:: Sunday, March 02, 2003 ::
I like that site and try to visit every weekend to see what she's got to say. Sure, it's a fan site -- appealing to newsies, CNN-lovers, those lucky enough to see Shihab on CNN (I never do, but I only see CNN US which rarely includes its international feeds anymore). But she's always got something insightful to say. Since the page changes more or less weekly, I'll reprint her essay below:
"Why, of course the people don't want war ... but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
-- Nazi military leader Hermann Goering interviewed by G.M. Gilbert, Nuremberg trials, 1946. From Gilbert's "Nuremberg Diary."
I Ain't Too Proud to Beg
for our "leaders" to rethink our military's spring agenda, but it seems a lot of Americans are. In an article in the 3/02/03 NY Times by Tom Zeller, Mark A. Schulman, the president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research gives us one take on the matter:
"It's the general thrust of things, the symbolism and the ideas those symbols evoke," Mr. Schulman said. "That's what people take away with them."
If that's true, then assuming anything less than the worst of Mr. Hussein, particularly with the monthslong buildup toward war, may simply seem unpatriotic to a sizable chunk of the populace.
"To say that there is no involvement of Saddam Hussein in Sept. 11 is implicitly to question what our leaders are saying," Mr. Schulman said. "And that is to start down a road toward suspicion and Watergate-like politics that no one wants."
So, I guess, what this boils down to is that a large chunk of the population of this country is too proud to admit that it may have elected a self-serving, power-hungry, megalomaniac for a president. Ouch, the truth hurts, doesn't it?
But it doesn't hurt quite as much, I wouldn't imagine, as the pain those innocent Iraqis who lose their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and children will feel. And I shouldn't even have to mention the pain those U.S. servicepeople's children, whose sad faces have already been so extensively presented to us in news footage from shipyards and military bases in practically every state, will feel when they find out their mothers and fathers won't be coming home because they've been killed in this selfish war.
Oh, but to this administration, the numbers of "collateral damage" look fine, good, very promising, I'm sure -- nothing that can't be quickly forgotten or supressed sufficiently with large amounts of cash or the application of a little carefully applied pressure to the media. Ah, the pursuit of happiness in its ugliest form ever. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would weep.
I've never been so close to denying my American citizenship as I am right now. But I'm not alone. Nope. My father, a moderate until this past year (he even voted for Reagan the first time around -- do you realize the shame I feel at admitting that?), told me that Canada's looking pretty good to him. He feels unrepresented by the democrats in congress. He feels the problems of this country's senior citizens are being ignored. And, like his daughter, he's embarrassed by how uninformed and easily fooled so much of this population is.
My dad served in the Navy in the 50's. His dad was in the Navy during WWII in the Pacific. There's an American Legion post in Arizona named after this grandfather of mine. We are not an unpatriotic family. We are, however, a family who makes use of each and every liberty afforded to us: we vote; we right letters to our congresspeople when we don't like something; when we sing the national anthem, we sing it like we mean it ... or, at least, we did. But lately, every week, it seems, another of those much coveted liberties vanishes in the interest of "national security". We ain't buyin' that angle. And if the left-brained 68 year old engineer and his 38 year old right-brained (he may argue bird-brained) artist daughter agree on something, well, that is news. In this case, pretty bad news.
We both agree this current administration is the last bunch of people who should be responsible for setting up any democracies anywhere. We're both convinced that if a democracy is defined as government ruled by the voice of the people then France, Germany and Turkey are far better examples right now than the government of this country or its so-called allies. If things don't change pretty soon, Canada may want to think about putting on the coffee and changing the sheets in the spare room because company's coming. Let the proud sheep be herded into the barracks by the madmen. Their slaughter is nothing we care to watch. Angela
by Pablo Neruda
translated by Alastair Reid
And now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.
For once on the face of the earth
let's not speak in any language,
let's stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines,
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victory with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
(Life is what it is about,
I want no truck with death.)
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I'll count up to twelve,
and you keep quiet and I will go.
Penelope in Montreal sent me this in email. She was nice enough to let me put it on the site. Please, if you're against the idea of a war with Iraq, find a demonstration in your area and show the world how you feel.
"I have to tell you my war story.
On the weekend I was cleaning out stuff at my parents' place, and I found a letter that my grandfather had written to my uncle (my father's brother) during the war. I brought it home in order to send it to my aunt who is the sole remaining member of the family. What is so sad is that it is dated 18 June 1944 and my uncle was killed on 25 June 1944, which of course means he died before the letter arrived. It was returned and I guess my grandparents decided to save it. What I couldn't handle were statements like "when you and Garry (my dad) get home, we are going to have a big party". By the time I was halfway through the letter I was sobbing. Then he talks about an officer in my uncles division who was killed and he says "we all know that not everybody comes back". The idea that my uncle died while the letter was in transit is too much. Then he told him some mundane stuff like "your cousin got married and we went to the wedding". And even that simple stuff was making me cry. By the time I got to the end I was bawling hysterically. Quite an experience, really. I could just feel the heartbreak my grandparents suffered when they got THE telegram a few weeks later. They kept that telegram too. How awful.
I wish those who are rah rahing for war would think of things like this. It's so damn sad."
The US Presidency is trying to have a war -- if only this time it'd be a war where nobody came.