Friday, April 30, 2010

Drill, baby, drill!!!

Huh?  What happened to this fantasy?

Well, with the crisis getting worse by the hour, maybe it will sink into some very small brains that off shore drilling is just not a good idea if you want to preserve the environment.  And with the recent mine explosion that killed 29 people, and the ongoing horrific practice of mountain destruction for coal, maybe some more people will wake up to the fact that using fossil fuel is VERY DIRTY.  And so is nuclear power.

No one who is a conservative could support nuclear power.  It requires heavy government subsidy and heavy government regulation.  If someone says they support nuclear power, they are NOT A CONSERVATIVE.

The same is true of coal extraction and oil sands and offshore drilling.  No one who is really a conservative would support these businesses who require heavy government oversight and heavy government bailout when the shit hits the fan.  If they say they are a conservative, you will know THAT THEY ARE LYING.

I could use very single cuss word in the English language and not come close to the obscenity that is this oil leak. 

On Immigration

This was in response to an email posted on a listserve I belong to - I don't have permission to print the original email, but it was pretty ugly.

The ancestors to those folks from Mexico lived on this land now called the USA for centuries before anyone from Europe or Africa showed up.  So, who is the immigrant here?

And people in the peace movement - especially veterans for peace - have done things for returning veterans.  There was once a home downtown run by some religious folks who took in homeless veterans.  They came regularly to peace actions, but they were closed down by the city for violations of city regulations.  The local vets for peace have collected furniture and household items to donate to other veterans, who were first getting a place to live.  None of us are rich, and we are not in control of how our tax dollars are being spent either.

How do you feel about the new statues in front of City County plaza to honor veterans?  That cost the taxpayers $450,000.  I think the money could have been better used to help the homeless vets, but we got a memorial glorifying wars instead.  They call it a veterans memorial.  They only glorify the DEAD veterans, because they are the only veterans who are not causing any problems at all.

And while we are not doing nearly enough for our veterans, we are doing vastly, vastly, vastly more for them than for the innocent civilian victims of our useless wars.

Those who come here to the USA to work and provide for their families - and are willing to sleep 20 to an apartment to do so - are not your enemies.  They are here because of trade policies that came from the US government that ruined economic opportunities in their own land.  They just want to live, and see their children succeed instead of cry at night because they are hungry.

But those politicians who enacted those laws that created NAFTA and other hideous trade policies, and who started these useless wars of aggression and greed - THEY SURE WANT YOU TO HATE THE IMMIGRANTS.  Because as long as you are busy doing that, you won't have time to get really informed and figure out what the real problem is - THE POLITICIANS AND THEIR POLICIES.  And you won't have the inclination to do something about it.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Letter to Senators Burr and Hagan

Here is a letter I email via Friends Committee on National Legislation website:

I am opposed to imposing sanctions on Iran and I feel the actions and words of US politicians around this issue are as insane as the actions and words around Iraq back in 2002.

In short, talking about sanctions and imposing sanctions is a war-making activity.  And Iran (unlike the USA) has not invaded or attacked or occupied ANY other country.  They are, at this time, in compliance with the Non Proliferation Treaty.

Sanctions will only hurt the ordinary people of Iran, just like sanctions only hurt the ordinary people of Iraq.  It will make the current government of Iran stronger, just like it did to Saddam's government.

To even suggest such an action, as Obama and Clinton have done, is either insane or vastly evil..... or maybe both.

To follow through will only establish for the world that the US has no consideration for human rights - YET AGAIN.  To follow through will only establish that the US's thirst for war mongering is not been abated at all.

It is insane, immoral and very stupid.

The photo came from facebook and is by Dexter Thompson Witherington.  It is a sunset, and I thought it was very pretty.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Further fall out from the WikiLeaks video

Some new reactions to the WikiLeaks video, where a US gunship is shooting at Iraqis in Baghdad in July 2007.  Two Reuter’s employees were among the people killed.  A man who stopped to help the injured was also killed, and his two children were seriously injured, but survived. 

The Committee to Protect Journalists are asking for a full investigation into the shooting shown in the WikiLeaks video, along with an investigation into other shootings of journalists in Iraq by US troops. 

The United States should hold comprehensive, impartial and public inquiries into the deaths of 16 journalists and three media support workers killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, a media lobby group said on Monday.   In a letter to U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said thorough investigations into the deaths were needed to ensure lessons were integrated into future military and media training. 

