Lessons from Vietnam

By Mediagonebad

We may see ourselves through rose-colored glasses and convince ourselves that we are right and they are wrong, that we are the good guys and they are the bad guys.

But are we really morally superior to anyone? We reacted to terrorism by becoming terrorists ourselves when we attacked Iraq. We responded to beheadings by becoming torturers ourselves. Their religious fanatics want to kill us, so our religious fanatics want to kill them.

We are reactionaries. We think in the short-term and do not consider the long-term consequences of our actions. We do not consider alternative actions through grassroots discussion as a genuine democratic republic would do, but we let the media corporations and paid lobbyists set the agenda and control the debate. Alternative views are ignored in this country.

Some neocons advocate the use of nuclear weapons in the Arab East, but the use of nukes anywhere will virtually ensure that Washington and Omaha will burn as well. That is an insane argument, a suicidal argument.

The real fight is for freedom, democracy, and liberty under law here at home, not in some foreign land.

Catholic Priest and Vietnam activist Philip Berrigan dictated the following from his death-bed just one day before he died on Dec. 6, 2002:

“I die in a community including my family, my beloved wife Elizabeth, three great Dominican nuns - Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, and Jackie Hudson (emeritus) jailed in Western Colorado - Susan Crane, friends local, national and even international. They have always been a life-line to me. I die with the conviction, held since 1968 and Catonsville, that nuclear weapons are the scourge of the earth; to mine for them, manufacture them, deploy them, use them, is a curse against God, the human family, and the earth itself. We have already exploded such weapons in Japan in 1945 and the equivalent of them in Iraq in 1991, in Yugoslavia in 1999, and in Afghanistan in 2001. We left a legacy for other people of deadly radioactive isotopes - a prime counterinsurgency measure. For example, the people of Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Pakistan will be battling cancer, mostly from depleted uranium, for decades. In addition, our nuclear adventurism over 57 years has saturated the planet with nuclear garbage from testing, from explosions in high altitudes (four of these), from 103 nuclear power plants, from nuclear weapons factories that can't be cleaned up - and so on. Because of myopic leadership, of greed for possessions, a public chained to corporate media, there has been virtually no response to these realities…” [From Common Dreams.]

Philip Berrigan is best known for his opposition to the Vietnam war, which he expressed by destroying Selective Service Files, pouring blood on nuclear missiles at a General Electric nuclear weapons plant, and similar acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. He served seven years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy, burglary and criminal mischief. His motivating philosophy-- that we humans cannot serve both love and war -- has stood the test of time and deserves a reading today:

“When a people arbitrarily decides that this planet and its riches are to be divided unequally among equals, and that the only criterion for the division is the amount of naked power at its disposal, diplomacy tends to be essentially military, truth tends to be fiction, and the world tends to become a zoo without benefit of cages. And war tends to be the ultimate rationality, because reason has been bankrupted of human alternatives….

Our lives, to be agencies of peace, must stand the scrutiny of both God and man, and by man I mean not our peers, but the billions of people suffering from war, tyranny, starvation, disease, and the burden of color prejudice. In our better moments we may pity them, but sentiment has yet to stop bombing or feed starving children. They will hold us to our acts, and if these acts will not bear human analysis, we will be judged and condemned and withstood in the same coin.

If disengagement from the violent aspects of the ‘system’ is one side of peacemaking, service of truth and human rights is the other. As Pope John used to say, ‘Love ought to be the motive, but justice is the object.’ This is a very large order, calling for people who know humanity by principle and by experience, who are as pained by the plight of starving millions in India as by the sufferings of our own poor, by Chase Manhattan Bank investments in South Africa as by the ruthlessness of Detroit car manufacturers, by napalmed Vietnamese children as by rat-bitten Harlem kids. For as they see it, people are one before they are many, they are a man before men, not objects to be manipulated, exploited, cursed, or killed.”

[By Philip Berrigan, Prison Journals of a Priest Revolutionary, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967.]


We will not be silenced

By Mediagonebad

"We will not be silenced" is a T-shirt campaign to spread the message that all of us who believe in freedom for all, democracy and social justice cannot afford to be silent now. “We will not be silenced” is a multi-language statement attributed to a student-resistance movement in Nazi Germany called The White Rose. It is not a statement of action, but a statement of purpose intended to inspire acts of resistance and dissent against a corrupt government that abuses its power, lies, tortures, kills, and abandons the rule of law.

I think everyone who believes in the Constitution should be wearing one of these shirts anywhere people congregate. Bit by bit, yard by yard, the professional politicians now in power are working hard to render the Bill of Rights obsolete, and the shirt’s message is that we, the people of Earth, will speak up to preserve our rights and freedoms. We will not be silenced.

Someday, these professional politicians and their corporate benefactors have got to go. Democracy should be from the bottom up, not from the top down. Maybe someday we will see public financing of campaigns so all candidates have an equal share of the monies and cannot use personal money or donations. Maybe someday we will have more term limits so no one person gets to be all-powerful in any position. Imagine campaigns actually focusing on social issues and solutions!

I believe the Wall Street multi-millionaires who control the military/industrial/media complex have launched a war against the American people. They have long wanted to drive down wages and eliminate benefits, cut corporate taxes, break up the remaining unions, resume COINTELPRO covert spying on Americans, and further rob the public treasury and Social Security to finance extremely profitable weapons production. Through the imbeciles in the Bush administration, they have found a way to advance their agenda.

The people advocating increased domestic surveillance pine for the days of COINTELPRO, a 40-year counterintelligence program that targeted individuals like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King and groups like the Socialist Worker's Party, the Black Panthers, and yes, the Democrats. The Watergate break-in helped to expose the enormity and scope of the program. Some of the tactics used by the FBI included break-ins of offices and homes, illegal wiretapping, the infiltration of union and political groups, advocating violence at peaceful antiwar rallies, and workplace harassment.

If anyone thinks that there will be oversight of domestic spying now or that it will be used just to root out potential terrorists, then think again. Stick with FISA. It was set up after COINTELPRO was exposed and it works just fine. The so-called “war on terrorism” is a hoax designed to instill fear, exert social control, and keep the American people in check. Imagine a government so insecure in its rhetoric that it must resort to spying on its own citizens in order to protect itself from them.

We the people have been systematically dumbed-down by education and the mass media and the corporate rulers have us right where they want us -- at each others' throats instead of trying to organize, rebuild democracy, and fulfill the American dream for all. Divide and rule. Make us believe it is "us vs. them" while the super-rich further rob the public treasury and Social Security and drive the United States into Third World status. Bush is a criminal, no better than bin Laden, and I hope that they both answer to the world someday. Bin Laden attacked the US without provocation and Bush attacked a sovereign Iraq without provocation. They are both terrorists.

And we will not be silenced.