Where cereal and terrorism converge

February 25, 2010

As I glanced at the headline of last Monday's article, "When terrorist and '60s child converge" (Feb. 22) by Susan Reimer, I thought that it would be yet another aged hippie opining about why America's enemies are justified. I was not disappointed. In some ways, she was right. Shows like "The Bachelor" and "The Real Housewives of Orange County," while entertaining, portray people whose hot tubs far surpass their character in terms of depth. I am ashamed to have seen shows that match "The Bachelor" in mindless entertainment, but does this mean that I should be wiped from the face of the earth by the likes of the underwear bomber?

Susan Reimer's portrayal of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as some kind of rebellious hero was shameful, especially since she made no mention of the treatment of women and "infidels" by those who employ him. Is my love of go-gurt, which I fail to see as shameful, equal in despicability to torturing and demeaning women and killing innocents? The self-righteous diatribe that followed her tribute to the terrorist was self-righteous and painted a very limited portrait of America. Though she claims that these are elements of American culture that would bother a "pious young man" like Mr. Abdulmutallab, the title of the article suggests that these are things that would also bother a child of the '60's like herself.

In order to introduce budding young terrorists to the real America, and to remind Ms. Reimer that most Americans don't buy $6,000 shower curtains, I developed my own list of what I believe represents the true American spirit.

•  Those who helped neighbors dig out cars and shovel sidewalks in this winter's snowfalls. •  The people who open doors for me when they see me coming with a giant stroller and four or five bags. •  Pixar and movies like Up and Wall-E that teach kids and remind adults of the value of compassion and the importance of friendship. •  One of the "half-pipe hippie chick snowboarders," as Ms. Reimer berratingly referred to them, Hannah Teeter and her charity "Hannah's Gold," which helps chidlren in Africa. •  The United 93 memorial which I visited in Shanksville, Pennsylvania this summer. The site was as beautiful and as humble as the people on that flight. •  The $14,000 in the poor box at my parish that contributed to the relief fund in Haiti, and many more.

As for the many cereal choices that she and her friend consider an abomination and a metaphor for American greed, I consider it a representation of the freedom that makes this country great. If I don't want Rice Chex, I can have Froot Loops, and I can't force my love for Froot Loops on anyone else. In conclusion, I encourage readers with Volkswagens to display their fake flowers proudly, and I encourage Ms. Reimer to try a go-gurt; they are delicious with a sandwich and a glass of milk.

Betsy Phelan, Parkville

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