Early last August I joined Cindy Sheehan on her march to King George's ranch. We wanted to ask him what the "noble cause" was that our sons had died for. In a speech earlier that week, King George stated that the sons and daughters of America who were fighting and dying in Iraq where there for a "noble cause".
Those of us who where there that fateful afternoon, marching in the ditches and the hot Texas sun were united in the belief that George Bush and his administration had waged an unjust war on the Iraqi country and Her people. We believed that the lives of the Iraq people were not better off at that time, as we had been told, but were even worse off than they were when the whole thing began. We still believe these things.
As you all know, we never got the meeting we requested. George Bush never answered our question and he has not looked any of us in the eye and given an acceptable explanation as to why America's sons and daughters are dying.
And now -- now we hear rumors of impending war in Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons. I find this news greatly disturbing on so many levels, so wrong in so many different ways.
The above is from Amy Branham's "Dear Fellow Citizens" (Gold Star Families for Peace) and Lynette wanted us to open with it. She feels it sets up where we were, where we are and where we have to make sure Bully Boy doesn't take us next. You can't argue with a ringing endorsement like that (and shouldn't). So that's where we were, last summer. Bully Boy had lied a nation (a world?) into war. Into an illegal war. Nothing stuck to the teflon boy-king. And along came Cindy Sheehan and other people who'd lost family and loved ones in his illegal war of choice. Even the ones who attacked Cindy Sheehan (and they did and they do) were made uncomfortable by reality. It had been so long since we'd had any. The bodies were hidden from the cameras. "Reporters" like Dexy Filkins took dictation from the military and adopted the terms the military used. It was all so far from reality.
Sheehan brought reality home. Not just to the Bully Boy who couldn't face her (then or since), but to the nation. The tidy, little video game and Bully Boy's lip service of 'sacrifice' were exposed as the fraud they were. Other voices had long been speaking out -- and Sheehan herself had been as well -- but that moment was huge. Still is. Reality was staring America in the face and it wasn't "comfy" or "reassuring." So some attacked but more started to think. Those who'd ignored the reality of the war (and what it was built upon) thought about that, those who were already active thought about how to do more. It was an important moment and helped us arrive where we are now. The public can criticize the Bully Boy and does. The media's still a little lapdog that occasionally growls before whimpering off. (Corporate media. Some whimpering takes place on the chat and chews where they do penance for their sins of making officials uncomfortable.)
Which is why a war on Iran may be harder for the Bully Boy to wage. (Daniel Ellsberg noted on Democracy Now! today that he believes Bully Boy may bypass Congress and just go forward with his plan without their consent.) But how much harder? How far along are we? That's at the heart of Brad's highlight. Read the full thing but we're going with the section that quotes Danny Schechter. From Mark Jurkowitz's "Won't get fooled again" (Boston Phoenix):
For one thing, such loyal and influential Bush media allies as talk radio, the Fox News Channel, and conservative (particularly neoconservative) periodicals can be counted on to make the case for war, if necessary. Writing in the April 24 Weekly Standard, William Kristol mentioned the situation with Iran in the same breath as Hitler's Germany, before counseling "serious preparation for possible military action."
And if war fever really takes hold, the news industry will quickly shift from the task of examining the justification for that policy to focusing on the daunting logistics of how to cover the impending carnage.
Danny Schechter, who, in his 2004 documentary WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception, attacked TV news for treating the war in Iraq as a ratings and revenue windfall, remains unconvinced that things have changed all that much in three years.
"Iran is easily demonized, [and] it seems the Fox Newses of the world are still framing the issue," he says. "I don't feel the media coverage is any better."
It's easy to get caught up in dancing to the drum beats of war. (Many did with regards to Iraq.)
Liang has an excerpt for us that she hopes we "will embrace and take to heart." From Shea Howell's "Wild Speculation" (Michigan Citizen via The Boggs Center):
Dr. King would have a response to this. As he said of Vietnam:
"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home, and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as one who loves America, to the leaders of our own nation: The great initiative in this war is ours; the initiative to stop it must be ours. "If we do not stop our war, the world will be left with no alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play. The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning."
We can no longer avoid the challenges Dr. King posed so long ago.
