HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN:

HELLO FROM EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN - city of big bottoms and small minds.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I AM NOT A "REAL AMERICAN" -- MY VIEWS COINCIDE WITH TERRORIST BILL AYERS


I have been thinking it over and have decided that neither John McCain nor his lovely running mate would like me very much. I am too Bill Ayersian, which of course, makes me less than a real American.


First of all, I think that George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and Don Rumsfeldt are all war criminals and should, once they are all out of office, be tried in international court. They are responsible not only for the deaths of thousands of young Americans but even more Iraqi men, women, and children.

I am not a real American because, like Bill Ayers, I believe that "The war in Vietnam was an illegal invasion and occupation, much of it conducted as a war of terror against the civilian population. The U.S. military killed millions of Vietnamese in air raids - like the ones conducted by McCain - and entire areas of the country were designated free-fire zones, where American pilots indiscriminately dropped surplus ordinance - an immoral enterprise by any measure."

In a recent article written by Mr. Ayers, he states:

" McCain and Palin - or as our late friend Studs Terkel put it, "Joe McCarthy in drag" - would like to bury the '60s. The '60s, after all, was a time of rejecting obedience and conformity in favor of initiative and courage. The '60s pushed us to a deeper appreciation of the humanity of every human being. And that is the threat it poses to the right wing, hence the attacks and all the guilt by association.

McCain and Palin demanded to "know the full extent" of the Obama-Ayers "relationship" so that they can know if Obama, as Palin put it, "is telling the truth to the American people or not."

This is just plain stupid.

Obama has continually been asked to defend something that ought to be at democracy's heart: the importance of talking to as many people as possible in this complicated and wildly diverse society, of listening with the possibility of learning something new, and of speaking with the possibility of persuading or influencing others.

The McCain-Palin attacks not only involved guilt by association, they also assumed that one must apply a political litmus test to begin a conversation.

On Oct. 4, Palin described her supporters as those who "see America as the greatest force for good in this world" and as a "beacon of light and hope for others who seek freedom and democracy." But Obama, she said, "Is not a man who sees America as you see it and how I see America." In other words, there are "real" Americans - and then there are the rest of us."

Count me in with "the rest of us"!

I know that I am not a real American because I agree whole heartedly with Mr. Ayers when he says:

" In a robust and sophisticated democracy, political leaders - and all of us - ought to seek ways to talk with many people who hold dissenting, or even radical, ideas. Lacking that simple and yet essential capacity to question authority, we might still be burning witches and enslaving our fellow human beings today.

Maybe we could welcome our current situation - torn by another illegal war, as it was in the '60s - as an opportunity to search for the new.

Perhaps we might think of ourselves not as passive consumers of politics but as fully mobilized political actors. Perhaps we might think of our various efforts now, as we did then, as more than a single campaign, but rather as our movement-in-the-making.

We might find hope in the growth of opposition to war and occupation worldwide. Or we might be inspired by the growing movements for reparations and prison abolition, or the rising immigrant rights movement and the stirrings of working people everywhere, or by gay and lesbian and transgender people courageously pressing for full recognition.

Yet hope - my hope, our hope - resides in a simple self-evident truth: the future is unknown, and it is also entirely unknowable.

History is always in the making. It's up to us. It is up to me and to you. Nothing is predetermined. That makes our moment on this earth both hopeful and all the more urgent - we must find ways to become real actors, to become authentic subjects in our own history.

We may not be able to will a movement into being, but neither can we sit idly for a movement to spring full-grown, as from the head of Zeus.

We have to agitate for democracy and egalitarianism, press harder for human rights, learn to build a new society through our self-transformations and our limited everyday struggles.

At the turn of the last century, Eugene Debs, the great Socialist Party leader from Terre Haute, Ind., told a group of workers in Chicago, "If I could lead you into the Promised Land, I would not do it, because someone else would come along and lead you out."

In this time of new beginnings and rising expectations, it is even more urgent that we figure out how to become the people we have been waiting to be.

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