WÜRZBURG, GERMANY - No one looked comfortable at the sentencing hearing. Not family and friends who packed the US military courtroom's straight-backed benches. Not the rookie Army prosecutor in stiff dress greens who flushed with every "Your Honor." Not Judge R. Peter Masterton, whose usually animated face was now grave.
And not the convicted deserter -- Army medic Agustín Aguayo -- on the stand in a US military court in central Germany last March, pleading for understanding.
"I'm sorry for the trouble my conscience has caused my unit," Private 1st Class Aguayo said, his voice thick with emotion. "I tried to obey the rules, but in the end [the problem] was at the very core of my being."
Colonel Masterton, a veteran military judge, stared down at his bench. The defense wanted him to free this man of conscience. The prosecution asked that he put the coward away for two years to show other soldiers that "they are not fools for fulfilling their obligation."
Aguayo craned to face the judge. "When I hear my sergeants talking about slashing people's throats," he said, crying openly, "if I'm not a conscientious objector, what am I when I'm feeling all this pain when people talk about violence?"
Next door in the press room, where reporters crowded to watch the proceedings on bleached, closed-circuit TVs, a soldier guarding the door wiped tears from his face.
The above is from Mary Wiltenburg's "When a US soldier in Iraq won't soldier" (Christian Science Monitor). Despite the 30 day guideline, Agustin Aguayo (Aguayo was gone from September 2nd through September 26th), and despite turning himself in, the US military made the decision to prosecute Aguayo as a deserter. Aguayo repeatedly attempted to receive CO status (even taking his case to the civilian courts and he will be making a decision shortly as to whether or not to appeal to the Supreme Court). His family includes his twin daughters and his wife Helga who deserves special note for repeatedly speaking out when the military would have preferred that the whole thing vanish from memory. "The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere. However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscientious objector," Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) Arpil 20, 2007. Aidan Delgado, who was designated a CO, tells his story in The Sutras Of Abu Ghraib: Notes From A Conscientious Objector In Iraq and recounts the pressures placed on him to withdraw his CO application. Camilo Mejia, who was denied CO status, tells his story in
Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia. Robert Zabala was granted CO status, but by the federal courts last spring, not by the US military. You can read about the early part of his story in Peter Laufer's Mission Rejected: U.S. Soldiers Who Say No to Iraq -- and that link also provides you with audio samples of the interviews Laufer did with Zabala and other war resisters. Another war resister, Joshua Key, has told his story in Joshua Key's The Deserter's Tale.
In light of false claims that the peace movement is a "White" movement, it should probably be noted that only Key qualifies as Anglo. And that, as Mejia, Delgado and Pablo Paredes have often noted, there is significant opposition among Latinos and Latinas to the illegal war. (We'll also note that Fernando Suarez del Solar, whose son was killed in Iraq, has been a very integral part of the movement to end the illegal war.) Carl Webb and Terri Johnson are among the war resisters who are African-American -- Terri Johnson, a brave young woman, who got no where the attention her actions deserved. Kimberly Rivera, Ehren Watada, Carla Gomez, Abdullah Webster . . . If you're only seeing one skin color shade, you aren't looking very closely. And if you're repeating the myth that movement to end the illegal war is all one skin color shade, you're not only repeating a falsehood, you're also disrespecting a huge number of people. Maybe you're suffering MSM damage but if, at this late date, you're expecting the New York Times to cover the peace movement you're either self-delusional or one of the most optimistic people to walk the face of the planet. We've listed book titles, with links. Which of the above books has been reviewed in the New York Times? Or to shift to 'big' little media, which got reviewed in The Nation? (Answer: Zero.)
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)
Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3669. Tonight? They've announced 3689. The dying's not stopping. The dying's not stopping. Join Iraq Veterans Against the War, Tina Richards and Military Families Speak Out in speaking the truth: Fuding the war is killing the troops. It's not saving them, it's not saving Iraqis. We may or may not highlight an article about this month's war games. The military has 'found' that leaving Iraq will cause chaos.
Oh, cause chaos? As opposed to what's on the ground now? War games are not predictors of the future. They are games. You may win everytime you play Monopoly but that's not going to help you pay the bills in the real world. The reality is that what happens when the US troops leave is not known. (We won't get Rummy on that term.) What is known is that the illegal war and occupation has caused and bred the violence, the chaos and the hostility.
For some of today's reported violence, we turn to Mohammed Al Dulaimy(McClatchy Newspapers) who reports 17 corpses discovered in Baghdad, two Baghdad roadside bombings that left seven wounded,Hussein Aziz shot dead outside Al Samaka Al Ulia on Saturday, Hiwa Hweiz, Mahmoud Sabir and Muhsin Ali (all police officers) shot dead outside Arif Koie with Lelia Ali killing herself after she learned of her husband's death, an Iraqi soldier shot dead in Hawija, 2 corpses discovered outside Koza Raqa.
