Saturday, June 18, 2011

No Terror Trials in Kentucky, If You Please

I just typed this letter to the office of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.  I added the photos for this blog:
Please forward this message to the Attorney General Eric Holder
I am writing you in support of the large, and still growing, number of Kentucky citizens who agree with Sen. Mitch McConnell and our other state leaders (our governor Steve Beshear, Sen. Brett Guthrie, and all our city officials) who are urging citizens here to write you in favor of trying the two recently-discovered suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay instead of here in Kentucky.
The city of Bowling Green harbors no criminals—to the contrary, it’s likely the two turned up here because they thought they could easily hide among our large number (and welcomed to grow) of Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian refugees, who found Bowling Green to be so similar to their original homeland.  I know this because I work for so many of them as a self-employed computer repairman (best rates around—fiercely competitive nationally, too!).

Bosnian Good Food!
The first time I worked for a Bosnian couple, over 8 years ago, I found what good people they were.  They were indeed Muslim, and I immediately came away from the experience having found two new friends.  Their middle-European views were enriching to me, and broadened my understanding of their culture, and their tragic flight here.
Our similarities abounded, and we became good friends/neighbors, and I was their ‘computer guy’.  They practiced many family values that were of a higher standard than even my own hardworking, core-American, traditional Christian upbringing (ahem—they tipped better, and seemed to appreciate my work more than my own mom, who herself is no Grinch, and well-educated, a retired teacher!).

Computer 'Noob'
Through these new friends came many more genuinely good Bosnian, then Croat, then Serb local customers.  Their backgrounds and lifestyles varied as much as anyone I’ve ever met and known as a lifetime resident of my hometown here in Bowling Green.  There were some bad apples, but statistically, I’ll note here, they actually beat many of my local clients at understanding/appreciating my work, even if they themselves had language barriers, and the usual non-familiarity/’noob’ tendencies of the average computer user (they often couldn’t understand what I was talking about, but actually tried and did grasp my explanations of their PC problems much more than our ‘local yokels’, believe me).
In the 8 years I’ve been working for Bosnian/Serb/Croat neighbors and friends here, I can’t count the number of times I received welcome tips—substantial tips, BTW, many times more than 30% of my overall fee for my repairs.
So many of my Bosnian neighbors fought to grasp, understand, and appreciate my work, that I picked up a new phrase (to me) that they often said while happily handing me that extra $10, or even $20 bill: “go buy yourself some coffee”.  Actually, I admit I learned to love one of their own brands sold here (not coffee after I add all my vanilla/caramel creamer AND heaping spoons of sugar, BTW).
These first two harbored no ill-intent toward anyone I ever knew.  Classically good people—family values off the chart, both working (he a trucker, she working at a local bank until cuts forced them to move, broken-heartedly, to Germany, where his brother lived—after 15 years here).  It hurt seeing them go, and Facebook is no solace for me or them.
For years I’ve worked for our very large Muslim Bosnian community, never once feeling any tinge of any impression that they would have me change one bit of my lifestyle, much less my Christian faith, or American patriotic outlooks. Understand that our Bosnian population is very large demographically (and by Bosnian, again, I am by inference including those Serbs/Croats who came here after their horrible war).  It has been estimated at over 8,000 local Bowling Green honest-to-goodness, naturalized, home-brewn Americans living in our city are from ‘over there’—in a city whose population was merely 45,000 when I was in my mid-twenties, now it swells at well over 60k with our Bosnian community.  I can truthfully and reliably state that not only are there more Bosnians here than any other demographic from any other population, but that they are overwhelmingly, fiercely patriotic Americans whose primary reason for being here, esp. in our community, is the equally overwhelmingly and intense similarity of our local hills and ‘hollers’ to their own homeland, no matter which side of the river or tracks they were born in.
I can’t say enough good about them.  My fledgling computer repair business grew like wildfire due to them, and I owe much, much, of my success and popularity here to their patronage and indeed, true friendship.  Not only have none of my Bosnian friends thrown shoes at me, but they have been quick to seat me in any chair of honor they had, in order to chat with me, always offering me enough in the way of food, friendship, and hearty atmosphere in their own households that I left away won to not only their charm as people, but convicted of their intense American patriotic pride as citizens, families, and a working populace, without a doubt.  Their culture and conviction led me true to many of my own ‘eye-widening’ and soul-searched conclusions that they are no terrorists here, they number as some of our truest friends and ‘sold-out’ allies.
One of my Bosnian friends tearfully celebrated New Year’s Eve 2009 by calling me over to his house to fix his Gateway notebook computer, which I’d shown him how to use connected to his TV to watch movies and chat with his relatives overseas online.  As the evening progressed, I’d repaired his PC to the point that I told him it was usable, so he went straight to YouTube and began watching Bosnian videos related to the war there, and the aftermath.  What immediately struck me, was the environmental similarities between their homeland and our local rolling hills, and gently flowing rivers, so I commented on this to him.  He quickly assured me that my observation was already a ‘given’ among the Bosnians who fled here: “yeah, yeah, Mike—it’s so beautiful Kentucky, just like...”
Bosnian River
That was enough for me to openly (and somewhat crudely) blurt out something to the effect that “that must be why there are so many Bosnians here, because look at it—it’s just like Kentucky!”, to which he quickly replied “yeah, Mike—so many here—Bosnian, Serb...everybody, because...just like, so much”.  I was stricken by the brutal truths of what I learned about some of the atrocities committed during that war, and left (hours later, yet again swearing onto another diet to get over my caloric intake that night) realizing that I owed my Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian friends and neighbors, that much—to indeed try and understand, to even make veritable insights, as to what drove them here, if they’re truly happy here, and more—much more about their homeland, people, and culture.