Vietnam? Iraq? Are they really that different? Iraq's part of an effort to combat the realities that Americans faced about illegal wars (as Norman Solomon, among others, have pointed out). The well orchestrated attacks on the achievements of the "sixties" (largely late sixties, early seventies) which included revisionist history (we have a highlight on that) as well as erasing actual history. Kara notes Paul Rockwell's "'Sir! No! Sir!' begins national screenings" (In Motion Magazine via Not In Our Name):
"Sir, No Sir," the untold story of the GI movement to end the war in Vietnam, is a documentary. It’s not a work of nostalgia. It's an activist film, and it comes at a time when GI resistance to the current war is spreading throughout the United States.
There are more than 100 films -- fiction and nonfiction -- about the war in Vietnam. Not one deals seriously with the most pivotal events of the time -- the anti-war actions of GIs within the military.
The three-decade blackout of GI resistance is not due to any lack of evidence. Information about the resistance has always been available. According to the Pentagon, over 500,000 incidents of desertion took place between 1966 and 1977. Officers were fragged. Entire units refused to enter battle.
Large social movements create their own "committees of correspondence" -- communication systems beyond the control of power-holders and police authority. Despite prison sentences, police spies, agent provocateurs, vigilante bombing of their offices, coffeehouses and underground papers sprung up in the dusty, often remote towns that surrounded U.S. military bases throughout the world. "Just about every base in the world had an underground paper," Director Zeiger tells us in Mother Jones.
When the first coffeehouse opened in Columbia, South Carolina, near Fort Jackson, an average of six hundred GIs visited each week. Moved by the courage and audacity of soldiers for peace, civilians raised funds to help operate the coffeehouses and to provide legal defense.
When local proprietors, like Tyrell Jewelers near Fort Hood, fleeced GIs, GI boycotts were common. At one point, the Department of Defense tripled its purchase of non-union produce in order to break the United Farm Workers boycott. American GIs, many from the fields and barrios of California, immediately joined the Farm Worker pickets. Mocking signs appeared on military bases saying "Officers Buy Lettuce." The GI movement was a profoundly class-conscious movement.
A counter-culture blossomed inside the military. Affinity groups, like "The Buddies" and "The Freaks" were formed. Afros, rock and soul music, bracelets and beads, the use of peace signs and clenched fists -- a culture antithetical to the totalitarian culture of military life -- proliferated. Prison riots in the stockades, from Fort Dix to the Marine brig in Da Nang, were common by 1970.
In response to a detested recruitment slogan -- "Fun, Travel, Adventure" -- GIs named one periodical "FTA," which meant "F**k The Army." When GIs ceased to cooperate with superiors, the military lost control of culture and communication.
Military attacks on GI rights -- the right to hold meetings, to read papers, to think for themselves, to resist illegal orders -- did not subdue the growing anti-military movement. Repression actually widened the resistance.
Like Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Kelly Dougherty, Camilo Mejia -- to name a few war resisters of our time -- the GI resisters of the 60s and 70s showed incredible courage. Pvt. David Samas, one of the Fort Hood Three, who refused to serve in Vietnam, said in one impassioned speech: "We have not been scared. We have not been in the least shaken from our paths. Even if physical violence is used against us, we will fight back...the GI should be reached somehow. He doesn't want to fight. He has no reason to risk his life. And the peace movement is dedicated to his safety."
That's a reality you don't get very often. You get jerk off fantasies about how we could have "won". Jerk off fantasies are easier to bandy around then dealing with the reality of Vietnam. And that's really true of the Iraq war as well. You see that when Dexter Filkins wins an award for a piece of propaganda that's already made him the butt of many jokes. (Many more to come. And no, I'm not referring to jokes I'd make.) But reality does have a way of emerging. It did last summer. And it will continue to do so.
They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)
The war drags on. Indymedia roundup, where we focus on Iraq. Last Thursday, the number of US American fatalities stood at 2378. Right now? 2395. On today's Free Speech Radio News and The KPFA Evening News, David Enders filed a report from Iraq on the violence aimed at schools in Iraq. Currently, Iraq needs 4500 new schools. Just keeping the ones they have open and safe is a problem. A bus attack last month led to the death of a driver. Road blocks, traffic and the loss of friends and family leads to many absences (teachers and students). Fatalities include 400 teachers and school employees, casualties include at least 170 wounded. In all, 417 schools in Iraq have been attacked. If you already knew of this story, you're probably utilizing indymedia. If you didn't, why aren't you?
