"I love my country, but I also fear my country more than I fear
anything, even death."
This is a statement of a friend I recieved only a few days ago in
A terrible statement and terrible emotions: Angst, and a sense of desperateness.
induced me to post the following two comments by the same author. The first one was written on the eve of the Iraq war, the
second one only a few days before the 2004 election. Together they not only reflect the built-up of such emotions but
they also reveal what's wrong in America - they are proof that my friend is not the only one to suffer these
With a good chance for the next war against Syria starting soon, these comments have regained a frightening
actuality, and they show that the time for a change is more than overdue.....
November 1, 2005
When Logics Die -
Rage Against the Regime!
by WILLIAM A. COOK
went for a walk around Lake Gregory this past Sunday afternoon searching for peace, the freedom that comes with peace of mind.
The sun's heat spread through the cobalt blue sky over this lake that sits five thousand feet up in the San Bernardino Mountains
east of Los Angeles, while sparklets of light glistened on the lake's surface that nibbled slowly at the shore ... a glorious
day in mid March here in the mountains.
I went to the lake to find peace, this being the week the president gave one
of his rare prime time press conferences, the only opportunity we, the public, get to see him perform. It's also the week
America goes to war. I went to the lake to find peace of mind, the ultimate state that comes with freedom, the state of being
that is the primary goal of all religions, the end mystics dream of achieving and eastern faiths call Nirvana. I went to the
lake to find the freedom Dubya claims others want to take from me, the freedom promised in the Constitution and the Bill of
Rights: freedom to believe as my conscience dictates, freedom to accept the beliefs of others most especially those who differ
with me, freedom to pursue my talents and respect the right of others to pursue theirs, freedom to live a healthful life,
to speak freely, to learn, and to seek just protection before the law. I went to find freedom; I found none. I found no peace
As I walked around the lake, I could not help but think that this was Sunday, the day God rested from His
labors. Three faiths worship that God of Abraham including 90% of Americans, some are Jews, some Christians, and some Muslims.
In a few years more Americans will declare the Koran their book of faith than those who declare the Torah. With all these
people worshiping the same God, why do we have such division in this country? As I walked the path around the lake, it occurred
to me that it's the leaders who cause the problems. Consider Jerry Falwell, Pat Robinson, Hal Lindsey, Dale Evans, Frederick
Graham and his father Billy (to name a few), who deride the prophet Mohammad and declare the Muslim faith to be one of violence.
Consider also how they use the Jews to bring about their belief in the Book of Revelation, needing the Jews to establish themselves
in Israel if the Second Coming is to happen. Consider how they call upon the Christians of the world to unite to fulfill God's
master plan even if it means a nuclear holocaust. These are the weapons of mass destruction! Minds filled with the certitude
that only belief in myth can allow.
And Sunday is the day Christians set aside to worship that God. This Christian
God, this Jesus, asked His followers to "turn the other cheek," to perform the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, in short
to care for all God's creatures. Yet this Sunday as I walked about the lake watching children toss their fishing lines out
from shore, as others played "T" ball in the park, as young lovers cooed by the side of the lake, as the old and infirm watched
from their bench above the path, I heard the whistle of the missiles slam into Baghdad and saw the mothers grasp their children
to their breasts as they fled in horror at the searing flames and saw the walls of their homes shatter before their eyes.
I saw this born-again Christian president order American boys and girls to "take up the cross" in defense of their homeland:
to defend America against those who have inflicted no harm on America; who have in 12 years not molested any nation; who have
claimed they possess no WMD and no nuclear capability verified by international inspectors to be the case; who occupy no other
people's lands; who have been subjugated to eleven years of deprivation by a coalition of nations that deprive them of basic
medical, sanitation, health and economic necessities; who live in daily fear of American and British war planes that arbitrarily
destroy their defenses and kill innocent civilians; and who are surrounded by the greatest massed force of destruction ever
assembled in the history of humankind.
This president claims that he will bring freedom to the Iraqi people, not America's
gift of freedom, but God's! This president will liberate the Iraqi people even as he slaughters an estimated 500,000 innocents,
a liberation of questionable value one suspects. This president will bring democracy to Iraq whether they want it or not,
a gift that Americans don't even enjoy when he is president by selection of five judges! This president will decide the conscience
of the American people since he disregards their voice both at the voting booth and in the streets. This president elevated
Iraq to the stage of enemy number one by claiming it had connections with the terrorists that caused 9/11, a contention proved
to be a lie. This president claimed that Iraq had biological weapons of mass destruction, but failed to tell the American
people that his own father sold Saddam those weapons illegally and surreptitiously. This president claimed that Saddam gassed
his own people, the Kurds, and Iranians against international law and the Geneva Conventions, but failed to tell the American
people that the government at the time, the Reagan/Bush government, not only did not object to this action but provided the
means to do it. This president claimed that Saddam did not comply with Resolution 1441 when he submitted a 12,000 page report,
but failed to tell the American people that his administration removed 8,000 pages from that document, pages that contained
sensitive material including the names of American, British, and German firms that supplied Saddam with the chemicals and
equipment needed to produce WMD. This president claimed that Iraq was in a position to acquire nuclear arms within a few months,
a potential threat to America, but failed to tell the American people that he would disregard other nations that possessed
or would soon possess nuclear arms including two nations of the three that he called the "Axis of evil," Iran and North Korea.
president claimed that Saddam was a vicious dictator who used torture, oppression of women, and the jailing of dissidents
to stay in power, but failed to tell the American people that his own father let Saddam stay in power because he was a known
quantity and any replacement would not necessarily follow America's orders. Nor did he tell the American people that he would
authorize torture if done by another nation for America, or that he would incarcerate people without access to lawyers, trial,
or jury, indeed, without even a charge of criminal conduct. And, finally, this president claimed that Iraq must be taken down
by force because it defied the 17 UN resolutions that called upon it to disarm and respond to human rights violations, an
action that if not taken would result in making the UN irrelevant, but he failed to tell the American people that America
supports the state of Israel that has defied 155 UNGA and UNSC resolutions since 1948 and 69 UNSC resolutions (28 vetoed by
the US) since the 1967 war, a defiance that far overshadows the 17 resolutions Iraq has defied. How irrelevant can the UN
be if this is the criterion? What power does the UN possess to enforce its resolutions? Only the moral will of its members.
It has no army; it has only the willing acceptance of the rights of all humans to life, liberty, respect, and dignity as determined
by its member states. Thus when the most powerful member state disregards the moral stand of that bodies membership, when
it resorts to bribes and coercion to have its way, it denies the only strength the UN can bring to bare on wayward nations.
The claim of UN irrelevancy is specious, indeed, each and every contention made by this president has been shown to be demonstratively
false. When logics die, leaders lie!
Patriotic platitudes, vapid values, and incongruous ideals cascade from our leaders
mouths like waters over the cliffs of Niagara. Witness the recent babbling of Blair, Bush, Powell, Rumsfeld and Rice as they
resort to condemnation of Iraq for defying the 17 resolutions passed by the UN, defiance that castrates the authority of the
UN and cries for resolution by force regardless of the effectiveness of inspections or the will of the world community. Witness
their despair that Iraq, after eleven years, will ever succumb to the will of the nations that passed these resolutions. Witness
their declamations that the security of the US and the UK depends on immediate action against the treacherous dictator who
gassed his own people 15 years ago (without objection by the US or the UK) and carried forth this same warfare against the
Iranians with full approval of the US and the UK, indeed to the supplying of the materials. Witness their lamentations over
those citizens who would object to a war that would instill "shock and awe" in this terrible enemy even as it liberates an
estimated half million Iraqis by slaughtering them, saving them from continued oppression by Saddam. Witness their invoking
the twin absolutes of freedom and democracy that will be the offspring of this war even as they prepare to occupy a foreign
nation-state and force their will on its people, thus making moot the meaning of freedom and democracy. When logics die, what
I have waited anxiously for a reporter to question these men and this woman about their resolve to hold
Iraq to the authority of the UN resolutions. Why Iraq only? Why now? Why not other countries? Why not Israel and Palestine,
for example, since most world leaders and the majority of the people in the nations around the world seem to find the Israeli/Palestinian
crisis of greater consequence to peace in the mid-east? Do we not raise the specter of Israeli occupation and aggression against
the Palestinians before the world body because we will be condemned as anti-Semitic? Do we not raise the issue of the Palestinian
people resorting to suicide bombers because it casts condemnation on the members of the UN for allowing this crisis to continue
for over fifty years? When will we invoke the authority of the UN to make both the Israelis and the Palestinians meet the
demands of the international community and international law? When will we declare the hypocrisy of our stance before the
world that the US and the UK believe wholeheartedly in the ideals of the world body and its authority in matters of international
conflict? When logics die, leaders lie..
Lies, deceit, hypocrisy couched in euphemisms as evidence, security concerns,
and ideals beneficial to the international community about the imminent threat posed by Iraq dominate the mainstream media
effectively hiding the reality of the savagery being waged in Israel and Palestine. Beyond the lies uttered without shame
by Blair and Powell justifying war, are those lies of omission that force Iraq to prominence now to hide the administration's
acceptance of Sharon's war against the Palestinians. Why blanket the truth? Why not speak straightforwardly to the American
people? This administration has capitulated to Sharon's demands even as he cloaks his actions in Bush's own terms, "defense
against terrorists." As Sharon has told the Knesset, "Don't worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people
control America, and the Americans know it." Why hide the truth? Tell it like it is: a war against Iraq can bury what is happening
in Israel; a war against Iraq will bury the new Sharon coalition that depends on 13 members who are adamantly opposed to the
creation of a Palestinian state; a war against Iraq will hide the request by Israel to have the US cover 15 billion in loans
and grants to bail out their floundering economy even as the US states fall deeper and deeper into the ditch of debt. When
logics die, leaders lie!
Contrast the demand that Iraq surrender to UN resolutions with the silence that greets the
question, "Why not Israel?" Israel has defied the UN for 55 years, Iraq for 12. Israel has invaded and continues to hold illegally
land that belongs to Palestinians, defying UN resolutions for 35 years to return the land; Iraq invaded Kuwait 12 years ago
with CIA collusion and went to war with Iran 15 years ago with US approval and support. It occupies no foreign land now and
is not considered a threat by its neighbors. Israel has and continues to defy not only UN resolutions that it abide by the
Geneva Conventions to protect human rights, but spurns all Human Rights Watch Reports that request investigations into behavior
that demeans human dignity and defies international law; Iraq has been forced to release control of its northern territories,
that occupied principally by Kurds, and to give up absolute control in the south, a "no fly zone" controlled by the US and
Israel has used the "war on terror" to define the Palestinian people, thus giving them absolute right to determine
who is a criminal and who will die, without trial by jury, without the right to a lawyer, and without appeal, actions all
in defiance of international law; the Iraqi people are victims of this same logic that provides for the use of 7 _ times the
destruction visited upon Hiroshima to be visited upon the Iraqi people to catch one man. Israel has WMD and openly admits
this fact. It also has nuclear weapons and, in the words of one Israeli Professor, will use them on European capitals as well
as against Iraq if needed to ensure the existence of Israel. It also occupies and suppresses Palestinians using tanks and
bulldozers to destroy property not belonging to them. They also use the third largest military force in the world against
a people that have no defense except old rifles, missiles and stones. Iraq has no comparable WMD, nor does it have nuclear
capability; it does not occupy any territory owned by another nation and hasn't in the past 12 years; its military forces
are a third of what they were in 1991and incapable of defending the nation against the might of the US.
