I just wrote for 40 minutes and lost it in a computer crash. Deep breath…
Michael Moore’s Farenheit 911 has won the grand prize at Cannes, the Palme d’Or. The first documentary in 50 years to do so. He received a long standing ovation, as he told the world’s top film representatives: “There are millions of Americans just like me and I am just like them.” I am part of those millions who want to end the Iraq war (invasion and occupation). More than 800 American soldiers and more than 10,000 Iraqis (this does not count the million, two million? children who died as the result of 12 years of U.S. imposed sanctions on Iraq after the first Gulf War). Michael Moore said he wanted to devote the rest of the year to changing America’s course, that those who died “won’t have died in vain.” This made me ask, am I doing enough?
I cried over my toast this morning listening to a ex-Marine Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey of North Carolina who spoke with Amy Goodman on Pacifica Network’s Democracy Now. He admitted that U.S. treatment of Iraqi civilians is fueling the Iraqi resistance. He spoke about “lighting up” cars passing checkpoints during last year’s Baghdad invasion. So many terrified civilians fleeing for their lives, with their families, possessions, money. “We would just put their dead bodies in a ditch by the side of the road and let the Iraqi medics take care of them.” He spoke of a child who died in his arms, and the father asking, “Why have you killed my child?” The brother of two men blasted to bits in a car when they didn’t understand the stop order, who looked at him with such hatred. “All those thousands of dead have brothers and cousins and sons who hate us…”
When the sergeant complained to his superiors about the policy that was killing so many innocent civilians, he was reprimanded, sent back to the states, hounded out of the military after 12 years of service. “I’m not a conscientious objector, I believe some wars have been justified, and we went over to serve our country. But we are seriously violating all the rules of engagement, the Geneva Conventions. What we are doing amounts to genocide.”
His final words were spoken directly to his brother Marines, and even now my throat closes with emotion as I remember how he encouraged them to “do what you know is right.” For transcript: www.democracynow.org
What is right for me now? I’m in the final process of two job interviews, I’m writing newspaper articles, taking tango class, doing my creative work, and I ask what am I committed to, how much do I want to participate with the likes of Michael Moore, Rabbi Michael Lerner of Jewish Voice for Peace, the independent journalists of Free Speech Radio News, Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn, and the spiritual social activists like Dan Berrigan and Mathew Fox? Psychologically, I’m right back to 1968 when I was making the choices about school vs. peace work that changed my direction. What is the life change am I looking for this week, or next?
The computer crash put me behind and helped me forget the rest of the rather excellent rant I started with. I let go of that minor loss, and consider something else: retaliation and the cycle of violence.
If anyone has reason for angry revenge, it is Michael Berg, the father of the young U.S. contractor who was beheaded recently by his Iraqi captors. But Berg, in the article found at the links below, wrote: “Even more than the murderers who look my son’s life, I condemn those who make policies to end lives.” This is a must read.
Friday May 21, 2004 The Guardian