Cumberland River, Kentucky
I owed it to them, and myself, so have taken many opportunities while at my friends houses repairing their computers, to ask them, many times, embarrassingly ignorant questions regarding their experience their, what they’ve found here, and sometimes, even if they’re truly happy here.  Again, overwhelmingly, I’ve been trounced with the stark reality of their fierce nationalistic pride, and aggressive stature as hard-working, family-oriented people.  By this, I mean dually nationalistic, Bosnian more by memory, and more fiercely and outspokenly proud of their American status than anyone I’ve ever known from any other country of origin—and, on the record, more genuinely so than many people I’ve grown up with, and with much less media-related ‘sparkle’ (no segmenting or splitting, no media-tainted fragmentation, just honest, American pride).
American Family Together

My message in saying all this is one that comes from a lifetime Bowling Green citizen with an in-depth perspective, with many true insights gathered from years of observation and direct interaction: our Muslim population doesn’t need a terrorist trial right here in Kentucky—they don’t tolerate it themselves, and support anyone in our city, region, state, and nation who is against terrorism.  They are families who didn’t know these guys, and I’d bet that 99.99% of them had never even met, much less knew, anyone who even knew these men from the ‘sixth degree of separation’ that supposedly ties any of us together from across the globe.
Their families alone do not need any ‘terror-trials’ here—their backs are already loaded down with the day’s work, labor, and business, keeping track of their kids, keeping up with neighbors, and planning for tomorrow along with the rest of Kentuckians who’ve been here for generations.
As for the rest of Kentucky, like me, we’re against ‘hosting’ any trials that would even acknowledge, God forbid highlight, Bowling Green as anything but what it is--a mid-sized city struggling valiantly to grow healthier in today's clime, with today's challenges, and in keeping with everybody's best interests.
Please move those trials to Guantanamo Bay--and keep them there--because the two found here were as rare as a naturally-formed fissure in the hardest, finest diamond of highest worth, or as a piece of chewed bubble gum naturally imbedded in the finest gold bar in Fort Knox; as likely as a finding an Intel CPU encased in a 65 million-year-old piece of fossilized amber.
Thank You,
Mike Denney
The 'PC Doctor'
Bowling Green, KY