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Political Civility in Times of War

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posted on Jan, 14 2011 @ 01:57 AM
As seems quite typical of Americans, they go day after day agonizing over tragedies that occur in their own neighborhoods, while thousand fold tragedies occur simultaneously in other parts of the world, tragically, quite often with US military power.

More than 26,000 people attended a memorial Wednesday night to remember the victims of Saturday’s shooting in Tucson that left six people dead and 20 wounded, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition. In his 33-minute address, President Obama called for civil and honest public discourse and paid tribute to the victims of Saturday’s shooting.

I don't mean to minimize the pain felt by the survivors of the Tucson massacre, I just wish people would notice that incivility in public discourse and acts of violence are symptoms of a society that turns first to violence to solve its international disagreements.

While the US plans to continue its occupation of Iraq beyond the expiration of current Status of Forces Agreement to "help beyond 2011 and ... remain in the country to support Maliki." While the US plans further drone attacks into Pakistan, with accepted collateral damage rate of 10 to 1 (10 civilians killed for every 1 "target individual"), we hear the call to keep our political discourse civil.

Amy Goodman links the similarity of President Clinton's call to "reach out to our children and teach them to express their anger and to resolve their conflicts with words, not weapons" after the Columbine shootings in 1999, even while the US was bombing Serbia.

It's almost Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Ever since I first heard his Beyond Vietnam speech in 2003, I have listened to it each year. It remains relevant today. I would urge everyone else to give it a listen also.

This link here also has the transcript of the speech.

Martin Luther King, Jr.
Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City

. . .
As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they ask -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They ask if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.

Here is also a link to MP3

edit on 14-1-2011 by pthena because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 14 2011 @ 07:51 AM

Originally posted by pthena
I just wish people would notice that incivility in public discourse and acts of violence are symptoms of a society that turns first to violence to solve its international disagreements.

I notice it! I have noticed it for years. This country worships violence. We're taught from a young age to LOVE violence. In our movies, our video games, our music and our politics. We're taught that the US is the best! That we must maintain that position as King of the Hill! And to do that, we crush "the enemy". That's how it's done.

I am not suggesting that we ban the violence in movies or games, I just wish parents would take a more active role in what their children are learning about life. And, as a society, we need to look at WHY we worship violence and do something about THAT. We need to find the root cause, not cover it with a band aid of civility for a couple weeks and hope it heals. This country s damaged by its worship of violence and if nothing is done, it will continue to spiral down till it ends in a ball of flame.

posted on Jan, 14 2011 @ 07:55 AM
reply to post by Benevolent Heretic

Yes we also reduce the enemy to the other in that we project all of tghe negative aspects from our society onto them. Thus we get feminist haters and homophobes bemoaning what Islam does withou looking at their deeply-held views.

Also the poiticians use various wars as a smokescreen for their own criminal deeds.

posted on Jan, 15 2011 @ 12:23 AM

Pentagon official:
Martin Luther King would support Iraq, Afghan wars

By Sahil Kapur
Friday, January 14th, 2011 -- 11:09 am

In a speech commemorating the late hero days before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, the Department of Defense's general counsel Jeh C. Johnson imputed highly questionable views to the civil rights leader.

"I believe that if Dr. King were alive today, he would recognize that we live in a complicated world, and that our nation's military should not and cannot lay down its arms and leave the American people vulnerable to terrorist attack," Johnson said.

Nice try Mr Johnson of the Pentagon

The only change came from America, as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support. All the while the people read our leaflets and received the regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy.
. . .
What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test out our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?
. . .
Now there is little left to build on, save bitterness. Soon, the only solid -- solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call "fortified hamlets." The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these. Could we blame them for such thoughts?
. . .
How can they trust us when now we charge them with violence after the murderous reign of Diem and charge them with violence while we pour every new weapon of death into their land? Surely we must understand their feelings, even if we do not condone their actions. Surely we must see that the men we supported pressed them to their violence. Surely we must see that our own computerized plans of destruction simply dwarf their greatest acts.

How do they judge us when our officials know that their membership is less than twenty-five percent communist, and yet insist on giving them the blanket name? What must they be thinking when they know that we are aware of their control of major sections of Vietnam, and yet we appear ready to allow national elections in which this highly organized political parallel government will not have a part? They ask how we can speak of free elections when the Saigon press is censored and controlled by the military junta. And they are surely right to wonder what kind of new government we plan to help form without them, the only party in real touch with the peasants. They question our political goals and they deny the reality of a peace settlement from which they will be excluded. Their questions are frighteningly relevant. Is our nation planning to build on political myth again, and then shore it up upon the power of new violence?
. . .
I am as deeply concerned about our own troops there as anything else. For it occurs to me that what we are submitting them to in Vietnam is not simply the brutalizing process that goes on in any war where armies face each other and seek to destroy. We are adding cynicism to the process of death, for they must know after a short period there that none of the things we claim to be fighting for are really involved. Before long they must know that their government has sent them into a struggle among Vietnamese, and the more sophisticated surely realize that we are on the side of the wealthy, and the secure, while we create a hell for the poor.
. . .
If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately, the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horrible, clumsy, and deadly game we have decided to play.

I don't think Mr Johnson even heard Dr. King's speech, and if he did, he must have chosen to ignore it.

Just a last little quote, toward the end of the speech.

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality...and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing "clergy and laymen concerned" committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala -- Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy.

And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God.

As I was taking a ferry ride to Seattle back in 2002 to protest against the planned U.S. invasion of Iraq, someone asked me, "Are you protesting against the war before it starts?"

"Yes", I said, "Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria, and every other place the US decides to invade preventively for false threats"

I was a hair off on the list, as was Dr. King. US Coup in Haiti, US sponsored and equipped invasion of Somalia by Ethiopia, drone war on Pakistan, US approved coup in Honduras, war level blockade against Iran, US supplied proxy bombing of Lebanon, covert US war in Yemen. I'm probably missing a few other US State Dept and Military actions just since 2002.

Who do we think we are?
How vast is the gulf between who we think we are and what we really are!

No, King did get it right. The US did engage in actions in Guatemala, and a coup in Peru, removing democratically elected president for a military dictator. Yeah, the first 9-11, 1973
edit on 15-1-2011 by pthena because: (no reason given)

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