November 8, 2004

Dear Mr. Bush,

The first time Jeff called me from Baghdad my phones were tapped within days. That was just about six years ago. Your war wasn't even on the radar (neither were you, for that matter), and in place of the daily carnage of war, the Iraqi people were suffering under the slow-motion destruction of international sanctions instead. At the time, Jeff was working with an organization that traveled to Iraq in defiance of US law in order to bring medicine and books and other items to a people who desperately needed them. But what they also brought was more important: the hope that there were others back in America that cared for their plight as well.

I wonder today, as you unleash hell upon Falluja, if they know there are still people here that care?

Jeff travelled to Iraq more than a half dozen times since that phone call (and my office and home phones have been tapped on and off ever since). Every time he's there, he tells me stories about the people he meets--the young boys that crowd around his hotel, offering to shine his shoes for pennies; the cab drivers who always seemed to have some harebrained idea in their trunk; the heartbroken mothers stifling tears over their dying children--and with each story, I understand just a little more what true bravery is.

I heard on the radio today that it's unknown how many civilians are still living in Falluja as it bloodily transforms into the frontline of your war. How many of those people tried to live today like it was a normal day? How many of them snuck secret kisses? How many held a child's quivering hand? How many watered their plants, or fed a pet--today, of all days, Mr. Bush?

Do you think about them? Because I sure do. I can't help but place myself right there in that dusty town, holding my lover close, both of us fighting back the rising panic that's threatening to leap straight out from our chests as we hear the massive blows and smell the acrid smoke of war coming ever closer. And the thing is, Mr. Bush, that I will never, ever know what it's truly like. The people today that are forced to know--the ones caught in the middle of all of this insanity--are braver than you or I will ever be.

Here's to them,



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