I don’t see enough courage. I live in a rough neighborhood. There is gang activity. People get shot and killed. I’m an ethnic minority here. Everytime I leave my house I risk being mugged, or worse.

When I go to a local bar I may find myself sitting next to a gay couple, or people speaking Russian, Korean, or Arabic. Or a gangbanger deep in his cups, strapped and looking over his shoulder for an anticipated ambush.

It takes courage just to wake up in the morning and face the responsibilities of the day, but I don’t see much courage (or leadership) coming out of suburban America. Living in the city challenges your assumptions.

The straight guys don’t bother to speculate about the sexual preferences of the men in the corner, let alone lay in wait for them outside in the parking lot. Black people and white people may maintain a level of distrust, but they know how to talk to each other.

No one is offended, much less threatened, by hearing foreign languages. No one cares if you go to church, or if you don’t.

All of this helps explain why the people of New York City and Philadelphia, and San Francisco, and Chicago, and Washington, DC are against the war. We are not afraid. Demographic changes and secularism (or ecumenicalism) do not threaten us. We value diversity. We fled the whitebread life by choice.

It’s not the simplicity of the heartland that I look down on, nor do I undervalue the virtues and charms of rural and suburban America. What I resent is the lack of courage.

Where are the most likely targets of a terrorist attack? I live a mile from Independence Hall, the birthplace of the Republic. My brother lives only a few miles from the White House. We know we are at risk, but we are not afraid. Why are my red brothers and sisters out in Nebraska and Idaho more terrorized than we are? Why do they support spending copious amounts of money to kill Arabs over in Arabia? Why do they think the alternative is to kill Arabs (my neighbors) over here?

Here is my advice to all the millions of Americans that fear terrorism but do not live anywhere near a terrorist’s target: Do not worry about me. I am not afraid. Tell this administration that he should stop taxing your children to protect people that do not want this form of protection. We do not agree that this is making us safer. We think he is taxing your children to make rich people more rich and that he is neglecting our cities and our poor. And that makes our lives worse, that makes our streets and neighborhoods less safe. These policies make us many new enemies that will seek to kill us in retaliation. Not you.

We do not live behind gated communities and we do not have private security forces. We walk by alleys after dark and we dodge mentally unstable people to get to our subways and to make our bus connections. When you neglect the needy, we are the people that suffer. When the dispossessed and alienated riot, they riot in Newark, Detroit, and Watts. They do not riot in Topeka, Boise, or Crawford, Texas.

When you tell us that you know better and that it is necessary for our nation’s safety and prestige that we win ‘victory’ in Iraq, and that we need to allow the President to eavesdrop on our conversations and to deny us the right to hear the charges against us in order to keep us safe…you are disrespecting us. We live here. We live among the sleeper cells. And we are not afraid. So, why are you?

Update [2005-12-27 10:13:30 by BooMan]: See another urban dweller, Eugene Robinson make almost the exact same point in today’s Washington Post.

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