The Epicenter Of Evil
By Jason Miller
27 September, 2005
White House and the Pentagon look so innocuous, yet behind their innocent
facades lurk sinister forces which have unleashed much misery and suffering
upon the world, I thought as I scrutinized each of them armed
with an insight gleaned from many hours of study.
I arrived home on
Sunday from the peace and social justice rally in Washington DC and
began reflecting. As my mind sifted through the barrage of information
which came at me over the course of the weekend, and the information
I absorbed while reading on the plane, I began to reach some conclusions
and to connect some dots.
Your Master is Calling
My first conclusion
was that their weak coverage of an event of this magnitude deepened
my belief that the mainstream media is merely an instrument of its corporate
masters and of the obscenely corrupt US government. The Washington Post
under-estimated the number of people at the demonstration and provided
relatively limited coverage. The Washington Times relegated their coverage
to the bottom of the front page and grossly exaggerated the impact of
the pro-Bush counter-demonstrators. And this was an event that happened
in their city! I felt even more disgusted by The Kansas City Star article
which awaited me when I returned home. It consisted of about ten short
paragraphs on paged two of the front page section. They included one
small photograph. Beyond the print media, I struggled to find minor
mention of the event on television news.
"sacred purveyors of the truth" and members of the Fourth
Estate determined that the best way to frame this political issue was
to minimize the fact that hundreds of thousands of people descended
upon Washington DC to protest the illegal US occupation of Iraq and
to demand social justice. The mainstream press could not summon the
courage to provide a realistic amount of coverage to a significant challenge
to their corporate masters and the Bush regime.
I was there for
the march on 9/24. Based on what I observed and experienced, the Washington
DC police chief's estimate of 150,000 people was extremely low. My wife
and I marched at the end of the procession, which followed a 1.4 mile
course, including a pass in front of the White House. We carried our
mock coffin draped with an American flag. (Ours was one of about 150
other mock coffins which enabled the American public to finally see
at least see a representation of the Americans who have died in Iraq).
It took us six hours to complete the march. We moved quite slowly due
the number of people joining the procession along the way. The people
leading the march actually got to the White House before we even started
to move. Along the route, I saw throngs of thousands of supporters lining
the streets. The Ellipse, the area surrounding the Washington Monument,
and several adjacent parks were filled with demonstrators, before, during
and after the march. ANSWER, one of the demonstration's organizers,
estimated that there were 300,000 participants. Truthout.org put the
number closer to 500,000. Based on what I witnessed, I estimate the
number fell somewhere between the two.
As for counter-protestors,
I saw a mere handful. To state there were over two hundred would be
a very generous estimate. Yet ironically, their signs (and shouted rhetoric)
indicated that they were "the majority". I struggled to determine
how they arrived at that conclusion. On 9/25, the pro-Bush, pro-war
faction staged their own demonstration in DC, which involved about 400
people. It boggles the mind contemplating how they could truly believe
themselves to be in the majority.
A diverse crowd,
which included the elderly, the disabled, minorities, military veterans,
families of military personnel in Iraq, social activists, Methodists,
Quakers, Buddhists, people of Middle Eastern descent, and many other
groups comprised the multitude on Saturday. Joan Baez, Cindy Sheehan,
Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and two Congresswomen spoke and marched.
On the flight home, I met Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, who represents
a district in Kansas City. He told me that he had not participated in
the demonstration, but that he was part of an anti-war coalition in
Congress. A broad spectrum of Americans want peace and social justice,
and are eager to see Bush and the corrupt who dominate the US government
out of office.
One of the articles
I read in the mainstream media stated that there were no police wearing
riot gear at the demonstration. I beg to differ. I counted at least
seven men wearing black pants, white, generic-looking shirts with what
appeared to be cloth gold badges stitched to them, and military boots.
They each had riot helmets with visors, riot shields which were marked
"Police" (yet their uniforms bore virtually no resemblance
to those of the DC police), and they were equipped with truncheons.
As I marched by them, I wondered if they were some of the Blackwater
security people, hired mercenaries whom the Bush administration has
used in Iraq and now in New Orleans.
