Wednesday, March 26
Antiwar Protester Draws Inspiration From Thoreau's Call for Civil Disobedience
Roy MacGregor, Globe & Mail/Canada, March 26, 2003
WALDEN POND, MASSACHUSETTS -- She still loves him.[...]
Here, in a tiny cabin that cost him $28.12 to build in 1845, Thoreau wrote his famous nature epic, Walden, and also an essay, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, that is, once again, ringing across America.
Alice Daly comes here often to walk, to read and to think about Thoreau and his inspiration for the antiwar movement. ...
I'm trying for civil disobedience," she laughs.
Thoreau's essay, originally delivered as a lecture in the nearby town of Concord, came out of his decision to go to jail rather than pay a tax to support the Mexican War. His argument in favor of passive resistance became inspiration for Gandhi as well as for Martin Luther King, Jr. For civil-rights activists and Vietnam War protesters, it was the one irrefutable argument against any price being put on personal conscience.
Now, in this early spring of the war in Iraq, it is once again in the air.
"He's truly a wonderful thinker," says Daly. "Especially for today.
"He'd be against the war; of course he would. He was against the Mexican War. He would think like I do."
For the record, Daly, a massage therapist in nearby Concord, thinks a great deal about what is happening in her country these days. She cannot, for example, bear the twisted logic that says, "We have to save the children; we have to go to war."
"How," she also asks, "can you bomb people into democracy?"[...]
What Democracy Looks Like: The Streets of CairoGary Leupp, Counterpunch, March 25, 2003
“Show me what democracy looks like!” begins a chant often heard at recent U.S. antiwar demonstrations. “This is what democracy looks like!” comes the reply. People in the streets, marching, fired up with righteous rage, determination to stop the imperialist juggernaut and faith in the possibility of a better world. This is what we are now seeing, too, in the Arab world.[...]
The corporate media has provided some minimal reportage on these demonstrations, which have occurred throughout the Arab world, from Rabat and Casablanca to Beirut and Amman. Rarely in citing the numbers do they note that in most parts of the Arab world such demonstrations are illegal and that those who participate are often putting their lives on the line; [...]
The biggest demonstrations (aside from those in Baghdad) have taken place in Sana’a, Damascus, Cairo, Khartoum, Casablanca, Rabat, Manama and Beirut. They’ve occurred in countries aligned with the U.S., such as Egypt and Morocco, and those dubbed “terror-sponsoring” by the U.S. (Syria, Sudan).
But the most significant, arguably, have taken place in Cairo. This metropolis of 17 million is the cultural capital of the Arab world, and the capital of Egypt, which dependent on $ 2 billion in U.S. aid every year, is a classic case-study of a client state.
What happens in Cairo may determine whether the Arab antiwar movement will deal serious blows to imperialism and its loyal (if often nervous) satraps ...[...]
Bearing Witness to a Monstrous Wrong
Why Protest? Why Write?
Bruce Jackson, Counterpunch, March 26, 2003
Most email I get is from readers suggesting links they think might be of interest or people submitting articles or ideas for articles. A few are from morons saying things like "If you don't like this country go back where you came from!" If I didn't think it might encourage them to correspond further, I would ask what, exactly, would be accomplished by my moving from Buffalo back to Brooklyn?
.... But then there was this March 22 email from a Buffalo resident who asked what I thought were two very good questions.
1. Everyone in this beautiful country has a voice and a choice. I don't agree with you most of the time but I respect your point of view. What are you attempting to accomplish with all of these anti-war protests? What is your goal?
2. Since you dislike so many of the "gutless" Common Council members, why don't you run for a seat?
Thank you very much.
Dear Mr. _________:
Two good questions.
The first I can only begin to answer; the second I can answer completely.
I can't speak for everyone else, but I hope to accomplish two things when I take part in an anti-war protest.
One is to indicate to people who might not have given the matter any or much thought that there are many of us who disagree with the policy and path our government has taken and seems likely to continue to take. With the Vietnam war, we who opposed it were at first a minority and in time we became the majority and Nixon left the war—with almost exactly the terms he'd been offered his first day in the White House. As a result of the great public opposition that developed to the Vietnam war, our government has been far more cautious about involving itself in long-term land wars between two parties in distant countries. So the protest had an educational effect.
Equally important is bearing witness, the simple fact of standing with others and saying, "We think this is wrong." Even if no one listens, it is important to name a wrong when you see it.
As for running for Common Council, I have no temperament for elective politics and I would be bad at it. When someone does something really stupid or immoral or unethical I have a difficult time standing by in silence, and a lot of politics seems to be doing exactly that.
I wouldn't attempt to repair the dents in my car either, but I see nothing wrong in saying that the shop that did it performed well or badly and I feel I'm qualified to say to other people "They do good work" or "They do shoddy work."
We all do what we can do. I'm a schoolteacher and a writer. So that's what I do.[...]
Desert Storms: A Battlefield from Hell
Bruce Jackson, Counterpunch, March 26, 2003
Winds in the Iraqi desert sandstorm have been blowing fifty miles and hour, bending date palms so their branches scrape the ground, reducing visibility to a few meters, rendering many weapons inoperable until the sand can be unpacked from barrels, chambers and sighting mechanisms
"It was biblical," a U.S. army colonel from Texas told a reporter. Were it not for digital cameras we'd have hardly any images at all because sand like this destroys film cameras. Rain fell yesterday, but it was mud falling from the sky, making everything worse rather than better. The temperature in the desert approached 100 degrees. If there is a battlefield from hell that is it.
And an ancient one. The invasion force in the Coalition of the Killing is driving its tanks across the motherland of Western culture.
This is the Tigris-Euphrates Valley you learned about in high school: the Cradle of Civilization.
It is the location of Sumer, home of the hero Gilgamesh who in the 23rd century before Christ (or so) went to the cedar forest with his companion Enkidu and killed the giant Humbaba, [...]
It is also the site of ancient Babylon, seat of the empire of the 18th century ruler Hammurabi, whose great code foreshadowed the code of Moses the Lawgiver half a millennium later. [..]
There is another text that was central to Hammurabi's world, less known but no less important. It is usually referred to as the "Enuma elish," which is simply the first two words: "When on high."
The Enuma Elish, it seems, was recited every year at the Babylonian New Year's festival. It is one of the world's great creation myths. It is also a story of how the gods gave power to mankind. [...]
...Time and the driven sand turned their palaces and empires to dust.
Sandstorms, windstorms—these are nothing new to the deserts of Iraq, and neither are death and destruction and raging empire and the rage for power.
Empires come and go,
conquerors come and are in turn themselves conquered,
they bring death and they in turn die or are killed.
The myth lives longer than they and the sand lives longer than either.