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[whitespace] Bruce Bratton

ANOTHER COMPILATION. This week, I'm even giving up the historical photo, because I think these voices need to be heard, and with the possible exception of Barbara Kingsolver's Los Angeles Times piece, we just don't see or hear these opinions locally. Thanks, too, for your positive support for printing these voices. Many have asked where and how I'm getting these words, and in addition to the noted emails from concerned folks, I'm also working on a list of alternative Internet and other news sources that, in my opinion, are working beautifully to create what I consider to be the largest anti-military, pro-peace people's response that I've ever experienced. Keep sending me more voices from everywhere. I doubt that I'll give up any more entire columns, but I'll certainly pass on the information. (P.S. I also spoke with that "small-town in-fill developer" who took out those anti-Metro Santa Cruz/anti-Bratton ads in the Sentinel because I called our idiot president dumb. He said, "Hey, no hard feelings; we're just having fun." More on that next week.)

DAVID McREYNOLDS: Socialist Party Candidate for President in 2000 (from a direct email, Sept. 23): Certainly U.S. policy in the Middle East, which heavily favors Israel, needs to change radically. We must work closely with as wide a coalition of forces as possible to stop war and stop bombing raids, to limit actions which will not bring justice but increase the danger of new "bin Ladens." Such coalitions should include peace, religious, student, academic groups and trade unions. In areas where Arabic neighbors face attack, we should join others in helping protect them.

What course of action can we support? I think there is a clear basis for urging Bush to work through the United Nations and the International Court and to urge the Senate to ratify the treaty against terrorism and to seek the cooperation of other nations in bringing those who may be guilty to justice through an international tribunal--not a kangaroo court controlled by the United States.

The problem is that, given its enormous power, the United States is unlikely to take this course of legal, international action--but we should suggest it as an alternative to war. We should ask people--and ask ourselves to start with--do we really want to do to the people of Afghanistan what was done to us? Their country has been reduced to rubble, so the bombs can only make the rubble bounce and increase the pain of a population controlled by the Taliban. Can our own pain help us to see that "an eye for an eye will leave the world blind?" I know--and you know--that many people, being spurred on the right-wing media (the Fox network, as one example) are calling for bombing Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, etc. But if we talk with people, if we are willing to listen to their anger and reach their best instincts, I do not think they want to kill women and children and ordinary working people in another country to get revenge.

THE LIMITS OF REVENGE AND RHETORIC: Tim Wise, written Sept. 15. Wise is a Tulane graduate, author of Hardcover Hate and on the advisory board of Fisk University. (This piece was emailed to me from Nancy Abbey): Well, it looks as if the good people of the rural United States should be breathing a sigh of relief right about now. After all, with the president and most Americans itching to bomb any place where terrorists might be hiding, one can only imagine the kind of wrath that would have been brought down upon the heads of folks in Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming or Mississippi had the guilty parties been white boys with crew-cuts, like Tim McVeigh. But rather, the folks who are so quick to collectivize the responsibility and the payback when the perps are dark-skinned or "foreign" are just as quick not to do so when white boys are the ones committing mass murder or engaging in terrorist activities. In the wake of Oklahoma City, none of the people who are now calling for war against Afghanistan even suggested targeting white supremacist groups and militias for destruction, let alone bombing the cornfields of "middle America" in the hopes of taking out a few anti-government types. We would never have heard columnists calling for profiling of white men, the way that reactionary crank and wannabe pin-up girl of the right, Ann Coulter, called for same against Arabs and Muslims this week. What is most ironic about all of this is that such a scenario--the West and Islam locked in mortal combat--is exactly what the Osama bin Ladens of the world have always wanted. It is a trap. A trap rejected by the vast majority of Arabs and of Muslims wherever they may be, but one in which they, too, will be caught up if we take the bait.

And so what does that leave us with? The fact is, I don't know. And neither do you. And why we can't just say that, admit our frailties and uncertainties and ignorance, is beyond me. That we demand quick and easy answers is indicative of our cultural attachment to instant gratification. Don't think, don't analyze, just do it. It is the Nike slogan as national mantra. And it is the prelude to international slaughter.