Despite his absence,
Bush's fortress was heavily defended by police on the street and by
snipers on the roof of the White House and surrounding buildings. Bush
exhibited his usual spinelessness. He spent part of the day in Colorado,
where he would not have to face the hundreds of thousands of his constituency
who were calling for peace, social justice and his impeachment. He was
also well out of potential harm from Hurricane Rita. Later in the day
he did find the nerve to travel to San Antonio, but even there he was
still well out of harm's way.
Before the march
began, I spoke with a woman with the Friends Committee on National Legislation
and signed a petition to lobby members of Congress to pass a resolution
for the US military to withdraw from Iraq. This group is not asking
for a specific time-table. The Friends Committee simply wants a commitment
that our multi-trillion dollar war machine will leave Iraq once the
situation there has stabilized. I agree with those who have stated that
it would be irresponsible for the US to pull out of Iraq immediately
and leave the country in a chaos that our military industrial complex
created. However, Iraq is a sovereign nation, and at some point in the
not too distant future, the US needs to withdraw. I gladly carried a
sign on behalf of this Quaker organization as I bore my half of the
mock coffin adorned with the American flag.
As we passed the
US Treasury a man riding a bicycle was using a portable PA system. What
was his message?
Pay no attention
to this building. It is the treasury. It is empty. It has been looted.
With the volume
of money flowing into the coffers of corporations with incestuous ties
to the Bush regime and a $7.5 trillion deficit, it would be difficult
to dispute his contention.
for peace and social justice and against corporate dominance, imperialism
and tyranny was powerful for several reasons. The sheer number of 300,000
who participated in the demonstration reveals that many in the United
States have made al wathbah, or "the leap". In Bush in Babylon,Tariq
Ali wrote about the leap of mass consciousness the Iraqi
people made in 1948 as they realized that their puppet leaders sold
out their interests to British imperialists. Slowly, many Americans
are overcoming the lies they have been "programmed" to believe
since they were able to fashion conscious, coherent thoughts. While
the 300,000 demonstrators represent a small minority of the US population,
Bush's abysmal approval rating provides evidence that the 300,000 were
but a fraction of those in the US ready to dissent against the perverse
regime "leading" the nation. Ali called the British proxies
who ruled Iraq during the early and mid Twentieth Century "An Oligarchy
of Racketeers". America's lackeys in the newly formed Iraqi government
are more than capable of assuming that "glorious" mantle.
Speakers at the
rally called for increased rights for blacks, women, gays, Hispanics,
and other minorities. They decried the US military's use of torture
and indefinite imprisonment of suspected "terrorists" with
no legitimate trial. They decried the excessive power of US corporations
here and abroad, and called for renewed government restraints to squelch
their excesses and abuses. Several made strident demands to end the
blatant racism and US government neglect of the poor highlighted by
events in Katrina. They called for support of Hugo Chavez and Castro.
Bush may not have been listening, but his constituents were talking
to him in large numbers, and will continue to do so. If he and the US
aristocracy continue to ignore the will of We the People, things will
not end well for them. In the non-violent tradition of Martin Luther
King and Gandhi, We the People will take our government back from the
plutocracy. The wealthiest nation in the world has moral obligations
to be a world leader (rather than a bully) and to care for its poor,
and if the incumbent administration is not willing to fulfill these
obligations, it needs to be replaced.
the march, I heard and read the slogan "power of the people".
The unfortunate reality is that for now, the ultimate power in the US
rests in the hands of a select few aristocrats, and has in varying degrees
since our nation's founding. I saw ample evidence of that fact as my
wife and I toured the Smithsonians American History Museum the
day before the march. The decadence in which many of the presidents
and first ladies engaged was truly disgusting to see. I saw the outrageously
expensive clothing, china, jewelry, art, and White House furnishings
and realized that I was witnessing evidence that the US is as much an
aristocracy as the monarchy from which our founding fathers severed
themselves. Further fueling my nausea, I saw that Barbara and Laura
Bush were enshrined in the section of First Ladies who have made significant
contributions to social justice in the United States. The Bush wives
honored alongside Eleanor Roosevelt, a giant in the pantheon of those
who have advanced social justice? The Smithsonian curators have a very
sick sense of humor.
Mr. Bush, good luck
selling your fairy tale of democracy and equality to the victims of
Katrina, to many others in America, and to the rest of the world. Your
criminal neglect of New Orleans and the poor in general, your lies,
your theft of the 2000 election, your numerous violations of the public
trust, your cronyism leading to incompetents like Michael Brown causing
thousands to suffer or die, and your war profiteering combine to make
you the biggest felon to serve as President of the United States (Note
to Bush: as an "elected" official, you are merely a public
servant, not a monarch. You belong in one of the many penitentiaries
which are a part of the prison industrial complex).