One thing they point out is how the US troops will sometimes mistake a camera for a weapon.  This happened in the WikiLeaks video, but it happened in other situations too.  They are basically interested in learning from this incident, so that these mistakes won’t happen again.

She knows the area where it happened, and has relatives that still live nearby.  She played there as a child.  At first, she feels numb watching the video, then she feels deep anger.  She brings up other well known massacres that happened in Iraq since the US invasion.  She ends with this statement:

We seldom hear from people like the Iraqi widow whose husband was shot, who looked me in the eye last summer, and said: "But we didn't invade their country." Unlike this video, the injustice she feels will not fade with time. It is engraved in the collective memory of people, and will be until justice is done.

Well, she is not exactly correct in that last assessment.  Her opinion piece was published on April 10, 2010.   According to an article published on April 26, 2010, the widow of the man who was driving the van (and the mother of the two children injured) has accepted the apology that two US troops wrote to Iraqis concerning this incident.  A post on that apology is here.
Widow of Iraqi killed by US troops in video ‘accepts apology’ after letter

The widow of an Iraqi killed in a notorious US helicopter attack yesterday accepted an apology from two of the soldiers involved. The two wrote an open letter after footage of the 2007 incident was leaked on the internet.  Ahlam Abdelhussein Tuman, 33, told The Times that she forgave Ethan McCord and Josh Stieber, who wrote “we acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones”, because Mr McCord had also rescued her children: Duaa, 7, and Sajad, 13.

Since this incident happened in July 2007, the children were younger then.  They have scars on their bodies from the attack.  Their mother said:

“I can accept their apology,” Mrs Tuman said, “because they saved my children and if it were not for them, maybe my two little children would be dead.”

She also commented that the anti-war work the two soldiers are doing is very good work, because she would like the American people to understand what happened here in Iraq.  She states:

“We lost our country and our lives were destroyed.”

She also asked for financial help, since their breadwinner was killed and the children’s medical expenses are running into the thousands of dollars.  The mother and her children had to leave their home and move in with their brother in law.

One of the families of the Reuter’s employees was less forgiving.  The father of Nabil Noor-Eldeen said that he was angry the soldiers did not come forward sooner, and he wanted them to expose the rest of the crimes that happened against the Iraqis.  His words:

If the two wished for forgiveness, he said, “they should expose the rest of the crimes that have happened against the Iraqis, and not wait for another film to ask for apology and forgiveness”.

The other family (of Saeed Chmagh) accepted the apology.  His brother said:

“I thank them for their good feelings,” he said, calling for the two men to testify to “the injustice that happened in front of them” in international courts.

Reuters, at this time, will not comment on whether it will be pursing legal action around the death of their two employees. 

I remember when this incident happened, since I regularly look at the photos coming out of Iraq.  I had seen the work of Nabil Noor-Eldeen.  It was the pictures from the funeral of Saeed Chmagh that really touched me though – he must have been a great man to have been so well loved, especially by his teenage son who was totally distraught by the death of his father.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sickening comment on NPR this morning

The original report is at this link.

This is supposed to be a report from an author writing about a war, but I am sure this author is clueless and probably evil too.  Here is the comment I left for NPR (I used nice language, since cussing at them will mean the comment is not published - but they deserved a few cuss words for allowing this comment to go unchallenged):

I was appalled when I heard the comment “we got sucked into something that actually has turned out OK”.  There are two grievous lies here:  “we” did not get sucked into anything….we went ahead with a war of aggression against a country that never threatened or attacked us.  And anyone with any brains could figure out in 2002 that there were no WMDs there, so anyone who said there were is either a liar or dumb as a rock.

And then there is the Iraq “turned out OK”.  That is a totally sickening comment – there are now seven million Iraqis who are either dead, injured, or homeless.  There are millions who are widows or orphans.  A widow of one of the men killed in the WikiLeaks video said “We lost our country and our lives were destroyed.”
 I do not understand how NPR can have people on your program and allow them to say such stupid comments and not challenge them.  I wish you could explain yourself. 

Another secret prison in Iraq with torture

Friday, April 23, 2010

Obama in Asheville

President Obama and his lovely wife, and about a dozen cars and trucks and small buses filled with who-knows-who, came to Asheville today.  I was standing on Charlotte Street when he first went to Grove Park Inn, and was holding this sign plus a banner that said "Honor the image of God:  Stop Torture Now".  It turns out Obama and company left the Inn and went for a hike on the Blue Ridge Parkway a short while later, but I and my friends had left by that time.  No one was taking pictures of me while I was standing there, unlike when I was holding the very same sign for Bush back in 2003.  Of course, this time around, the President could actually read the sign himself.   The above picture was taken after 5 PM, after the Obama group had passed this intersection on the way back to the Grove Park Inn.  This is a picture of me holding the sign in the same spot as when the group passed.  I did not want to get any closer since the guys in the dark SUVs were looking at me funny and making me nervous.  But I am sure that Obama had a chance to read the sign and see the other protesters out there this fine spring evening.  Below are some pictures of them.

Report from an Afghan university professor

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day!

We really need to try harder to protect this one and only home we have!  And one major use of gasoline has to be reigned in - the US military.  Here is a very nice flyer that covers how our military is using gasoline.

We need to significantly reduce their carbon footprint.

Also, getting on airplanes in general needs to be greatly reduced - they leave a huge carbon footprint.  The photo above is from the recent volcano eruption in Iceland, which grounded quite a few planes.  That is an amazing photo, no?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Further information on the WikiLeaks video

In a post earlier this month, I talked about the WikiLeaks video from a US gunship in Iraq in July 2007.

There are links to this video in the diary.

And last week, I wrote about the apology letter written by two US soldiers - one of whom was on the scene at the time of the attack.

McJoan covered this earlier today also.

Today, I came across an interview by WIRED.COM of the US soldier who was on the scene and wrote the letter of apology.

And I found a report on the video (posted below) by al Jazeera.

Ethan McCord had just returned from dropping his children at school earlier this month, when he turned on the TV news to see grainy black-and-white video footage of a soldier running from a bombed-out van with a child in his arms. It was a scene that had played repeatedly in his mind the last three years, and he knew exactly who the soldier was.
McCord was the medic who carried the children to medical help.  He is seen running with a child in his arms on the video.  He was also one of the authors of the apology letter.
He discusses how badly injured the Iraqis were from the gunship fire, and how he found the children - he heard the cries of the little girl.  He thought the boy was beyond help until he saw and heard him take a breath.  As he ran with the boy he said "don't die, don't die" to him.  He talks about how this day impacted him, in particular the injured children.
So, the first thing I did was grab the girl. I grabbed the medic and we went into the back. There’s houses behind where the van was. We took her in there and we’re checking to see if there were any other wounds. You can hear the medic saying on the video, "There’s nothing I can do here, she needs to be evac’d." He runs the girl to the Bradley. I went back outside to the van, and that’s when the boy took, like, a labored, breath. That’s when I started screaming, "The boy’s alive! The boy’s alive!" And I picked him up and started running with him over to the Bradley. He opened his eyes when I was carrying him. I just kept telling him, "Don’t die; don’t die." He looked at me, then his eyes rolled back into this head.
Then I got yelled at by my platoon leader that I needed to stop trying to save these mf’n kids and go pull security... I was told to go pull security on a rooftop. When we were on that roof, we were still taking fire. There were some people taking pot shots, sniper shots, at us on the rooftop. We were probably there on the roof for another four to five hours.
He talks about his agony over the children, and reports what his sergeant said.
So I went to a sergeant and asked to see [the mental health person], because I was having a hard time dealing with it. I was called a pussy and that I needed to suck it up and a lot of other horrible things. I was also told that there would be repercussions if I was to go to mental health.
Pretty atrocious.

He also reveals the fact that the Iraqis on the ground who were killed did have weapons, but he did not think they were part of the earlier fight. Wikileaks presented the incident as though there was no engagement from insurgents. But you guys did have a firefight a couple of blocks away. Was it reasonable for the Apache soldiers to think that maybe the people they attacked were part of that insurgent firefight?
McCord: I doubt that they were a part of that firefight. However, when I did come up on the scene, there was an RPG as well as AK-47s there... You just don’t walk around with an RPG in Iraq, especially three blocks away from a firefight...
I believe him.  There were weapons there.

McCord basically feels the troops in the gunship were following the ROE in the first attack, but he does not agree that they were doing so when they fired on the van.  As his letter of apology shows, he realizes that the US was the ones to bring the fight to the streets of Iraq, and that it was wrong to do so.

