Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Fourth of July Post: Against Endless War or War at All

I'd wanted to continue with my AWP posts -- so much to say! -- but realize the 4th is tomorrow and am reminded by The World Can't Wait that we are apparently living in a time -- and a place -- where one gruesome war after another is brought up, sanctioned, and embarked on, while most of the US shops on, in numb consumerism, unable to connect those images on the screen with the sinister bottomless churning of the military-industrial machine financed by us. Middle America needs jobs, so let's invent Endless War, sorry, continue it endlessly so we are lost in the loop of weapons manufacture, weapons sales, weapons utilization against various external entities for various presented-as-noble reasons and no-one will want to break out of it, so smooth is the spinning.

Two falls ago, not happy about the Pledge of Allegiance, and not sanguine about the question demanding the bearing of arms--which most born-here Americans never have to face, and which could only elicit an equivocation--but nevertheless, wanting to vote somewhere, I became a citizen of the US, after waiting--and being disappointed--for years, for India to allow dual citizenship.  India apparently wants to designate living-abroad-citizens Persons of Indian Origin--there's a PIO card I'm yet to obtain--who have to renounce their Indian citizenship, but whose Indianness apparently won't be contested. The US wants new citizens to swear they will bear arms (if needed in a war), and I don't think this is merely a throwback to those old times when the right to bear arms was a big deal, it's a deliberate inclusion on that application form for citizenship.

All that being said, I think it's important to speak out when a government of a country one is/or has become a citizen of continues to engage in acts of violence--war is systematized violence, isn't it--against the citizens of other countries. We do not become citizens of governments, we become citizens of countries. (Yes I know the latter warrants an essay on its own...)

And what better time to speak of it than now, the eve of the Fourth--going beyond the fireworks and the picnics and the numbers of flags being sold's very very sad, but we live in a country whose government is waging war in several countries, supporting war in several countries, and often engaging in hostile actions against its own citizens, and if we're not informed, and we don't protest, we remain complicit.

The World Can't Wait is running an ad campaign, seeking funding for a run in Rolling Stone, on war crimes committed by the Obama administration in Afghanistan. Their Crimes are Crimes statement, looking for signatures, can be found here.

Human Rights Watch reports that "France, Germany, and the United Kingdom use foreign intelligence obtained under torture in the fight against terrorism"--the press release, and the posted report can be found here.

CodePink, Women for Peace, runs many campaigns and protests against war and the funding of war, and this one about the incredible killing power and continuous killing of civilians--in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq--by drones, offers chilling statistics about what these constant killer machines are doing, with our tax funds.

Free Gaza, the international human rights group which organized the Freedom Flotilla carrying aid for the Palestinians under siege in Gaza and which was attacked by the Israeli Navy May 31, has released its report on the attack on the ship Mavi Marmara, their press release and report can be found here.

Brave New Foundation has posted its entire documentary Rethink Afghanistan online. If you really believe the US is helping rebuild Afghanistan or save Afghanistan from the Taliban, this documentary is a must-see.

Restrepo, the film chronicling a year's deployment of a US platoon in Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, was released by National Geographic on June 25, and is showing at E Street Cinema in DC.

Alternative Methods, a play about torture in Iraq, which "explores indefinite detention, learned helplessness, and the deep involvement of psychologists in torture" written and produced by a former Writer's Center student and friend of mine, Patricia Davis, is running now at the Capital Fringe Festival in DC. The site has all the information about shows, as well as dozens of links to further reading and other advocacy organizations.
Of creating art out of what one sees and lives through, in his speech accepting the 1980 Nobel Prize of Literature, the poet Czeslaw Milosz said: ""To see" means not only to have before one's eyes. It may mean also to preserve in memory. "To see and to describe" may also mean to reconstruct in imagination. A distance achieved, thanks to the mystery of time, must not change events, landscapes, human figures into a tangle of shadows growing paler and paler. On the contrary, it can show them in full light, so that every event, every date becomes expressive and persists as an eternal reminder of human depravity and human greatness. Those who are alive receive a mandate from those who are silent forever. They can fulfill their duties only by trying to reconstruct precisely things as they were, and by wresting the past from fictions and legends."