Sunday, February 16, 2003

Lansing Photos at Michigan Indymedia

Joined the march to the State Capitol yesterday (pictures -- we got pictures!). Freezing weather doesn't turn away determined Michiganders; it only encourages us. I don't know how big the march was; eyeball estimates from all sources tend to be unreliable. All I know is that it stretched for many, many blocks down Michigan Avenue, and that it felt good to be there.

I haven't really gotten political on this blog before; that hasn't been my main intent in keeping the blog, but there's really no way to avoid it now. For the most part, I don't see the sense in arguing political points, head to head, either with friends or with strangers. I wouldn't argue with any of the forty or fifty counterdemonstrators we encountered on the way. I'm sure they were there in good conscience, just like the thousands of us (and there clearly were thousands, even if we can't be sure how many) who showed up to express our opposition to war. The reason I was there, and most likely the reason most people were there, is because the official explanations of what's going on make no sense to us.

The Iraqi population is suffering terribly under a power-obsessed dictator. It is also suffering under crushing sanctions and sporadic bombings. U.S. military planners have openly discussed raining bombs on a city of five million people, as well as installing a military government after overthrowing Hussein. I don't understand. Are Iraqis supposed to welcome "liberation" from dictatorship, first by incineration of civilians and what's left of their infrastructure, and then by a foreign military occupation? The first time the U.S. allegedly attempted such a thing, in 1991, the U.S. military was ordered to stop short of actually overthrowing Hussein, and the Iraqis who were finally emboldened to attempt open dissent against Hussein were left twisting in the wind. All of this happened in the absence of any serious resistance from the Iraqi military. The message to dictators has clearly not been, "We're going to rescue your people from you." Instead, it's been more like "We're going to do the dirty work of crushing your people for you."

In the meantime, diplomacy and inspections are being treated seriously by just about every nation of the world except for the U.S. ("Nope, our inspections aren't turning up any evidence of banned weapons." "Aha! That just proves beyond a doubt that they're cleverly hiding them!") I've read a lot of Joe Orton. He couldn't have written a better script. But, this isn't a comedy; it's all gallows and no humor. This is a policy that's both homicidal and suicidal. Destruction of civilians and infrastructure in the name of "liberation" is not only going to stir up righteous anger; it's likely to bring all kinds of political and religious fanatics out of the woodwork. Violent fanatics alone may be frightening, but violent fanatics who can easily recruit money and followers represent a rapidly-brewing worldwide disaster.

Add to this noxious stew the whittling away of workers' rights and environmental protection in the U.S. and abroad, the continuing misery caused by AIDS in Africa, and the increasing dominance of multinational corporate money in political institutions worldwide, and we've got even more of a mess. Too much of the world is dangerously armed and embroiled in factional conflict already. Why should we be either complacent or complicit in turning it into an even worse perpetual-anger machine? Warfare was horrific enough when people carried it out with swords and arrows; modern weaponry would make Caligula and Hitler and Pol Pot weep for being born too soon. War has never been more than a stop-gap solution anyway; not only was the first World War ghastly, but it carried many of the roots and seeds of the second.

Tom Ridge and John Ashcroft don't make me feel safe. They scare the living crap out of me, and not because of their dire warnings about evil foreigners. The military doesn't make me feel safe, nor does the police force, nor the airport security guards who conduct weapons searches under the shoes of small children. The collective millions of people protesting in the streets of New York and London and Auckland and Toronto and Melbourne and Barcelona and Tokyo and Rome are the ones who make me feel safe. They're the only ones who can hold governments and corporations accountable for the things done in our names.

We don't treat headaches by trepanning any more. We don't subject the mentally ill to exorcisms. We no longer offer human or animal sacrifices to hungry gods to ensure a good crop or a strong city. Why do so many of us believe, uncritically, the story that the best way to avenge or prevent murder is with more murder? Let's figure out something else, while the species is still around and able to do so.


Post a Comment

<< Home