visited terror of an indescribable nature on a defenseless people, from refugee camps surrounded by dozens of tanks, thousands
of foot soldiers, Apache helicopters, F-16 fighter jets, and the latest in state of the art technology to subdue the defiant
few who will use their life as a weapon in a futile effort to turn the tide. Israel creates these suicide bombers by using
vengeance to impregnate the deprived and the hopeless. America supports this state run terror with our tax money and our military
hardware thus ensuring that America becomes a silent victim of Israeli vengeance. Why Iraq? Why now? Why not line up all who
defy UN resolutions and force them to abide by UN authority after we have forced this on Iraq, including US defiance of such
resolutions? When logics die, leaders lie!
As I walked around the lake on this Sunday before America slips ineluctably
into chaos, I could find no sense of freedom here in America. I have as much chance of defying Bush as an Iraqi citizen has
of deposing Saddam. I am a victim of a man who can use my tax dollars to do whatever he wishes, whether that be to support
Sharon's savagery or to inflict devastation on Iraq. Freedom to speak is no freedom if those in authority defy the voice of
the people. Freedom to representative government is no freedom if our representatives abdicate their responsibility under
the Constitution. We do not elect another person's conscience when we enter the voting booth; we must stand against those
who ignore the people even as they march in the streets and declare their desires before the world. There is no freedom if
there is no democracy, if the voices of the people are overridden by the corporate voice, the voice of the military/industrial
powers, and the wealthy elite who buy their freedom of speech. There is no democracy if we force it in name on other nations
of the world because we demand that they "accept God's gift" regardless of their beliefs and we force America's gift of consumerism
on other nations because it is the way to provide heaven on earth. Ultimately, the Presidency of a democracy must be the laws
of the land, not a man who willingly twists the laws to his own end.
I could find no freedom, no peace of mind as I
walked about the lake because the Constitution of the United States has been stolen by this administration to be used as a
document to control, because it has subverted the freedoms guaranteed in that document and placed our freedom in the hands
of a religious zealot that by definition does not accept freedom, because it has preempted freedom by adopting a policy of
preemptive strike based on the belief of evil determined by one fanatical man sitting illegally in the White House, and because
this administration is oblivious to the plight of the unemployed, the homeless, the elderly, single mothers, and the sick
and the dying. I have lived through half a century of slaughter, witnessed America defy itself as it languished in segregation,
oppression of women, and governmental inquisition under McCarthy; I have witnessed it justify non-intrusion into genocidal
savagery, accept without question the need to carpet bomb whole cities in the cause of peace, and add collateral damage to
the lexicon of euphemisms that give credibility to slaughter, but I have always lived with the hope that America's acceptance
of a world court, of values inherent in the Nuremberg trials, of mutual cooperation with other nations would lead to a 21st
century of peace and equanimity throughout the world. When logics die, cynicism thrives.
Killing for Christ -
The Destructive Power of FaithBy WILLIAM A. COOK
A pall hangs over this election, a shroud of darkness that oppresses the heart because its outcome guarantees
no change, only the certainty of continued chaos if Bush should win and the unknown direction a Kerry victory might take,
a direction that could continue the chaos America's mired in, a darkness, then, to appall. I read each day the crippling accounts
of soldiers caught in a maelstrom of unseen death lurking on roof tops, in narrow alleys, behind cement walls and black windows,
beneath tires littering the streets. I see pictures of burned out buses, sidewalks and curbs bathed with blood, faces twisted
in pain, bits and pieces of flesh scattered about like fallen leaves, blown helter-skelter by the wind. Faces, I see suffering
on so many faces, mothers weeping over their dying children, old women and men huddled in the debris left of their bulldozed
home, medics carrying the lifeless body of a man whose hand rests beside his face held there by the torn shred of his sleeve,
his arm gone, his body black with grime.
