I was out giving talks over the last week.
Last Wednesday, at the University of Wisconsin-Waukesha, I spoke about the Iraq War and its costs--in blood, dollars, reputation, and security. About 75 people were there, including a few subscribers, and one young soldier who had returned from Iraq. I found his reaction the most interesting. While he conceded that I made some valid points, he stressed that not all soldiers, not most soldiers, abused detainees as we saw at Abu Ghraib. And he noted how difficult it was for U.S. soldiers to figure out who was friend and who was foe when an Iraqi vehicle would approach. I responded that Bush had put U.S. soldiers in an impossible, untenable situation there. The vet did make one comment I took great exception to, and that was, "People over there think differently than we do." That assumption, with such a clear echo of Vietnam, is the very foundation for dehumanizing and then mistreating Iraqis.
Then on Saturday, I went to La Crosse, Wisconsin, to give an Earth Day speech. There were a couple hundred people in the park, and the student organizers had done a great job of making the day interesting and fun. A blue-grass band was playing when I arrived, and students in costume performed on stage, and local organic farmers were selling their goods. I mentioned Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, now gone almost a year. And I pointed out that he was also a courageous anti-war figure. He famously told Johnson, when LBJ demanded Nelson's vote to vastly expand the number of troops in Vietnam, "You need my vote less than I need my conscience." With Nelson's two primary concerns in mind, I talked about the environment, and Bush's degradation of it. And I talked about the war, and about the need to impeach Bush. And while we're at it, I mentioned that we needed to stop being an empire.
You can read a version of my Earth Day speech up on our website.
Also on our website this week, I'd like to draw your attention to two fine offerings from Ruth Conniff.
The first is "Halliburton's Immigration Detention Centers," about a scary contract Halliburton has to build potential internment camps here at home.
And then we've posted Ruth's great interview with Lewis Lapham of Harper's, which I think you'll enjoy.
As always, I appreciate the feedback.
Matthew RothschildEditor, The Progressive
P.S. You're invited to a Town Hall meeting in Mill Valley, California on the evening of May 5th to discuss the "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" of Bush and Cheney. Join me, comedian and KQKE talkshow host Will Durst, and KPFA co-host Andrea Lewis as we outline the case for impeachment. For more information, click here.