Saturday, September 15, 2007

Die-in at the Capital

i returned to Washington DC yet again for the Sept. 15th march organized by ANSWER and the Iraq Veterans Against the War. After marching from the White House to the Capital, i participated in the die-in at the Capital. Once again, i was arrested crossing a police line as i followed IVAW members, numerous Veterans For Peace members and 165 or so concerned citizens (190 people were eventually arrested), who were intent on delivering a petition to Congress to end the war. Very little mention was made of this march in the mainstream media, and when it was mentioned at all, the facts were widely distorted. Sitting in jail, i had the opportunity to reconnect with several IVAW members as well as Vietnam Vets who i accompanied on the March to New Orleans in early 2006 (to connect the events in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina to the illegal occupation of Iraq). As our government continues to beat the drum for war, one can only hope that more citizens "die-in" to take a stand for peace.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9-11 Forgotten

The sixth anniversary of Sept 11th has come and gone, and Americans have forgotten the lessons of that fateful day. As the U.S. continues to lash out blindly in the Middle East, causing death and destruction everywhere it turns, we at home continue to wave our little flags, put metallic ribbons on our cars and call for support of the troops. That Americans are now responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths of innocent peoples- exponentially higher numbers than those killed in the towers- is a fact. Few people here recognize the level of carnage unleashed on the civilian populations of Afghanistan and Iraq. Few people seem concerned with the anguish of others as they try to survive the US military occupation of their countries. Few people recognize in the anguished eyes of the Iraqi people the very same fear, desperation, determination and heroism of the people who suffered on September 11th at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in a flight over Pennsylvania.

In the days after September 11th we as Americans stood together, and reached out to each other. Much of the world reached out to us as well. In our grief and disbelief there was a moment to recognize community- not just the community of New York City, or even the community of our nation, but the community of humankind. For a moment, however brief, it seems we understood, we were clear, we recognized our commonality and we recognized our dependence on one another- on the streets of New York even perfect strangers could embrace each other and hold on for dear life. In the immediacy of the blasts, love and support came to the fore, not anger, nor hatred. But how quickly that was lost! Our so-called leaders immediately called for revenge. It had little to do with justice and even less with understanding. A shocked populace was easily caught in a destructive, unholy nationalism. Quickly we, and the world, were divided into two camps, those who were “with us” and those who were “against us”.

Six years down the road and our perceived enemies, including women, children, the aged and the infirm, continue to pay an incredible price. And this price will increase for years to come as the expense of using depleted uranium munitions, chemicals like white phosphorous, and cluster bombs is paid for with children’s lives. The war in Iraq is an abomination. An illegal and unjust war based on the lies and deceptions of our government. Now, we are told by General Petraeus that a premature withdrawal will have devastating consequences. What could be more devastating than the destruction we have already meted out?

Meanwhile, the ringleader responsible for planning the attacks on September 11th is alive and well, apparently in Pakistan. Bin Laden continues to use the ineptitude of the Bush administration as a recruiting tool. And the US is now threatening Iran. Greater disaster, greater death, greater destruction is promised on the road to "Peace". For all those who claim that America is safer today, that we are “fighting them over there so we don’t fight them here”, I return to General Petraeus’ dog and pony show on Capital Hill yesterday. When asked if our strategy in Iraq made us safer, the General uttered perhaps his only truth of the hearings, ”I don’t know, actually.”

On the anniversary of September 11th we are called to remember the innocent people who died and the heroes who answered the call to help, including the myriad cleanup crews who are now suffering lung disease and illness due to their efforts, and are largely forgotten. We are also called on to remember all the innocents that have died as a consequence of our retribution. One million Iraqis are dead- when will the killing be enough? In remembering, we are called to act. Stop for a moment, look into the eyes of an Iraqi, and recognize yourself. Their terror is our terror.

Then do something, anything, to stop this war.