Al Jazeera also did a report of the WikiLeaks video and interviewed the guy from WikiLeaks and someone else to interpret what was going on in the video.  They further report on the shooting of hellfire missiles into a building a bit later on - and they report that the injured children have been given some compensation since the release of the WikiLeaks video.  The al Jazeera video is below.

Dow Live Earth Run - NYC on 4-18-10

Upside down in Afghanistan

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Israeli ID order set to criminialize Palestinians

Since this order only applies to Palestinians and not Israelis, it is totally hypocritical.  I hate hypocrites.  

Friday, April 16, 2010

US soldier in WikiLeaks video apologizes to Iraqis

Two soldiers who are connected to the US Army company that shot and killed two Reuters employees and about a dozen other Iraqis in July 2007 have publicly apologized.

The WikiLeaks video was released on April 5, 2010.  It shows about a dozen Iraqi men casually walking around in some back streets of Baghdad.  A couple of the men MAY have been carrying AK 47s, but that has not been established.  The US troops in the gunship believed they saw RPGs, but what they actually saw was photographic equipment belonging to the Reuters employee.  The US gunship shot at and killed them all.

This WikiLeaks video was released anonymously by someone in the US military. 

But this blog post is not about the original incident, or the release of information about the incident. 

This is about two men who were members of the same company that participated in this attack, and have now made a public apology.  One of the men, Ethan McCord, actually carried the children who were injured in the attack to medical help.

Peace be with you. 

To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the "Collateral Murder" Wikileaks video: 

We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.

We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

They go on to state that what was done cannot be undone.    But they also recognize that saying “this was wrong” and saying that they are sorry CAN help heal some wounds.  They also acknowledge what happened in this video was an everyday occurrence in Iraq, and they acknowledge that the Iraqi people have paid a hell of a price because of the US war to rid them of imaginary WMDs. 

We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and carried out in the name of "god and country". The soldier in video said that your husband shouldn't have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.

Yes, these people in the video who were killed, and the children who were injured (and still suffer today from these actions), did nothing to hurt Americans.  They did not attack us, and they did not threaten us, and they had no means to attack us in our homeland.  Of course, with all the pain and hurt we have visited on them, they may one day decide to extract some revenge.    It is unlikely they will get to the really guilty parties, that is our politicians who voted for and supported this war, but then all adult Americans have some responsibility in this massive war of aggression, the most evil of crimes.  The responsibility only minimally lies with the US Army – they were following the ROE and doing what they were told.  I wish they had made other choices, but the point of our military is to:


And to expect anything else out of our military is ridiculous.  It would be like expecting teachers not to teach or garbage collectors not to pick up garbage.  The problem with Iraq – and Afghanistan – and every other place our troops have been sent since 1950 is that we are attacking people WHO ARE NOT OUR ENEMY.

And therefore, we end up killing innocents.

The US soldiers finish with this:

With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask. Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.
Solemnly and Sincerely,

Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army 

These two men, and the anonymous man or woman who released this video to WikiLeaks, have my deepest respect and admiration.

I signed it.  I signed it gladly.  I think we need more of this – our military sharing what has happened in Iraq and expressing their concerns.  What we need less of is glorifying dead combatants who have not expressed any remorse or regrets.  We need more of glorifying those military personnel who speak out and those who refuse the orders to occupy or attack those who are not our enemy.

The Iraqi people were never our enemy.  Neither are the Afghan people.

And I don’t blame them at all.

Here is the edited WikiLeaks video.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I'm disturbing the war.

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this." ~ Lt Gen William Boykin, speaking of G. W. Bush, New York Times, 17 October 2003

"God gave the savior to the German people. We have faith, deep and unshakeable faith, that he was sent to us by God to save Germany." ~ Hermann Goering, speaking of Hitler

"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side." ~ Aristotle

"International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn't bring that up to me." ~ George W. Bush, 12 December 2003

Photo:  This was posted on a Facebook page with no further information.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A trip down memory lane -

Don't let it bring you down by Neil Young..... he looks so young!  "Find someone who is turning, and you will come around."

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today's letter to politicians

I sent this to Obama, Burr, Hagan, and Shuler.

This week has really highlighted the very serious problems with the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The US forces in Afghanistan released a statement saying that US special forces were the cause of the deaths of five civilians (three women, two of whom were very pregnant, one local police officer and a local district attorney – the last two were men and supportive of the Afghan government). Originally, the military had said that the women were bound and gagged and killed by the Taliban as an honor killing. They lied. They tried to cover this up. This week they admitted the truth – and that what the locals had said happened was actually what happened.

Link Here.

Here is another story on that incident.

This night raid was done because there was a gathering at the home, and someone had told the US forces they were Taliban. The gathering was actually a baby naming celebration. The Afghans probably started firing because they thought the people shooting at them were Taliban.

It is the Pat Tillman story all over again.

And this week there was a release of a video by WikiLeaks from a US helicopter taken in July 2007. In this video, we can see the Iraqis on the ground being shot and killed by US forces. There were two Reuters employees among the dead. There were supposedly two men carrying weapons (AK 47), but that is not clear. Most certainly none of them had an RPG or other heavy weapon.

Nearly every home in Baghdad has an AK 47 for self-defense. Few Iraqis would pick up such a weapon and go directly after US troops because that would be suicidal. If they are interested in attacking our troops, they certainly don’t do it in the open or head-on. They tend to plant IEDs. I think it is quite possible that two of the men had AK 47s, and that they have them for protection against lawless elements in their society. The US military lied about this entire episode also. Here is the link to the video.

Here is more information on the victims of this shooting. The injured children did survive, but their father (who was only trying to help an injured man) died.

First story.

Second story.

And here is a link to the full unedited gun-camera video. This shows a further attack where the US military claimed that people walked into an apartment building with weapons. I cannot tell from the video if this is true, but again, that does not mean they were fighting US troops. There were several innocent bystanders killed in this incident.

There are two things to consider about this video – one is that someone in the US military is risking his or her career to get this information out. He or she must feel it is the moral thing to do.

And the other consideration is the fact that US troops are in a country that never attacked us or threatened us. That means that the shooting incidents shown in the video are highly immoral, since we are killing people in a country that did not harm us. I feel it is wrong to blame the US military for this – it would be like blaming a teacher for teaching children. This is the job of the military – to kill our enemy and destroy their ability to hurt us.

The Iraqi people were never our enemy.

I believe the guilt for these murders lies with the politicians who started up this policy of a war of aggression against Iraq, and the politicians who voted to continue funding it. Please stop voting to fund this war, this occupation, or any war or occupation where the people are not our enemy.

The people of Afghanistan are not our enemy either. It is true that an attack on our country was partially planned on their soil (it was also planned in Germany, and they trained in Florida), but the people of Afghanistan are not responsible for that fact. To bring war to them, with the same kind of bombings as seen in the gun-camera video, with the night raids of horror, with all the other problems with war and occupation, is also very wrong.

Finally, every year on April 9th, the Iraqis hold a protest against the US occupation. That is the day that Baghdad fell. In 2004, the first time they held this protest; there were a reported 5 million Iraqis at the event in Baghdad. They burned Bush, Blair and Saddam in effigy. This year, there were probably only a couple hundred thousands at the protest in Najaf. They burned Obama, Biden, and Gates in effigy. I will be sending some of these photos to your office on a postcard.

War Crimes Times

This is a great little newspaper put out by the Veterans for Peace on a quarterly basis.  It is an update on the crimes committed by the USA (and some foreign countries) in the recent past or present.  It is a call for taking action for justice on these crimes.  One thing they recommend is getting copies and giving them to our elected officials in DC. 

This can be read on line (PDF file) at this link.

Please go to the Veterans for Peace website to order copies.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Iraqi protesters and teabaggers

Turns out the Iraqi protesters have something in common with the teabaggers:  they can't spell English words correctly!  At least the Iraqis have the excuse of not having English as their first language.  Teabaggers cannot say that!

In this protest in Najaf, Iraq, the Iraqis burned Obama, Biden, Gates and Sharon in effigy.  They also had some cardboard reproductions of US tanks with the faces of Obama, Biden and Gates on them.  There were several other protests around the country, and I will put the pictures up on the Faces of Grief blog tomorrow (Sunday).  But the first massive April 9th protest was in Baghdad in 2004.  There were reportedly five million Iraqis at that one.  They burned Bush, Blair and Saddam in effigy that time.  I guess they forgot about Cheney.  I have pictures of that on this blog, under April 2004.

Photo: Supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr carry banners against war in Iraq as they march during a demonstration in Najaf April 9, 2010.  REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

An Afghan boy fulfills his promise to US Ambassador Eikenberry

Friday, April 09, 2010

Today's letter to politicians in DC

This one went to Obama, Burr, Hagan, and Shuler.  It was through the American Friends Service Committee website.

Today, the US forces helped pull down a statue of Saddam in Baghdad.
This is considered the fall of Baghdad and Saddam's regime.  That was
seven years ago.  There was a small crowd of Iraqis there.

Today, one out of six Iraqis protested the continuing occupation of
their country.  That protest was massive, and Bush, Blair and Saddam
were burned in effigy.  That was six years ago.

The US invasion and occupation has destroyed Iraq.  There are millions
of internally displaced people, millions of refugees, millions of
widows and orphans.  The number of dead is at least in the hundreds of
thousands, the number of injured are in the millions.

All of this is a massive, massive war crime, all of it coming from a
war of aggression based on a pack of lies about imaginary WMDs.

The Iraqi people have paid a horrible price.

I support President Obama's plan to bring combat forces home by August
31st.  I also support his promise to abide by the bilateral U.S.- Iraq
security agreement, which requires all U.S. troops to withdraw from
Iraq before the end of next year.

Congress must act to ensure these plans are carried out.

Thank you for your time.

Therapy for Iraqi refugee children

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Today's letter to my US Representative and Senators

Soon, there will be a vote for more funding for the war on Afghanistan.

I urge you to vote no on war funding unless there is an exit strategy developed.

The point of our military is to kill our enemies and break their stuff (whatever they use to fight with).  But we do not have enemies in Afghanistan, and we don't in Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, or any other country in the world at this time.  What we have are criminals who want to goad us into a fight, criminals who want to hurt Americans, criminals who want to engage in terrorism. 

They are much like Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph.  They are sick, and we need to stop them as soon as we can.  We need the help of foreign governments to achieve this goal.

We will not get help or assistance if we continue to kill innocent people like recent video from Iraq leaked by WikiLeaks has shown.  We will not get help or assistance if we continue to do night raids in Afghanistan and kill pregnant women and then cover it up.  Instead, we will create more terrorists, more criminals.

Please read this:

"Afghan Investigators Say U.S. Troops Tried To Cover Up Evidence In Botched Raid," Richard A. Oppel Jr. and Abdul Waheed Wafa, New York Times, April 5, 2010

Please watch this video:

Thank you for your time.

Quote from Noam Chomsky

"If we seriously want to end the plague of terrorism, we know how to do it. First, end our own role as perpetrators. That alone will have a substantial effect. Second, attend to the grievances that are typically in the background, and if they are legitimate, do something about them. Third, if an act of terror occurs, deal with it as a criminal act: identify and apprehend the suspects and carry out an honest judicial process. That actually works. In contrast, the techniques that are employed enhance the threat of terror. The evidence is fairly strong, and falls together which much else." 

Link to full article.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Robert Kennedy speech - April 5, 1968

"violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul"

Monday, April 05, 2010

Collateral Murder

On the Mindless Menace of Violence

City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio April 5, 1968
Speech by Senator Robert Kennedy

Mr Chairmen,Ladies And Gentlemen

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by an assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lost their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.

I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

You can kill the dreamer, but not the dream...

This is a short piece by a friend of Martin Luther King, Jr.  He was with him when King was shot.

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

By Rev. Martin Luther King
4 April 1967

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King's speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all.


I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: "A time comes when silence is betrayal." That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movement well and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: Why are you speaking about war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent? Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. Aren't you hurting the cause of your people, they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live.

In the light of such tragic misunderstandings, I deem it of signal importance to try to state clearly, and I trust concisely, why I believe that the path from Dexter Avenue Baptist Church -- the church in Montgomery, Alabama, where I began my pastorate -- leads clearly to this sanctuary tonight.

I come to this platform tonight to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation. This speech is not addressed to Hanoi or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia.

Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Neither is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they can play in a successful resolution of the problem. While they both may have justifiable reason to be suspicious of the good faith of the United States, life and history give eloquent testimony to the fact that conflicts are never resolved without trustful give and take on both sides.

