Rebellion at White House victory for hope
December 18th, 2010
Hope: What corporate state saturating our airwaves with lies seeks to obliterate
Among those in Washington DC Thursday for civil disobedience, willing to be arrested for resisting war crimes, was Chris Hedges, American journalist, author and war correspondent specializing in American and Middle East politic and societies. Hedges addressed some five-hundred human rights defenders led by Veterans for Peace at the White House fence.
Hedges speech, about what hope is and is not, will be noted for years among other profound addresses in American history.
The official count of people arrested Thursday at the White House in an action to end the Long War is 131 according to Veterans of Peace. The arrested included board executive committee of Veterans for Peace.
Approximately 2/3rds of those arrested were veterans.
Also arrested were a number of women from Code Pink.
Dozens of speakers including Daniel Ellsberg and Ray McGovern were also arrested.
Hedges began his empowering and motivating addresses saying, “Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state.”
“All who resist, all who are here today keep hope alive.
“All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become an enemy of hope.
“They become in their passivity, agents of injustice
Interviews of veterans were documented in the video, Veterans for Peace White House Civil Disobedience to End War, (below). Each veteran answered why they had had gone to the gates of the White House to get arrested. The first veteran, out of the military for two and half years, answered:
“I can’t sit by anymore and let these atrocities continue. I was with 10th Mountain Division in New York in the initial surge..deployed August 6, 2006. I was injured.. came back stateside… deployed back, wounded.”
There to be arrested was what the veteran said was “very difficult and at the same time, very easy” because of the others standing with him.
“Hope has a cost,” Hedges told those soon to be arrested. “Hope requires personal risk.”
“It is not about the ‘right attitude’ or ‘peace of mind.’
“Hope is action. Hope is doing something.
Hope which is always non-violent… knows that an injustice visited on our neighbor is an injustice visited on all of us.”
A second veteran said he knew when he went to Iraq, “it wasn’t right.”
“You can’t come home from that… You can’t know you took human life and not want to do something… being there five years… blowing their homes apart and watching the infrastructure degrade instead of improve.
“There was nothing going on benefiting the people of Iraq,” he said. “Consistent night raids, check points and harassment was the daily routine of what we did in Iraq. From a moral standpoint, nobody would agree with that.”
Hedges oration included:
“Be afraid, they tell us. Surrender your liberties to us so we can make the world safe from terror. Don’t resist. Embrace the alienation of our cheerful conformity. Buy our products. Without them you are worthless. Become our brands. Do not look up from your electronic hallucinations. No. Above all do not think. Obey.”
The resisters at the gathering chanted loudly as they resisted police orders to get away from the White House fence: “They say, “Get back.” We say, “Fight back.
“Hope, from now on, will look like this,” Hedges said. “Hope will not come in trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people.
“It will not be realized by… attempting to influence the Democratic Party. It will not come through our bankrupt liberal institutions — from the press, to the withered stump that is the labor movement.
It is not having a positive attitude or pretending that happy thoughts and false optimism will make the world better…. Hope does not mean that our protests will suddenly awaken the dead consciences, the atrophied souls, of the plutocrats running Halliburton, Goldman Sachs, ExxonMobil or the government.
“If the enemies of hope are finally victorious in this station, the poison of violence will become not only the language of power but the language of opposition. And those who resist with nonviolence are the last thin line of defense between a civil society and its disintegration.
“When you put your body on the line and you say you won’t let this happen anymore and you’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen, it’s something spiritual,” explained a Veteran for Peace.
“I did things I’ll never forgive myself for. I did my job. Those were just people trying to defend their homes. not have the intestinal fortitude to stand up when I knew I should have refused to serve.”
Hoping to stop President’s Big Lie
At the White House fence Thursday, Daniel Ellsberg stated that the problem is the big lie, Joseph Goebel’s “Big lie” that was Bush’s and is now Obama’s Big lie: Keeping troops in the Middle East is protecting Americans at home.
Ellsberg said he can kind of excuse President Obama telling the lie to troops in the field that he sent into harm’s way wrongly, and even to their families – even when it’s not true.
“But if he looks us in the eye on the television camera and blows that same smoke at us and tells us that those troops in Afghanistan,… “Vietnamistan,” are protecting Americans at home – that’s not just false. That’s the opposite of the truth,” said Ellsberg.
“By creating universal hostility to us in the Muslim world by wrongful killing of Muslim civilians and Arabs and perhaps some day Iranians, he’s recruiting for Al Qaeda. He’s giving aid and comfort to Osama Bib Laden and Mula Omar.”
A female veteran told the reporter, “I was deployed to Iraq twice. And, once you’ve been there, you realize we’re not anything good for those people. Just because we throw them some water and some blankets and some water sometimes doesn’t make up for the fact that we are killing them day and night for no reason whatsoever.
“Once you come to that realization, you know this is where you have to be. These are the kinds of stand you need to take.”
Hedges concluded is address with:
“If we resist and carry out acts, no matter how small, of open defiance, hope will not be extinguished. If all we accomplish today is to assure a grieving mother in Baghdad or Afghanistan, a young man or woman crippled physically and emotionally by the hammer blows of war, that he or she is not alone, our act will be successful. But hope cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen.
“Any act of rebellion, any physical defiance of those who make war, of those who perpetuate corporate greed and are responsible for state crimes, anything that seeks to draw the good to the good, nourishes our souls and holds out the possibility that we can touch and transform the souls of others. Hope affirms that which we must affirm. And every act that imparts hope is a victory in itself.”
Following his address, Hedges said to a reporter, “I’ve been in jail before, but I never tried to get arrested. That was all when I was a foreign correspondent.
“This is first time I figured that this is sort of inevitable.’
Asked why now he went to be arrested Thursday, Hedges answered, “Because it’s all we have left at this point. The normal mechanisms by which democratic participation are rendered possible in this country have been closed shut.
“If we don’t do this, we die. This is what’s left of hope in this country.”
Written by Deborah Dupre
Deborah Dupre’ holds American and Australian science and education graduate degrees plus thirty years human rights, environmental and peace activism; led Aboriginal Pacific Islander and Australian research; holds pivotal role in FUEL; co-founded America’s Green Team, FUEL; lectures on Ancient Wisdom, Modern Technology; and markets second-generation biofuel seeds/trees. You can contact Deborah here (Gdeborahdupre[at]gmail[dot]com) or visit her website, deborahdupre.com.