Posts filed under ‘Democracy’

Ask you what you think because your words and thoughts are powerful

More than 4,000 troops dead, tens of thousands more seriously wounded physically and psychologically, +81,000 being stop-lossed. McCain says he’d keep us there another 100 years if necessary, the Democrats discuss ‘safe and orderly withdrawal’…how could we manage something on withdrawal that we never had to begin with? Now means now, not 6 months nor 16, nor another century: it will not get better, it will only get bloodier.

The actions that happened around the country were powerful, but continued to be largely ignored by the media. This AP article mentions the range that some of these protests took, albeit quite disparagingly. The Winter Soldier Testimonies of returning soldiers got virtually no coverage or mention, but you can watch videos at www.IVAW.org; how can you understand what is happening if you never listen to those that have actually been there?

Al-Jazeera coverage of Winter Soldier, one of few media outlets to even mention it:


Student Peace Action Network activists confront war profiteers:

The irony is that last week I also found out that my cousin just got out of Air Force Boot Camp…they don’t think he’ll be sent to Iraq since he ‘just does computers,’ and it seemed like a good option since he had $65,000 in student loan debt and still no degree to show for it. Counter-recruitment is only effective in your family if you speak to them more often than every 7 years.

It is hard to find the words to express the rage, disappointment and sadness that all of this causes each day, but there are no perfect words and silence is support since it does not challenge the acceptance of such horrible acts due to time and distraction by ‘the economy.’ Are lives not more important than money? Can you not distinguish the relationship between the two? Can you muster more emotion for the stock exchange and numbers scrolling on a screen or a gas pump than you can for the real and physical ruining and ending of life?

Violence has increased in recent days, with Al-Maliki launching an offensive against militias in Basra. Muqtada Al-Sadr has called for civil disobedience to protest the targeting of the Mehdi army militia. If the Mehdi militia truce is broken, key to the reduction in violence at the start of the ‘surge,’ things will be worse than before, though they aren’t great at the moment with factions of the Mehdi militia who have broken off and escalated violence already.

There are no simple solutions to this occupation, but our continued presence exacerbates and complicates internal tensions and ties with the consequence being extensive fear and loss of life of the civilian population.

This is not what democracy looks like, here nor there.

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March 27, 2008 at 5:58 pm Leave a comment

You have a voice so use it

Having celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day for what I had assumed to be my whole life, I learned otherwise today. [I recall vaguely some nonsense about a few states that didn’t celebrate the holiday in the early 90’s, which seemed so absurd that I was sure that boycotts and/or full out evacuations of New Hampshire, Arizona and South Carolina would occur in protest.] Apparently MLK Jr. Day did not become an official holiday until 1986, and there was a serious amount of organizing, mass demonstrations and pressure to get it passed in 1983. Congressman John Conyers introduced legislation for the holiday for the first time in 1968, yet it took fifteen years after Dr. King’s assassination to push it through Congress, and even then Reagan would have vetoed it if he could have. That’s moral depravity. You can read more about the work put into making Martin Luther King Jr. Day a reality here.

This isn’t a holiday for one person, but for a whole movement, a time to contemplate centuries of injustice that we manage to ignore or disregard so frequently. Dr. King did not carry the Civil Rights Movement, he was not the lone catalyst, and he was not the only one that the cost of participation was his life. A movement requires participation on so many levels, all sorts of tactics, bravery, an unwavering sense of justice and overwhelming commitment to see it through.

Rosa Parks didn’t just refuse to give up her seat on the bus one day [and she wasn’t the first to ever do it], she was an organizer who had worked with the NAACP for decades, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott didn’t magically happen by itself.

I gave my nephew a book about Congressman John Lewis [“John Lewis In the Lead: A Story of the Civil Rights Movement”] to read, and at one point he looked up and exclaimed: “He got bashed in the head 3 times and he still got back on the bus, why would anyone do that?” It is hard to explain abstract ideas about movements and justice to children sometimes, especially when illustrating that there are things worth getting a skull fracture for, or that anyone would ever have reason to be so angry about where you sat on a bus that they would fracture your skull in an attempt to kill or stop you.

From lunch counter sit-ins, to marches, to Freedom Schools, Freedom Riders and voter registration, people put their lives and their communities on the line for a better world. The Civil Rights Movement’s fight for justice still goes on, and their efforts sowed seeds for hope and dreams that led to powerful feminist, antiwar, glbttqi, economic justice and other movements.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated April 4, 1968 in Memphis, TN while speaking to sanitation workers on strike for just wages and better treatment, a year to the day after his “Beyond Vietnam” Speech at the Riverside Church in NYC on the injustice of war. Dr. King was speaking more and more on the connections between injustice and racism abroad to injustice and racism at home, which seemed to scare people in power and the media even more than everything that came before. Juan Cole reflects on the importance of Dr. King’s antiwar message and its relevance today here. Below you can hear the Riverside speech with current images:

The Civil Rights Movement isn’t over and we must continue to make the connections between movements to create lasting change by upending the roots of injustice rather than fighting the branches independently. There’s work to be done, but for at least this one day a year we can reflect on how far we’ve come.

