FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Why I Will Not Rally Around the President

by Robert Jensen

We are told that in this time of crisis, all good Americans should rally around the president and the flag.

I will rally, but not around a leader calling for war or a symbol of nationalism.

It is easy to understand the emotion behind the chanting of “USA, USA.” But I will not chant.

In this time of crisis, I will rally around policies that seek peace and security, for all people everywhere. And instead of chanting, I will speak quietly about the grief we all feel, and loudly about the need to resist our leaders’ plans for global war.

Decent people agree that in this time of crisis, we cannot let the lines of color and culture, of language and religion, divide us. But we need to go another step, to understand that the lines dividing people based on nations are just as dangerous. We must also agree not to give in to the urge to value the lives of innocent Americans over the lives of innocent people in other countries.

For the past few days — in person and on the phone, through email and on the radio — I have been called “unpatriotic,” condemned as a “traitor” and labeled “anti-American” because my writing has opposed the drive to war, the call for blood to avenge those who died in the terror attacks.

But I also have heard from many others who also are concerned that U.S. officials will take us into a war that will bring only more death, pain and grief, leaving us less secure. They want to speak out but fear being attacked for not being “good Americans.”

This is a moment when we need the courage to say that being a good American does not mean supporting a war so violent and so indiscriminate that more innocent people will die.

That does not mean we renounce the ideals of freedom and justice so often associated with the United States; we should hold onto those ideals more fiercely than ever and put them into practice by resisting the rush to war.

We should honor the ideals of this country by saying, in as clear a voice as we can manage: Not in our name will the United States seek vengeance or go forward to kill.

It is important to read closely the joint resolution passed by Congress, which authorizes the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

That is not a resolution based on a quest for justice. It is an open-ended invitation to attack anyone U.S. leaders decide to target. And those leaders — Dick Cheney and Colin Powell among them — are some of the same people who during the Gulf War unleashed attacks not only on military targets but on civilians and the entire civilian infrastructure of Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people during and after the war. This resolution, and the statements from the Bush administration about an ongoing global war, suggest that what is coming will be even more frightening.

When we speak out against war in public, we will find support, but we also should expect hostility. We should expect the question posed by one of the people who wrote to condemn me: “Whose side are you on?”

The answers to that are simple:

I am on the side of the people — no matter where they live — who will suffer the violence, not the leaders — no matter where they live — who will plan it.

I am on the side of peace, not war.

I am on the side of justice, not vengeance.

And most important, I am on the side of hope, not despair.

We do not have the luxury of despair right now. There is too much at stake for too many people. CP

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin. He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu

 

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. He is the author of several books, including the forthcoming Plain Radical: Living, Loving, and Learning to Leave the Planet Gracefully (Counterpoint/Soft Skull, fall 2015). http://www.amazon.com/Plain-Radical-Living-Learning-Gracefully/dp/1593766181 Robert Jensen can be reached at rjensen@austin.utexas.edu and his articles can be found online at http://robertwjensen.org/. To join an email list to receive articles by Jensen, go to http://www.thirdcoastactivist.org/jensenupdates-info.html. Twitter: @jensenrobertw. Notes. [1] Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture, 3rd ed. (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1996), p. 106. [2] Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). [3] Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, edited and with a revised translation by Susan McReynolds Oddo (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2011), p. 55.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Martha Durkee-Neuman
Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
Mike Whitney
Rolling Back the Empire: Washington’s Proxy-Army Faces Decisive Defeat in Aleppo
Ellen Brown
“We’ll Look at Everything:” More Thoughts on Trump’s $1 Trillion Infrastructure Plan
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail