Feb. 23 | All Hands On Deck
By Eric Francis
YOU KNOW, cousins, I’m sick of all this heavy stuff myself. I spent
most of the weekend and into the week reading about, and discussing
among my friends, what I will politely call ‘camps’ in the United
States — which I would be less concerned about if the expenditure were
not being blithely reported in The New York Times,
or said by Halliburton (the parent company involved) to support “rapid
development of new programs.” Excuse me, but what the fuck is that
supposed to mean?
Why do I seriously even to think about the possibility of
triple-decker boxcars outfitted with shackles, sponsored by our tax
dollars? What do I tell people when they ask me, “Who are they for?” To
make the point, why do I have to dig up an eight-year-old clipping
about how the German concentration camp system started with a simple
little torture yard in an urban neighborhood?
You know what? I’m furious about this, and I am grieving something
terrible happening. I’m furious that this is what my country has come
to, and I am deeply sad to be seeing it happen. I’m disgusted that this
is the example we’re showing the world.
I am embarrassed to be an American. I am shocked at the silence of so
many people. I am terrified of the silence. It’s all I can do to sleep
at night. I want to work against this madness 24 hours a day.
Then there is constant talk of another war, this time in Iran. More
pain and suffering for political gain and oil. More blight on the face
of a world that needs love and care, not endless bombs. Today, I was
reading a sensible, well-reasoned article about the possibility of
nuclear weapons being used on Iran, and the related possibility of a
nuclear 9-11; I would not be so concerned if the same thoughts had not
been occurring to me since the first 9-11. Because when people become
desperate for power, and to cling to power, they can start to do very
Do I need to be the one to put it into words? Okay — I will. We have a
very serious problem on our hands. When I say we, I include you
personally. And I am fully aware of the feeling that it may already be
too late. I feel it too. I just get up every morning and do what I can.
I don’t do it because I want to. I do it because I have to.
No, sorry, I’m not one of the, “Oh, it will all work out fine” types. I
feel it’s my responsibility to take action and to put my energy behind
what I believe in. I feel it’s my responsibility to actually respond.
You know, part of the problem is that a lot of people we would expect
to be speaking up are not. And that gives the idea that maybe there’s
not really anything wrong. I mean, everyone we thought had a social
conscience. Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen or Bono; nice about taking
care of Africa and all, but the US and UK are rapidly becoming police
states, and our supposed leaders lie every time they open their mouths.
Part of the problem is that I feel like I’m making an ass out of myself
by saying something. And I am someone capable of saying absolutely anything I feel. So if I’m feeling like Chicken Little, how is everybody else feeling?
One of my astrology clients last night said, “Somebody better do something — I just never counted myself with that group.”
She said she was getting over the feeling that, “You’ve got to be perfect before you can do something.”
This is a big one, thinking when you finally do yoga well enough and
make peace within, then you can speak up against injustice, because
otherwise you’re a hypocrite.
Another is not wanting to be one of the bad, angry kids who goes to
protests. Dad doesn’t like those kids; they’re just troublemakers.
Another is wanting it to all go away. And how about all the other
things you have to do? How about how difficult life is and how
challenging it is to stay afloat?
And how about the feeling that what you do won’t make a bit of
difference anyway? How about the fact that it’s the only thing that
possibly can? How about getting sick of excuses and sick of the silence
and the complacency and sick of college students who don’t know who the
Secretary of State is?
I forget which of the American founders said the time to be concerned
is not when all your rights are gone, but rather when the first of them
is encroached upon. We are well past that point. The mere fact that I
have to worry that this communication to you may be intercepted by the
‘National Security’ apparatus is what’s called a chilling effect violation of my right to freedom of press.
I’m supposed to be scared and as a result, shut up. The U.S. Supreme
Court ruled long ago that that was tantamount to censorship. To say
these words to you, I am personally rising above an official policy of
Monday, I posted the Bill of Rights to the Planet Waves Weekly list.
And reading them, it occurred to me that they are under systematic
attack. Like, that is the agenda, played out in reverse.
Here is something I’ve wanted to write for a long time, and today found
someone who had written it for me. I quote Bernard Weiner, co-editor of
The Crisis Papers:
“And so, under BushCheney, we’ve become an America that has codified
torture in official state policy, that admits it went into a war under
false premises but continues to keep our targeted troops there anyway,
that spies on its citizens without court orders, that is willing to out
a covert CIA agent (one who was probing the extent of Iran’s nuclear
program) for reasons of political retaliation, that ‘disappears’
American citizens into military jails and doesn’t permit them any
contact with the outside world, that flies suspects in its care to
secret prisons abroad and ‘renders’ others to countries that use even
more extreme torture measures, that passes laws permitting police
agents to ‘sneak and peek’ into citizens’ homes, phone records,
computer databases, library requests, e-mails and medical records
without permission or even informing those whose privacy had been
violated, that neuters the Congress by saying it will listen to
‘suggestions’ but that the ultimate decisions are to be made by the
Chief Executive, that emasculates the political opposition in Congress
by cutting them out of the key decision-making processes, that declares
the president has the right to violate the law whenever he so chooses
and Congress and the courts have no role to play in reining in that
power-grab, that keeps America on a permanent war footing in a
never-ending battle against a tactic (terrorism), and on and on.”
How would you like me to say “wake up?” Should I be polite and
reasonable, so I don’t offend anyone, or should I scream, so somebody
Said investigative journalist Bill Moyers, “What’s right and good
doesn’t come naturally. You have to stand up and fight for it — as if
the cause depends on you, because it does. Allow yourself that conceit
— to believe that the flame of democracy will never go out as long as
there’s one candle in your hand.”
I’ve got something. It’s yours, I’m giving it to you. Then you have to
do something with it. Let it be more than sending an email. Pick up the
phone and call someone; not a senator, but one of your friends. Call
your mother. Call your dad. Call your kid. Go visit your neighbor. If
they don’t care, push the issue, show them a news clipping, start
crying. Make the point. If you don’t know enough to make your case,
read truthout for two hours till you understand ONE issue well enough
to explain it. If you feel inadequate, get over it. If you feel guilty
for voting for Cheney-Bush, write a letter to your local newspaper
Anyway — here you go.
(Taken from http://www.planetwaves.net)