If you listened to The KPFA Evening News, you were aware that, in NYC, the Granny Peace Brigade waved canes in victory and sang "God Help America" when the judge found the eighteen women not guilty of disorderly conduct. An estimated 100 grandmothers sang "God Help America" outside the courthouse. Will you read about that in the New York Times? (You might in a column -- and no offense to the columnist -- but will you see it written by a reporter in the hard news section?) You need to know about that victory as much as you need to know about the defeats.
How do we end the illegal war? Information, which the embeds (in Iraq and in this country) can't provide you with. (Unless you're idea of news is officials -- named and unnamed -- making statements and setting the terms.) Along with information, we end the war through action and using our voices. On this, Rebecca demands that I share a personal story and has lobbied me throughout the day.
I was speaking today and afterwards was out on the street when someone with a weird vibe approaches saying, "You're against the war, right?" (He wasn't part of the group I had been speaking with.) Long story short on that, you're under no obligation to speak out against the war to someone that every fiber of your being screams "Avoid!"
Learn to trust your instincts. (That's the short version of that story.) Here's what Rebecca wanted me to share. When I speak, often times someone will ask what they can do and, after I offer an example, they may say "Oh, I could never do that." In those instances, I usually make a deal that if they try, they'll find out they can do it and I'll owe them. Which is how I end up with markers being called in. (And they should be, I'm not complaining.) A college student called one in after she spoke to a group (she didn't think she could, she did a wonderful job). She was working on an issue close to her and we'll call it block walking (the task at hand). She called in her marker so I joined her for that. I'll go anywhere (have and will) but, and this is why Rebecca sold me on sharing this story, I listen to my own internal warning system. As we worked our way through a building, we met many wonderful people. On the fourth floor, there was a man watching us from his doorway. He called to us and I said he creeped me out but she was already down the hall. He was half-blocked by his door (half his body was unseen) and he's asking her what she's doing. She explains her issues and steps inside as he waves her in. I go inside as well (always stick together) and am wondering what we just got ourselves into?
He closes the door and is standing in front of it . . . and is holding a butcher knife. There's no food on the counter and except for the grease filled skillet that has bugs crawling in, there's no indication that there's been any cooking going on. She was freaking out (as she should have been) as soon as she saw the knife. I went into what Rebecca terms "dazzle time" and managed to charm him. He wanted to kiss me on the cheek (why? who knows, he wasn't all there) so when I leaned in for that, I put my hand on the door knob and opened it for her to get out and I followed right after. On the stairs, she asked, "What was that crap on his walls?" I replied, "I think that's exactly what it was." (And I wasn't being funny.)
Point, Rebecca wanted this story in here because we're all (at all of our sites) talking about the need to get active and to be more active. That doesn't mean you must speak to everyone. If someone sets off warning bells inside you, listen to that. You also do not go into a stranger's home. I've block walked for years -- the front porch or the entry way to an apartment are just fine. Rebecca thinks (and I agree but she wanted this in here so credit her) that there's a tendency to think, "If I can just speak face to face with someone, I can change their mind." That's true only when you're dealing with people who aren't wack jobs. (My term. Elaine would have a better one.) If something is creeping you out or causing you to worry, you're more important alive, walk away immediately if something doesn't feel right.
That's if you're a male or a female. That's even if you think you can handle any situation. Rebecca got an e-mail from the mother of one of her readers (and a community member). The mother was talking about a plan she and her daughter had (a very safe one, inviting friends to their home). Since Rebecca hadn't heard from the daughter (Goldie), she checked her spam folder and there were two e-mails from Goldie as well a ton of e-mails from her other readers with things they were going to do this weekend since they couldn't be in NYC. Rebecca's replying (she thinks it will take at least another hour to finish) to all of those e-mails. Her point, and I agree, is that they've come up with great plans to get the word out. However, you need to remember that you can speak to someone on their porch or at the front door. You don't go inside. That's in a "good" neighborhood or a "bad" one. Unless you know them, you don't go inside. Rebecca has a large number of high school readers and a healthy number of junior high ones. It's so amazing how committed they are and applause to them. But they need to be safe.
