Note: The following is a message that was delivered to the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) conference that took place March 23-25, 2012 in Stamford, CT
A few years have passed (smile) since my partner/compañero Ralph Poynter rescued the Viet Cong flag from arrest by the New York City Police during a militant protest against the war in Vietnam. We then, protected by our motorcycle helmets, joined a renegade-breakaway-group that made its way swiftly to New York’s Central Park. (If you want further details, check with Ralph. He was 78 years young this week and loves to tell “war” (excuse the expression!) stories.
Since then we have attended countless anti-imperialist war demos and vigils and rallies, conferences and to paraphrase the immortal words of one of the female giants of our movement, Fannie Lou Hamer, I too am sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Too many wars, too much death and destruction on both sides. Not enough wars of national liberation or guerilla wars—just the American model of superior weapons, shock and awe—-invade, rape the resources (Iraq and Libya) and then a semi-withdrawal leaving nations in the hands of a money grubbing opposition that quickly moves to do the imperial masters’ bidding, set up their personal Swiss accounts and are no better and sometimes much worse than those they replace.
And our ever-present legacy of these wars? Go down to your local “shelter for the homeless” or state prison and count the veterans. Ask the person asking for spare change, or the man or woman on the bus or subway talking to unseen phantoms of fear and blood—what was their most recent employment? Check out the recruiting offices, fancy busses and high school “career” days. Watch any sport on TV and the ads that sell the glamorous, patriotic life of the military is the best that big money can produce. It attracts, as it is meant to do, the kids this government means to “throw away” in the projects of the big cities, on the farms that can no longer compete, in mines of Appalachia, in the immigrant communities. And these sons and daughters of “someone else” die; they are maimed; they are driven mad, in faraway places where people hate them and the flag they operate under. And then they come home to haunt our worst nightmares.
All of that said, what to do? Can we afford to see these sons and daughters, the victims of a rapacious imperialism, and our brothers and sisters living in the invaded/occupied lands at home with children massacred—to drones, to desolation and despair? Will the concept of this endless war (very profitable for the one percent!) see another generation fed into the meat grinder?
What to do?
We must raise the level of our resistance. As Dan Berrigan, who opposed war on religious and peaceful grounds said, we have to change the complexion of the jails and fill them with white protesters. There are many creative ways to impede or halt the war machines; and I know the imaginative movement that spawned the concept of “occupy” can think of new ways, that do not involve going to Washington, hat in hand, to the very legislators who started these wars, continue them, and know the best way to be enriched and re-elected. They believe that we, the opposition, can always be stonewalled; that we are too comfortable and fearful of losing that comfort security level (“at least I have a job”) to mount any real resistance.
And yet that is what must be done? Make it so egregious to those who are in control that they must yield and once they falter we must be able to use that to our advantage and keep it going. We need to start an offense and move it further and further into their territory. Does it mean sacrifice? Yes. Would you rather stay at home and skip it—probably; but we don’t have that Luxury. Too many ugly deaths do not allow us to be dropouts in the antiwar resistance! We must rise up and fight back on behalf of all the wasted lives of their wars!
—March 16, 2012
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