Posts filed under ‘War’

A Real Solution

The final and perfect solution is at hand, for the United States and it’s the last one we’ll have. What an opportunity!

Let’s begin IMMEDIATE and massive troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan and bring them to the United States to help our own citizens in the Gulf States who have just experienced a real and honest WMD from Mother Nature.

Why will this work?

  1. The rest of the world will certainly understand.
  2. The citizenry will have nothing to worry about except our own domestic problems which are becoming insurmountable.
  3. In hindsight, we could have saved thousands of lives if our military had been HERE for OUR people who have already paid for these services.
  4. Oil prices will plummet.
  5. Jobs will be created FOR AMERICANS.
  6. We’ll be able to control our borders.
  7. It will save the Bush administration from going down as the worst in recorded history.

This is our last chance at saving face and the continuing threat from “terrorists” here in the U.S. and healing OUR COUNTRY.

– Saint Kupe 1:7

September 2, 2005 at 12:29 am 1 comment

Crawford Texas by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Dear Friends,

I’m back from a lightning trip to “Camp Casey” in Crawford, Texas, just outside the Bush vacation ranch.

Before I tell you the story of my trip, here’s an Email I received, after getting back home:

<< Dear Rabbi Waskow:

<< Thank you so much for coming to Crawford to participate in the service on Friday with all of us military and gold star families who are continuing to demand answers while Cindy is away tending to her mother.

<< If there is such a thing as being too angry to cry, that’s what I’ve been for the last two and a half years, but this service moved me to tears and for that I thank you.

<< Many of the participants who I spoke with afterward expressed the same feeling I’ve had, that our own places of worship have been silent about this war, and that has compounded our sense of alienation.

<< Having our government betray us by sending our loved ones to fight and die in this immoral war is bad enough, but then hearing silence from the very community that should be crying out in indignation is almost too much to bear. Of course, this is not true across the board but for too many of us this has been our experience.

<< This is why I am so grateful to you and all the others who led the service. You did a wonderful thing in coming to Crawford to pray with us.

<< Sincerely yours,
P— V—
(the one who asked to hold your hand as we processed)>>

So if at first I wasn’t entirely sure why I went to Crawford, now I know.

How can we respond to these events? One way is to talk with our own religious leaders, friends, fellow-congregants. Notice “P— V—“‘s outcry about religious silence.

The other way is to address our elected officials. For that, I have some suggestions close to the end of this letter. If you need to jump ahead, here’s the click:

And here’s part of the story: (The whole thing is on my Weblog at our Home Page:

When I got home last Wednesday night after a vigil in support of “Camp Casey” sponsored by a nearby church in Philadelphia, I found a message awaiting me from Glenn Smith, the devoted organizer of a religiously-rooted national antiwar bus tour who lives in Austin. His message, confirmed by a conversation with Rev. Bob Edgar, head of the National Council of Churches, invited me to take part in a multireligious service at Camp Casey in Crawford, at noon on Friday.

So I went. What I found at “Peace House” in Crawford was a crew of Texans whose quiet peace-organizing outfit had been transformed in the last two weeks to the nerve center of a national movement.

Homely notes – “Please shut the door. We can’t afford to air-condition all of Texas.” Delicious food made by local housewives, ranging from Texas barbecue to a vegetarian Iraqi delicacy, made by an Iraqi-American in town.

Cindy’s mother in California had suffered a stroke, wasn’t speaking. Cindy herself had flown to see her. May the gentle strength, the boldness and bravery she taught her daughter, flower in her own life and in all our lives.)

When I arrived, I joined a planning session of other clergy who were planning the noon service. All were Protestants, mostly men but a few women; one was a Methodist bishop. A dozen pastors from Texas, others from the East and West Coasts. Some had driven for a couple of days to reach Crawford.

They asked me to start off the service with a “lament” after three minutes of silence of memorial for the dead. So I actually went to the Book of Lamentations, chose four or five verses I thought especially apropos, and prepared to chant them in English, using the special mournful melodic trope for Eicha.

