Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Obligation

Break the law or support the war. Is there any other choice?

I have written on more than one occassion about Rosemarie Jackowski of Vermont. Jackowski is an advocacy journalist and former Liberty Union candidate for state attorney general. She is also a principled and fearless activist working on behalf of the victims of US aggression, and a grandmother.

I am happy to report that the guilty verdict against Jackowski for her non-violent act of civil disobedience in 2003 has been overturned. Jackowski blocked traffic with a sign that read "Stop US War Crimes". She was charged with disorderly conduct and sentenced to prison.

An article in the Rutland Herald notes that Jackowski "believes she had an obligation, morally and under international law, to speak out against the death of Iraqi civilians."

For my part, I believe that we all have such an obligation, grandmothers, politicians, artists, factory workers, black, white, short and tall, all of us. It's wonderful to have examples of courage set by a 69-year-old member of Veterans for Peace. Sure. But what do the rest of us have to lose? What can we risk -- what can we offer the people Jackowski believes she has a moral and legal obligation to protect?

(Answers such as "attending State-sanctioned mass rallies on Saturday afternoons" do not count.)

Jackowski has claimed that, with the case essentially thrown out of court (because the State wants to avoid "wasting taxpayer dollars" on it), she will not have an opportunity to explain what she did and why. Here, then, is a link to Jackowski's Courtroom Speech from October 2004. Please read it carefully.

At the end of the speech Jackowski stated "What happens to me here today is not important. Since the day of my arrest, more than 13,000 Iraqi civilians, many of them children, have been killed. That IS important." Take that number -- thirteen thousand -- and think about it. It represents people just like you and me, condemned to horrific, brutal deaths. They committed no crime, but stood in the way of the crusade of the US government and its allies to thieve the resources and sovereignity of Iraq and test out the sadistic machines and gadgets of the military-industrial complex.

Now take that number and multiply it over and over and over, many times, until you reach the current and growing death toll. Who can fathom that kind of carnage? (Certainly not typically pacified Americans.) Or here's another question: with what other regimes in history do the US and its coalition partners share the stage for having been responsible for that kind of carnage?

On the day after she announced her good news at Mickey Z.'s blog, Jackowski (known to readers there as RMJ) shared an email she had received from a supporter named Richard. It hits the nail on the coffin, as it were, and I reproduce it here.
“I support the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I support the killing of innocent women, children and soldiers.

I support the desecration of the Constitution.

I support the destruction of our environment and our eco-systems.

I support Global Warming.

I support the death penalty for poor people and people of color.

I support population control through starvation.

I support the power to imprison us without our due process by eliminating habeas corpus.

I support these things by DOING NOTHING.”

5 comments:

Mickey Z. said...

Bravo...

michael the tubthumper said...

that is an excellent email. i think i might have to reproduce that

sk said...

Sorry to bring up something unrelated, but as someone who's never been to Holland, I'd be interested in your views on a an 'insider' account of Dutch society in the 'Letters' section here:

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n02/letters.html

Keir said...

sk, thanks for the link.

It's a big question, huge. Probably better suited to a post of its own, which I'll try to get to at some point.

To be brief, there's a global trend toward xenophobia, none of it warranted, none. The Dutch government and society play a predictable role in it. Normally level-headed people truly fear their now secular, formerly colonialist country -- a major mover of international capital -- might somehow 'become' Muslim, or Turkish, or whatever.

Could it? I don't care. I oppose all borders, anywhere. As for my place as a foreigner-for-life in NL: whatever. The feeling's mutual.

sk said...

Keir, I found comments on the souring liberalism of the "good and the green" particularly interesting. Sadly, such a spurious chain of reasoning leads to reactionary, self-righteous politics (a la neocons who supposedly were shocked into their worldview by hippie counterculture). Don't be put off by the hugeness of the topic :)