No wonder so much of the world looks at America with contempt and at Americans as spoiled children. First, we train terrorists the world over, including bin Laden, because we had to "get the commies" at all costs, even if it meant supporting dictators, fundamentalists and murderers. Then we support corrupt and brutal regimes that trample the rights of their citizens. Then we fund and support an illegal occupation of Palestinian land and contribute to the deaths of a million or more in Iraq from bombing and sanctions. Then, we exhibit our arrogance by withdrawing from international treaties and forums when the going gets tough or issues get raised that we don't want to discuss.

This is not to say that any of these things, no matter how irresponsible or even criminal, warrant an act the likes of what we saw Sept. 11. But there is something to be said for understanding why no one likes you. This is no game. There is no "winner" despite the blustery rhetoric of our frat-boy-in-chief. And unless we begin to fundamentally alter the way we as a nation operate around the world, we are in for many years of violence and counterviolence, and empty platitudes, and flag waving, and body bags. And if that happens, it won't merely be the fault of those who attack us from outside but also the fault of those who were the enemies of justice, equality and peace on the inside of the American empire. There will be more than enough blame to go around.

NOT IN OUR NAME! (A statement by the Worldwide Sisterhood Against Terrorism and War; emailed by Jeana de la Torre): We women who are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and women of many beliefs from the countries that lost lives in the terror of Sept 11, unite on these principles: We will not support the bombing or U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, for it would only punish suffering people, and increase the hatred on which terrorists feed. No military action has ever ended terrorism. We stand with our sisters in Afghanistan who are suffering and dying under the gender apartheid and sexual terrorism of the Taliban. The world has endangered itself by failing to heed their pleas. We must help them build a democracy that includes women. We believe the mass murders of Sept. 11 were crimes against humanity that must be prosecuted. All terrorists must be brought to justice. We pledge to judge people by their acts, not the group into which they were born. We will boycott financial institutions that refuse to disclose the flow of funds to terrorists. We will target and expose political leaders who refuse to require disclosure. To stop the spiral of terror and vengeance, we believe there must be an act as positive as the terrorist act was negative. Therefore: We call on the United States, the United Nations and the World Community, each according to its economic means, to begin a massive and immediate airlift of food and medicine for the people of Afghanistan.

Because the United States has mobilized and may be about to attack Afghanistan, one of the most tragic and war-ravaged countries in the world, we send this urgently and with only the instruction that, should you agree, you do with this statement whatever you do best.

Send it to your U.S. Congressmember or other parliamentarian. Talk about it to the media. Plaster copies over your local military base, send it to every person you know on the planet, paint it on yourself and sit in silence in a public place. Sing it, shout it, make buttons, circulate it as a petition, organize a rally around it, do a teach-in about it, translate it into your language, speak it from street corners, use it to picket the White House. Send it to George W. Bush's inner circle, send it to the mothers of his inner circle, put it inside newspapers, leaflet military recruiting stations, make it into an I-won't-pay-war-taxes pledge. And most important, use your own head and heart to prevent a war that can only lead to more terrorism.

Signed: Alice Walker, Alicia Lucksted, Susan Sarandon, Ameena Meer, Sunita Mehta, Anna Magoula, Anne Firth Murray, Anupama Rao, Asma Sadiq, Bhaswati Bhattacharya, Eve Ensler, Blanche Wiesen Cook, Catherine Gund, Charlotte Sheedy, China Galland, Gloria Steinem, Claude Servan-Schreiber, Diane de Vegh, Evelyn Rothstein, Fahima Danishgar, Zeinab Eyega, Fahima Vorgetts, Gloria Jacobs, Hazelle Goodman, Helen LaKelly Hunt, Hibaaq Osman, Jaskiran Mathur, Jessica Neuwirth, Joyce Maynard, Kaliah Henton, Kathy Najimy, Lisa Gilford, Mallika Dutt, Margaret Abraham, Monique Mehta, Pat Cane, Paula Allen, Purvi Shah, Robin Morgan, Robina Niaz, Sally Fisher, Sarah Jones, Sheila Dauer, Sima Wali, Stephanie Clohes, Suj Krishnaswamy, Suraya Sadeed, Vahida Nainar, Vivian Stromberg, Willa Shalit, Zayba Rahman, Zieba Shorish-Shamley, Jane Fonda. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it. Begin it now.


Bruce critiques films every other Thursday on KUSP-FM (88.9). Reach Bruce at bratton@cruzio.com or at 457.5814, ext. 400.

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From the October 3-10, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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