MON., SEPT. 25, 2006
For several years now the current administration has been engaged in a pitched battle against fundamentalist extremists. Billions of dollars and thousands of lives have been spent in the war on terror, the result of which, it seems, is that the U.S. has buried its head in someone else’s sand rather than its own. This might seem like a good thing because America has a big head and Iraq has a lot of sand, but as the body bags pile up, the body politic is going to demand that the administration pull its head out and come up with a different strategy for the war on terror. Easier said than done, right? Still, there is no doubt that the $200 billion spent so far on the war in Iraq could have gone a long way toward winning hearts and minds were it spent on social programs rather than shock and awe. Of course, trying to get dirt farmers from the Midwest to sign off on something like foreign aid in the name of national security is political lunacy, but no crazier than the idea of bombing Pakistan back to the Stone Age. Unfortunately, the ideological climate here at home doesn’t exactly foster enlightenment and understanding. For all our complaining about the benighted people of the Muslim world, there are millions here in the U.S. who profess the belief that the universe was created in seven days and the entire human race descended from one couple, half of which was formed from the rib of the other half. Clearly, if we’re going to wage war on fundamentalist extremists, there’s still plenty to do here at home. One group doing just that is the Texas Freedom Network, an Austin-based grassroots organization that advances “a mainstream agenda of religious freedom and individual liberties to counter the religious right.” TFN has helped defeat religious right initiatives like school vouchers, textbook censorship, and faith-based deregulation. This weekend they will be celebrating their 11th anniversary with a fundraiser at the Austin Music Hall featuring hors d’oeuvres from several Austin restaurants, a silent Auction, and music by Guy Forsyth and Carolyn Wonderland. Tickets are $50, but you’ve already spent about $700 on changing the hearts and minds of Iraqis, so what’s a few extra bucks on the fundies here at home?