And I added the same expanded “Oseh shalom” I had used back home at the vigil on Wednesday evening.

Then would come prayers by the various ministers from the Psalms, from the Gospels, from the heart.

Up the road near the Bush ranch was Camp Casey itself, just a short strip of asphalt, part of a narrow, dusty road. So narrow a road that when a car came by, the police bull-horned us to walk in the ditch so the traffic could pass.

Lining the ditches alongside the road were hundreds of crosses and at least one Magen David, for Lt. Seth Dvorin who was killed in February 2004. His photograph showed a tall, broad, open-faced man with a big smile.

Now he’s dead.

May he rest in peace in the world beyond, and may his death awaken us to the need for peace in this world right here.

So at noon we created our dusty, hot “procession” and service and heartfelt memorials to the dead – and afterwards, we schmoozed – the Texans, the clergy, and the survivors.

Then as evening came on, the camp was moved still closer to the Bush ranch, so close that to get there you have to pivot to the left at a stake-out of Secret Service guarding the President from seeing or meeting the people whose sons and daughters he sent to die for a “noble cause” he cannot explain to them.

— Into a big tent rented with small donations that are pouring in from around the country, emplaced on an acre of farm offered by a local man who is the cousin of the angry neighbor who fired a shotgun dangerously at/near the vigillers. Farmer Fred Mattlage was evidently doing penance on behalf of his family. Now THAT’S “family values” in the old-fashioned way! And besides, he’s a veteran — and he thinks it’s a bad war.

And in the tent, on Friday night, there were folk songs and prayers and a visit from three African-American daughters of the South who had lost sons in Iraq – accompanied by Rev. Joseph Lowrey of Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, still talking the – outmoded?? – language of The Beloved Community.

Below are the verses from Lamentations, Eicha, that I chanted. Some are very slightly “midrashified”; I trust God and the author of Eicha won’t mind too much. And then the “Oseh shalom” prayer I used.

What can we do now?

One impact of Cindy Sheehan’s boldness has been to crystallize the deep doubt and disgust now endemic throughout America about the war. That opens up space for elected political leaders to take their own kind of gutsy stand.

So Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, God bless him — he was the only Senator to vote against the “Patriot” Act, and he battled all the party bosses to insist on new rules for campaign financing — has spoken out to demand that all US troops be brought safely home from Iraq.

Says the Washington Post (page 3, Thursday Aug 18):

<< Sen. Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) called on the White House yesterday to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq by the end of next year and criticized fellow Democrats for being too “timid” in challenging the Bush administration’s war policy.


You don’t have to be a Democrat to thank him and support him. You just have to reread that letter from “P — V— .”

Please fax him by clicking here:

And though we are supplying a VERY short “model” letter, PLEASE add your own words; MAKE THE LETTER YOUR OWN in some way.

If you feel comfortable making clear your own religious and moral value system – please do. – It could be important to counter the widespread assumption that the only real moral values in America are right-wing.

A little down the road, it might make sense to write other Senators as well. But we think the first task is to make clear to Senator Feingold that many of us support him.

And remember what “P—- V—-” wrote. Speak out yourself in the name of God, and ask your religious colleagues, friends, congregants to do the same.

Here is what I chanted from the Book of Lamentations:

Eicha!! – How lonely sits the city,
Once filled with life and joy,
Now sorrowful.

My eyes fill with grief
At the fate of the youth in my city.

I call on Your name, O God,
You Who are the Breath of Life;
For you have seen all their malice,
Their whispers and murmurs against me.

May You come near to say –
Do not fear!
Do not close Your ear to my outcry
But give me relief.

And then I recited, first in English and then in Hebrew:

May You Who make peace in the ultimate reaches of the universe teach us to make peace within ourselves and between each other — among all the families of Abraham, all the families of the human race, and all the forms of life that You have created on our planet;

May You bring near the day when strength and gentleness are woven together;

May You give gentle strength to all who today dare to face those leaders who make war — as long ago the midwives faced Pharaoh and the prophets faced kings;

— And may You give such leaders the wisdom not only to hear and see face-to-face the pain of those stricken by war, but to bring that suffering to an end by doing Your will and making peace.

