Challenger Logo by Alan White   A Science Fiction Fanzine   Summer 2009



Looking over Challenger #30, I see that a number of themes have emerged, not just faith and challenge – like, families and freedom. How many of the articles aforegoing have dealt with parents? How many have revolved around the freedom of expression? An accident, of course – but it’s a juxtaposition that makes sense. Families, faith and freedom – it’d make a good campaign slogan. Not to mention, a pretty solid foundation for one’s personal life.

Challenger #30 hits the silks into queasy skies. Overseas, the nuts in North Korea threaten nuclear war, with no other justification besides the paranoia and belligerence of its military. (Surely no one thinks that dumpy crackpot Kim Jong Il runs anything in that country.) Hope exists in the Middle East – Obama shone with it in his Cairo speech, igniting the imagination, affection and enthusiasm of the next generation of educated Islam. As his opposition found to its dismay in America, a politician who captures a people’s imagination is the greatest threat there is to entrenched power. Change will take long, painful struggle. We see that in Iran. The windbreaker-clad squirrel claiming to be the voice of that country throws a bogus election, thinking to impress the world with what a great democrat he is – and ends up impressing the world with what a frightened tin-pot fraud he is. Afghanistan burns. Pakistan simmers. The primal screw-up in Iraq refuses to settle down. Hope exists – Obama has brought a real opportunity for reconciliation – but not until some GI drags Osama bin Laden out of his cave by his feet will Obama’s philosophy have a chance.

Bad as the world is, worse is the building war among ourselves. The massacre in Chloie Airoldi’s church – the murder of that abortion doctor inside his church – the attack on the Holocaust Museum – are only at our peril written off as the aberrance of isolated psychotics. They are acts of domestic terrorism, on the main, disorganized – these cretins may have shared affection for red-meat right-wing rhetoric, loathsome racket that fed their fear and loathing, but aside from the whacked-out anti-abortion crusade, no one has suggested any direct involvement of any authority in these crimes. But the crimes feed from the same trough. Right wing rhetoric stokes their fires. Winger flacks search for wedges and demonize all those who are not themselves – claiming to be Sons of Reagan but behaving much more like Spawn of Nixon. Classic conservatives aren’t haters – Robert Taft, Bill Buckley or Barry Goldwater would never condone violence, in their actions or their rhetoric. This present savagery may shut down an abortion clinic or two – terrorism works in the short term – but as the left found during the anti-Vietnam uprisings, murder and mayhem are ultimately ineffective in a free society. Our people respond to ideas, to hope and thought and persuasion – not to inchoate terroristic rage bespeaking only frustration and failure.

We respond to faith – and if not faith in a Supreme Being (because the universe is far beyond the metaphors we construct to explain it), then faith in human decency and wit. In Freedom. I firmly believe that America’s liberty is founded on faith in our fellow citizens. That when left to our own judgment, we will do the right thing. The society will keep going. We just have to maintain respect for each other’s lives and the perspectives that have come from them. And if you have family around you, giving you something to work and hope for, then all the better. Of course, as I tried to say in my opening editorial, about my faith, we do have a family. We are a family. You, me, the people beyond that farthest star.

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