Monday, May 31, 2004

For Us Too

It's Memorial Day, and with many of the US Casualities in this "War On Terror" having happened since last Memorial Day, today takes on significance for hundreds of families, communities and at least two Football teams(Arizona State and the Arizona Cardinals).

This weekend a memorial to those who served in World War II was dedicated as well. I believe that much as World War II was the defining moment for the 20th century, that this "War On Terror" may define at least the first half of the 21st. Of course I also see World War II as the US and it's allies struggling and defeating imperialism, while in this "War On Terror" it seems that we and our allies are the imperialists.

But there's something else that many of the "hawks" in our government, our media, and especially the population need to remember. One of the freedoms that all soldiers fought and died for was the ability to dissent.

I believe that our Founding Fathers realized that the United States was founded on an act of dissent, and wanted to make sure that these rights were preserved. The 1st Ammendment guarantees citizens the rights to free speech and expression, assembly, and petition of the government. Of course, our history is full of cases where those in power have attempted to stifle this dissent; Homestead, Haymarket, Birmingham and Kent State come to mind. It is also full of cases where dissent has lead to positive change; the suffarage and civil rights movements are two examples of this.

Alas, today, we see a climate more like that of the South during the Civil Rights Movement in this country, with elements of Nixon's COINTELPRO mixed in via the PATRIOT Act. Those who oppose Bush's "War On Terror" are in many cases branded as "traitors". In a page from the McCarthy days, artists who dissent are functionally "blacklisted".

I still believe that myself and my fellow activists in this ever-growing anti-war/anti-imperialist movement are acting in the spirit of America by using the rights that have been fought so hard for to make it so that maybe there can be a bit less loss in the future.

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