my latest column
g.maclennan at qut.edu.au
Sun Mar 16 17:57:20 MST 2003
I am writing my column for the Anarchist throwaway here in Brisbane. This
is the first part of what promises to be a long piece. Some may find it of
So it is to be war after all. By the time you read this, the war against
Iraq may even be over. Throughout the world millions have said they do not
want this war. They do not want to see hundreds of thousands killed. They
do not want to see the full horror of American technology unleashed against
a largely defenceless population. Even here in sleepy old conservative
Brisbane, where apathy comes dropping slow, dropping from the palms trees,
tens of thousands came out against the war, came out against the slaughter
of the innocents that is now about to take place.
I want now to discuss why the leaders have decided to go ahead despite this
demonstration of the people's will. As always history is a help, if we read
it correctly. The first example I shall use is that of the anarchists
Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. The names will mean nothing to most
of my readers, for those that framed and executed them have lived to write
the history books. But Sacco & Vanzetti were arrested outside Boston on
May 5, 1920 and charged with robbing and killing a shoe factory paymaster
and his guard.
They were in truth the innocent victims of an all out campaign against
"foreign" radicals that the US government pursued following the Russian
Revolution. Then as now to be a "foreigner" in the USA was to be
suspect. Throughout the world millions protested against the execution of
Sacco and Vanzetti. In Paris it took 28,000 soldiers and police to protect
the American Embassy. Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann, H.G. Wells and the pope
supported the attempt to save Sacco and Vanzetti. But the authorities
ignored this opposition and murdered them on August 23 1927. Again we ask
Let us move from the historical to the contemporary. Last night in
Palestine a young woman stood in front of a bull dozer that was about to
demolish an Arab's home. This is the collective punishment that is meted
out every day by the occupying Israeli Army. It is of course illegal under
international law. It is of course a war crime. But as I write this, as
you read it, know that new standards in brutality are being set by the
government of Ariel Aharon and the Israeli army they command.
This is the report of what happened from the New York Times.
Rachel Corrie, 23, a college student from Olympia, Wash., had been trying
to stop the bulldozer from tearing down a building in the Rafah refugee
camp, witnesses said. She was taken to Najar hospital in Rafah, where she
died, said Dr. Ali Moussa, a hospital administrator. Greg Schnabel, 28, of
Chicago, said the protesters were in the house of Dr. Samir Masri. Israeli
almost daily has been tearing down houses of Palestinians it suspects in
connection with Islamic militant groups, saying such operations deter
attacks on Israel such as suicide bombings.
"Rachel was alone in front of the house as we were trying to get them to
stop," Schnabel said. "She waved for the bulldozer to stop and waved. She
fell down and the bulldozer kept going. We yelled, 'Stop, stop,' and the
bulldozer didn't stop at all. It had completely run over her and then it
reversed and ran back over her."
Witnesses said Corrie was wearing a brightly colored jacket when the
bulldozer hit her. She had been a student at The Evergreen State College in
Olympia and would have graduated this year, Schnabel said.
Rachel Corrie represented the millions who oppose Israeli war crimes. The
driver of the bull dozer saw her and kept his foot on the accelerator. She
was crushed to death. Again we ask why?
The answer is that in the case of the movement opposing this war, in the
case of Sacco and Vanzetti, and in the case of Rachel Corrie there are the
seeds of a different way of doing things, of a different politics. Above
all there are the seeds that might blossom into a different world.
It is this possibility that the powerful fear above all. It is this
possibility that they must crush. Just think about it. What role would
there be for a Bush or a Blair or a Howard in a world of love and
peace? There would be no place for their fears and their hatreds and their
prejudices. Humanity would sweep past them and leave them to fester and rot.
So once again we must be taught by the rich and the powerful that THERE IS
NO ALTERNATIVE to their rule. So the skies above Bhagdad will be filled
with bombs of all kinds. The Americans have been testing and developing
new weapons they are anxious to promote. The richest and most powerful
country in the world has just developed the most powerful bomb ever
made. They will let it off and show us what they can do. We are supposed
to be quailing with fear. We are supposed to realise that all opposition to
the Americans is useless. We are supposed to follow our Prime Minister and
grovel abjectly at the hindquarters of the Americans. We are supposed to
join Howard in the furious licking of Bush's posterior.
But now more than ever we must tell ourselves that this is not our
karma. This is not the destiny of humanity. When the first humans stood
up there was in that act the possibility of the creation of a truly noble
world. We humans have not fulfilled that promise. But the millions of
young people, who have come out against the war, have shown that there
still is within humanity the blue print for a different way - the way of
unconditional love and peace. It is that revelation we must hold on to in
the dark days that lie ahead. We must acknowledge the truth that we are
better then them. Humanity is not une merde. Our freedom is there waiting
for us and we must embrace it without fear. If we do so a new and a better
day will dawn.
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