In skimming my 120
emails I received while I was away for the weekend, I discovered that
ANSWER, one of the demonstrations organizers, has apparently been
accused of being Maoist Communists who are virulently anti-US and who
advocate supporting any group which opposes the US government (i.e.
Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Khmer Rouge). My response to that is that
I do not care. United for Peace also sponsored the event, and to my
knowledge, they have not been targeted as anti-American.
I am not a member of either group and regardless of how extreme their
positions may be, this event served a valuable purpose. It demonstrated
the strength of the movement in the United States for peace and social
justice, and the depth of the desire amongst Americans to remove the
avaricious, tyrannical, and criminal Bush regime from power.
Cuts Both Ways and Imperialist Acts Have Consequences
Going out on a limb
(as I usually do), I am going to state that while I do not condone terrorism
(which I am defining as the act of killing innocent civilians to achieve
a political purpose), I understand the viewpoint of some of the groups
whom the US mainstream media and the Bush regime have labeled as terrorists.
Bush and his ilk, and many of their predecessors (including Clinton
via Kosovo, Bush I via Iraq, Reagan via Central America, and Nixon and
Johnson via Vietnam.) have engaged in the most lethal state terrorism
imaginable, killing millions they label (and labeled) as "collateral
damage". The US government also has a nasty habit of supporting
ruthless dictators (when they support US corporate interests) who kill
tens of thousands of their own people. I do not support violent acts
committed by either side, but the US government is no nobler than those
they have labeled as "terrorists because they have dared
to resist US supremacy by fighting back.
On the plane trip
home from DC, I started reading Tariq Ali's Bush in Babylon: the Recolonization
of Iraq, and started to see the Arab point of view more clearly. I discovered
that Iraq is a nation/region which has been subservient to foreign powers
in some fashion since the 13th Century. Coupling the predatory intentions
of the US government with Iraqs history, I can fully appreciate
the front cover picture on Ali's book which shows an Iraqi child urinating
on one of his US occupiers. To the Iraqis, the US is another in a long
line of tyrants, no better than the British, Turks, or their predecessors.
The US is attempting
to implement "democracy-at gun-point in a nation embroiled
with ethnic and religious tensions. The Iraqi people know why the US
government is killing their people and destroying their cities, which
makes their resistance quite logical. They realize that a cruel and
greedy imperialist government needed to assert its military might on
what they anticipated would be a weak target so it could begin implementing
the Bush Doctrine and the Project for the New American Century. Halliburton,
Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, and many other cogs in the military industrial
complex were itching to see their profits skyrocket, and Iraq appeared
to be a ripe plum for the picking. Most importantly, oil was too valuable
of a commodity for a self-respecting Twenty-First Century world power
bent on global domination to leave in the hands of "mere Arabs".
Why wouldnt the Iraqis feel enraged and resist invaders, plunderers,
US troops in Iraq
number over 140,000. The occupation started in March, 2003. The Bush
tyranny continues to refuse to commit to an eventual withdrawal of US
forces. Bush and his minions lied to Congress to launch the invasion,
defied the UN and international law, and, according to John Pike of
GlobalSecurities.org, are establishing 12 of what the Pentagon propagandists
call "enduring bases" in Iraq. To translate from Pentagonese
to English, an enduring base is a permanent base. Despite
the hollow propaganda of spreading freedom and liberty, the US government's
actions smack of those of a tyrant intent on colonizing the sovereign
nation of Iraq.
Your True Colors
The disguise is
slipping as the US government has slaughtered tens of thousands of innocent
Iraqi civilians. Hurricane Katrina revealed the hypocrisy behind their
noble cause of spreading freedom and liberty. Those abstract
concepts exist in the US on a very limited basis. The US government
has been, and is increasingly dominated by a select few plutocrats and
aristocrats who are groomed for public office from birth. The elites
of America place their carefully prepared candidates before an American
voting public rendered apathetic by the mainstream media and years of
government corruption. The Democratic/Republican Duopoly ensures that
only two candidates have a real chance of winning public office in virtually
every election, and each candidate is beholden to corporations and the
US aristocracy. Sometimes decent people sneak into Congress and the
Judiciary, but there are few real choices for middle and working class
Americans, particularly when one factors in the stolen Presidential
election of 2000. Jimmy Carter, one of the few former Presidents known
for his honesty, recently publicly stated his certainty that Gore won
the 2000 election.
