Response to 17 November 2002 commentary entitled
'AN OPEN LETTER TO AL-QA'EDA ... and all their supporters worldwide'
Monday, November 18, 2002
by Kenneth Scot Stremsky
I liked Mr. Berg-Andersson's comments dealing with al-Qa'eda very much.
One of the most important of the Ten Commandments is "You shall not take the name of your Lord in vain."
God gave this Commandment to Moses to give to the world because God did not want people to use God's name to justify the evil and violence that humans do.
al-Qa'eda members are as evil and misguided as the Christian soldiers who murdered Jews and Muslims during the Crusades because they were Jews and Muslims.
al-Qa'eda members, when you say that you are killing in God's name you are taking God's name in vain and giving yourselves a one way ticket to Hell. You will not be enjoying Virgins in paradise. You will be enjoying the Devil's tortures for eternity.
I hope Americans who were allowed to vote in the general election in 2002 and did not vote will someday realize that they spit on all the graves of all the soldiers that have died fighting for our liberties and all the graves of the people who died on September 11, 2001. I hope someday you unpatriotic Americans realize that you cause our Republic more harm than all the terrorists in the World. Someday, I hope that people who are able to vote and usually do not vote will be treated as pariahs by government and by society. If you do not like the people who are running for elective office, get off your butts and run for office yourselves. Freedom will not continue to exist in our country if people do not fulfill their citizenship duties and make sacrifices. Rome went from being a great Republic to a deranged Empire under Caligula and Nero.
Sincerely, Kenneth Scot Stremsky
Mr. Berg-Andersson responds:
My only disagreement with Mr. Stremsky (since he apparently liked my OPEN LETTER TO AL-QA'EDA) involves what he wrote about non-voters.
I have no problem at all with not voting and I do not necessarily consider non-voters per se to be the least bit unpatriotic; not voting, to my mind, is as valid an expression of democratic process as voting itself (though I do admit to having a BIG-time problem- and I myself might even use the term "unpatriotic" as an epithet, where not a perjorative, in such a case- if the person not voting has failed to vote for a rather trivial reason and it is true that at least a healthy chunk of those who do not vote in this country are so not voting due to rather misguided priorities, where not out of sheer laziness... but not all, and perhaps not even most, non-voters should be painted with so broad a brush!).
I DO believe in the basic dictum that "If you don't Vote, you don't COUNT!"... now this does not mean that, if you choose not to vote (for what I myself would consider a valid reason- such as when you don't like the choices available or you feel alienated from the political system itself [though I very much like Mr. Stremsky's prescription for such a case: if you don't like the candidates that be or even the political system "as is", run yourself- even form your own political party, if need be; yeah- it would be "hard work/roll up your sleeves" time and it WILL take time and effort to make a difference... but THAT's the ultimate solution!]), you no longer count as a member of the community or should not continue to accrue all the rights and liberties, all the privileges and immunities, of citizenship (though I will tell you: I personally know people- some of them close friends of mine- who might well strongly disagree with this last statement of mine!)... I mean this dictum literally: it is simply fact that, if you don't vote, you don't at all show up in any election statistics I've ever seen!
The oft-made argument that one should consider how many registered voters, indeed, didn't vote when one is analyzing American elections simply does not wash because there is, first of all, no way to get an accurate accounting of just how many voters were, in fact, registered on Election Day itself (we can only know how many were registered- and the closing date for registration, of course, varies from State to State- as of some time BEFORE Election Day [how can we possibly know exactly how many registered voters moved, or how many might have even died, post-registration but pre-election?]); more to the point, we can't- simply by coming up with even a halfway-decent estimate of how many did not show up at the polls- differentiate which of these didn't vote because they didn't like the choices offered from which of these didn't bother voting because they, say, had one- or perhaps several- too many alcoholic beverages that afternoon or were even too unaware to realize that an election was even being held that day!
This is why I have always urged (even on this very website) the committed non-voter to at least make the effort to show up at the polls anyway on Election Day, enter the voting booth, not cast a single vote and then turn in the blank ballot: you will have then at least been counted as having not voted (why?-- because the total ballots cast DO appear in the election statistics and, where the total votes for all candidates for a given office is less than the total ballots cast [as it pretty much always is], it means that there were voters who didn't choose to vote for any candidate for that office and we who analyze election returns can then discern just how many voters did not vote for anyone [thus, in effect, voting for "none of the above"])... your "non-vote" then will have been something more than merely the rather empty gesture it would otherwise be through your not even showing up at the polls because your "non-vote" will then have actually counted!
I myself once- while still a resident of New York City's Borough of Queens during the 1980s- walked into the voting booth, closed the curtain, and opened it up again without pulling a single lever for any candidate on the entire ballot! Every office up for election in my Election District that particular First Tuesday after the First Monday in November got at least one less vote than the total votes eventually cast for each office on the ballot... my own "non-vote" that day, thus, counted (because my "non-vote" actually showed up numerically in the final tally of the voting!)
Freedom- that very thing our men and women in uniform are fighting for in such places as on the ground in Afghanistan as well as on the water in the Arabian Sea- includes, by definition, the freedom not to vote and I would much prefer that people who actually do not wish to vote not at all be forced to vote- either by penalty of law or by being, as Mr. Stremsky suggests, "treated as pariahs" by the greater body politic. Why would I want someone who does not even care to come down to the polls and, perhaps, just randomly select candidates on the ballot because he/she was forced to be there- where they don't want to be- under some kind of social, where not legal, sanction? One vote cast at random by someone who doesn't really care about the outcome might end up being the difference between someone truly obnoxious to the community involved being elected instead of not elected! I would rather that the intelligent voters- the ones who truly wish to be heard come Election Day- be the only ones who show up at the polls.
But I would also include among the group I have called "intelligent voters" those who do as I once did back in Woodside, Queens more than a decade and a half ago and who choose to wait in line at the polling place in order to actually register their "non-vote" by physically entering the voting booth and casting "blanks". Yet, regardless of whether or not those who choose to not vote show up at the polls, I don't honestly think that treating non-voters as necessarily having "spit on all the graves of all the soldiers that have died fighting for our liberties and all the graves of the people who died on September 11, 2001" is at all productive in a Democracy...
and such an attitude is certainly not at all conducive to a belief in Liberty.