I told her about the weirdo (the short story above) and she said that needed to go up here (it won't) and said the knife encounter did need to go up here. She lobbied for that all day -- and that was before she found out that a large number of e-mails from her readers had gone straight to the spam folder of her account. When she read them, she said she was sharing the story I told and that it really needed to go up here. I would hope that this is basic to most adults (though I know it's not to all) but since we are talking about underage teenager and at least one preteen, I agree with her that it has to be noted.
If someone creeps you out, the peace movement can get by just fine without you putting yourself in danger. Learn to listen to your inner warning systems. (Again male or female.) That's not to frighten anyone or to feed a cycle of fear. That's to say, be practical. And stay out of people's homes. If you're invited in and you don't know the person, you can politely reply that if you go inside you know you'll be tempted to sit down and you'd promised yourself you'd get to everyone on the block or in the complex (which wouldn't be possible if you sat down).
The DIY efforts Rebecca's readers have planned for this weekend are wonderful. They should be a huge success and congratulations on the creativity and the passion. But remember that if you aren't safe, you aren't any help to anyone.
End of sermon. Back to highlights.
Brenda notes Samuel Bostaph's "Cindy Sheehan: The Human Costs of Peace" (Gold Star Families for Peace):
Although much has been written and said about the casualties of war, there are few mentions of the casualties of those committed to peace and opposed to war. In demonstrations against past wars, protestors have been beaten by police, imprisoned and rendered penniless by expenditures on defense lawyers, as well as had their characters and reputations lied about and smeared by government officials, war supporters and the press. This is no less true of those opposed to President George W. Bush's war against Iraq and his use of U.S. military forces in a continuing occupation of what was once the "cradle of civilization."
On August 6, 2005, a peace activist named Cindy Sheehan arrived in Crawford, Texas, and camped outside the gates of Bush's ranch. Her avowed purpose was to meet with the president and obtain an explanation from him for his preemptive, unconstitutional war against Iraq. She had personal knowledge of the casualties of war. On April 4, 2004, her son U.S. Army Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, while on a rescue mission. Cindy Sheehan had been against the Bush presidency and the war in Iraq before Casey's death, but afterwards she began publicly traveling and speaking against the war. What took her to Crawford was a television clip from a speech by Bush that was broadcast on August 3. In it, he described his war against Iraq and the subsequent occupation of that country by American troops as a "noble cause" that required continuation "to honor the sacrifices of the fallen."
Enraged at the president's vacuous justification for what she perceived to be a great wrong, and the use of the death of her son as an argument in support of continuing that wrong, Cindy Sheehan went to Crawford for retribution. As the mother of one of the victims of his unjust war she wanted to confront the president and call him to account. He refused to meet with her, but sent two of his staff -- National Security Advisor Stephan Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin -- in an attempt to mollify her. They failed, and her subsequent vigil led to international publicity and her almost instant celebrity as the "Peace Mom."
It also made her the favorite target of pro-war and pro-Bush journalists, commentators, pundits, talk-show hosts and political organizations. She was subsequently arrested for demonstrating without a permit (September 26, 2005), for unlawful conduct (January 31, 2006) and for criminal trespassing and resisting arrest (March 6, 2006), the last of which was coupled with an unnecessarily violent arrest and rough treatment by New York City police. Thus, Cindy Sheehan joined the casualties of peace.
Comes with the territory (as Sheehan would be the first to admit and I think we have a highlight where she talks about that -- judging by the title of Eddie's e-mail). Taking a stand is never easy but easy doesn't build a democracy or keep one alive or rescue one. It's so much easier to play "on the one hand, on the other." It's so much easier to couch your beliefs or hide them. That won't stop the war.
Reading Eddie's e-mail now and the title indicated it would fit with this. (The most specific your e-mail title, the more likely it will get included even if I'm rushing -- as I am tonight). From Cindy Sheehan's "Peace Takes Courage" (BuzzFlash):
I have a new friend. She is a 15 year young peace activist named Ava Lowery. She is disgusted with the war and with the Bush regime and she started to use her talents for animation to make cartoons that oppose Bush and the war in Iraq.
She first came to my attention when I read an article about all of the ugly hate mail she is getting on her site for a particularly poignant and brilliant animation she has called: "WWJD." It is a heartbreaking piece that has a child singing: "Jesus loves me" and during the song she shows pictures of dead, wounded, bloody, and screaming Iraqi children. She wanted to show how Jesus loves Iraqi children also which is apparently a frightening concept to the people who practice Bushianity.