That's it for the violence. We usually go into greater depth. But a number of members are complaining (rightly) about a piece. Abhilasha complains very rarely so even if Marcia hadn't noted the same bit of nonsense (and that "that screwball has chapped my radical lesbian ass for the last time"), Joan, Susan, Amanda, Kayla and Bonnie hadn't also complained, we'd be addressing it. It is a big issue in the e-mails (and those are only a few of the people who've complained) and it does go to how the useless prolong the illegal war by ignoring it but love to use their platforms to play Professional Suckup.
Over at The Nation, Katha Pollitt scribbles in the useless way that's become her hallmark for this century. Pollitt, who in 2006, took the time to call out CODEPINK when she could have been writing about Abeer (a story that feminists especially should have been writing about), enlists in the "Cindy Don't Run" campaign. In fairness to Pollitt, it should be noted that she finally wrote about Abeer late this year, after Alexander Cockburn's column had finally gotten the name "Abeer" into print at The Nation. Pollitt did a shout out in one sentence while drooling, prolonged adolesecent she now writes as, over Romeo & Juliet possibilities. Let's be real clear on that damn story, a couple gets married from two tribes, the wife is stoned to death. Save your drama about the great love story because the man didn't sacrifice s__. This wasn't Romeo & Juliet and many believe this wasn't a marriage of choice. But the MSM put out the spin and damned if all the saps didn't buy into it even though the tribe in question was repeatedly under assault and women from it were being kidnapped and "married" into forced marriages. Pollitt wrote like a fool singing the score to Seven Brides For Seven Brothers who stares at you blankly when you bring up the rape of the Sabine women.
Pollitt declares that she has "a lot of respect for Sheehan" but, strangely, that never translated into "coverage." She's bored the world with her babbles and her annual "column" that's nothing but a "donate here, donate there" list (neither Sheehan nor any Iraq related issue made Pollott's last list) and now she shows up to do what she does best, write like an idiot. "Should impeachment really be a litmus test?" ponders Pollitt. Should knowledge be a requirement for writing, Pollitt?
Cindy Sheehan made clear in May her disgust with the Democrats in Congress who refused to use their power to end the illegal war. Were you watching reruns of Sex in the City again and thinking that was your life before your marriage? Pollitt's not for impeachment due to the "numbers" which again goes to the decay of a once sharp mind (overly praised, but she did have talent once). As has been repeatedly noted by people who lived through it, there weren't thought to be votes against Nixon. The hearings changed the way a large number of the public and a large number of the Senate looked at the issue. So for Pollitt to declare that there are not the numbers there for impeachment (removal of office comes from the Senate and the reserved body is not going to signal before they conduct a trial) would be the height of stupidity were we discussing another columnist.
But this is Katha Pollitt. The White woman who knows better than the NAACP what the NAACP should focus on. It takes a lot of nerve (and a lot of ignorance) to tell the NAACP what the real problems for African-Americans are but Pollitt infamously did that. New Yorker Pollitt says it is "futile" for Sheehan to run in the San Francisco district (the eight Congressional distric). It's always cute when an outsider attempts to interject themselves into a local race, isn't it?
New Yorker Pollitt then brings up Ned Lamont's Senate run and notes that wasn't frivolous because "first he won the primary." Cindy Sheehan's not lost any primary, Pollitt. It was the fall of 2006 when Lamont won the primary, not 2005. (A fact New Yorker Pollitt should be very familiar with because she bragged of carpet bagging into Conn. to vote for Lamont.) What the 2008 race looks like in 2007 has no bearing on 2008.
Pollitt then brings up Stanley Aronowitz because she always hated Ellen Willis (though she pretended different at obit time, but it all evens out because Willis hated, HATED Pollitt).
Then Our Lady of Useless Gab wants to offer up some advice to Sheehan, she "already has a cruical role in our politics: an an activist. More than any other single person, she changed the discourse about the war." Well, she certainly changed it more than Pollitt who writes at an alleged political weekly but appears to require a globe and presentation to stumble across Iraq judging by her useless columns since the illegal war began. (And if Sheehan was, to Pollitt, such a "crucial" part of the movement, might Pollitt have needed to write about her?)
Polllitt babbles on endlessly -- as only a racist can and, yes, telling the NAACP what they need to focus on, dismissing their very real criticism is racism -- and stumbles across this, "Maybe Sheehan got tired of being a symbol, a catalyst. I didn't really understand the somewhat murky blog post she wrote in May, announcing her resignation from the antiwar movement, but her frustration and impatience was clear enough." You sort of picture Pollitt scarfing down Sara Lee in front of her computer and remarking, "What's this?" as she comes across Sheehan's two columns (one on the Democratic Party, one on the movement). After a few seconds, she realizes one of her 'stories' is on BBC America, shuts off the computer and goes back to her daze.
Sheehan was very clear in both columns that Memorial Day weekend. The Democrats were not trying to end the illegal war. That was the point of the first one. The second column was about several things including the fact that if you say Bully Boy is prolonging the illegal war, you get cheers. If you point out the very obvious fact that the Democrats aren't ending it, you get boos. "Play dumb, Cindy, and we'll egg you on to go after Bully Boy because all we really care about is that there be enough blood in the water for Dems to win big in 2008!" In addition, the column was clearly about those in the movement who are selling out the war -- the war they beg for donations to help end -- in order to get cozy with politicians.
I think Pollitt's dishonest throughout her column (and chuckled when she went after Stanley because it was such an obvious move on her part) but I do believe that she honestly didn't get the columns, if I really think about it. (And it was "columns," Cindy Sheehan wrote two.) She's not tried to end the illegal war. She's not covered the peace movement. She's bored readers with boring columns. She probably wishes there was another sex scandal for her to crack semi-wise about as she did in the 90s when she first began to wallow and burrow into the clouds of fluff. So she isn't playing stupid, she truly is that stupid.
No feminist, no real feminist, would ever tell any woman campaigning for an office to 'sit it out.' But Pollitt's not really a feminist. A feminist does not tell a woman 'know your place, you are an activist.' A feminist does not make it her point to be the hit woman for Sheehan's campaign (just declared last week though Pollitt already can tell the world it is doomed).
When Pollitt attacked CODEPINK, she was defending Hillary Clinton. Now she says "Don't Run Cindy!" while defending (with heavy heart, you understand) Nancy Pelosi. Feminism is about equality it is not about bowing to those in power. But that's what Pollitt does. She's the eternal hand maiden of the court, protecting her mistress' interest by tearing down other women. It's as though Pollitt's plugging a new book, Our Betters Ourselves.
Here's a feminism breakdown for poser Pollitt: women should run for any office they want. Voters having the choice between more than one woman candidate is not a liability, it is a testament to the power of feminism and the accomplishments the movement has made.
Here's a not feminism breakdown for poser Pollitt: Telling a woman she shouldn't run for office is not feminism.
Pollitt wants you to believe she really, really likes Sheehan. Yeah, those of us old enough to remember that LYING CROWD in the 90s remember that same garbage being used in the "Don't Run Liz!" campaign. Elizabeth Holtzman thought she had a right to run. Another crowd didn't thinks so. They thought the seat belonged to Gerri. Our beloved Gerri who had been useless since her failed 1984 run as vice president and who has, of course, been useless while the country was engaged in an illegal war. "For sisterhood," they counseled, Elizabeth Holtzman should drop out of the race. They spent so much time tearing her down (with 'kindness') that they destroyed the only real candidate in the race. Ferrarro lost, to no one's surprise. Of course she lost, true or false, the rumors of mafia connections were known. They were known in 1984. To get behind her in the 90s while attacking Holtzman was stupidity. Whether they were valid rumors or smears, they had nearly a decade to take hold and Ferraro honestly did little to dispel them. Had she been elected, she would have been one more weak Democrat because she couldn't even defend her family vocally from those rumors.
I'm really tired of these 'feminists' who make a buck off feminism but never give back. What they do is take up the space (the very rare space) that a true feminist could occupy and, as many note of Pollitt, end up sullying the movement. The point of reference for Sheehan's race is not what some man did or didn't do. The point of reference is the primary where Ferraro got cheerleading and Holtzman got spat upon. Pollitt's not going to go there because it's exactly the tactic she's deploying today.
And, for the record, the men she names? She never wrote that they shouldn't run. She never said they were better as activists than as politicians. It's only out of 'sisterhood,' you understand, that she counsels Sheehan. She who's done nothing with her monthly space to end the illegal war now is Sheehan's biggest fan and wants Sheehan to continue working to end the illegal war!
I'm sick to death of these backstabbers who make a buck on feminism and then use their tiny names (and Pollitt's is a tiny name) to tell any woman she shouldn't go for what she wants. Feminism is not about elevating a select few, it is about an equal playing field. It is not about applauding Queen Bees while attacking regular women. Pollitt clings to those in power because she has nothing to else offer. She's the Queen Bee at the mag, the token 'feminist,' wasting everyone's time and sending out the message that feminism is 'frivolous.' Instead of worrying about how Cindy Sheehan's going to live her life, Pollitt might try some sorely needed adult education classes.
Pru's on vacation. If someone else sees something to highlight from The Socialist Worker, we'll note it later this week. Lyle, the quote from Sean Penn appears in the Esquire cover story on sale now. Mention the article you saw in it and we'll give it link.
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