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of Katrina unmasked the depraved engineers of the runaway train called
the United States. Bush, Rove, Rumsfeld and Cheney have been exposed
to the world as malevolent profit seekers who regard humanity simply
as a means to enhance their wealth and power. I need only look at the
T-shirt I bought at the march on Saturday as a reminder. My shirt is
emblazoned with a picture of a suffering, elderly Black American woman
in New Orleans who has bundled herself in the American flag for warmth.
Bush and his war-mongers have perverted the meaning of a once sacred
symbol of the ideals of a true republic to one of hatred, criminality,
brutality, and imperialism. I hope it served her well as a blanket.
Some members of Congress want a Constitutional amendment to prevent
flag desecration. Too late! The criminal acts of the Bush administration
have already grossly defiled the American flag.
Path of Violence
Many readers have
emailed me with their opinions that non-violent movements are ineffective.
I disagree. While non-violent movements generally involve significantly
more time and will-power than violent revolutions, they can be effective.
I cite the examples of Martin Luther King, whose peaceful movement significantly
advanced civil rights in the US and of Gandhis non-violent revolution,
which led to Indias freedom from its imperial oppressor, Great
For more evidence
on the efficacy of non-violent movements or Velvet Revolutions, see
Timothy Garton Ashs article about the bloodless rebellions which
brought Communist tyranny to an end in Eastern Europe. He makes a very
convincing argument against armed rebellion
What Are Some Potential
Aspects of a Velvet Revolution in the US?
1. If enough Americans
become conscious to the inhumanity of our leaders and join a non-violent
movement comprised of the poor, the working class, the middle class,
minorities, intellectuals, those in the government who are not a part
of the corruption, and artists, sheer numbers of people demanding change
could overwhelm the ruling plutocracy, who are clearly a numerical minority.
2. We the People
need to form a third political party of the people which will have the
support of enough Americans that it can rival the corporate-controlled
Democrats and Republicans. This party will need to base its principles
on the needs and desires of the common people rather than on those of
corporations and the elite.
3. Unions need
to fight to regain the strength they enjoyed during the Twentieth Century.
This will unite workers and restore their power in negotiating with
giant corporations. Despite what they would have America's citizens
believe, corporations are not "kinder and gentler" entities
with the interests of their workers and customers at heart. They are
merely wolves who have donned sheeps clothing to make it appear
so. They are motivated by profit and the fear of lawsuits. The will
of the people imposed through organized labor needs to motivate corporations
to take a deeper interest in the welfare of employees and customers.
4. We the People
need to push for passage of the ERA and an equal rights amendment for
5. We need to work
for permanent implementation of the Voting Rights Act.
6. Writers with
a social conscience need to continue to publish books and essays advocating
social justice, spreading truth, and dissenting against our corrupt
oligarchy by any means we can find.
7. Christian Churches
need to spend less time and money squabbling over seemingly eternal
and irresolvable issues like abortion and focus their efforts on demanding
the social justice Jesus Christ would have insisted upon.
8. Educators need
to stop teaching the white-washed history of the United States, which
virtually ignores the genocide of Native Americans, barely scratches
the surface of the depth of the cruelty and immorality of slavery, maintains
silence on the topic of the American apartheid system which Katrina
brought into the spot-light, and which glorifies an imperialistic, war-mongering
government. It is incumbent upon educators to teach their students the
truth about America, past and present.
9. We the People
need to boycott major corporations like Wal-mart and McDonalds as frequently
as possible by shopping at local businesses owned by individual entrepreneurs.
Hit the insatiably greedy corporatacracy where it hurts them the most:
in their wallets. My wife and I have not spent a penny at Wal-Mart or
McDonalds for over a year.
taxes on the rich and on corporations need to be increased while regressive
taxes on the poor and working class need to be decreased to move the
US toward a society with a more equitable distribution of wealth.