For this inspired bit of courageous matriotism, Ava has been the object of intense and horribly ugly hate emails and not too subtle threats to do her bodily harm. As soon as I heard about her troubles, I emailed her and she phoned me right away so we could talk.
Even before I went to Crawford last summer, I was the object of these attacks by many people who touted themselves as Christians doing God's work. The attacks are rabidly obscene and horrible in their rage and just downright meanness. There are entire websites dedicated to assailing me and my character and where such comments as: "Someone ought to do the world a favor and shoot the bitch in the head to shut her up," are common. During Camp Casey we had to refer more than one death threat to the FBI.
One particularly wicked threat was sent to me the night before I testified at Congressman Conyers' Downing Street Memo Hearings in June, I got an email from a man who said that he hoped that my other three children would die. I think these people level pretty harsh punishments at other people who are only exercising their freedom of speech when the person who is responsible for killing American soldiers and executing innocent Iraqi children and making them orphans is touted as a fine Christian man.
Like Sheehan wrote, speaking out takes courage. Use your courage and dig deep (but be smart -- see sermon).
Let's stay with courage for a moment. (Don't worry, we will get to the Democratic "leaders.") Camilo Mejia spoke out. And continues to do so. Jonah steers us to Eric Ruder's "'It's the same system behind both injustices'" (Socialist Worker):
HOW DOES being an immigrant affect how people are recruited into the U.S. military?
IT DEPENDS. You have immigrants who were born and raised here, and whose families are really Americanized, and there's not much of a difference between them and a native-born soldier.
But when it comes to someone who, for instance, grew up in Mexico, they don't have that blind patriotism, because their patriotism was acquired later in life. They don't have the same innate imprint that America is perfect and beautiful and generous and infallible.
Instead, they have more of a longing to be American--a longing to be a part of this great nation, to be a patriot and to pledge allegiance to all these symbols that, sadly, people identify with being American. But they don't have that imprint that for people born and raised here goes unquestioned--until something big happens in their life, and they start seeing things from a different perspective.
Still, everyone in the military has to struggle with a lot of demons--the heavy indoctrination of constantly being told that we live in America, the Beautiful and the Generous. Suddenly, they're in Iraq, and the filter is removed. It's not easy to digest the reality--this war is not for democracy or against terrorism, this is an imperial war.
Speaking out, finding courage, encourages others to do likewise. It's the story of The Emperor's New Clothes. "One Small Voice" by Carole King for those who relate better to songs. Off her album Speeding Time. ("One small voice can change the world . . .") It just takes one to get the ball rolling. (Look at Bully Boy's poll numbers for evidence of how well that's paid off.)
Courage can be contagious. So can cowardice. (Remember, I said we'd get to the Dem "leaders.") Karen notes Stuart S. Light's "The Spineless Democratic Party" (Santa Barabara Independent):
So the "two-party" system has come to this: the Republicans, the party of bad ideas, against the Democrats, the party of no ideas. With these Democrats, the term "loyal opposition" is an oxymoron. Opposition like that -- what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. And a shame it is too, because this administration and the cohorts supporting it in both houses of congress have proven to be the bottom feeders of the new millennium. How inspiring it would be to hear some booming, oratorical rants from the so-called leaders of the "opposition" party. Can't you almost hear their voices?
"Hell no, Mr. Bush, we’ll be fighting tooth-and-nail to make sure you don't get another dime for your stupid, dishonest, and brutal mistake in Iraq."
"Hell no, Mr. Bush, there will be no more illegal, Constitution-shredding wiretapping of the American people. Come heaven, hell, or high water, we're going to stop it."
"And, speaking of high water, Mr. Bush, your administration's failure before, during, and after Katrina will not be swept under the rug with Brownie. We're putting it back on your desk, where, you might have heard, the buck stops."
"And for crying out loud, man, stop invoking 9/11 to justify every sordid, secretive, anti-democratic thing you do. Have you no decency, sir?"
