Archive for January, 2006
President of the Center for Constitutional Rights Michael Ratner’s opening remarks on January 20 at the closing session of the International Commission of Inquiry On Crimes Against Humanity Committed by the Bush Administration can be read at Counterpunch.
…The other important point about being here, at Riverside of course, is that in April 1967, this is the place, this is the church, where Martin Luther King openly, and notoriously I should say, opposed the war in Vietnam. The speech was called “Beyond Vietnam: A time to break the silence.” It’s a historic place for that reason. He began that speech with these words: “A time comes when silence is betrayal. That time has come for us, in relation to Vietnam.” And then in that speech, he lays out a 5-point program. But the ultimate point of that program was: Remove all foreign troops from Vietnam. Incredibly, even though it was Martin Luther King saying that, in 1967, it took 9 more years, millions of Vietnamese deaths, and thousands of American deaths, to do so.
We today model our conduct on that of Dr. Martin Luther King. As he said then, we say today, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us, in relationship to the war in Iraq. It is time for us to bring the troops home now.
A people’s trial, a people’s commission, is not without important precedents. Almost 40 years ago, in 1968, there was another people’s trial. It was held in Sweden and Denmark. Originally it was to be held in France. But the French wouldn’t allow it; they prohibited it, because it was about Vietnam, and of course the French had been very deeply involved in the subjugation of Vietnam. The witnesses at that people’s trial were well-known progressives, including Jean-Paul Sartre. They gathered in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and they were there to judge another human outrage in our history, the brutal and inhuman Vietnam War. Bertrand Russell, the famous English philosopher, was one of the key participants in that trial. In fact, it was called the Russell War Crimes Tribunal.
Russell opened that trial, and here is what he said: “We meet at an alarming time. Overwhelming evidence besieges us daily of crimes without precedent. We investigate in order to expose; we document in order to indict; we arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance.” And so, as Russell said then, we say today: we are putting the Bush administration on trial. We investigate in order to expose; we document in order to indict; we arouse consciousness in order to create mass resistance. We want this trial to be a step in the building of mass resistance to war, to torture, to the destruction of earth and its people. It’s a serious moment. Our country and our world are at a tipping point: Tipping toward permanent war, the end of human rights, and the impoverishment and death of millions. We still have a chance, an opportunity to stop this slide into chaos. But it is up to us. We must not sit with our arms folded, and we must be as radical as the reality we are facing….
Tomorrow, he will protesting Bush’s “State of the Union” address, and on February 4th will join the World Can’t Wait protest in Washington, DC. Protesters will be demanding that Bush step down from office. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Chelsea Green wishes past blogger Erin H. the best of luck as she jumps ship to try her hand at journalism with the Valley News. Erin, the VIP suite just isn’t quite so V without you. Good luck, and don’t forget the little people as you move towards greatness!
My normal tendency is to be optimistic, to assume that somehow things will turn out okay for the most part. But there are times when bad news gets through and I decide that we are just plain doomed–and if not me or my generation exactly, then my kid(s) and theirs. Michael Klare’s recent article in the Nation was one of those bits of news. He writes about the geo-politics of natural gas, arguing that as that version of fossil fuel becomes increasingly important to the function of the industrialized global economy, struggles over access and control of gas will intensify, even, perhaps, eclipsing the current level of political jockeying we currently see regarding crude oil. This is not exactly news to us at Chelsea Green, what with having published Julian Darley’s High Noon for Natural Gas last year, which provides an in depth look at the situation…
All our rights, most likely, that’s what’ll fall down. When was the last time you wrote to your Senator and urged them to 1) vote against Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, and 2) support a filibuster if that’s what it takes to stop him? Um, you might not want to wait much longer.
Meanwhile, if the legalese spouted by AG Gonzales and others has you confused about the constitutionality of Bush’s domestic spying these past few years, don’t be fooled. Raw, unbridled law-breaking of the most shameless sort. Clinton may have put a cigar where it shouldn’t have gone and smoked it; Bush has been doing the same with the Constitution.
Jessica Prentice is a great cook, a great writer, and a clear-headed woman who’s working to bring sanity to our world. We all know that the way to a man’s heart is supposed to be through his stomach–Prentice is spreading the word that the stomach is also a door to the soul and a door to building community relations. Lucky folks in Willits, CA, got to talk with Prentice and taste her seasonal fare. We should all be so lucky.
Don Hazen over at Alternet writes about an interesting story on new brain research, the results of which apparently bolster the importance of framing, a la George Lakoff. (Might you be new to Lakoff and his ideas on “framing”? Then by all means, please ignore this elephant.) Some scientist folks ran some human guinea pigs through MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging machines) so they could see what parts of the brain got active when confronted by certain situations…
Dr Reverend James Forbes, senior minister from NYC’s Riverside Church, came to the neighborhood last night to deliver the keynote address for Dartmouth’s MLK celebration. Rev. Forbes’ speech was called “The Source, Scope and Spirit of the Dream,” and interestingly, he argued that the scope of the dream included environmental care.
Forbes made a case that we have been trivializing Dr King’s dream over the past forty years, and ignoring the spiritual and environmental responsibilities it encompassed. Calling Hurricane Katrina “a CAT scan of the nation,” Forbes said that the devestating environmental tragedies of 2005 revealed the depth of MLK’s dream in a new and dramatic way.
Forbes cited little known passages of MLK’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech that point to his concern about creation care: “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope.”
If Martin Luther King were alive today, would he be preaching the merits of Creation Care?
As an aside, Forbes was honored this November, along with Chelsea Green author Michael Ratner with the Jews For Racial and Economic Justice Risk Taker Award.
On the fourth anniversary of the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay, BBC’s Gordon Corera looks at the way the prison has survived and changed. His article, distributed by the New York Times Syndicate, reveals that media tours of the prison have become “more slick and stage managed” with passing time, and reminds us that any information collected from detainees is rapidly becoming out of date.
In the most recent issue of Rachel’s Democracy and Health News, Peter Montague wrote about all of the great things that happened for the biotech industry in 2005, and how those victories have literally planted the seed for further corporate success in years to come. Things “couldn’t have turned out better for the GMO crop companies if they had planned it this way,” he wrote.
Now that everyone acknowledges GMOs are “leaky technology”, spreading into nearby fields and contaminating organic crops, some countries are trying to contain GMO crops and pollen, enforcing strict rules about where the seeds can be planted. In the US, probably the biggest success in enforcing a buffer zone between GMO crops and conventional crops came from Anhueser Busch, which didn’t want its Missouri rice fields contaminated with GMO produce.