(Remarks at March 15 Anti-War Rally San Francisco, California.)
We stand here together. Shoulder to shoulder. Refusing to be denied the right to say no to George Bush’s war!
This Iraq war is about oil and regional interests.
If it was about ending tyranny, destroying weapons of mass destruction, and restoring democracy to Iraq then George Bush’s father could have done that in 1991. But he didn’t. Saddam Hussein and his murderous regime were kept in power.
And if we care about civilians suffering under the heel of brutal regimes, and if we really want to defend human rights worldwide, why are we starting and stopping at Iraq?
Why not do something about the suffering in Congo, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Burma, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Tibet, Afghanistan, just to name a few?
But as we all know nothing will be done.
In fact our military forces and intelligence agencies may actually even worsen the suffering in those countries because it suits our interests to do so. Just like when the American government killed Salvadore Allende and replaced him with Augusto Pinochet.
American style regime change is nothing new.
But when we dare to stand up and tell the truth about how unjust this war is and question the motivations of its protagonists we are called unpatriotic and accused of hating our flag.
I don’t hate my country and I certainly don’t hate my flag. In fact I love them so much I refuse to be quiet!
No more should we allow special interests to lead yet another generation of young Americans off to war.
Our Founding Father, George Washington, in his Farewell Address of 1796, warned us about the false patriots who would wrap themselves in the American flag and at the same time sell our precious American values to special interests.
George Washington didn’t know it then, but we know it now, that he was talking about people like George W. Bush who would betray our values and our country in pursuit of an unnecessary war.
You, gathered here today, are the true patriots.
The day our streets are free from protestors like you will be the day our democracy is dead.
Those of us who oppose Bush’s war span the spectrum.
We are conservative, radical ??” Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Reform, and we are Green.
We come from all walks of life.
We are the thinkers and the workers that make America strong.
We are all religions and we are all races joined together today.
That’s why George W. Bush proposes to spend $200 million on a public relations campaign to convince you and the world that war in Iraq is justified. Telling the truth shouldn’t be so expensive.
If war in Iraq is truly justified and is about restoring freedoms to the people of Iraq then why doesn’t the Bush Administration restore our freedoms here at home?
Why does the San Francisco Police Department need to collect, in violation of their own department rules, dossiers on peaceful anti-war protesters?
What does our government fear from us?
The Bush Administration has even failed to convince our most important opinion leaders when it comes to war and peace: the veterans.
Veterans increasingly are being counted among the ranks of anti-war protesters. Why? Because more than anyone else, our veterans know the horror of war.
They know it’s easy to talk about war if you’ve never been to war.
They know the horror of coming back to face the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs for help with post-traumatic stress syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, exposure to Agent Orange and depleted uranium, cancer, birth defects, Lou Gehrig’s disease, infertility, memory loss, and homelessness.
In fact, 25% of all our homeless are veterans. And they sleep on the streets of America every night. Many even living across the street from the White House.
While our military spend billions of dollars on aircraft, ships, tanks, and laser guided missiles??”$25 billion already just to get the troops in position for this war– our government can’t give a warm meal and shelter to the veterans who have served our country and who are now in need.
Something is terribly wrong; and that’s the thanks of a grateful nation.
Now President Bush would have you believe that he cares about our young service men and women.
But he doesn’t.
Just like he doesn’t care about the veterans.
And let us remember . . .
George Bush, Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, where were you when America needed you?
Part of that $200 million in public relations money the Administration is spending is to make us think that George Bush follows in the footsteps of the world’s greatest wartime leaders.
But while Saddam Hussein can be counted among the world’s tyrants, George W. Bush is no Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Tony Blair is no Winston Churchill.
Because now the entire world knows that Bush Daddy and the Carlyle Group are doing big business in weapons systems, recently purchasing a British weapons lab.
Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Company which, by the way, just announced that it had a radioactive device stolen in Africa, not only has an unprecedented 10-year, unlimited contract to feed and supply US troops, but it also has a $33 million contract to build the detention camp at Guantanamo Bay.
And now we learn that Halliburton will also repair Iraqi oil fields in case of damage in the war.
In addition, The Guardian newspaper informs us that Halliburton still pays the Vice President up to $1 million each year in deferred salary payments.
Meanwhile, back on the Chickenhawk farm, we learn from the most recent New Yorker magazine that Richard Perle incorporated the Trireme Partners company after September 11 and now stands to gain financially from a war in Iraq.
Now, sadly, this is the same gang that just succeeded in denying women access to emergency contraceptives, even in the event of sexual assault.
And that soon will start drilling in Alaska.
Sadly, with faked documents, plagiarized material, and unconvincing evidence, George Bush wants to rush us into a war that America’s poor will be fighting.
And in the process, the poor of the world are being asked to give up their resources, for little or nothing.
It is a stick-up of global proportions.
And we are being asked to go along with it.
America used to be loved around the world. Now we are feared.
And so, in the absence of an America that stands up for justice, and dignity; we are the ones who must stand up for peace.
In my election, 47,000 Republicans crossed over and hijacked the Democratic Primary becuse they were afraid of the truth. Sometimes telling the truth comes at a high personal price.
Let us leave here today and make the change this country needs to be loved and respected around the world once again.
CYNTHIA McKINNEY is a former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia.