"The first people totalitarians destroy or silence are men of ideas and free minds." ~ Isaiah Berlin
I was invited, not long ago, via email, to a Candlelight vigil to stop the invasion of Iraq , or melt the icy heart of Rumsfeld, or short-circuit the electronic ticker of the Veep, I'm not quite sure.
I was thinking more along the lines of angry mobs with pitchforks and torches converging on the Bastille or Castle Frankenstein to rid the country of this plague. Half a dozen madmen slinking out of the Bastille, squinting, confused. The MONSTER, product of dead flesh and high tech wizardry, grunting at the roaring mob (the movie version with Karloff; Mary Shelley's Creature was far too articulate, sensitive, HUMAN, for this show). Guess not.
Then again, maybe it isn't about saving the Iraqi people from carnage at all. Maybe the good folks attending the prayer vigil are out to save their own souls, and ours. Save all our starched WHITE American souls. Too late for all that. Possibly. Probably.
We are about to become the worst generation since Hitler's junky boys stomped around Europe stealing art and wrecking cities. If you're over 18 and of sound mind and body, you will be guilty. No, your little god won't save you, whoever he is. Chances are he already wants to kick your yellow ass for not giving a goddamn about the epic slaughter you're about to pay for with your tax money and soul. The day of the attack he's gonna waggle his giant thing at you ' with or without foreskin ' and stomp out of your house of worship forever.
Germans paid for the Holocaust and WWII with Dresden , Berlin and a nation turned to rubble. Not to mention five decades of guilt and infamy. What price America ? The bill's long overdue.
True, most governments are either classical fictions written on paper, or jazz riffs blown out of a gun, but once you get some guy on a gun solo and the hips start swaying and the boots start marching it's usually a show-stopper. Brings down the house. Nevertheless, we still have enough people in and out of uniform who believe this is some sort of democracy, or at least a republic as outlined on that piece of parchment. Chance to overthrow this tin-pot tyranny, as proscribed in that very parchment (amended and revised so many times by now it's done in WordPerfect and translated into PDF for public perusal)?
Possibly. But chances are we won't take it.
The best of us will march in THE MAN's patented non-violent (except for police brutality) licensed parades, like sheep in a pen, often with lambs in tow. They'll get to go home thinking they're lions in wool, only to bleat 'Yassah! Bossman!' in school or their sheep jobs the next day. The worst of us are still jerking off over video highlights of Desert Storm. Most don't REALLY give a damn one way or the other. Well, maybe if there's a pollster around they'll vote 'yes' instead of 'no' or vice versa according to how the poll is worded, but they ain't gonna get off that couch on Sunday for no damn Iraqis. If they're so innocent, those towel heads, why don't they just depose Saddam? Eh? Ever think of that?
'If YOU'RE so innocent, why don't you just depose Bush?' says Mr. B, a native of Baghdad awaiting his first rendezvous with a cruise missile. 'We're caught between Saddam and a hard place. You Americans, you're supposed to be a free people, no?'
There's an idea. Maybe it's time for the 250 some-odd million Americans who do not work for the government but rather, pay for it, to call their loans, repossess their property, take matters into their own hands.
I'm not proposing anything VIOLENT (perish the thought), just interesting, and most importantly, effective.
Candlelight vigil my ass. I'm thinking ten million of us converging upon Washington D.C. with torches, like those stalwart monster-movie villagers. With all do respect to the candlelight crowd, prayers ain't gonna do it now. In fact, it seems like a desperate attempt on the part of the damned for some salvation, a balm to their raw-wound spirits. Worse, it's something that pious piss ant, Ashcroft, might approve of.
Hell, I was a mouse myself in the maze of police barricades set up for Bloomberg Inc.'s experiment in crowd control on February 15th in NYC. Don't get me wrong. It's great that people are displaying enough concern over what is about to happen to light candles and pray, but it's time for a bit more than concern or even marching in the MAN'S orderly, peaceful demonstrations in which the only folks who get hurt are peaceful demonstrators beaten up, brutalized, and arrested on side streets away from the cameras, but not beyond the ken of the well-meaning but ineffectual ACLU.
Civil Disobedience does not mean non-violent obedience to the MAN'S determination of what constitutes a safe, respectable parade. It's gumming up the works by throwing bodies into the gut of the machine; it's putting bodies between THE MAN'S soldiers and their victims. For god's sake, it's being willing to get hurt. That's the problem here. As soon as one mentions any kind of 'unconventional' protest or action, the chorus of 'non violence' is raised and all it's saying really is 'I don't wanna get hurt and I want to be at work on time on Monday.'
What about ten million people from all 50 states walking, boating, flying, busing, whatever to Washington D.C. and just shutting the place down? The sheer numbers, a mass movement of unarmed bodies taking over their own capital. Pilgrimage to the 'citadel of democracy.' How many of us would THE MAN be willing to shoot? And what would be the consequences? Would he nuke HIS own capital?
Malcolm X, MLK, Dorothy Day, Black Elk and Sitting Bull, Gandhi, etc. turned to prayer for strength to help them fight, not as an admission of defeat, for that's what these prayer vigils and 'show protests' mean to me: defeat. 'It's all over, but maybe we can console ourselves with prayer.' Never mind that whatever gods we're praying to will walk out of their respective houses of worship and gather at Olympus Diner for beer and pizza the minute the first bombs fall on Iraq.
Imagine our friend, Mr. B, in his Baghdad apartment, his wife grieving over the loss of their eldest daughter to some preventable disease made incurable by sanctions, the rest of his five children malnourished and depressed, and all he hears is about how Bush is gonna shock and awe him and turn off his electricity with an e-bomb, and there's a knock at the door. It's his neighbor, Mr. A, who tells him 'Good news, good news.' 'Saddam is dead?' 'Better.' 'Bush is dead?' 'Better still: The good people of America are praying for us!'
Oh, who will save us ' and the rest of the planet ' from our sorry selves? We've lost everything but our souls, and we may only have a few weeks to hold on to those. Prevent, prevent, prevent. Or REPENT. The choice is still ours. I think. Maybe.