This is a world gone mad, a madness on all sides, the madness of greed that
sees in oil the riches of Sultans and Kings, the madness of arrogant pseudo-philosophers who conjure beliefs of personal superiority
that gives them license to conquer and enslave, the madness of ancient minds that dreamt of power and glory in covenants with
gods, the madness of fanatics that fabricate fantasy out of indecipherable images lodged in pages of metaphors, the madness
of little minds that grab onto faith as the golden ring that will bring them salvation, the madness of those born again to
the child's world of impossible dreams forgoing in their new world the reality of this.
Today I read of depleted uranium,
1000 metric tons made from the deadly U238 isotope dropped on America's killing fields, that wafts on the wind like aerosol
spray, a toxic death that sticks in human lungs, bringing a slow and painful death. I saw pictures of new born children bloated
and bruised by scars, eyes missing, a nose of scar tissue and nostrils, no lips, the detritus of our advanced civilization
scattered on hospital beds in Baghdad. I read of soldiers twisted in mind and spirit by no visible symptom except the phantom
of our cursed nuclear waste that encircles them in their tank and haunts them the remainder of their lives. Our young return
from this nightmare of devastation devastated themselves courtesy of our Commander in Chief.
And I read today that 24,010
Americans have been evacuated with wounds and injuries from our "war" zones, that 37,000 innocent men, women, and children
in Afghanistan and Iraq have died and more than 500,000 have suffered wounds. And I hear the silence, the deafening silence
of indifference that our compassionate conservative leader offers to those who suffer the consequence of his acts, and feel
with them the utter helplessness of their plight. And I wait for a word from Kerry that he, too, hears their pain, that he
will stop the slaughter in Afghanistan and Iraq and Palestine ... and I wait in vain; there is no condemnation, no plan to
end the conflicts, no recognition that states terrorize, no acceptance of the right of people to fight the oppressor, no confession
of wrong waged against the innocent that had not the intention or the means to threaten America.
I have heard these
men, both Bush and Kerry, attest to their deep rooted religious principles, the depth of their faith in the teachings of Jesus,
comforting the citizenry that they are fit for the White House because they believe. But I see nothing of Jesus in their behavior,
nothing of the compassion that attended his ministry, nothing of the inclusiveness of his teachings, nothing of the love he
proffered as the binding source of peace throughout the world.
I look in vain for this Christ in the Christianity practiced
by the right wing, fanatical sects that preach the Book of Revelation, reveling in the glory they perceive to be their reward
if they destroy the enemies they identify as the enemies of God. I wonder where in this acclaimed Christian land of TV Evangelists
and literalist ministers is there a man who acts as Christ would act? I see none. I see only a God forsaken Tele-Evangelist
land of vitriol and bigotry where none could say I "love the Lord my God with my whole heart and mind and soul, and my neighbor
as myself." They have buried the teachings of Jesus in the quagmire of a malevolent and malicious God of the Old Testament,
a God that would order one Semitic tribe to exterminate another. We have not moved beyond the racist hatred that blotted the
landscape 2500 years ago.
I would have thought the founding fathers' voices would have turned us against such barbarity,
for they knew that such religions were anathema to the rights of the people and to the fledgling Democracy they desired to
create. They expunged such organized zealots of religion from civil discourse precisely because they knew its inherent destructive
nature. But, no, we have the airwaves turned into streams of venom that flow from the mouths of the heralded self-worshipers
whose mantra is hatred for their fellow man, the likes of Pat Robertson, Pastor John Hagee, Franklin Graham, Hal Lindsey,
and, now, even our blessed generals who defile the houses of worship not with coins but with cursed bigotry in the person
of General Boykin.
