My friends say I’m a little crazy for setting my alarm for 6 a.m. each day to listen to Democracy Now with my favorite journalist and role model Amy Goodman and her wonderful crew, but it heartens me to hear the truth. While the talking heads jabber, I hear interviews with real people–the one who was picked up in a NY airport on his way home to his family in Canada and shipped to Syria to be tortured in prisons there for more than a year before returning uncharged with any crime to his shattered life. The U.S. policy of “rendition” for torture, now sanctioned by our attorney general.
Underneath the headlines, to hear the actual words of the Italian journalist, Giuliana Sgrena , held hostage in Iraq, who had been seen pleading for her life in video, whose release was negotiated by an Italian secret service agent over the weekend, only to have that same agent killed by American soldiers when their rescue car was fired upon on the way to Baghdad airport. Giuliana, unharmed by her Iraq captors, was wounded in the barrage of tank fire. She says there was no warning from the Americans, and that the car was travelling at normal speed. All of which contradicts the military version. The Italian people, already against the war, are even more furious now. Huge demonstrations at the agent’s funeral in Rome. We know this has happened to innocent Iraqis, and has happened to other journalists as well.
Listening further, the trial of Irish Peace Activists opposed to U.S. Military use of Shannon Airport has begun in Dublin. I was thrown back to the 1960s, non-violent direct action by the likes of the Fathers Berrigan. These are “Ploughshares” activists who hammered on aircraft, disrupting and trying to prevent these “pit stops” in their country. Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit was there to support: “I’ve been against the war on the Iraqi people since 1991, he said. Does anyone remember the first time we destroyed Iraq from the air with a few dozen casualties compared to hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It amazes me that anyone can ask the question “why do they hate us?” but, according to “unembedded” reporters on the ground, Iraqis still give them hospitality, understand that half this country does not approve of killing them, poisoning them with radiation and killing their children with sanctions for 12 years.
Ah, nothing like a good rant on a Monday morning before work. Meanwhile, the government is refusing funding to high schools that won’t allow army recruiters on campus. The military “leaves no child behind.” And even after a devastating report on “Oceans in Crisis”, the Bush administration won’t give an ounce of funding to ocean research and education. I have to ask myself what more can I do, before it’s too late. In my lifetime, (which I admit is not that much longer) huge parts of our wonderful oceans could be damaged beyond repair. Is there no area or topic that can set the ordinary American on fire with activism? What will move us? More later.