(Why women must rise up and take control of this inequitably uncivilized world)
Last month Americans celebrated Mother’s Day, which most people do not know began as a social justice movement by Julia Ward Howe who, in her famous Mother’s Day Proclamation written in Boston in 1870, urged women to speak out against war:
“We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands will not come to us reeking with carnage for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy, and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”
Given those words, delivered over 140 years ago (and 45 years before the carnage of World War One which devastated no less than 20 million lives and which Adam Hochschild in his phenomenal book To End All Wars wrote “stands as one of history’s most senseless spasms of carnage, defying rational explanation – and as a symbol of war’s eternal insanity”), it is prophetic the city of Boston is the scene of yet another horrific act of violence with the April 15th Boston Marathon bombing which resulted in the deaths of three and injury to no less than 200.
If Americans knew even one percent of their country’s own history, or were able to glean a snippet of truth on what is happening in their name across the world even as I write this, we would be informed and then outraged enough to make sensible, courageous decisions, as opposed to knee-jerk fearful, uninformed reaction, rationalization, and abdication to those in power whose primary purpose is to continue serving the insatiable military industrial machine which allocates trillions of dollars to our endless war on terror dictate.
As the late Howard Zinn pointed out:
“How can you have a war on terror? War is terror.”
So it is morbidly unsettling to hear people continually walk around in complete disbelief, amazement, and shock in the aftermath of the bombing in Boston, many expressing confusion, asking:
“What caused such hatred?”
“What made them do such a thing?”
As mom used to tell me: “Be careful what you wish for.”
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in a brilliant speech at the Riverside Church in Harlem, said: “My country is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”
That was April 4, 1967, exactly one year to the day before Dr. King was murdered.
I’m sure many of us don’t know that in December, 1999, in a wrongful death civil suit brought by King’s widow, after weeks of sworn testimony from no less than 70 witnesses, a Memphis jury unanimously found: Dr. King was executed by the US government.
Of course our compassion goes out to the families of the bombing victims. Violence is unacceptable anywhere, anytime, from any country, agency, group, individual or “coalition forces”.
A week before the Boston bombing, American-made-and-delivered drones killed 11 children in an Afghan air strike. Earlier that month, those same death machines killed 5 five-year-olds in Pakistan. Here’s the thing: We are not legally at war with Pakistan. What or who gives the custodian of US weaponry the right to murder any children?
America is one of the top three producers of cluster bombs, a weapon containing other weapons (explosives) dropped from aircraft and whose sole purpose is to kill or maim whoever is on the ground.
In fact, our drone strikes, initiated under Bush and accelerated under the Obama Administration (read: bi-partisan), have killed at least 176 children in Pakistan alone. The number of civilian casualties from our seemingly endless War on Terror numbers in the tens of millions.
In her book, Baghdad Burning; Girl Blog from Iraq, a collections of blogs posted anonymously during our invasion/occupation of Iraq, Riverbend, a young, female Iraqi, details the horrors our “policies” have forced on her country. The following is about Daddy George Bush Senior’s 1991 war:
“I remember February 13, 1991. I remember the missiles dropped on Al-Amriyah shelter – a civilian bomb shelter in a populated, residential area in Baghdad. Bombs so sophisticated that the first one drilled through to the heart of the shelter and the second one exploded inside. The shelter was full of women and children – boys over the age of 15 weren’t allowed. I remember watching images of horrified people clinging to the fence circling the shelter, crying, screaming begging to know what had happened to a daughter, a mother, a son, a family that had been seeking protection within the shelter’s walls. I remember watching them drag out bodies so charred you couldn’t tell they were human. I remember frantic people, running from corpse to corpse, trying to identify a loved-one. I remember seeing Iraqi and workers, cleaning out the shelter, fainting with the unbearable scenes inside. I remember the whole area reeked with the smell of burnt flesh for weeks and weeks after. I remember visiting the shelter, years later to pay my respects to the 400+ people who died a horrible death during the small hours of the morning and seeing the ghostly outlines of humans plastered on the walls and ceilings. I remember a family friend who lost his wife, his five-year-old daughter, his two-year-old son, and his mind on February 13. I remember 13 years of sanctions, backed firmly by the US and UK, in the name of WMD nobody ever found. Sanctions so rigid, we had basic necessities, like medicine, on waiting lists for months and months before they were refused…I remember wasted, little bodies in huge hospital beds – dying of hunger and of disease; diseases that could easily be treated with medications that were “forbidden”. I remember parents with drawn faces peering anxiously into doctors’ eyes, searching for a miracle. I remember dozens of dead in the “no fly zones”, bombed by British and American planes claiming to “protect” the north and south of Iraq. I remember the mother, living on the outskirts of Mosul, who lost her husband and 5 kids when an American plane bombed the father and his sons in the middle of a field of peaceful, grazing sheep.”