Oseh shalom bimromav, hu yaaseh shalom alenu, v’al kol Yisrael, v’al kol Yishmael, v’al kol yoshvei teyvel.

With blessings of shalom,

August 24, 2005 at 4:49 pm Leave a comment

This President Does Not Know What Death Is

An essay by E. L Doctorow

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow occupies a central position in the history of American literature. He is generally considered to be among the most talented, ambitious, and admired novelists of the second half of the twentieth century. Doctorow has received the National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Edith Wharton Citation for Fiction, the William Dean Howell Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the residentially conferred National Humanities Medal.

Doctorow was born in New York City on January 6, 1931. After graduating with honors from Kenyon College in 1952, he did graduate work at Columbia University and served in the U.S. Army. Doctorow was senior editor for New American Library from 1959 to 1964 and then served as editor in chief at Dial Press until 1969. Since then, he has devoted his time to writing and teaching. He holds the Glucksman Chair in American Letters at New York University and over the years has taught at several institutions, including Yale University Drama School, Princeton University, Sarah Lawrence College, and the University of California, Irvine.

I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be.

On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn’t the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can’t seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn’t understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for
him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.

They come to his desk not as youngsters with mothers and fathers or wives and children who will suffer to the end of their days a terribly torn fabric of familial relationships and the inconsolable remembrance of aborted life…. They come to his desk as a political liability, which is why the press is not permitted to photograph the arrival of their coffins from Iraq.

How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war’s aftermath has made of his mission-accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it.

So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options, but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.

This president knew it would be difficult for Americans not to cheer the overthrow of a foreign dictator. He knew that much. This president and his supporters would seem to have a mind for only one thing — to take power, to remain in power, and to use that power for the sake of themselves and their friends. A war will do that as well as anything. You become a
wartime leader. The country gets behind you. Dissent becomes inappropriate. And so he does not drop to his knees, he is not contrite, he does not sit in the church with the grieving parents and wives and children.

He is the President who does not feel. He does not feel for the families of the dead; he does not feel for the thirty five million of us who live in poverty; he does not feel for the forty percent who cannot afford health insurance; he does not feel for the miners whose lungs are turning black or for the working people he has deprived of the chance to work overtime at time-and-a-half to pay their bills — it is amazing for how many people in
this country this President does not feel.

But he will dissemble feeling. He will say in all sincerity he is relieving the wealthiest one percent of the population of their tax burden for the sake of the rest of us, and that he is polluting the air we breathe for the sake of our economy, and that he is decreasing the safety regulations for coal mines to save the coal miners’ jobs, and that he is depriving workers of their time-and-a- half benefits for overtime because this is actually a
way to honor them by raising them into the professional class.

And this litany of lies he will versify with reverences for God and the flag and democracy, when just what he and his party are doing to our democracy is choking the life out of it.

But there is one more terribly sad thing about all of this. I remember the millions of people here and around the world who marched against the war. It was extraordinary, that spontaneously aroused oversoul of alarm and protest that transcended national borders. Why did it happen? After all, this was not the only war anyone had ever seen coming. There are little wars all over the world most of the time.

But the cry of protest was the appalled understanding of millions of people that America was ceding its role as the last best hope of mankind. It was their perception that the classic archetype of democracy was morphing into a rogue nation. The greatest democratic republic in history was turning its back on the future, using its extraordinary power and standing not to advance the ideal of a concordance of civilizations but to endorse the kind of tribal combat that originated with the Neanderthals, a people, now extinct, who could imagine ensuring their survival by no other means than pre-emptive war.

The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic

Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective warmaking, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

E. L. Doctorow

August 9, 2005 at 4:13 am 1 comment

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