So in an election year, when people find themselves annoyed by the excessively long hype of the presidential candidates, we have to remember that voting has been viewed as so dangerous that it was worth killing people to intimidate others from trying or fighting for the right. You have a vote and a choice, so ignore the nonsense and educate yourself to make a real decision; they really don’t want you to be engaged in the process, so make sure that you are.

January 22, 2008 at 10:18 am Leave a comment

Another year over, a new one just begun

US warns against early Iraq pullout Only in the U.S. could it be believed that +19,000 civilian deaths [counting only those documented by the media, see www.icasualties.org] and the deaths of 900 of its own troops is somehow a sign of stability or progress. Tens of thousands of refugees are flooding back into Iraq because their visas in neighboring countries have expired, not by choice but because of lack of options or funds (note that the number of Iraqi refugees the U.S. lets in is negligible, even after a serious boost to the number earlier this year), and the U.N. says there isn’t even enough security for them to visit the refugees and see how they are; again, this is what progress and democracy look like?

Warnings on the consequences of using private and legally unaccountable security firms [militias] were totally ignored. There still is not a concrete way for the U.S. government to know how many people were being used by these firms in Iraq at any point.

And in the continued race to see how many countries can possibly bomb/destroy/occupy Iraq at one time, Turkey continues bombing Northern Iraq. No one can really explain the point of bombing evacuated villages, beyond doing it out of spite and giving people nothing to return to.

Not us. We’re not going.’ Troops in Iraq say no.

There is hope, in each of us, standing up for what we believe in, stopping what we can and creating what we want.

War is over, if you want it.

December 25, 2007 at 5:24 pm Leave a comment

Don’t stop thinking of tomorrow, don’t stop thinking of today

How do we move forward from here? Mobilize the majority of Americans against the war in Iraq to end it, now, not after the next election or the one after that?

The possibility is there, but the action and the belief are not. Why is that?

How can we better support GI Resisters, Iraq Veterans Against the War and Vets for Peace so that we can not only stop this war, but all war?

Can the Non-profit Industrial Complex overcome the Military Industrial Complex? Or have we forked over our responsibilities as citizens and a peace movement over to another institution? How do we reclaim movements and our government and change the world for the better?

Where can we exchange our apathy for action? When do we start trusting ourselves more than institutions? When do we take responsibility for that trust and act on it for ourselves and our communities?

There is no one answer, different actions work differently in every community, try something new and see what happens and who it brings to the table. Build networks and dreams, keep expanding and you keep making an impact. Give everyone a voice; trust your own.

Keep talking to the same 4 people every week? That’s not a movement, that’s a tea party. Go somewhere new, re-think your networks, connections and perspectives. Educate and activate.  Your community has unique concerns, how do economic injustice or environmental degradation relate to militarism there? Movements need a diversity of tactics, strategies and dreams to succeed; everyone has a part to play and a responsibility to act. As we build communities locally we build a much larger movement that has a greater capacity for change.

Believe. Believe that we can end this war now, not eventually, and that we won’t attack Iran or anyone else, then backtrack to how you can help make that possible. Belief is required in a movement, demilitarize yourself before you can demilitarize your world. You are your government, you are your country, realize that immense power and use it.

We can no longer believe in ‘soon,’ instead we must demand now.

December 22, 2007 at 8:07 am 1 comment

Mobilize to end the occupation October 27th!

Find more info at the National Youth and Student Peace Coalition, or United for Peace and Justice

October 24, 2007 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment

Doublespeak: Democracy

Apparently the part of democracy that the Iraqis aren’t getting is the part where they do only what the U.S. government wants.

Bush is so desperate to justify the continued occupation of Iraq that he actually compared it to Vietnam. Really? You’re going to go there? Open up the debate on another war we had no reason to start, that cost the lives of over 3 million people – 58,000 U.S. troops included, and hard to say how much residual damage and death caused by the chemicals and landmines left behind – to claim our withdraw from Vietnam was the cause of so much death rather than the unjust war/occupation itself? Maybe he wasn’t so disillusioned by Vietnam since he was so distracted trying to avoid going there at all, but what kind of desperate fool says such things, in mockery of all the destruction and death caused by both this war and that?

Oh, but he still likes that Al-Maliki fellow, even while he doesn’t fully understand that the Iraqi government’s responsibility is not to him or the U.S. government but to the people of Iraq. Carl Levin missed that memo too, that democracy doesn’t require you to do the every bidding of your occupiers.

Democracy demands that you meet the needs of your country and people; in Iraq this means creating some form of stable infrastructure, security and trust in the Iraqi government that can only come from their having the power to end the occupation of the country by foreign forces. Only then can the spiral of violence end, as can be seen from looking at any area that has been brutally occupied, the longer the occupation and the more brutal and exploitative it is the longer it takes for the violence to end when foreign troops withdraw and any subsequent governments to be viewed as legitimate or powerful.

Our continued presence in Iraq hurts the Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops living in constant terror, so what are we fighting for?

P.S. If we really cared about Iraqi civilians, or U.S. troops…well, the sheer inadequacies on both of those fronts to even create a veneer of concern would take days, or months, to even to begin to outline.

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August 23, 2007 at 1:58 am Leave a comment


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