country's hour of greatest peril, he would return. You, too, have great spirits of the past you may call upon: men and women of courage, of conscience, of prescience. Summon them now, to stand with you, to inspire you, to defend the best in you. You need them."


 Home Index: