Rise Up

Since September 11, 2001, our government has placed us in further danger with policies that inflame the conditions giving rise to terrorism. This sad anniversary offers us an opportunity to begin taking back our democracy. Above all, we must work for peace and social justice in order to create a brighter future for our children. The U.S. response to the September 11 crimes against humanity has led us into even greater peril. Under these crisis conditions, George W. Bush’s incompetence and Dick Cheney’s arrogance threaten our survival.

We must start acting like self-governing adults who reject rule by the oil industry, military contractors, and other corporate profiteers. George W. Bush and his administration (many of them fellow Vietnam-era draft dodgers) blundered into a new quagmire in Afghanistan. Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories exploded into a raging inferno of deadly violence. The conflict between Pakistan and India over Kashmir threatens to follow suit, perhaps escalating into nuclear war. Much of Latin America–including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and Venezuela–balances on the brink of economic meltdown, political coups and chaos, primarily caused by corporate globalization policies hatched in Washington that exploit their resources. Our environment shows more signs of severe damage with every cycle of the seasons and cascading problems of pollution, drought, fire and flooding.

We see unremitting government attacks on constitutional freedoms. Since the implosion of Enron Corporation late last year we learn that our ruling corporate and political institutions are irredeemably corrupt. The neoliberal economic faith that dominated the advanced world for the past couple decades combines with the neoconservative political ideology animating the Bush/Cheney administration to completely obliterate their grip on reality. Revelations of corporate and political corruption coincide with the return of economic hard times. The facts of life under capitalist cycles of boom and bust were well understood many decades ago, when our fore-fathers and -mothers organized strong unions that helped pull our nation out of the Great Depression, and fought to defeat fascism in Europe and Asia. But those lessons were more recently obscured by Madison Avenue hype and beltway spin.

Now we face among other dangers the prospect of intensified war with Iraq. Without a shred of legal justification and with the likelihood of a horrible terrorist backlash against the world’s reigning super power, we anticipate using massive deadly force against the Iraqi People. Like the victims of the Taliban and al-Quaida in Afghanistan, they are devastated by many years of poverty intimately linked to the military, political, and economic system dominated by our government and its corporate masters. The U.S. government even plans contingencies for preemptive first use of nuclear weapons against People who are victims of Saddam Hussein. Our choice lies between collective responsibility for our children’s future, and the collective insanity of the Bush/Cheney administration. It’s decision time for America and the world.

Not even the world’s only super power and its unchallengeable military machine should aspire to infinite war as a response to crimes against humanity. Did we learn nothing from decades of slaughter that deformed the last century? After World War II the Nuremberg trials established the collective responsibility of People for failing to resist crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, war crimes and genocide. We Americans are now all at risk of guilt under these principles. Failing to oppose George W. Bush’s government by big oil, corporate tyranny, and racist international aggression condemns us to the shame of allowing their greed and violence to rule our lives and our world. One of our best-loved artists now sings words I can’t get out of my head in tribute to the unforgettable heroes of September 11, who bravely raced into the fire in service of others and died:

May your strength give us strength

May your faith give us faith

May your hope give us hope

May your love give us love

George W. Bush and his government lack the moral strength to serve social justice and peace rather than big business. They lack faith in democracy. They lack hope for a better world for the masses of the world’s People, which is the only real answer to terrorism. And they lack the love of humanity. Their strength is killing, making money, and lying about it. Their faith is non-existent. They hope for apathy of the American People. They love only money and power.

Thirty years ago, during the Vietnam war and in the wake of the Watergate scandal, I remember how my unionist grandfather proudly wore a button on his hat that said “Dump Nixon,” and told everyone who would listen exactly what he thought about the obnoxious criminal in the White House. In his memory I can do no less to oppose today’s equally venal U.S. rulers, dedicated as they are to corporate domination of working People and endless immoral wars in service of the rich. George W. Bush and his government lack legitimacy. Under the global crisis conditions caused by September 11, we cannot afford the luxury of ignoring their moral and legal transgressions. It is time for them to go.

Tom Stephens lives in Detroit. He can be reached at: lebensbaum4@earthlink.net


Tom Stephens is a volunteer educator for the Detroit Independent Freedom Schools Movement (DIFSM) and a Peoples lawyer in Detroit.