January 18, 2003...
6:21 in the morning...
It is still dark.
My wife and son are sleeping. In the next room, my brother and his wife and their son are sleeping.
We have traveled to the nation's capital, come together to protest the war of George W. Bush.Which war? Surely, you know that there's a war going on, somewhere, everywhere, here at home, in the darkest caves of the worlds, all across The Homeland, in the minds of Americans, between freedom and fear. You remember, it has to do with good and evil.
Somewhere in the White House, they've got a list of who's evil and who's not. We haven't seen this list, of course. Like so many other things our government has these days, it's a secret.
On my way down to Washington, D.C., I stopped in New York City for business in the financial district. I stayed in the Marriott, right above what some people call Ground Zero.
Ground Zero was in Hiroshima, the point where the United States dropped a nuclear bomb, vaporizing not just two towers, but destroying an entire city, with fire and radiation expanding for miles.
Tragic as it is, the site of the World Trade Center's Twin Towers is no Ground Zero.
From my window I could see the American Express building. Men in hardhats were preparing the site, and plans were on show for ever higher buildings, signs of power. A few buildings hung in black shrouds, also under repair, but the rest of the city runs on.
Since September 11, 2001, I have visited New York City eight times, and not once have I heard a native New Yorker talk about the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center. The only people I've heard talking about the attacks and the need for retribution are outsiders, tourists who come to gawk.
This morning, in Washington D.C., I look down from my window in the Marriott Renaissance at the old library, being remodeled as a city museum to be opened this Spring. I wonder what the City Museum of Washington will show us after its current repairs. This city, and the nation it leads, are turning fast, and it is still not apparent to which direction this turning will finally point.
What would a psychiatrist say about the state of our national security?
Lashing out, picking fights, signs of inner conflict.
"United We Stand" was the motto that made America feel good, but almost no one ever stopped to consider what it was we were being asked to stand for. Now the American people are finding out what Bush had in mind: unelected shadow governments, secret courts, secret wars, secret evidence, secret committees, secret secrets, military recruiters forcing their way into public high schools, detentions without charge, the suspension of habeas corpus, war without end.
And then there's the spies: spies listening to our phone calls, monitoring our credit cards, scanning our medical records, reading our email, watching us wherever we go. Our Information Society has become a society of Total Information Awareness.
Total Information Awareness, of course, is a one-side thing with George W. Bush as president. While his government has Total Information, the American people know next to nothing about what's going on. He authorized John Ashcroft both to watch over our private lives and to keep the government's secrets secret. We can't know who sets our energy policy. We can't know who the government is holding prisoner. We can't ever see the great evidence that the president says he's got that proves that we need to be at war. We can't even ask for these secrets, now that Ashcroft has ordered government officials to resist citizen requests made under the Freedom of Information Act.
No one ever guessed in 2000 that Bush's promised government cutbacks would include cutbacks in freedom.
We're told that we're at war, a perpetual war they say could go on for generations, a war of fear.
Now, Bush is trying to start a new war. This war has to do with America's children.
My son and my brother's son, they're just two and three years old, too small to be sucked up into Bush's war party.
Some day our sons will grow tall enough to carry their own books or their government's guns. I'm here today with my son and my brother and his son and our wives in the hope that we can create a future in which no one's child will have to carry the gun of any government, a future in which it would seem absurd to do so.
George W. Bush says that you've got to wage war to build peace.
As he himself declared, we're either with him or against him.
United We Stand?
I know where I will stand today, out on the people's Mall, against Bush.
The night can only last so long.
Now the sky is growing pink...
It is light.
My son is waking up.
Don't let us do all the talking. Talk back!
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