I wonder how any person can stand against the tribes that follow these accursed men? What voice
can reach the soul of men, if soul they still have after their life of crime, that has been lodged deep in their bloody wallets
made fat with their racist hatred for their fellows whose only sin is their belief in a God different from their own? They
mount their campaigns on fear, fear lodged in a word that defies definition because it slips and slides, nay, it slithers
through meaning like molten lava over rock burying it beneath layers of hot and passionate rhetoric, a word without substance
or sense, a word seething with diffidence, anxiety, suspicion, even horror, the word is faith. No word evokes more fear and
mistrust; no word has caused more chaos and wanton destruction, as the Crusades and the Conquistadors, rampaging through Central
America, attest; no word can put people in such a state of doubt that they acquiesce to prophets of doom century after century;
no word has been and continues to be more destructive in the mouths of fanatics. That is the destructive power of blind faith!
have a way, whether they be the Imams guiding Hamas or the robed ministers of Robertson's TV Club or the ultra right Zionists
in Israel, with those who abdicate responsibility to think for themselves, those who hand over their minds and conscience
to them as they thunder their prophetic curses in dramatic tirades, bathing their flocks in fear and loathing. These fanatics
in America, who exist through the courtesy of a democratic secular system that tolerates their presence if not their message,
fetter the minds of their laity with absolute truths generated out of myths, negating thereby the very semblance of democratic
thought that is premised on individual responsibility; and the lambs they lead to slaughter do not know it. These fanatics
defy the laws of the secular state by determining for their congregations what political party they must support, what candidates
they must vote for, and what policies they must accept. And for this defiance they pay no taxes!
But it's worse than
that. These same fanatics literally compel their congregants, on fear of eternal damnation in Hell's fire, to strap themselves
in the swaddling clothes of death and bring that gift to all around them, to support terrorists in the occupied territories
of Palestine, to proclaim an enemy identified in the Book of Revelation, an Arab enemy who worships in the Islamic faith.
And for this incitement to murder they pay no taxes and suffer no incarceration. What else do we call it but killing for Christ,
killing for Allah, killing for Yahweh!
This is our dilemma. We Americans pay the bill; they act in our name. How can
we, who speak with the conviction of our conscience, hope to remove the hatred a Hagee or a Robertson breeds against God's
creatures? The pictures I saw today of dead and dying children in Iraq, pictures too horrific to be put in main stream newspapers
or shown on TV, pictures that cry to the human soul that the pain and suffering must stop also cry out to every true Christian
that Jesus' teachings never allowed for such wanton slaughter. Yet these are the innocent victims of our fanatical dependence
on the preaching of these men who sit safely ensconced on their splendid chairs amidst tall vases of flowers, smiling beatifically
for the cameras.
How can we witness Bush's acceptance, indeed his encouragement, of Ariel Sharon's savagery and not
condemn his acts as anathema to the teachings of the Christ he proclaims as his God? How can we suffer in silence the ferociousness
of Sharon as he spreads his hatred and nihilism over the bloodied landscape of the unholy lands of ancient Palestine? Our
indifference, our silence blessed the rape of Rafah in May, God's month of renewal; our indifference and our silence blessed
a summer of slaughter in the season of God's increase; and today, our indifference and our silence acquiesce to a season of
harvest that gathers in the dead and maimed in Gaza.
Where is the voice of America that should cry against these killing
fields, these American supported killing fields, these murderous rampages that defile the love Jesus begged we have for our
neighbor, a love equal to that we have for ourselves?
Where are the Priests, the Rabbis, the Imams, the quiet Buddha
monks, all who claim to love humankind? Why does silence reign? Whose voice are we afraid of? Where are the voices of our
leaders, where is Kerry, where is Dean, where is Edwards? Why do we hear words of condemnation when we witness the wanton
slaughter in Beslan of children in school yet hear not a word when the IDF slaughters the children in the kindergarten in
Jabaliya or our missiles miss their intended target and destroy the lives of innocent people? Does one mother's weeping reach
our ear and another goes unheard? I would that every mother's cry would reach our ears as it rents the sky that we might know
what Christ meant when he said, "Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart and mind and soul, and thy neighbor as thyself."William
Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the
21st Century, was published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU
© Copyright William A. Cook. All rights reserved.