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An Open Letter to Barbara Lee
I am writing to express my deep gratitude for your courageous votes against authorizing the (illegitimate) Bush Administration to wage wars against unknown enemies and innocent civilians for an unknown length of time and with unknown goals. I’m against the war. I support you.
Your votes against war were votes against terror, lawlessness, unilateralism, brutality, bullying, violence, vengeance, vigilantism, hate, conformity, and social insecurity. I oppose terrorism. I still mourn the victims and am totally disgusted by the perpetrators of the September 11th crimes against humanity. I despise bullying and brutality. I support you.
Your votes against war were votes of sanity, clarity, thoughtfulness, intelligence, courage, compassion, and integrity in the proud tradition of Rep. Jeanette Rankin. Your votes against war are also in the proud tradition of many great American values: democracy and dissidence, free thought and fairness, rule of law and rationality, liberty and love, equality and equal protection, peace and justice. I ardently and actively support those values. I support you.
You know that war will not solve any problems, but rather create many more. War dishonors the victims of the terrible terrorist tragedy by creating many more innocent victims. We need to honor the victims, along with the rescue workers and volunteers, by supporting life instead of pursuing death. War undermines the United Nations and international law by violating their charters and our agreements and treaties, while further undermining respect for the US and its future proposals and policies. War increases our insecurity by fanning the flames of discontent, alienation, marginalization, and hate and by making more victims and more so-called martyrs to be avenged. War is a form of terrorism and multiplies the terrorism that occurred at least a thousand times in at least a thousand ways. The bombs of war indiscriminately destroy people, animals, trees, houses, markets, farms, art, and much else, as well as severely polluting the air, land, and water, as has been done in Vietnam, Iraq, the former Yugoslavia, Vieques, Angola, El Salvador, and elsewhere. War makes us most like those we most despise. War is a blank check death penalty without any due process. War is cruel and unusual punishment. War is torture. War kills children and this is totally unacceptable. War is unhealthy, toxic, bloody, and destructive, while justice is democratic, constructive, and long-lasting. We should be builders, not bullies. We should support freedom, not fanaticism. We should encourage democracy, not destruction. I support you.
You know that the CIA eagerly supported Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and that Bush supported the Taliban with millions of dollars in 2001, just as the US government also politically and financially supported Noriega, Pol Pot, Somoza, Mobutu, Suharto, Duvalier, Savimbi, the Shah, Pinochet, and various other vicious dictators, while actively opposing their millions of citizens struggling for freedom, democracy, and justice. You know that US foreign policy has often been militaristic and terroristic, causing untold destruction and death in scores of countries. You know that we should follow the rule of law, just as we would, or should, in any mass murder case. You know that the US has studied and engaged in biological and chemical warfare and has refused to sign on to the international ban against biological weapons. I oppose all techniques and weapons of mass destruction, whether physical, financial, biological, chemical, nuclear, or otherwise. I support you.
You know that the costs of Bush’s ill-named and ill-defined wars will make us less secure as a nation and that real national security lies not in far-flung militarism, murder, and mass military expenditures, but in bolstering our collective standard of living through better education, universal healthcare, adequate housing, a cleaner environment, poverty reduction and elimination, a more developed infrastructure, job creation and living wages, eradicating racism and sexism, ensuring and enhancing social security, reducing the power of corporations, and instituting electoral reform to strengthen our democracy. I support this type of real national security, here and elsewhere. I support regime change in Washington, D.C. Future generations will support you. I support you.
You know that the first Gulf War against Iraq and the continuing decade-long slaughter of Iraqis through bombings and sanctions have killed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of innocent civilians, many of whom are children; not only has that not solved any problems, here or abroad, but that policy and the US military presence in Saudi Arabia is cited as one of the reasons for Islamic jihad against the US. You know that Bush-led crusades to attack a jihad and Bush’s with-us-or-against-us ridiculous rhetoric is a Sophie’s Choice encouraging us to follow Karl Marx’s advice that sometimes the best way to answer a question is to negate it. You know that the ongoing problems and lack of peace between Israel and Palestine also contributes to ongoing problems and a lack of peace throughout the Middle East, the US, and elsewhere. You know that war, like terrorist attacks themselves, setback progressive causes and that the drumbeats of war are presently trying to silence dissident perspectives on a wide range of important issues. You know that the Bush administration is scapegoating abroad while rolling back civil liberties at home. You know that jingoism, nationalism, authoritarianism, fundamentalism, xenophobia, racism, and scapegoating are ugly, undesirable, and untenable. You know that war is horror on a massive scale. You know that many young people will die for other people’s ignoble ideas. You know that violence begets violence and that if violence was a solution we would long since have had a peaceful world. You know that peace is infinite justice and that only justice can lead to peace. You know that Bush’s policies and actions, supported by an acquiescent and herd-like bi-partisan congress and a sensationalist corporate media on bended knee, are dumb, dangerous, and despicable. I oppose the ignorant and impatient stampede into the abyss and cataclysm of militarism and war. I support you.
I am so proud of your bravery, heart, conscience, moxie, and good sense in casting your patriotic votes against war and all of its intended and unintended consequences. Thank you for acting on your conscience and not just reacting to our fear. Thank you for doing the right thing. I wholeheartedly oppose the war. I wholeheartedly support you!
DAN BROOK teaches sociology at UC Berkeley, which is in Barbara Lee’s district. He can be reached at: Brook@california.com