11. The US government
spends $600 billion per year on defense, including funding for the Iraqi
Occupation and money for ancillary functions. It is time to truly bring
the troops home from Iraq (over a period of time to allow stabilization
to occur) and from the 700 military bases in over 56 countries around
the world. We will save $64 billion over twenty years by closing 33
domestic bases under Donald Rumsfeld's plan. Imagine the money we would
save (besides the $5 billion per month from ending the occupation of
Iraq) in closing 700 bases. To my knowledge, there are no foreign military
bases on US soil. If We the People are intent upon retooling the US
into a nation focused on the needs of its people with enough military
simply to defend our nation rather than enough to dominate the world,
it is time to remove the US military from foreign soil. Removing US
military bases from their nations is one of the legitimate demands of
those the US government has labeled as terrorists.
12. The US needs
to relegate the notion of repealing the estate taxed to the dustbin
of history, where it belongs. Eliminating the estate tax would further
ensure the perpetuation of the American Aristocracy and virtually eradicate
the already extremely slim chance that a poor American can realize the
Horatio Alger dream.
13. We "Commoners"
need to demand a system of national health care (or implement it once
our third political party has become a power capable of rivaling the
existing Duopoly). The US holds the shameful distinction of being the
only industrialized nation without a guarantee of healthcare to each
of its citizens. What a dubious distinction for the wealthiest nation
in the world! With money derived from cuts in defense spending and increased
taxes on the wealthy and corporations, the US could readily implement
a national health care system comprised of a synthesis of the best features
of the systems of other nations. To make the system affordable, those
Americans whose income exceeded a particular thresh-hold would pay premiums
based on a percentage of their income.
14. We need to
demand that the US government cut Israels umbilical cord. Israelis
have received more than enough money and weapons from the US to stand
on their own. US support of Israel, which, like its benefactor, often
engages in state terrorism and has committed acts of genocide against
the Palestinians, continues to infuriate Arabs throughout the Middle
East. The US has a moral obligation to let Israel fend for itself and
to see to the establishment of a legitimate homeland for the Palestinians.
There is also the pragmatic consideration that as long as the US supports
Israels abuse of the Palestinians, it will continue to feed the
rage of many Arabs.
15. We the People
need to find and elect a populist leader like Hugo Chavez, who will
place the needs of the poor over the desires of the wealthy elite.
16. The US government
needs to respect international law, treaties, human rights, and the
autonomy of sovereign nations, and to participate fairly in the UN.
17. The public
education system needs to be restructured in such a way that students
across the nation attend schools with comparable facilities, teachers,
18. Americans with
a social conscience need to insist the US pass and enforce restrictions
on corporations to protect the environment. Ending the charade that
global warming is a hoax and signing the Kyoto Treaty would be a tremendous
19. Besides the
creation of a powerful political party, boycotts, labor strikes, marches,
providing better education to all American children, dissident writing,
staying informed, demanding accountability of public officials through
the avenues which are still available, joining groups advocating civil
rights and humanity, We the People have another non-violent weapon at
our disposal. When it is warranted, civil disobedience is a powerful
tool to evoke change. For example, while conscription is not yet a reality,
if I am confronted with a call from the US government to participate
in one of their imperialist conquests, I will follow the fine example
of Kevin Benderman and refuse, even if it means prison. If enough people
engage in civil disobedience, the plutocracy will not have the capacity
to punish all of us, and will lack the manpower to grease the wheels
of their money-making machines.
The rally and protest
on 9/24 was simply a high water mark for a movement which has steadily
been gaining momentum over the last few years. As one of the participants
shouted to the group:
let this end today. This is only a beginning. When you leave here, continue
what we started today!
While my brief
outline of a velvet revolution is not comprehensive and represents a
simple sketch which would require a great deal more study and development,
it presents a framework of viable alternatives with which to counter
the agenda of the elitist and hegemonist regime which some Americans
still believe is a democracy. With the will, commitment, and wide participation
of We the People in a non-violent, velvet revolution, the US can become
a nation with a soul rather than the hollow, inhumane, gluttonous, and
bellicose entity it is now. The ugly face of America represents a minority
of its populace. It is time for the majority to impose their will and
show the world that the US is a nation capable of engaging in truly
is a 38 year old activist writer with a degree in liberal arts.
He works in the transportation industry, and is a husband and a father
to three boys. His affiliations include Amnesty International, the ACLU
and the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He welcomes
responses at firstname.lastname@example.org
or comments on his blog at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/.