Tough questions indicate love of country

Helena Rodriguez

In two days, we observe the fourth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a horrid day plotted by suicidal madmen, an event that shocked the world and demanded justice.

Instead of justice though, we have an unjustified war in Iraq, and now the dark shadow of Hurricane Katrina is hanging over our heads — a harsh reality check that shows we’re not any safer in our own country, whatever the disaster.

After the disgusting reality of Hurricane Katrina’s highly-anticipated appearance set in less than two weeks ago, the blame game, finger-pointing, accusations of racism and incompetence began as images began projecting around the world, images of helpless victims clinging for life and waiting for help that came too late.

I feel as unsafe as I did on that chilling morning when I walked into the newsroom and saw televised images of planes crashing into steel towers. As the world’s superpower, the reality is that the U.S. has become less and less protected at the expense of the elite, a la Titanic.

Instead of going after a suspected terrorist, bin Laden, we bomb a country for oil; instead of building much-needed levees, tax cuts are given to the rich.

In the name of fighting terrorism, we form a dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security while proposing to close Air Force and other military bases that are some communities’ only real sense of security.

It doesn’t stop there.

I’ve been disturbed by the constant cutting of staff at our parks and historical sites, prime targets for terrorist activity.

And don’t count on local authorities. Many cities are seriously understaffed when it comes to law enforcement personnel.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives canceled the scheduled hearings on Hurricane Katrina.

Some officials started accusing people who are demanding answers of playing politics. This is reminiscent of Bush and his initial objection to a 9-11 commission. However, it was later announced, a bipartisan joint congressional committee will review all levels of government responses to Hurricane Katrina.

This is a good idea, but not the best.

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton is rightfully demanding an independent commission to investigate what went wrong, but the response I kept hearing is “Now is not the time to ask questions.”

I disagree.

People who were left to fend for themselves deserve answers and — although these answers will not come until later because, obviously, the priority is to continue to save lives — they have a right to begin asking some tough questions.

We all do, particularly since the people responsible for this botched disaster relief at FEMA and in other parts of local, state and national government are still in charge.

You can’t play politics in a matter as big as this.

It really irks me that when people rightfully question our government lately, they are accused of playing politics.

Asking questions and demanding answers is not playing politics; it is exercising our rights and obligations as American citizens. It is making our elected officials do what they were elected to do.

It’s the same thing when people speak out against the way things are in Iraq: Their patriotism is questioned — and people say we need to support our troops.

What we really need to support is a more responsible and accountable government that we entrust to properly manage our resources, set priorities and make decisions that are in the best interest of the majority.

Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico. She can be reached at: