Stumax 2

Digital Boogaloo

“Hanoi remembers how our leaders refused to tell us the truth about the earlier North Vietnamese overtures for peace, how the president claimed that none existed when they had clearly been made. Ho Chi Minh has watched as America has spoken of peace and built up its forces, and now he has surely heard of the increasing international rumors of American plans for an invasion of the north. He knows the bombing and shelling and mining we are doing are part of traditional pre-invasion strategy. Perhaps only his sense of humor and of irony can save him when he hears the most powerful nation of the world speaking of aggression as it drops thousands of bombs on a poor weak nation more than eight thousand miles away from its shores. #

King speaks here and often through the speech of the consequences of our hypocrisy. The danger of creating cynical warriors is especially poignant. Following 1945, we must have felt that we could do anything, and after so long couching World War II in the rhetoric of good versus evil, moral versus immoral, and right versus might, after seeing what effective motivation that language was, it must have been hard to stop. The war machine had been built, after all. We believed – and World War II showed – that we were a force for good, that we stood up against oppressive regimes. With the fact of our strength evident after that war, we must have thought we could do anything we wanted. And with the American people distracted by trying to put their broken lives back in order, those who wished to continue making war must not have felt under pressure to think about the consequences of their actions. #

“This is the message of the great Buddhist leaders of Vietnam. Recently one of them wrote these words: #

This was in the 1960s! Can we wonder, then, at what might have caused the resentment against Americans that exploded on 9/11? Is King again speaking to us today when he says, “It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’” #

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered. #

Fairness. Justice, Compassion. Freedom. Were we not taught in school that these are the values of our democracy? Isn’t our nation founded on principles of fair and equal representation, of voices heard? Aren’t we supposed to love freedom and hate oppression? Are we to admit now to abandoning those principles for, what?…. profit? #

”It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries.This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has the revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgement against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions we initiated. Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism.” [italics mine] #

The failure to make democracy real. This is what I fear is happening. I fear that the chasm between what we do and what we claim to stand for is growing ever wider, and will one day be too wide to bridge. I worry that we will continue to squander the promise of the American Revolution to bring freedom and liberty to all. I worry most that American liberty will be the next casualty of our inaction. #