Posted Wednesday, September 3, 2003
@ 8:08 pm
Riverbend wrote the following on (what would become) our 10-plus year occupation in a 2003 post, six months after our initial shock and awe campaign:
“As the tanks and Apaches invaded the city, they shot left and right at any vehicle in their path. The areas that got it worst were Al-Dawra and Al-A’adhamiya. People in residential areas didn’t know what to do with the corpses in the burnt vehicles that had come from other parts of the city. They were the corpses of people and families who were trying to get away from the heavy fighting in their own areas; some of them had been officially evacuated. The corpses sat decomposing in the heat, beyond identification. Some people tried asking the troops to help deal with them, but the reaction was mainly, ‘That’s not my job.’ Of course not, how silly…your job is to burn the cars, we bury the corpses.”
Posted Monday September 8, 2003
@ 1:54 am
Mothers’ hearts grieve around the world.
In his new book, Kill Anything that Moves; The Real American War in Vietnam, Nick Turse details the obscenity of war by delving into reports compiled by the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group which documented atrocities committed by American forces during our decade long war on their land. As Chris Hedges writes about the book:
“It exposes the sickness of the hyper-masculine military culture, the intoxicating rush and addiction to violence and the massive government spin machine that lies daily to a gullible public and uses tactics of intimidation, threats and smear campaigns to silence dissenters.”
Further, Hedges reports:
“Case after case in his book makes it painfully clear that soldiers and Marines deliberately maimed, abused, beat, tortured, raped, wounded, or killed hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians including children with impunity. Troops engaged in acts of sadistic violence usually associated with Nazi concentration camp guards. Turse makes clear such massacres were and are, in our current imperial adventures, commonplace. The slaughters were ‘the inevitable outcome of deliberate policies, dictated at the highest levels of the military.”
And then there’s the legacy left behind in communities from exposure to toxins like uranium-depleting weapons (a radioactive substance in shells and bullets which is released upon explosion; morbidly enough, to increase its effectiveness) and the chemical agent white phosphorus (which eats away at skin and bone). A report published in 2010 “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005 – 2006” by the International Journal of Environmental Studies and Public Health shows the people of Fallujah (after US bombings) continue to experience higher rates of cancer, leukemia, infant mortality, and sexual mutations than those recorded among survivors in the twin nuclear (US) bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In addition to the rise in cancer rates, British doctors in 2009 wrote a letter to the United Nations, demanding an inquiry and reporting babies being grotesquely deformed with no head, missing limbs, two heads, a single eye in the forehead, and compromised reproductive and internal organs.
To this day Vietnam is still recovering from our decade-long campaign of soaking no less than twenty percent of the country especially the portion controlled by our allies – between 1961 and 1971 – in more than 70 million tons of herbicidal agents and hundreds of thousands of tons of napalm (a jelly like substance that kills within 15 minutes), exposing two to five million Vietnamese, as well as hundreds of thousands of US soldiers for which birth defects have quadrupled by all those affected since then.
Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, stated these substances, including Agent Orange (TCDD – one of the most toxic chemicals ever manufactured in the USA):
“Has widespread effects in nearly every vertebrate species at nearly every stage of development.”
Given these facts, how can anyone ask: “What causes such hatred?”
For the answer, one must look squarely in the mirror. Maybe we aren’t pulling the trigger or releasing the instruments of death on unsuspecting communities, but the majority of votes cast in the US are for candidates who (are paid to) support these policies, including those awarded Nobel Peace Prizes.
It is past time for Americans to stop sitting idly by, watching so-called ‘reality’ shows when what is really happening, from drone strikes, to cluster bombs, to torture, to endless war, to Guantanamo – where prisoners who are already cleared of any crime are on hunger strikes and yet are strapped to tables and violently force-fed – is so horrid, it is – ironically – unspeakable.
The fact that American foreign “policy” is dominated by huge powerful corporations using trillions of taxpayer-funded dollars to buy kill machines and a propaganda-addicted (and predominantly poor) military to “democratize” (slaughter) those in other nations is, in a word: sociopathic.
Without a truly independent, transparent, accountable and informative communications system (not owned and controlled by a handful of profit-first corporations like our “free and open” press), we are doomed to continue the insanity.
I speak for all mothers when I say: “These are our babies, our flesh and blood. We carried them in our wombs, and nurtured them as they hiccupped, growing and kicking until they entered the world under our guidance, support, and love. Why in hell would we send them out to kill another mother’s child”?
In what world would any woman accept endless war propaganda as “fate” for their precious baby?
I am a citizen of the world, and as such, I can feel every mother’s pain. In the name of womanhood and humanity, enough is enough.
CommonSense2, A Journal of Progressive Thought