I originally intended this site to have many well though-out articles that would help bring things into perspective for its readers. Spam problems, server issues and a lack of time caused this site to be offline for the better part of a year. However a recent e-mail entitled “Agree or Delete,” made me realize just how
important imperative it is for individuals to stand up for what is relevant. The focus of the site has changed into more a of a blog format, with the hopes of inspiring others that with the mass communication offered to us, we as individuals can make a massive impact on our world. The following is my open response to “Agree or Delete” …
I received an e-mail with the subject line “Agree or Delete” featured in its full text here. It was about the placement of the Ten Commandments and the controversy surrounding the public display thereof. I could go on a head on head battle stating facts about how the Ten Commandments in the Judaeo-Christian Torah is actually based on earlier manuscripts such as the Code of Hammurabi1 which predate the Ten Commandments2 or how the statistic mentioned in the e-mail of “86% of Americans believe in God,” which cites no sources, equivocates the existence of God with acceptance of the Ten Commandments ignoring all the other religious which hold a belief in God. The Ten Commandments, by the way, are also quoted in the Islam Qur’an, but I digress.
This is not about the notion of the Ten Commandments or the many myths held about their role in American folklore. It is about a subject line of “Agree or Delete.” In the body of the e-mail, people are encouraged to either forward or delete the message. Abbie Hoffman once said, “You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists.”
I can not simply delete, so I have chosen instead to respond, to both all those in the forward as well as others. It pains me so deeply, I can not stay quiet any longer.
How much longer must we as a people listen to and believe in rumor and in the fantasies that are presented to us as fact as we linger on the issues of triviality? We are in a time period like no other were information is easily accessible and immediately verifiable.
Here are some facts for you: The United States does torture innocent people. The “Tipton Three” were three British men, two British Citizens and one national, who on the way to a wedding in Pakistan, were captured and detained by US forces as enemy combatants. With full knowledge of their UK origin, US interrogators placed them in outdoor cells in the desert sun, the cells barely large enough for them to stand up in. They deprived them of water, forbid them from praying or talking, placed them in rooms where they were chained to the floor and forced to listen to 100+ decibel music for up to ten hours at a time (they were forced to urinate and defecate on themselves.) They witnessed a mentally ill inmate beaten and given permanent brain injury. They were held for two years before being released to the UK as free men. They had committed no crime3. This is not an isolated case. If this is not torture than what is?
In the United States a large topic of contention is Abortion. Why do we focus so much on those who have not been brought into this world and who suffer a few minutes of pain without ever knowing life while we take those who have know the benefit of freedom for years and places them captive? Remember, Jesus was detained and executed for no crime other than speaking his mind. Jesus was also from the middle east. Jesus could be that man in Guantanamo.
“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” -Matthew 25:45
Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Jay Garner, Colonel Paul Hughes and Ambassador Barbra Bodine were all part of the original Operation for Iraqi Operation and Humanitarian Aid (ORHA) and have all since spoke out heavily about the failure of the Iraq occupation before it began. Each had foreign policy and reconstruction experience. Ambassador Bodine had been held hostage in Kuwait for five months after Saddam’s initial invasion. ORHA met for the first time 50 days before the initial invasion in 2003. By contrast, German’s reconstruction was planned over a year in advance before the end of World War II4.
The amount of looting and damage done by the lack of sufficient troops in the initial invasion caused the damage equivalent of burning the Library of Congress, every branch of the Smithsonian and vandalizing every major monument in Washington D.C from the Lincoln Memorial to Vietnam Wall. Despite ORHA’s best efforts to rebuild the country, Bush disbanded ORHA and replaced it by the CPA headed by Paul Bremer, a man with no foreign policy experience. His executive orders led to the disbanding of the Iraqi army, a military service that every Iraqi male citizen is required to serve in (one of five branches), in effect alienating the entire population and leaving a massive number of people unemployed.
Iraq is now the largest humanitarian disaster of this century. With 2.5 million Iraqis displaced outside of Iraq and 1.5 million homeless within its borders, the magnitude of this disaster is greater than Katrina, greater than the earthquake in China, greater than any recent tidal waves and typhoons in the Pacific. Over 4,000 troops are dead, tens of thousands wounded and there is no official Iraqi body count, with any attempts at reports ranging wildly from 100,000 to over 1 million dead.