Tonight, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the NLF, but rather to my fellow Americans, who, with me, bear the greatest responsibility in ending a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

The Importance of Vietnam

Since I am a preacher by trade, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision. There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettoes of the North over the last three years -- especially the last three summers. As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

For those who ask the question, "Aren't you a civil rights leader?" and thereby mean to exclude me from the movement for peace, I have this further answer. In 1957 when a group of us formed the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, we chose as our motto: "To save the soul of America." We were convinced that we could not limit our vision to certain rights for black people, but instead affirmed the conviction that America would never be free or saved from itself unless the descendants of its slaves were loosed completely from the shackles they still wear. In a way we were agreeing with Langston Hughes, that black bard of Harlem, who had written earlier:

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Now, it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. If America's soul becomes totally poisoned, part of the autopsy must read Vietnam. It can never be saved so long as it destroys the deepest hopes of men the world over. So it is that those of us who are yet determined that America will be are led down the path of protest and dissent, working for the health of our land.

As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough, another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964; and I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission -- a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for "the brotherhood of man." This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the good news was meant for all men -- for Communist and capitalist, for their children and ours, for black and for white, for revolutionary and conservative? Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the one who loved his enemies so fully that he died for them? What then can I say to the "Vietcong" or to Castro or to Mao as a faithful minister of this one? Can I threaten them with death or must I not share with them my life?

Finally, as I try to delineate for you and for myself the road that leads from Montgomery to this place I would have offered all that was most valid if I simply said that I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be a son of the living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood, and because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned especially for his suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come tonight to speak for them.

This I believe to be the privilege and the burden of all of us who deem ourselves bound by allegiances and loyalties which are broader and deeper than nationalism and which go beyond our nation's self-defined goals and positions. We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers.

Strange Liberators

And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond to compassion my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak now not of the soldiers of each side, not of the junta in Saigon, but simply of the people who have been living under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them too because it is clear to me that there will be no meaningful solution there until some attempt is made to know them and hear their broken cries.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not "ready" for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

After the French were defeated it looked as if independence and land reform would come again through the Geneva agreements. But instead there came the United States, determined that Ho should not unify the temporarily divided nation, and the peasants watched again as we supported one of the most vicious modern dictators -- our chosen man, Premier Diem. The peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly routed out all opposition, supported their extortionist landlords and refused even to discuss reunification with the north. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by U.S. influence and then by increasing numbers of U.S. troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change -- especially in terms of their need for land and peace.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy -- and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us -- not their fellow Vietnamese --the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go -- primarily women and children and the aged.

They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one "Vietcong"-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them -- mostly children. They wander into the towns and see thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children, degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only non-Communist revolutionary political force -- the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on -- save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Perhaps the more difficult but no less necessary task is to speak for those who have been designated as our enemies. What of the National Liberation Front -- that strangely anonymous group we call VC or Communists? What must they think of us in America when they realize that we permitted the repression and cruelty of Diem which helped to bring them into being as a resistance group in the south? What do they think of our condoning the violence which led to their own taking up of arms? How can they believe in our integrity when now we speak of "aggression from the north" as if there were nothing more essential to the war? How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent Communist and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will have no part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them -- the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again and then shore it up with the power of new violence?

Here is the true meaning and value of compassion and nonviolence when it helps us to see the enemy's point of view, to hear his questions, to know his assessment of ourselves. For from his view we may indeed see the basic weaknesses of our own condition, and if we are mature, we may learn and grow and profit from the wisdom of the brothers who are called the opposition.

So, too, with Hanoi. In the north, where our bombs now pummel the land, and our mines endanger the waterways, we are met by a deep but understandable mistrust. To speak for them is to explain this lack of confidence in Western words, and especially their distrust of American intentions now. In Hanoi are the men who led the nation to independence against the Japanese and the French, the men who sought membership in the French commonwealth and were betrayed by the weakness of Paris and the willfulness of the colonial armies. It was they who led a second struggle against French domination at tremendous costs, and then were persuaded to give up the land they controlled between the thirteenth and seventeenth parallel as a temporary measure at Geneva. After 1954 they watched us conspire with Diem to prevent elections which would have surely brought Ho Chi Minh to power over a united Vietnam, and they realized they had been betrayed again.

When we ask why they do not leap to negotiate, these things must be remembered. Also it must be clear that the leaders of Hanoi considered the presence of American troops in support of the Diem regime to have been the initial military breach of the Geneva agreements concerning foreign troops, and they remind us that they did not begin to send in any large number of supplies or men until American forces had moved into the tens of thousands.

Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores.

At this point I should make it clear that while I have tried in these last few minutes to give a voice to the voiceless on Vietnam and to understand the arguments of those who are called enemy, I am as deeply concerned about our troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy and the secure while we create hell for the poor.