It's like dreaming the impossible dream. Like imagining John Kerry getting elected by having enough spine to stand up for his own history and beliefs. But spines, it seems, must be checked at the door when one enters the big tent known as the Democratic Party -- unless your name is Feingold. As you might recall, the Wisconsin senator did the unthinkable recently by asking his party members in the Senate to stand up and support a resolution of censure against President Bush for illegally spying on the American people. Judging by their response, you might have thought he'd invited them all over to his desk to inhale anthrax -- except Hillary, of course, who doesn't inhale either.
A climate that allows for dissent and discussion can be created and it has been. One example is Miguel's highlight, "Songs of Protest" (The Nation):
And what they sing and say still matters, as the first skirmish of the Iraq War--the frontal assault on the dissenting Dixie Chicks after their lead singer criticized George W. Bush--confirmed.
As the devastation escalated, so did the music. Green Day's album American Idiot, a roaring pop-punk assault on the "redneck agenda" and the warped discourse of post-9/11 America, went to Number 1 on the charts, won a Grammy in 2005 for Best Rock Album and has sold more than 5 million copies. Hip-hop star Kanye West telescoped frustration with the White House's dawdling response to Hurricane Katrina when he told a national television audience, "George Bush doesn't care about black people." On his CDs West has been equally fierce, sarcastically suggesting on his 2005 song "Crack Music" that if anyone's still got questions about Saddam Hussein's supposed chemical weapons stash, "George Bush got the answer."
Now, as Bush's chart position sinks, he's getting even worse reviews. Pearl Jam's new single, "World Wide Suicide," the story of a mother mourning a son killed in battle because his was a life "the President took for granted," tops Billboard's Modern Rock chart. Bruce Springsteen has recorded a rollicking tribute to protest songs by the country's most famous folk singer in a new album, The Seeger Sessions: We Shall Overcome. Moby and REM's Michael Stipe just headlined an antiwar "Bring 'Em Home Now" concert, and the Dixie Chicks are letting Bush know they're not backing down, with their new single, "Not Ready to Make Nice." The extent to which Bush's fortunes have turned may be summed up by the news that pop singer Pink, who began the Bush era promising to "Get the Party Started," is ending it with a sobering lament, "Dear Mr. President," that savages Bush's stances on gay rights, the minimum wage and the war. Hitting even harder is veteran rocker Neil Young, whose post-9/11 song "Let's Roll" was heard by some as a call for war. Young clarifies things on his new CD, Living With War. With a track titled "Let's Impeach the President," it won't feature on George Bush's iPod.
What is sung and said does matter. It puts the issue front and center. Miguel enjoyed the editorial but felt other songs could have been selected. He's right, others could. It's an editorial so it's a group process. At The Third Estate Sunday Review, we note music and other things. On those pieces, it's a matter of what can everyone agree to live with and what can't they. This an editorial so it wasn't written with input from a group. Even if it had been written by one person, there's no way someone reading it wouldn't have thought of other songs. There's not a piece there (or here) that I haven't had "one more thought!" on after it's gone up. That's life. Is this a piece that you can post comments to? If so, you could add a song or artist you would have selected. If not, members can write firstname.lastname@example.org and suggest some songs. I can't guarantee it will go up this weekend but it will be noted because it is important to track who is speaking out (and who has a nasty case of "War Got Your Tongue?"). Miguel notes that Bright Eyes should have made the list. I agree with that (and can think of others). But it could be a case of someone not thinking of it until after the piece went up as easy as it could be a case of someone not liking Bright Eyes. Also consider what the people listen to. (There's not a lot of indymedia or nonbig names on the list.) Someone who might be able to compose an amazing list is Ruth Conniff. (Might be able to if she's still as passionate about music -- or even half as passionate -- as she was in college.) So you could also e-mail The Progressive and suggest that she weigh in on this topic. I note that for two reasons. First, in a world without poll tested play lists and corporate radio, she could have made a great dee jay. Second, I wanted to work in a highlight. I only got to the new issue of The Progressive today (it had to sit unread for several days due to my attempting to finish reading two other things -- a book and something a friend's working on). There are many wonderful things in there (including Anne-Marie Cusac's book review which I'm sure won't be available online -- Conniff, Matthew Rothschild and Cusac write the strongest book reviews, my opinion), one of which is Conniff's interview with Lewis Lapham. From "The Progressive Interview:"
Q: What do make of the Time's editorial that said calls for impeachment and even Senator Feingold's censure bill will only embolden the right?
