Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Four Thousand Dead

(long post warning)

I’ve been a bit remiss on an important milestone. Recently it was announced that 4,000 American servicepeople have been killed in Iraq, as violence continues more five years after the American invasion and occupation of that nation. I’ve struggled a bit about how to best acknowledge and commemorate the sacrifice of those killed, how best to honor their memory. Perhaps I’ll fall short in this. However, I do think it is appropriate to take a glace back at how we got here. With that said, I will publish a letter I wrote to the editor of the Eugene Register-Guard, published on September 7, 2002:

“As a former Marine and citizen of a nation founded on the rights of man, I strongly support the right and duty of this nation to defend itself from armed assault. I support the 2nd Amendment, and recognize the folly of appeasing the intimidation and aggression of such despots as Hitler, bin Laden, and Hussein. But to launch a pre-emptive attack on Iraq, we must completely abandon the principles of our founding fathers.

The 2000 election cost us legitimacy as an arbiter of fair elections. Two years of the Bush dictatorship has cost us legitimacy as leaders in environmental and human rights, through our rejection of the Kyoto Accords, international criminal courts, etc. An invasion of Iraq will cost us any legitimacy we have left as a nation. It is an American expansion from economic hegemony to military hegemony. It will relegate us to the role of hypocrite, rogue state, and pariah. We will no longer be playing policeman to the world – we will play vigilante.

Is this really the picture we have of our country? Is this the way we wish to relate to our fellow nations? Did we learn nothing from Japan’s pre-emptive strike against us, at Pearl Harbor? What happened to our principles? Our values?

An unprovoked invasion of Iraq completely abdicates any claim we have to moral high ground. The biggest reason not to invade Iraq is also the simplest. It is wrong.”

And part of a second, published around March 25, 2003:

“... How do I support our troops – our sons and daughters, wives and husbands, mothers and fathers – when they are conducting an operation I am convinced is not only morally unjustified, but disastrous to our diplomacy, economy, and the world’s environment? ...

Mr. Bush’s military adventure isolates us internationally, increases the danger of terrorism here and abroad, and (to counter the terrorism) is making us less free. It is ethically wrong and probably illegal.


Perhaps it’s not helpful to repeat the protests of the past. But let’s not pretend that we got here blindly. The disinformation and misinformation that enabled Mr. Bush in putting our troops in harm’s way was intentional, but easily seen through. The failure of our elected representatives, both Democrat and most especially Republican, to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of their oaths of office have entered the annals of history and disgraced themselves and our country. But our troops have, for the most part, conducted themselves with courage and honor – especially those who sacrified all, and who took a stand against this folly. And those who haven't - well, the fault lies more with their leaders than with them.

It remains to be seen whether the next administration (and congress) will seek to redress this one’s failure, or place their stamp of approval on it by allowing Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, et al, to enter into luxurious retirement, unscathed by the consequences of their crimes. The blood of every American, every Iraqi, every man, woman, and child who died in this tragedy, stains the hands of the architects of it, and cries out for justice - but restorative justice, not retributive or punitive justice.

Whoever wins this election, what this nation needs most is healing. And healing won’t come if we sew up the wound without squeezing the pus out first.

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Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our