Advice for the War-Torn

Although it’s been over five years since the United States invaded Iraq, a few non-patriots among us refuse to understand or endorse our wartime zeitgeist. I have, therefore, persuaded our noble, statuesque Icon of America to gas up her torch and shed some light on a few selfish queries posed by our huddled, recalcitrant masses.

Dear Green Lady:

Remember that guy on the bike who set off a small bomb at the Armed Forces Career Center in Times Square? The explosion busted in the door and a window of the Center just before 4:00 a.m. on March 6. This story was big in the news for a few days, then dropped out of sight. Since it happened around the fifth anniversary of our war on Iraq, I have to assume this “Bicycle Bomber” was making a protest. So, with 66% of the American public against the war, how come nobody is talking about him?

Dear Possible Al Qaeda Operative:

No one is talking about this man because he is an irresponsible, depraved, sniveling, whacked-out monster.

The American public, on the other hand, is made up of mature adults who accept and live daily with countless daunting facts, including: (a) the needless killing, since 2003, of more than one million Iraqis; (b) over 4.7 million Iraqis displaced from their homes; (c) the increasing destabilization of the Middle East; and (d) the deaths of 4,000 (and counting) U.S. troops, as well as the miserable existence of those now living with war-incurred disabilities.

The American public is bearing up quite well under these facts, thank you. But how can we possibly endure the catastrophic loss of one window and one door–shattered beyond recognition–of an unsuspecting military recruitment office that never did anybody any harm? O, THE HUMANITY!

Mayor Bloomberg spoke for all of us when he said, “Whoever the coward was that committed this disgraceful act on our city will be found and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.” Right on! If this sicko wanted to wreak serious damage, he should have gone to work for some branch of government.

As a soldier or a police officer, this vile reprobate would have been scientifically trained, not to bomb government property, but to make “tragic mistakes.” That’s why you’ll never hear Mayor Bloomberg talk about prosecuting “to the full extent of the law” the NYPD officers who shot and killed Sean Bell. Conversely, the Bicycle Bomber, because he was not on active duty, was not wearing a uniform, and did not hurt or kill anyone, is a certified terrorist.

I hope you can perceive this distinction, dear. It’s crucial if you want to avoid serious jail time. This bomb-throwing incident brings up many difficult, post-9/11 issues that we must deal with before we can achieve lasting peace and justice. Now, let’s never speak of it again.

Dear Green Lady:

Who was that pervert who said, “Nothing Human Disgusts Me”?

I’m just back from my anti-war affinity group. Depressed, alienated. We were supposed to discuss why there weren’t enough people to span the length of 14th Street in Manhattan last Saturday to protest the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Instead, our group spent the entire meeting arguing about whether we should write up an agenda–for THAT meeting.

At one point, I suggested that, since we all seemed to have a hidden agenda, we might as well relax and take turns guessing what each of us was NOT saying. You know–sort of a nonviolent way to build trust? Some pacifist threw an iPod at me and as I ducked, I remembered how, after the World Trade Center attack, some very bright people said, “Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War.”

Several years and a couple of invasions later, I now have to ask: What happened to our grief?

Dear Peace Monger:

Wake up and smell the patchouli, dear. You have succeeded in turning your grief into productive rage and contempt–not at Congress and our President, who are out of reach and with whom you have almost nothing in common–but at your fellow activists, where it will do the most good!

Simply sitting in a room and weeping or beating a pillow with a tennis racket can become dangerously narcissistic. Hating people just like you, on the other hand, is Nature’s way of re-channeling your despair, even as you provide hours of mirth and derision for FBI informants monitoring your anti-war efforts.

Cheer up, honey. I’ve heard that your local Barnes & Noble has just hired an aging hippie to staff the Information Desk. Now, why don’t you take your Weltschmerz over there and go accuse him of being a shill for globalization? It’s so much more gratifying than hanging out nonviolently on 14th Street, waiting for the war to end.

P.S. Please get back to me if you suspect this man could be the Bicycle Bomber.

SUSIE DAY can be reached at:

© SUSIE DAY, 2008







susie day writes about prison, policing, and political activism. She’s also written political satire, a collection of which, Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power, was published in 2014. In 2020, her book, The Brother You Choose: Paul Coates and Eddie Conway Talk About Life, Politics, and The Revolution was published by Haymarket. She lives in New York City with her partner, the infamous Laura Whitehorn.