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October 18, 2006

The Only Honest Answer Is No


For someone in my shoes, though, hopelessness can become an excuse for not thinking about unpleasant truths. But there was something about Riverbend's quiet despair that forced me to think hard about my own moral responsibility as an American for a genocide caused by America -- because of a war started in my name, paid for with my taxes.

I've opposed this war since it was just a malignant smirk on George Bush's face. I've spoken against it, written against it, marched against it, supported and contributed to politicians I generally despise because I thought (wrongly) that they might do something to stop it. It's why I took up blogging, why I started this blog.

But the question Riverbend has forced me to ask myself is: Did I do enough? And the only honest answer is no.

Read it all.

There are very, very few Americans who can honestly say we did what we should have done, what any basic morality required of us. God knows I'm not one of that few. In fact, when I compare myself to that few, and take a step back, I see I'm standing much closer to George Bush than I am to, say, Kathy Kelly.

At some point I'll have to talk to some of the few and ask them how they managed to pull it off. Meanwhile, as mistah charley likes to say: may the Creative Forces of the Universe, if any, have mercy on our souls, if any.

Posted at October 18, 2006 10:52 PM | TrackBack

Jon S, as you may know Riverbend posted today for the first time since early August, discussing the 2nd Lancet study.

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at October 18, 2006 11:19 PM

You should check out Billmon's was triggered by Riverbend's appearance.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at October 18, 2006 11:34 PM

The death of so many Iraqi people cannot be comprehended and this is the strange fruit seeded by a callous group of people now holding the reigns of power in Washington. I do not subscribe to the use of the word evil but in this case I make an exception. These people are evil, the evil of a malign, twisted and gibbering idiocy conceived in the mindless tradition of capitalism that has turned entire nations into whores and resulted in the total destruction of one nation and the imminent destruction of another. When Forbes made his failed run for the office of the president of America he had billboards plastered with huge signs reading "promote capitalism", the siren song of what many believe is democracy. Capitalism is not democracy and one should never be confused with the other yet that is what we have done and the results are the ruin of the ideals we so love to mouth yet rarely implement in our every day lives.

We can wallow in self-pity over what we have wrought proving that we are more sensitive and noble than those who have supported this war through unreasoning hate and fear or we can do something about it. We are not created equal; some have been blessed with more than others. It could be courage or intelligence, strength or insight, talent or riches. That is the way it is in a predatory universe that is oblivious to our concepts of right, wrong, fairness or unfairness. These concepts our own constructs, the reflection of what we are, a nanosecond blip in time compared to the vast lifespan of the universe we inhabit which shall continue long after we and our planet have ceased to exist. So if we actually believe in these human constructs it is up to us to do ensure they happen because no one else will.

Some have the opportunity to do more than others yet everyone has the capacity to contribute even in a small way and sometimes those small things can make a huge difference to those who are in deeper trouble than we. So rather than aggrandizing those who can speak more eloquently than others or those that have the courage and conviction to do more let everyone contribute in their own way small or big because it is during times like this that it all helps.

Posted by: rob payne at October 19, 2006 02:25 AM

Expanding a little on what Rob wrote above, I'd add that none of us can ever know if what we do, no matter how great or small, will have the impact we hope or expect. We do what we can, and what we have to. Going to jail may not be the best way for me to help end this war. But I stand on a corner of my town faithfully one day a week in protest, and I can tell you that the number of people supporting our sentiments has grown and grown over the past year. Whose to say some of them have not gained courage or had a change of heart a a result? And who knows what one of THEM may be able to do because of it?

Posted by: Riggsveda at October 19, 2006 05:07 AM

The poet Charles Simic said it best. "There are moments when true invective is called for, when it becomes an absolute necessity, out of a deep sense of justice, to denounce, mock, vituperate, lash out, in the strongest possible language."

The question then becomes: afterward, what does one reach for, a law book or a baseball bat?

I am in a dsepondent mood, just having finished reading Cormac McCarthy's "The Road". To carry the fire, with so many unmoveable scoundrels in and out of office, may be a task my children and grandchildren, among others, may well have to face if we can't move beyond invective.

Posted by: Jesus B. Ochoa at October 19, 2006 07:16 AM

The one sure thing each citizen here can do is vote.And over the next three weeks,proseltyze to your neighbors,friends,acquaintances the need to change the Congress from toady to overseer.The mistake would be to think each single vote carries no weight.Your talk about the issues may well cause others, who out of despondency or mere ennui think the situation hopeless,to go to the polls and do the right thing.

Posted by: TJM at October 19, 2006 08:19 AM

Some of the children of the establishment went into the streets to protest against the Vietnam war.They thought they were doing what they had been taught to do. They now have, to cite our sterling VP, "other priorities." And the war in Iraq, as today's NYT describes, is good for quite a few communities. We will honor those who are sacrificed for the Global Economy and the Corporate Bottom Line. The rest is show biz.

Posted by: donescobar at October 19, 2006 02:01 PM

UFPJ is holding a rally in DC on March 17, 2006.


take a hundred friends with you.

stay the entire week, and visit every US Senator's office - and every US House of Representative's office.

tell them what we did was genocide and you are disgusted.

If 10 million of us show up, we will scare the crap right out of them.

Posted by: Susan at October 19, 2006 05:22 PM

sorry, that should be 2007!!

Posted by: Susan at October 19, 2006 05:22 PM

My younger son just did a paper on two people who were in Nanking during the Japanese Army massacre/rape in 1937 who saved thousands and thousands of people a la Schindler. What really affected me was that one of these people, an American missionary who was the principal of a girl's college in Nanking and had saved so many and helped so many, ended her own life shortly thereafter feeling that she was a "failure" or that she had not done enough.

(Her name was Minnie Vautrin)

It is amazing to me that, in contrast to her, there still remain so many people who actually say with straight faces, well, go vote in november and all will be well. Not to mention there still remain so many who still think what the US is doing in Iraq is good.

Posted by: Anna in Portland (was Cairo) at October 20, 2006 11:08 AM

Susan, with all due respect, 10 million people showing up to protest will scare no one because at least 9 million of them will subsequently vote for a pro-war Democrat.

Posted by: J. Alva Scruggs at October 24, 2006 08:10 AM