Lapham: Well, the right doesn't need emboldening. The right is perfectly happy to lie, cheat, steal, say anything that comes conveniently to mind. If you make your politics a matter of waiting to see what the other fellow will do, you already have lost the argument, or the election. And it is this kind of pussy-footing on the part of the Democratic Party that has led us into this morass.
We presumably elect members of Congress to look out for the interests of the American citizen, to protect and uphold the Constitution. Here we hae the executive trampling on the legislature and judiciary, and it is up to the Congress to correct that condition. Because that is a fouling of the constitutional form of government.
In a democracy, it takes more voices, more speaking up, not less, not silence. Not shrugs. It takes a Lapham, it takes a song, it takes a parent, it takes . . . Everything. Which is why it is so important to use your voice, your power, and make the war a topic that resonates in your world.
It takes a movie. (Many atually.) And we'll end with Sir! No! Sir! (Two highlights and upcoming dates.)
First up, KeShawn notes Paul Cox's review "Sir! No! Sir! A Lost History" (Citizen Soldier):
Donald Duncan, Howard Levy, Susan Schnall, and Keith Mather are names that do not, as far as I know, appear in any high school or college history texts that survey the Vietnam War. But they should. Sir! No, Sir! is lost history excavated, displayed, and annotated. Filmmaker David Zieger presents some of the highlights of the diffuse but exceedingly important anti-war and anti-military movement by active-duty servicemen and servicewomen during the Vietnam War. Most texts minimally cover the anti-war movement, generally focusing on a few seminal events such as the 1968 Chicago police riot, the large mobilizations, or draft-card burners--and generally take a neutral to semi-hostile tone. But nary a word is spent on the actions of these early four and thousands of others who as active duty GI's gave the brass that good old late night indigestion.
Duncan's high-profile resignation from the Green Beanies, and Dr. Levy's refusal to train Special Forces medics for Vietnam were the first indications that all was not well in the ranks, and Dave Zieger's film captures very well the immense importance of their stands.
The brass saw the GI Movement as one of several elements of the poor morale that very quickly dragged down the effectiveness of the US fighting forces in Vietnam. Drugs and desertions were the two other critical morale indicators, but it was the organizers and barracks lawyers who were going to bring down the house of cards upon which military discipline was built.
Zeiger, himself a GI activist at Fort Hood, effectively uses the available footage and still graphics to tell a compelling story about the resistance within the military. He also filmed numerous very moving interviews with people who were central to these events.
Duncan, about his tour in Vietnam: "I was really proud of what I thought I was doing. The problem I had was realizing that what I was doing wasn't right. I was doing it right, but I wasn't doing right. As bad as the [torture of prisoners] was, the cynicism that attached to it was the part that was really sickening."
It is lost history and it can stay that way if we let it. The film has added dates and will be playing many places. For a full listing, check out the website Sir! No! Sir! and check out the movie if it's in your area:
28 THE STARZ FILM CENTER (Denver)
JACOB BURNS FILM CENTER (Pleasantville)
01 THE CINEMA PARADISO (Fort Lauderdale)
05 TEKFESTIVAL (Rome, Italy)
05 THE ORPHEUM THEATRE(Madison)
LAEMMLE's MONICA 4 (Santa Monica)
LAEMMELE's PLAYHOUSE 7 (Pasadena)
REGAL TOWN CENTER 6 (Irvine)
9 ZEITGEIST ARTS CENTER (New Orleans)
12 REGAL FOX TOWER STADIUM (Portland)
THE BELCOURT THEATRE (Nashville)
LANDMARK MIDTOWN ART (Atlanta)
19 LANDMARK E STREET CINEMA (Washington DC)
REGAL ARBOR CINEMA @ GREAT HILLS (Austin)
22 THE ELKS THEATRE (Rapid City)
26 UPSTATE FILMS (Rhinebeck) THE ANGEKLIKA FILM CENTER (Dallas)
28 CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS (Santa Fe)
I see it will be playing in Betty's area (she's seeing it, we were on the phone tonight), in Wally and Krista's area, and in the DFW area which is an area with a huge number of community members. Go to the film, take a friend, take friends.