Meanwhile at home, our freedoms are disappearing. I can not tell you how many people I have asked who can not quote the 1st Amendment to our constitution. It is no wonder that no one notices or cares as the US spies domestically for terrorists. After all if you have nothing to hide, why should you fear surveillance? Right? After the bombing of Perl Harbor, US citizens of Japanese descent were rounded up and placed in a camp called Manzanar. They were US citizens who had committed no crime. They only reason for their detainment was because they were Japanese.
“They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” -Benjamin Franklin
On July 9th, 2008, congress granted immunity for telecommunication companies illegally wiretapping on individuals in the United States. They will never be held accountable for their crimes5.
The United States currently has the highest incarnation per capita rate in the world. No other country even comes close including China and Saudi Arabia6.
I could go on about the radical form of racism that has taken the US (brown is the new black for both Hispanics and Arabs), the eradication of the middle class, how the US it the largest consumer of oil and producer of pollution in the world (China’s catching up fast), or several other major issues that have been completely ignored by the main stream media that feeds twenty-four hours of absolutely garbage coverage into American homes.
But what I’m trying to get at here are there are bigger issues at stake than the Ten Commandments. Forwarding such an e-mail shows that you as a person live in the screwed up fantasy world that believes that the US has been blessed by the hand of God with a manifest destiny to transform the world, that Jesus is a Republican and would in effect stand next to Caesar in dominance of the Roman people, that democracy is somehow equivalent to Christianity and freedom and that Iranians and Muslims around the world are all evil people who are plotting to destroy the US. Here is a news flash for you people: maybe people in other parts of the world who happen to be Muslims also want to defend their countries and their way of life from people like us!
If you truly don’t see that our rights as free citizens in this country are deteriorating every single day as a result of policy from both Democrats and Republicans and the corporations that control all of them, if you don’t see how shopping at Wal-Mart hurts everyone from the poor to the rich and if you keep pumping gas into the H2 Hummer and don’t realize it’s really just a really fucking expensive Chevy Tahoe7, then you need a massive reality check.
Some of you know all of what I’m saying, but say to yourself, “We can’t do anything.” Indeed Jesus did say “Render unto Caesar what is his.” It referees to more than just taxes. Jesus looked at the rebels of that time who were trying to liberate the Jews from Rome and he realized that in order to fight such a power, one would have to gain power and influence in order to defeat such a force. To do so would invite corruption and would potentially lead people to be as corrupt as the power they fight so hard against in their oppression.
But you can’t say that to yourself. Recent history has showed that one person can make a difference. People like King, Gandhi and Bhutto have all made significant differences in their culture. Jesus didn’t live during a time period when communication was massive, fast and affordable.
The thing about the freedom of speech is that you will hear things you don’t agree with. I did when I received an e-mail that told me to “Agree or Delete.” But my friends, to Agree or Delete is the absence of choice. It is the slippery slope to fascism. It follows the doctrine of “If you’re not for us you are against us.” It is un-American in every possible way.
Well I chose neither. I chose the only American option. I chose to speak my mind. I chose to respond. I chose to make my voice heard. I chose to stand in the gap and let other people know that together, those of us who are reasonable, those of us who are moderates, those who would temper the wording on the dollar bill to be followed by “In Reason We Trust,” that we can hope, pray and work for a better tomorrow. Together we don’t simply have to either agree or be apathetic. No my friends, we can work hard to make a new world; a world that is just and equitable for everyone.
1 Babylonian and Assyrian Laws, Contracts and Letters, by C. H. W. Johns, in 1904, one of a series called the Library of Ancient Inscriptions, from a facsimile produced by The Legal Classics Library, Division of Gryphon Editions, New York in 1987
2 The Religious Justification for the Code of Hammurabi Retrieved on July 9, 2008
3 The Road to Guantanamo. (Film 2006)
4 No End in Sight. (Film 2007)
5 Finance, Favors and FISA American News Project. Retrieved on July 9, 2008.
6 Comparative International Rates of Incarceration: An Examination of Causes and Trends. Mauer. The Sentencing Project. p.2