Fifteen Grand Traverse area people traveled together in a van to Washington,DC, (along with at least 10 others who went independently) to join - in the organizers words: ...the biggest anti-war demonstrations since the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands of people on October 26 took to the
streets across the country, announcing with a massive, visible and vocal presence the creation of a new anti-war movement to stop George W. Bushs plans to wage war against Iraq.
We who made the trip from here joined the 200,000 people at the Washington Mall where we heard wonderful support from the likes of Jesse Jackson, Susan Sarandon and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.
We then joined the march, which was so vast that people filled Washingtons wide boulevards and sidewalks shoulder to shoulder for 25 city blocks over two miles completely encircling the White House from the Mall where we looked toward the Washington Monument with its haze of fog around its tip.
From Traverse City, Susan Kopka wrote: Our foursome went because we realized how much we have been trapped in a fog of fear, fear of war, fear of our sons being drafted, fear that to speak out would label us unpatriotic. The best button sold at the March in D.C. was one that reads: Peaceful & Patriotic (with a peace sign superimposed over an American flag).
From Suttons Bay, Fred Elmore wrote: I saw a wide variety of individuals. There were old and young, those who dressed in the tie-dyed look and many who were in normal everyday dress. There was a strong sense of urgency - a sense of strength. A need to act now before hostilities were increased.
There is no feeling like the feeling of empowerment I absorbed being surrounded by that vast sea of wonderfully peaceful yet healthily angry people. I brought that feeling
home with me and am fully prepared to march and work for peace at every possible opportunity those presented to me by joining peace marchers here each Saturday in Traverse City and those things I can do individually.
Ann Rogers kept a wonderful list of many of the signs we watched with awe as people expressed their rights as citizens to speak to our government in D.C. For a copy of that list, write to the address below.
I invite all to join local peace activists by writing to me, Carol Still, Grand Traverse Area Citizens for Peace & Justice at: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 941-0646.
This is a networking process no meetings to attend but you will get announcements of local organizations working for key issues of peace and justice. You can also communicate online with people working for peace, and be able to express your hopes and frustrations about the threats to our children and their futures.
Carol Still via email
Disastrous foreign policy
Recently you may have seen demonstrators for peace on the streets of Traverse City. You may even have seen the news clips of larger rallies in DC, San Francisco, Chicago or Augusta, Maine. These are concerned individuals from a diverse political spectrum. They understand that something is wrong with the current continued path of solutions through
violence. They are searching for avenues of influence within a political/cultural system that is out of touch and ill prepared to lead the
U.S. towards a world where equality, peace and universal dignity are pursued.
Our current leadership fails to represent the majority of citizens. Why? Because the majority is disenfranchised. Where is there hope?
The current White House administration has been acting on pre-orchestrated ambitions that are secondary to any present threat or danger. The current debate on Iraq has less to do with threats by Saddam Hussein, as it does with behind the scenes Mid-East deals, a half-century of ill-advised policies and present political posturing. The 9-11 attacks did not force the United States to become more aggressive militarily: we already were an aggressive nation, and there is some credence to the argument that our current less-than-desirable position in the world is due to that aggressive nature of our government, economy and culture. Simply put, despite the large sums of humanitarian aid that flows from the United States, we are still largely seen as arrogant and hostile towards the world.
Last month the Bush administration revealed its National Security Strategy. Despite an introduction claiming support for international bodies and multilateralism, the policy evokes strong emotions by many for its arrogant position that it is this administrations prerogative to maintain and strengthen beyond approach the power of the United States.
For many Americans this may work as a patriotic rallying call, but this really is a shallow policy better suited for a football team. The idea that the United States should openly adapt a policy of hegemonic authority is a slap in the face to the UN, our allies and sovereign groups across the globe. As a policy it fails to provide the security that we should expect from our government. It feeds a cycle of current problems that future generations will still have to deal with, just as we are reeling from a U.S. created Osama Bin Laden.
George W. Bush likes to energetically claim that Americans will not live in fear, but his strategy is driven by fear and a dangerous lack of foresight. A foreign policy defined by our threats is not a sophisticated policy, but a mere reaction to perceived threats. We instead need to urge our government to contribute quality, balanced participation in the international community, and we need to urge it to admit faulty past policies and subsequently take decisive action to correct them. We need to become a partner with the world, and lead through our strength of civil-society, not through the threat of our military power.
Brute force, or even the threat there-of, by a single superpower claiming to act with the moral authority does not a stable world make.
