Elaine with you, winding down my substituting duties for Rebecca who will be back from vacation next week. One thing that I wanted to do during this time was to note CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now.
Each day, something would come up. I'd discover the case of Kevin Benderman or something else that I really wanted people to be aware of. Sometimes it would be something that someone passed on an e-mail. (Thank you for all the support in e-mails. I've written a thank you essay for gina & krista's round-robin that goes out tomorrow. You really made this a lot easier with your encouragement and kind words.)
But the biggest surprise was that Monday through Friday each week there was always something to write about. In fact, there was always too much. I started filling in for Rebecca on July 19th and it's over a month later (about six weeks, I believe). There was never a day when I started to write and wondered what to write about. I always wondered how to write it and possibly failed at that more than I succeeded. But one thing I wanted to write about was CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now so as I wind down my substituting duties, I want to do that.
I recently got an e-mail from one of my sisters in Iraq, Yanar Mohammed. When the occupation of Iraq occurred, there was the promise, as there was a promise in Afghanistan, that women would be liberated. Well, in occupied Iraq, women are worse off today than they were under Saddam Hussein, and it was pretty terrible then. In the name of occupation, with the lawlessness and the rise of fundamentalism, roughly seventy women a month are being abducted and sold and raped. Women are not leaving their houses. Those who were once doctors and lawyers are too frightened to go to work.
I am obsessed with the notion of occupation. I think about it every day. The word means "to invade or enter a country by force or as an army, especially in order to conquer it." I am obsessed with this because I am obsessed with women and violence and rape. And rape is, of course, the ultimate invasion, the ultimate occupation. Women's bodies around the world are being invaded and occupied and devastated. In the name of silencing women and the earth, in the name of undermining the power of life, of birth, of mystery, of passion and ambiguity, there is this occupation and invasion.
The concept of empire, the concept of corporations determining reality, and the concept of invasion, occupation, domination are central to those in power today. But millions of us know in our bodies, in our minds, in our spirits and that another paradigm is desperate to emerge on this planet. I believe we can feel it in every fiber of our beings. And with a little courage, with a lot of unity, and with faith that paradigm is going to emerge.
The above is from Eve Ensler's "The New Paradigm We Hold Within." I could pick practically any section of this book and find something that speaks to me. That was one of my difficulties with doing this. Then C.I. grabbed another section of the book and this was just one after where C.I. left off, so I selected it. Eve Ensler isn't just a playwright, she's someone who's making a difference in the world. What she writes above (which is an excerpt) speaks of terrorism, something women have lived with.
Robin Morgan's made that point before (and far better than I could). When you hear reports on Iraq, I hope you will ask yourself, "Where are the Iraqis?" They usually aren't present for the reports. Why is that? What attitude, forget the administration, I'm speaking of the media here, allows us to think it's okay to provide reporting that doesn't illuminate the conditions and effects that Iraqi live under and with? Where do we find the right to reduce them to faceless, nameless people (or as C.I.'s has said, render them extras in the stories of their own lives)?
The attitude that allows us to do that is the same attitude that allows to invade them. It's the same attitude that says, "We have to stay now because we have to fix our mess." Because, apparently, the Iraqis are children who can't do anything without wonderful us. We are causing more strife and more tension, enflaming the region. We can't fix the problem we've caused because we haven't changed a damn thing about ourselves.
We went over there with the attitude that we had a right to do so. Now we think we have a right to "fix" the problems. The only people we see with rights over in Iraq are Americans. We render the Iraqis invisible (when not portrayed as terrorists). Simple children who need us to fix it.
Have you ever thrown a party? If so, you'll probably be able to relate to this story. After a year in practice, I decided I was going to have my dream home and that, foolishly, included white carpet in the living room. One glass of spilled red wine and that was it for the carpet. But when the person spilled it, I didn't want their help in "cleaning it up." I wanted them to step away and let me try to fix my own carpet. It couldn't be cleaned up so I had to replace it.
So here's my point, we've ruined their white carpet and while they're doing a slow burn over that, we're saying, "Hey, we can fix it." They just want us out already.
If that's too difficult for someone to grasp, I'd suggest they read "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" Of all C.I.'s entries, that's probably my favorite. In that one, C.I. uses the reference point of a bad marriage to address the issue of America and Iraq. At some point, you can't fix it and the smart thing to do is to be mature enough to realize that and make the break that's the only healthy thing you can do.
I really hope you already know about CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now but if you don't, please pick it up. We need new paradigms and we need to reclaim some old ones that we've lost as the Bully Boy has blustered and bullied for five years now. In addition to the entry last week, there have been other entries by C.I. (and one by Mike) on this book. I'm going to copy and paste a paragraph C.I. has that will give you the option to read excerpts from other sections of the book:
For those keeping track, we've now excerpted from Mary Ann Wright's "Essential Dissent," Cindy Sheehan's "From Cindy to George," Nancy Lessin's "Breaking The Code Of Silence," Camilo Mejia's "Regaining My Humanity," Arundhati Roy's "Introduction," Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans preface, and Alice Walker's foreword. Mike (Mikey Likes It!) covered one section of the book and the link for that is: "Mike on Marti Hiken's 'Understanding The U.S. Military' from CODEPINK'S Stop The Next War Now." In addition, Dallas has provided a list of all the contributors to CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now.
Now for Mike, we'll note two items from Democracy Now!
FEMA: This Is the "Most Significant Natural Disaster to Hit the U.S." (Democracy Now!)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is making unprecedented preparations to house at least 1 million people in the region whose houses were damaged or destroyed. FEMA's Bill Lokey called the hurricane "the most significant natural disaster to hit the United States."
How much of a disaster is the tragedy? Bully Boy cut his vacation short today. Yes, they've stopped denying (for the moment) that he was on vacation. Finally, Bully Boy had to step down.
Finally. What is it, two days after he should have done something? But fishing and biking were more important. Can anyone explain why John Kerry windsurfing is cause to make fun of him for the shorts but Bully Boy on a bike, with those knobby knees, isn't worth commenting on? (Except by Isaiah who always draws Bully Boy with knobby knees.)
But at least, while the Bully Boy was vacationing, we had the National Guard out in full force, right?
6,000 Local National Guard Members In Iraq (Democracy Now!)
While the National Guard has been taking part in rescue operations and law enforcement, some 6,000 members of the Louisiana and Mississippi Guard have been forced to watch the catastrophe from 7,000 miles away in Iraq. 40 percent of Mississippi's National Guard force and 35 percent of Louisiana's is in Iraq. Over the past eight months 23 members of the Louisiana National Guard have died in Iraq - only New York's Guard unit has suffered as many deaths.
The nation's left unready because of the illegal invasion/occupation. On the radio, I believe it was the mayor of New Orleans, was saying that they expect of find bodies floating in the water, dead bodies, or in the attics. How many people might have been saved if we had a National Guard to do the job that's the reason they exist for?
Now we're at the point where I usually do a peace quote. Instead, I'd like to excerpt a section of Eve Ensler's poem "This Will Be Our Revolution" (which is also in CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now):
You are forgetting as I am speaking
You are wiping off the blood,
spraying air freshners
to cover the smell of rotting corpses
They are holding invisible unidentified people
in filthy pens
in Guantanamo Bay
You don't remember them
or why they are there
or the leash around the naked crawling
hooded Iraqi man's neck
or the Iraqi boy lying on a cot
with no sheets, no arms, no lges
and these are the images of what was only
The images of the rest --
sodomized little boys.
There was a war on Iraq
There was a war on Iraq
Thousands are dead,
the rest are drugged
or wrestling in their beds.
It doesn't matter if you remember it,
it remembers you.