And this is another long view at least as far back as my first peace march in
Against Terrorism and Bush
by Stew Albert
The mark of sorrow is now burned into the American soul. The fires that
consumed the World Trade Center, and upwards of 7,000 lives will leave
permanent marks. We have had our national tragedies and also inflicted hell
on others but like Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, we have avoided the scars of
suffering and conscience and always come out looking young and optimistic.
Not this time. Too many lives were lost and symbols of power and
security destroyed to make a snappy recovery and resume a never ending
journey through Consumerville. I am feeling all this upclose and personal.
I grew up in Brooklyn and Manhattan, especially in the target area of
lower-Manhattan, where I came of age in every manner of speaking. My hometown
was attacked. My New York based 24 year old daughter and her friends were
placed in terrifying jeopardy. How can I respond to this by pulling out a
book filled with old abstractions and self-assured bromides?
When we ask why did this happen? The answer from the pundits and
politicos is that the terrorists are inherently and absolutely evil and
besides they are jealous of our great democracy and even more wondrous
trinkets and toys. But no explanation is ever given as to why America has
always had so many close friends who were of a jealous nature and hated
democracy. When I was a kid, the Hitler loving dictator of Spain, Francisco
Franco, was our close cold war buddy. And there were a million just like him
in Latin America, Asia and the Middle East, antidemocratic tyrants who lined
up with America. Just a few months ago the jealous/freedom hating Taliban
received a lot of American money for destroying its smack crop. And no one
asked them to kick Bin Laden's ass out of Afghanistan. Maybe their hatred has
something to do with our international policies? At least a little bit?
Back during the Vietnam War, we always swore that if our country was
attacked we would come to its defense. The point we were making was that that
it was America that was attacking Vietnam, not the other way around. Of
course we believed that nobody would be crazy enough to actually attack
America. The planes that hit the World Trade Center proved us wrong. How are
we peaceniks going to keep our ancient word?
Speaking of the Vietnam War, it was my honor to meet with and praise the
enemy on several occasions. I joined with representatives of the Viet Cong
and the North Vietnamese government in Santiago, Chile and Algiers. There
were other peaceniks with me. The purpose of the gatherings was for us
Americans to find out what the Vietnamese thought we could do to strengthen
the antiwar effort. They always encouraged our antiwar protests and asked us
to make them larger and more frequent. But when the subject of terrorism on
American soil came up, what was sometimes referred to as "bringing the war
home," the Vietnamese said "No, our enemy is not the American people, it is
the American government." If they had said otherwise I have no doubt that
much blood would have flowed in America's heartland. And the Vietnamese had
ample reason to hate Americans who were destroying their country and killing
a million of their citizens. But they were elegant enemies of imperialism.
Their philosophy was not based on a fanatical religious doctrine but on an
old style now defunct Marxist humanism. And a good thing that was for
Americans. A lot of them are alive today because the Viet Cong didn't believe
that murdering them in cold or hot blood got you a nonstop trip into Paradise
America and the Muslim world are now more likely heading for hell.
Our homegrown democracy was already hanging on a very thin thread over the
fascist abyss. George Bush really didn't win the last presidential election.
His coup-based government is more a junta than an administration and now the
terrorists have given Bush everything a junta could ever want--a national
emergency in which it can assume dictatorial powers and abolish civil
liberties. Now we can imagine American Arabs being rounded up like the WW2
Japanese. Now the Bush gang is preparing to wage a world wide war, its
supposed target is terrorism, but the way it will be fought will
exponentially increase terrorism. Just start killing thousands of innocent
Moslem bystanders, otherwise known as "harborers" of terror," and see if our
cities don't become as safe as Jerusalem in the middle of an Intifada. The
Moslem world will be lining up for service in Bin Laden's Heavenly Brigade of
Bush says he's going to secure America. He's going to take the terrorists
"dead or alive" and eliminate states that give them aid and comfort. Really?
The Israelis make the best, bravest and smartest effort to protect themselves
against terror. What happens? A Palestinian with a heavenly ticket to ride
and a bomb, walks into a public market and the Israelis are scraping up arms
and legs. It can and will happen here. We will be looking at American
soldiers once again entering hostile third world villages on search and
destroy missions and terrorists taking ruthless revenge by targeting
America's vulnerable home land.
At times I feel hopeless. I watch television and I see Dan Rather and Jay
Leno volunteering as soldiers in the propaganda war and observe newscasters
and commentators who now treat Bush as a great statesman.There is so much
justifiable rage at the terrible crime that has been committed against us.
How can wisdom, love and compassion prevail?
The other day I went on a peace march in Portland Oregon. It was
surprisingly large (2,500) for these times. I hoped the speakers would find a
way of expressing American anger and channeling it away from Bush and his
propagandists. The speakers certainly expressed sorrow but they treated anger
as a sin. Something we could overcome by thinking about all the crimes
America had committed against the world. As someone who has been in the
protest movement for 40 years, I am very familiar with America's sins. Indeed
a very good friend of mine was murdered in Chile by a government America
helped install. I contemplate America's global bestiality up close and
personal and I'm still angry at the murdering terrorists. And if I'm angry
can you imagine how the average New Yorker is feeling? The peace movement
wont be able to influence angry people to move in a decent sane way unless it
is itself angry.
We can't hide from the horror of the crime but we can insist that no more
crimes be committed. No more innocent blood shed. No more innocent bystanders
blown to bits. We can scream this fiery message at Bush and his junta. We can
take it to the streets. And while shouting out against the continuing murder
of innocents, we can also demand that the murders be brought to justice. We
want to know who they are, give us proof and then enforce an arrest warrant,
but do it surgically, without blowing up the neighborhood, the nation and the
world. Do it legally with the participation and support of an international
body of western and Islamic jurists. By now the better part of humanity would
like to see it go down that way, the path of peace and justice has many well
We are taking on quite a burden, in defending a truly attacked America.
To save the world from war and America from dictatorship and terror. After we
accomplish these Herculean tasks, we have to make an agonizing reappraisal of
American foreign policy. Including careful looks at Iraq and the Gulf War,
and the insane relationship that counterposes Israel and Palestine. But let's
take on one impossible task at a time.
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