Gary Howe Traverse City
Taking Michael Moore to task
It should come as no great surprise that Michael Moore begins his latest foray into Film Greatness with a cartoon. As far as I can tell, his view of the world was stunted somewhere between Space Angels and Speed Racer; one should expect a rather, er, childlike understanding of things from Mr. Moore. I know, I know: I am an uncultured rustic, and I simply dont understand that the cartoon was used as Artistic Irony. I will admit, though, that much adolescent sophistry plain flies over my head.
So then, says the cherubic filmmaker, a communitys main employer is the taproot of its moral character. Michael Moore says Lockheed Martin is the largest employer in Littleton; they make bombs, ergo, we should expect the students at Littletons high school to shoot people. It is rather like saying that the main employer in Kingsford, Oregon makes charcoal, so we should expect the kiddies to be little arsonists. Excusing for a moment that he has his facts wrong (the largest employer in Littleton is the State of Colorado), we should then apply his formula to the city with the highest murder rate: Washington, D.C.
Who employs the largest number of people in Washington? The federal government. I sense Mr. Moore would find this country more to his utopian sensibilities if all the big, evil corporations were broken into a thousand little collectives, with peasants peacefully tilling the earth with sharpened tree-roots, but would he apply the same reductivist theory to the Fed? I know of no corporation in the history of the world that has ever dropped a bomb on anyone. Without consulting my encyclopedia, I am fairly safe in stating that governments drop bombs. I doubt, though, that Mikey Moore would ever lay the blame for violent human behavior on the doorstep of an ever-expanding and all-intrusive central government.
A century of example after example, of course, will never get in the way of Mr. Moores rotund bellicosity: Adolf Hitler wasnt to blame for the Third Reich; it was I.G. Farben, it was the House of Krupps, it was the corporatists. Pol Pot happened because of Bell Helicopter (we ALL know that!). Papa Joe Stalin succeeded because he was propped up by the world-wide banking conspiracy that depended upon slave labor in the Kolima gold mines. See? It was the corporations! Never, never, do people like Moore blame individuals acting in concert with bloodthirsty regimes for the hideous carnage that has become the human condition.
The fact is, governments dont nurture; they coerce populations, notably at the point of a gun, even if they are advertised as free or democratic. When this coercive power is bred with a centralized fervor, the sanctity of a single human life is diminished as centralized coercive power is increased. The two gothic slimes in Littleton shot and killed 11 other children for a pantheon of reasons, but none of them offer a single justification; again, facts are meddlesome things in the cramped confines of a statists mind like Moores. Reasons for breathtaking stupidity of the Klebold and Harris variety, though, are almost always simple and prosaic: They had no adult supervision.
Also, they came of age in a permissive community that was uninterested in the lives and dreams of its most vulnerable. Why? Again we are buried with Whys? I suspect, however, their parents might have been overindulged baby-boomers raised to think they alone were the be-all and the end-all, and their children were simply pains-in-the-rear to be endured. Kids get in the way when you are pursuing your own dreams, your own state of Luxe, your own Private Idaho. In our post-Christian culture, where nothing is bigger than Me, and your behavior is in no way bound up with a greater human legacy, kids bear the brunt of selfish parents, and a selfish, hedonistic society. Evolution teaches: When Me dies, Everything dies, so to heck with my kids. Children are only here as fancy baubles to accessorize My Life, or to sink or swim in the human gene pool.
Most importantly, Mom and Dad were busy buying Things, and Paying Taxes (especially paying taxes, at a combined household level of over 60 percent), leaving almost no time for rearing, love, or moral training for their children. Harris and Klebold were obviously adrift in a moral vacuum, and it didnt matter if the local factory turned out laser-guided bombs or Peace Pops. In days gone by, before the ACLU scared us all silly that we may offend the local atheist, the at-large community would have caught Harris and Klebold and scolded them long before they started dying their hair blue and black. Or, they would have been in Reform School with Marilyn Manson, an institution now so charmingly antique it only brings nostalgic smiles.
In our culture of individual narcissism and isolation, where we commute 40 miles to jobs where we sit and stare at TV screens, and our neighbors are irrelevant, our tendency is to assume other living human beings are simply electronic phantoms. Combine this with a mass entertainment culture that is openly hostile to traditional morality, and we are then obliged to come up, pace Michael Moore, with convoluted and warped theories as to why babies kill other babies, and go bowling before they do it.
The Gordian Knot that is the Colombine massacre has more to do with individuals than it does corporations. Most collectivists-types like Moore see problems and solutions in terms of groups of people, rather than individuals making stupid choices. I will agree that the decisions people make are often influenced when they collide with the culture at large, but it begs a simple question: How much time did Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold spend watching TV Nation and listening to Korn, versus how much time they spent scrolling through the Lockheed Martin website? Methinks Moore protesteth too much.
I offer that Moore is fitting the square pegs of Violence in America into his round holes of Corporate-Phobia. But, so often is the case that the agendized left is more interested in advancing a certain belief system than in genuine search for truth and knowledge (Example: To the left in the country, the U.S. had an imperial foreign policy in Guatemala, so to them, it makes perfect sense for Saudi Arabians to blow up the USS Cole in Yemen! Huh?).
To think Lockheed Martin had anything to do with the Colombine shootings is to think Scooby Doo is responsible for the dog food shortage. Further, to think any meaningful analysis of violence in our society can be cataloged by the very medium that peddles it is beyond my ken to conceive. It is rather like Jeoffrey Dahmer empaneled to find out why so many meats Taste Like Chicken.
It is interesting that Moore looks to Canada, and wonders about our violent proclivities, instead of looking back 70 years at ourselves. During the Great Depression, fewer people worked per capita than at any time during the post-industrial era (so much for the evil taint of corporations), more people per capita owned firearms (so much for guns), and there was less violent crime than at any other time in our nations history. This is the storys real Why?. Of course, statists like Moore may from time to time stumble over such truth, but they will dismiss it with smarmy, self-congratulatory sarcasm (Me? I never noticed all the people fawning over Me?). Instead, we will bark up the trees of Conspiracies of Fear And Power, of Corporations Keeping Us Down. Never will Moore look inward and discover that such smarmy, sarcastic, self-congratulations may, in fact, be a taproot of our ills.
John C. Arens via email
War: a hard choice
I feel compelled to respond to Mr. Linsell‘s plea that we “WAGE PEACE -- Replace the law of force with the force of law“ as printed in the Nov. 7 issue of the Northern Express Weekly. And I guess that I cannot do so without addressing the thoughts expressed by Randy Bond in his Guest Opinion published in the same issue.
I agree with both Bond and Linsell that going to war with Iraq would be costly, painful, and result in bloodshed on many fronts. It‘s a choice that I would not like to make. But when faced with a hard choice, we must often attempt to remove ourselves from immediate emotions and ask if a bigger question is at hand. As the sidebar to Mr. Bonds article points out, too great a percentage of our global production is spent on military expenditures. This is a very inefficient use of our natural resources. I would not begin to argue with the arithmetic. We would all be well served by spending more on technology than on tanks and missiles.
But the fault in every argument that promotes negotiation with Iraq is very simple. You can‘t negotiate with a tyrant.
I would like to take that one step further. It is wrong to negotiate with a tyrant. Check your history books. How many times did Hitler fulfill his promises to stop aggression? Hussein commands absolute power in his land.
He has surrounded himself with elite and privileged military forces who owe themselves to his continued domination of that country. He, like Osama bin Laden, will not concede defeat until greatest amount of life has been lost and their death can be conclusively determined. It is the tyrannical way into the annals of history.
So now the irony! We (our legal system and government) do not allow the recognition of religion. We have even replaced the word “religious“ with a kinder and more gentle term, “faith based.“ But we can prove that every recent attack against the U.S. was perpetrated by a “faith based“ group based in a country controlled by a “faith based“ group. So how are we to expect our children to understand that a tyrant is using the predominant religion of his country and his oppressive powers to coerce extreme suicidal actions from those who are promised eternal bliss in the after-life? How do we make that “okay?“ How would you tell your child that he/she is target for no other reason than being born in the U.S.A.?
Carl Friedrichs via email
A human right
In response to a letter published Oct. 10 in the Express, I wish to assert that water is an unalienable and necessary human right. Before reading this letter, I had never questioned if water is a human right; I just instinctively accepted it as such. Now after a little critical thinking, I offer your readers some food for thought.
All life began with water; life sustains with water, life will end without water. Seventy percent of every human being is composed of water. If humans are denied access to water, we die in only four days. Death by dehydration is a cruel and unusual punishment to those who will not be able to afford drinking water.
If water continues to be treated as a commodity to buy and sell on the open market,
essentially all life becomes a commodity. If the worlds water goes on the auction block to the highest bidder, what happens to all those who are out-bid?
I am unwilling to hand over control of the water which sustains the lives of our friends, family and all the life which surrounds us. Water is a basic human right and should not be commodified any further. The future of life depends on it.
Justin K. Rowe Traverse City