Naomi Klein’s speech to the American Sociological Association’s conference as recorded at Democracy Now! analyzes moments of historical effervescence (I like this term she uses) and the crushing of such moments. Klein gives us an answer for progressives: we need movement thinking that maintains confidence in our ideas. This speech is a great read. Check it out!
I learned a few things about our troubled military tonight at the candlelight vigil on the Japanese Bridge at Big Spring Park in Huntsville. One man mentioned the backdoor draft and a woman responded that one example is the stop-loss program, which has affected her son. His contract will be up in May but he will have to stay in Iraq for as long as his unit had to stay. Another person brought up platoons filled with non-U.S. citizens who are promised citizenship after they fight in Iraq. I found the following from an independent research corporation:
Policy changes since September 11, 2001—including an executive order that allows non-citizens to apply for expedited citizenship after only one day of active duty and provisions in the 2004 defense authorization bill that ease the way to citizenship—may encourage noncitizens to consider military service.
Two women there wore Code Pink t-shirts. Code Pink has protested this war since its start. We were a group of twenty or so folks, mostly middle-aged. One kid roller-bladed up with sign in hand: “I’m not disturbing the peace, I’m protesting the war.” We sang some songs, talked about the war, held candles, prayed. I noticed one TV reporter and camera. Maybe other media there (newspaper?).
About 400 protestors marched on downtown Denver yesterday. I’m planning on being at a candlelight vigil tomorrow night in Huntsville AL. We’re entering the fifth year of the Iraq War, the fifth anniversary of the war. “Anniversary” seems such an unfit word with all its trappings of celebration. There’s nothing to celebrate here. The front page of The Sunday Denver Post announces a lead article by Kevin Simpson called “Revived protests seek firm footing” and the top quarter of the paper is devoted to news on Iraq and on protests. There’s a picture of a scarf-clad woman protestor with a white band around her forehead and tucked under her aqua scarf: the band has the word “PEACE” in capital letters black-inked in. Two-thirds of the visual space of the front page, however, is taken up by an article with the title “A world of charm & contradiction,” and tells us that “In Oklahoma, the pageant circuit is queen — and an industry.” The picture of five competing teens in the Miss Broken Arrow Outstanding Teen contest is three times the size of the head shot of sixteen-year-old Amina Khan, the anti-war protestor.
Kevin Simpson’s article raises some excellent points (it’s also well written). And I want to talk about those points later, but I’ve got to get to my WAT meeting where we talk about how to set up a writing retreat that builds a community of teacher-writer-scholars who use technology in teaching writing. So the quotation from Colorado state senator Mike Kopp, who presented a pro-war position at the downtown rally yesterday, is particularly appropriate: “My sense is that (the anti-war movement) is small pockets inflamed by the blog world.” Hmmm. I’ll talk about this later, because it’s part of a central point Simpson makes in his article.
In June this year, 26,000 US and Australian troops will take part in bombarding the ancient fragile landscape of Australia. They will storm the Great Barrier Reef, gun down “terrorists” and fire laser-guided missiles at some of the most pristine wilderness on earth. Stealth, B-1 and B-52 bombers (the latter alone each carry 30 tonnes of bombs) will finish the job, along with a naval onslaught. Underwater depth charges will explode where endangered species of turtle breed. Nuclear submarines will discharge their high-level sonar, which destroy the hearing of seals and other marine mammals.
The article details Australian Prime Minister John Howard’s support of the Bush administration and discusses Rupert Murdoch’s media supremacy in the U.S. and Australia. Author John Pilger discusses a secret treaty signed by Howard and Bush in 2004; the treaty allows the U.S. to establish its 738th military base in Western Australia and makes possible Operation Talisman Sabre 2007, the horrific military practice described in the first paragraph of Pilger’s piece.
If there were such a thing as a planetary shrink, a psychotherapist for Earth, our diagnosis would be insanity — how else would one describe the self-destructive practices we engage in moment to moment, all in the name of protecting one’s country?
After I signed the petition to Stop the Clash at avaaz.org, I received a confirmation email with the subject line, “You are the new superpower.” I like that. Global democracy.
Watch the video! Powerful use of images and music advocating our right to responsible and intelligent leaders willing to do the difficult work of building coalitions across east and west.
Molly Klopot, 87-year-old grandmother and former Ford factory worker during World War II, was arrested on 17 Oct. 2005 for trying to enlist at the New York City Times Square military recruiting station. Klopot and 17 other grandmothers tried to enlist “to replace grandchildren who had been deployed in Iraq.” Klopot has four grandsons who won’t enlist:
“They won’t enlist,” she said. The 19-year-old once had said he wanted to go into the army, she recalled, “but not now, he doesn’t want to go. Not now in this unjust war, this savage, illegal war.”
I happened on this piece at Common Dreams after going there to find an article by Gail Dines on the Duke rape case. I haven’t gotten to the Dines’ article yet because I was so taken by one of the headlines: “Two US Grandmothers Voice Protest Against Iraq War.” The article is by Jerome Bernard and was orginally published on 20 Jan. 2007 by Agence France Presse. Klopot is featured along with Betty Brassell as two out of the Granny Peace Brigade (which formed after the Oct. 05 arrests) and among several dozen grandmothers who protested before the US Congress against US military in Iraq. Bernard makes a great choice in profiling these two women, because Klopot calls herself an activist (over 60 years worth of activism), while Brassell just started to get involved after she retired.
I also read the most commonly forwarded Common Dreams article: Robert Weitzel’s “Cure for Yellow Ribbon Patriotism.” Powerful piece that says if we had listened to our Vietnam vets instead of silencing them, disappearing them, we may have learned enough to not have invaded Iraq. Here are two paragraphs of poetry about hell:
The “cure” these soldiers brought back from Vietnam was a potion distilled of moments: moments of bravery and sacrifice and sorrow, of bowel-loosening fear, of dehumanizing anger and hostility, of unasked and unanswered questions, moments too damaging to the soul to ever find release in confession.
It was a potion that if used thoughtfully could inoculate the nation against the disease of the god Mars. But it was ignored along with the soldiers. Vietnam vets, like the man I knew, were left to overdose on the potion in their own private hell.
Another Common Dreams headline discussed the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s comments on Bush’s disastrous leadership (oops! it’s another Agence France Presse piece!). Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi founder of Grameen Bank (model of micro-credit lending), said that just as we were reaping the dividends of peace after the cold war, Bush introduced the war on terrorism. Ah, now…the Agence France Presse article is quoting from an article in El Mundo…so let’s see…here’s the El Mundo article.
Hmmm. To get news focused on peace, I have to go to Common Dreams, which gives me articles from Agence France Presse, which quotes from El Mundo. Looks like we’re only a global village outside of the US, eh?