I wrote this 6 years ago. My question today is, “What’s changed?”
February 4, 2002
Comment on the State of the Union
Overall, the speech itself is written very well. It has an incredibly flow and coherence that I can only dream of when I write papers or anything for that matter. The speechwriters involved in the State of the Union are truly talented individuals.
The idealism portrayed in the last half of the address is wonderful. Asking Americans to volunteer 4,000 hours of their time over two years is amazing. More people should do that. For several reasons: to become more familiar with their community, doing something for someone other than yourself promotes awareness and compassion. He suggests doing something about healthcare for the public at large is another wonderful ideal. Cracking down on Corporate America, again unprecedented. Keeping the tax rate low to encourage saving. Telling Congress that he will be working together with them to get a cleaner environment. Almost all of the ideals listed in the last half of the address are absolutely fantastic. Encouraging community, awareness, and general respect is something I and you have been saying needs to be done.
My concerns about the address are more associated with the first half, where he says terror, terrorist, or terrorism 30 times. Where he labels Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as “ax[es] of evil”. Where he continues to call it a “war on terrorism”. To me it sounds like two wrongs trying to make a right, and this is something my mother always told me wouldn’t work.
[A friend] was very adamant about the use of syntax. How important words are. A few weeks ago I heard some analyst mention how over the years costumers have become consumers. This small word change turns customers into greedy pigs fighting for a turn at the trough. GW’s use of the words terror and war are the same thing. It turns September 11th into a black and white issue. By calling Iran, Iraq, and North Korea “ax[es] of evil” he makes them the automatic bad guys and America the good guys. This goes back to his comment on September 20th, “You’re either with us or you’re against us.”
But this train of thought forgets one very important thing: life is full of gray areas not black and white. By forgetting that America can be wrong, has done wrong, and will never be perfect, we continue to ostracize nations that don’t believe how we believe. This only propels the cycle of hate that has been created long ago. If we really want to respect one another, we need to realize that we are not always right and by labeling other nations as evil… Well, to me, this just seems to take several giant steps backwards instead of forward.