Recall Notices

Toyota is in trouble, and I’m worried. I have a huge investment in the company—my son Hunter. He drives a Camry, one model among the eight with acceleration problems. Hunter purchased the used vehicle from my brother almost two years ago and within a week of ownership, called and said, “Mom, I was driving and suddenly the gas pedal stuck.” (I omit his expletives.) He went on to tell me that he’d panicked at first but, then, shifted into neutral while braking. Hunter’s quick thinking averted a situation that many others have been unable to avoid—accidents, including some resulting in the deaths of drivers and passengers.

Recently, Toyota announced two recalls due to problems with the gas pedal. One is called “Floor mat entrapment” and the other is “Pedal.” Hunter had removed the floor mat after his scare. Now, he’s received the “Pedal” recall. Word from Toyota is that this is not an electrical problem but an issue with the pedal itself and it easily can be repaired with the installation of a small part. I hope this isn’t a band-aid, something to assuage concerns. I need to know that my child isn’t going to be surged into another car, pedestrians, or like one couple in a Camry, off a cliff into water.

As a parent, my greatest worry is the safety, health, and happiness of my children. I’m one of those mothers who couldn’t fall asleep until I heard the door open and close, followed by, “Mom, I’m home.”

After my nephew Chase was killed in Iraq, my anxiety reached near panic-attack intensity. I lay in bed, thinking how abruptly words can change lives. When Hunter was home from college, I’d wait to hear the comforting click of a key, turning a lock. If he were five minutes late, my heart would start pounding. Finally, finally, I brought this under control just as I eventually will calm down once I’m certain the pedal is no longer a hazard.

But I cannot be placated about other disasters and accelerations—particularly those of war.

I think of mothers, fathers, wives, and husbands of troops deployed to combat in AfPak-Iraq and wonder how they sleep, how they breathe. For me, every day would be a 24-hour tour of enduring fear. Every knock at the door would deliver panic. I would be unable to eat, to have any peace of mind, or to function. I know this. My stomach hurts as I write.

We have lost more than 5300 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have been told to expect many more deaths in Afghanistan because of Obama’s surge—as if this warning can prepare someone for the fall-to-the-floor agony felt by those whose loved ones die, are maimed, or suffer a traumatic brain injury.

I also think about the human beings who reside in the countries we’ve invaded. Our runaway war, fueled by lies, was hotwired by Bush/Cheney/Blair and so many neocons and then was accelerated to disastrous occupation, taking the lives of hundreds of thousand of Iraqis and Afghans and forcing millions to relocate. Iraq, in particular, is an environmental wasteland, toxic from depleted uranium and white phosphorous—so much so that a huge increase in birth defects has been reported.

When three American military personnel were killed in Pakistan on Wednesday, three school children also died and more than 100 Pakistanis were injured, most of them children.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has requested billions more, $500 million each day for Iraq and Afghanistan, to assume ownership title of a good portion of the Middle East.

When Toyota owners first reported problems with gas pedals, the car manufacturer pointed to poor driving, blaming the victims. After multiple deaths, the noun “fiasco” was used. Not only were recalls issued but also production of the eight models was halted. Tardy acknowledgement and accountability have resulted in Toyota’s tarnished image and there will be lawsuits, as well there should.

We created a fiasco by waging war, always an inhumane choice. Will anyone ever be held accountable for this crime? Obama, now a war criminal himself, says he doesn’t want to “re-litigate” the past. What does the “re” mean when there has been no first-time litigation?

What Obama immediately should do is send each troop a recall notice—“War Entrapment Over.” But he worships war as much as his predecessor did, invoking 9/11 ad nauseam.

US intelligence officials on Tuesday told members of Congress that we could expect another attempted terrorist attack in the United States in the next three to six months. If this happens, will a majority of Americans finally make the connection that our imperialism and support of Zionism inspire hatred, or will they scream, “Let’s nuke the rag heads?”

I think I know the answer.

MISSY BEATTIE lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: