Mr. Trump! Where is My Country?
The air raid siren sent a shiver down my spine as I scrambled to get under my desk. I got on my knees, put my forehead on the floor, and clasped my hands together over the back of my head. Then I waited. What if it was for real, I asked myself? What if it wasn’t a drill? How would I find my mother? Where would I sleep? How would I get home? All of these competing thoughts played out in my mind until Mrs. Johnston, my red-haired fifth grade teacher, told us that we could return to our seats. She congratulated us on a job well done. I looked out the windows that covered the entire wall of the south side of the classroom. I was relieved to see that there were no mushroom clouds. Mrs. Johnson then began to read from the book she had started earlier in the week. It was about a boy, our age, who lived in a far-off place called Vietnam. It was about the horrible things the communists did the boy’s family and village.
Today, of course, I know that those air raid drills were a complete farce designed to placate parents who were anxious about the cold war tensions and the threat of nuclear holocaust. The drill would have been more useful against tornados, something we actually had in Kansas City. I think the wall of glass which would have sprayed us like a machine gun in the event of a severe storm, made even that pretense pretty useless. The siren, located a block from school had one kind of sound for a nuclear attack and another for a tornado. I could never remember which one was which… only that its sound forewarned us of extreme danger. Fortunately, neither the Russians nor Mother Nature caused us any harm.
But I grew up being wary of Russia even though as an adult I’m over my paranoia about them. I’ve studied its history and its culture. My favorite movie for years was Dr. Zhivago. I learned not to fear the Russian people. But its government is a different story. To be fair, Vietnam, years of college, and research made me wary of my own government too. But communism in general and Russia/China in particular, remained dangerous rivals in my mind. I understand that times have changed. Globalization has made China one of our biggest trading partners and the financial engine of our economic health. But they do not have our best interests in their future plans. Both China and Russia want to replace us as a world leader.
I’m not like those WWII vets who couldn’t tolerate trade with Germany or Japan. But I understand them. What I don’t understand is how so many MAGA folks claim to be patriots while ignoring the assault on our democracy by the former head of the KGB. Russia attacked our country. That’s not speculation, that’s a fact. Yes, it was a cyber-attack. But they went after our voter rolls, used social media to spread fake news, and openly supported Trump. We do not know if they hacked voting machines, but we do know that they had a lot of people probing our networks. There is no doubt that it was an attack on our country by Russia. And a significant portion of the citizenry is ignoring it. Republicans in particular, who were rabidly anticommunist for most of my life, act like the attack is meaningless.
I am not suggesting that Trump colluded with the Russians and should be impeached. Considering Pence’s history, I’d rather keep Trump anyway. Of course such an investigation is needed and is being conducted. What the investigation uncovers is not of interest to me. What I don’t get is the lack of outrage against Putin and Russia. Are Evangelicals so anti-gay that they have forgotten Russia’s enmity towards Christians? Are Republicans so power hungry that they will ignore this strike against the foundation of our democracy? This is worse than 9/11. That damaged buildings and people. Both of those are replaceable. Russia attacked who we are and set us against one another.
Russian disinformation campaigns have a long history. Lenin, Stalin, et al. used them extensively both to control their domestic situations and to foment discord abroad. We used to be good at identifying false information and reacting accordingly. A free press was our best defense. But, now, the press itself is under attack. They are being shut out of Congress, the White House, and off of the public’s screens. People now believe a 140 character tweet concerning a complex subject over a fact-checking organization. Recent studies show that fake news, generated by Russia and alt-right media outlets, has more traction with a significant number of voters than published verifiable facts. Where are the Chronkites, Huntleys, Brinkleys, and Reasoners who will set the record straight and put truth above profit and celebrity? When did conservatives start viewing fact-checking as liberal propaganda?
I know people are freaked out about terrorist attacks, Muslims, and immigrants stealing jobs and I understand those fears. But the attack by Russia is more real and is still occurring as far as anybody knows. Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where are the patriots willing to man the ramparts to save us? Dude! Where is my country?