I thought we had this last highlight, this week's song and then an announcement (and then I was through) but I'm finding some more in the e-mails so we'll note Sir! No! Sir! and then we have a few more items before we close. Cindy notes Richard von Busack's "Good Evening, Vietnam" (Metro Santa Cruz):
Rewriting Vietnam began some 10 years after the war ended. Pundits and presidents retold the story of 58,000 American dead, making them martyrs stabbed in the back by a weak-willed public who couldn't man themselves up enough to finish the job.
By the mid-1980s, Sylvester Stallone's steerlike face writhed on the big screen as he begged, "Sir, do we get to win this one?" Any public mention of the American war in Vietnam demanded tortured, passive reasoning. One example is former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's claim in Paul Hendrickson's book The Living and the Dead that "the nation took itself into Vietnam"--as if it jumped, instead of being pushed.
Filmmaker David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! is an essential revisit to the war and its consequences. It's a trove of history delved up from the public memory hole. In particular, it stresses the unpopularity of the war among those who fought it. Zeiger, a '60s activist turned successful documentary filmmaker, reminds a new generation of some forgotten details: the stockade rebellions and moratoriums, and the 20,000-strong membership of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Sir! No Sir! plays a one-night-only engagement at the Reel Work Film Festival on April 27. It will be released later this spring.
METRO SANTA CRUZ: Had you planned on making this movie since the Iraq war began?
ZEIGER: I wasn't planning on making this film, since I felt the time had passed. Vietnam was old news, and it just wasn't going to resonate. It was the buildup to the Iraq war that made me think it was necessary to tell the story.
You see parallels between Iraq and Vietnam, then?
The Iraq war is no more just or right than Vietnam was. I think ultimately in the coming year the soldiers will become the elephant in the house of the American military planners. They're planning on digging in in Iraq, they're not leaving. There is already an organization of Iraq Vets against the war. I understand that when Cindy Sheehan was in Crawford, there was a fairly steady stream of active duty soldiers from Fort Hood coming to see her.
Cindy noted that she was going to see it tonight. If it comes to your area, make sure you see it. Check the dates because it may be a one night only showing or it may be extended. But this is a movie that you'll enjoy.
Now Julie noted Elliot Stoller's "Ft. Lewis Demonstration for Kevin Benderman's Freedom" (Seattle Indymedia) which is is a photo essay of demonstrators gathering to show their support for Kevin Benderman.
That keeps the issue the alive. They can only punish if we look the other way. Which brings us to Trina's highlight, "The new McCarthyism: Bush tries to scare the wits out of whistle blowers -- and the press" (Boston Phoenix):
Whoever leaked to the Post, the Times, the New Yorker, and other outlets determined enough to report the truth deserves this nation's unrestrained gratitude.
When Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon papers, he revealed the lies with which the Johnson administration prosecuted the Vietnam War. The Nixon administration, which had its own lies to worry about, tried but failed to put him in jail.
Those who blow the whistle during the Bush administration may not be so lucky. And this time, there is no reason to believe that those who do the leaking will be the only ones to face imprisonment. The press is the next logical target. Bush will stop at nothing, unless the nation makes it clear that it won't tolerate him. But so great is this man's arrogance that he seems unrestrained by the latest polls, which show that only 32 percent of the nation endorses his rule while 60 percent disapproves of it.
He's lost the support of the people. (And their confidence.) This weekend, in NYC or not, make an effort to get the word out. (See sermon above for practical note -- not "cautionary note.") The pick this week is:
Peter said to Paul you know all those words we wrote
Are just the rules of the game and the rules are the first to go
But now talking to God is Laurel begging Hardy for a gun
I got a girl in the war man I wonder what it is we done
-- "Girl In The War" written and recorded by Josh Ritter from the album The Animal Years
And yes, Kat's planning to review it. Now for the announcement, "Danny and Rory Discuss When News Lies on C-Span - (Video)" (MediaChannel.org):
In case you missed it: MediaChannel's Rory O Connor interviewed News Dissector Danny Schechter on C-SPAN's "Book TV." The discussion of Schechter's new book, "When News Lies: Media Complicity and the Iraq War" aired this past weekend and Monday morning. You can watch the first half here on MediaChannel.org. UPDATE: Book TV will be airing an encore of this discussion on Saturday (4/29) at 10pm EST.
Those who are having people over or might be looking for a way to participate this weekend could watch C-Span's Book TV and discuss it after.
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