This Madness Must Cease

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 an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours.

This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words:

"Each day the war goes on the hatred increases in the heart of the Vietnamese and in the hearts of those of humanitarian instinct. The Americans are forcing even their friends into becoming their enemies. It is curious that the Americans, who calculate so carefully on the possibilities of military victory, do not realize that in the process they are incurring deep psychological and political defeat. The image of America will never again be the image of revolution, freedom and democracy, but the image of violence and militarism."

If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly 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 of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways.

In order to atone for our sins and errors in Vietnam, we should take the initiative in bringing a halt to this tragic war. I would like to suggest five concrete things that our government should do immediately to begin the long and difficult process of extricating ourselves from this nightmarish conflict:

1. End all bombing in North and South Vietnam.

2. Declare a unilateral cease-fire in the hope that such action will create the atmosphere for negotiation.

3. Take immediate steps to prevent other battlegrounds in Southeast Asia by curtailing our military buildup in Thailand and our interference in Laos.

4. Realistically accept the fact that the National Liberation Front has substantial support in South Vietnam and must thereby play a role in any meaningful negotiations and in any future Vietnam government.

5. Set a date that we will remove all foreign troops from Vietnam in accordance with the 1954 Geneva agreement.

Part of our ongoing commitment might well express itself in an offer to grant asylum to any Vietnamese who fears for his life under a new regime which included the Liberation Front. Then we must make what reparations we can for the damage we have done. We most provide the medical aid that is badly needed, making it available in this country if necessary.

Protesting The War

Meanwhile we in the churches and synagogues have a continuing task while we urge our government to disengage itself from a disgraceful commitment. We must continue to raise our voices if our nation persists in its perverse ways in Vietnam. We must be prepared to match actions with words by seeking out every creative means of protest possible.

As we counsel young men concerning military service we must clarify for them our nation's role in Vietnam and challenge them with the alternative of conscientious objection. I am pleased to say that this is the path now being chosen by more than seventy students at my own alma mater, Morehouse College, and I recommend it to all who find the American course in Vietnam a dishonorable and unjust one. Moreover I would encourage all ministers of draft age to give up their ministerial exemptions and seek status as conscientious objectors. These are the times for real choices and not false ones. We are at the moment when our lives must be placed on the line if our nation is to survive its own folly. Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest.

There is something seductively tempting about stopping there and sending us all off on what in some circles has become a popular crusade against the war in Vietnam. I say we must enter the struggle, but I wish to go on now to say something even more disturbing. The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. Such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military "advisors" in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru. It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken -- the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values. There is nothing, except a tragic death wish, to prevent us from reordering our priorities, so that the pursuit of peace will take precedence over the pursuit of war. There is nothing to keep us from molding a recalcitrant status quo with bruised hands until we have fashioned it into a brotherhood.

This kind of positive revolution of values is our best defense against communism. War is not the answer. Communism will never be defeated by the use of atomic bombs or nuclear weapons. Let us not join those who shout war and through their misguided passions urge the United States to relinquish its participation in the United Nations. These are days which demand wise restraint and calm reasonableness. We must not call everyone a Communist or an appeaser who advocates the seating of Red China in the United Nations and who recognizes that hate and hysteria are not the final answers to the problem of these turbulent days. We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice. We must with positive action seek to remove thosse conditions of poverty, insecurity and injustice which are the fertile soil in which the seed of communism grows and develops.

The People Are Important

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light." We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every moutain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain."

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept -- so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force -- has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of man. When I speak of love I am not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Moslem-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of Saint John:

Let us love one another; for love is God and everyone that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Let us hope that this spirit will become the order of the day. We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says : "Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word."

We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked and dejected with a lost opportunity. The "tide in the affairs of men" does not remain at the flood; it ebbs. We may cry out deperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residue of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: "Too late." There is an invisible book of life that faithfully records our vigilance or our neglect. "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on..." We still have a choice today; nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation.

We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world -- a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.

Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter -- but beautiful -- struggle for a new world. This is the callling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message, of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise we must choose in this crucial moment of human history.

As that noble bard of yesterday, James Russell Lowell, eloquently stated:

Once to every man and nation
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth and falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, God's new Messiah,
Off'ring each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever
Twixt that darkness and that light.

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet 'tis truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong:
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow
Keeping watch above his own.


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