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On Protests and Patriotism


By David Swanson

Charlottesville Daily Progress columnist Bryan McKenzie reported on our recent protest of Bush at Monticello that we had made our point of diminishing a citizen naturalization ceremony? We did? McKenzie had plenty of communication from protesters before and after the event, all of which made perfectly clear that we wanted to NOT do that, that we wanted in fact to counter Bush's diminishment of the day and to communicate to the world that Americans oppose our president's crimes at home and abroad. McKenzie can claim that diminishing someone's day was what we in fact did and that having done so is more significant than all the days for the rest of their lives that Bush has ruined of the relatives of the people he's killed and is going to continue to kill as long as we allow him, but McKenzie can't claim that that's what we intended to do.

And, in fact, the media coverage outside the country and the vast bulk of that within it communicated well that we were protesting Bush because he has committed impeachable offenses. We, in fact, succeeded in communicating to the world that many Americans do not support Bush's crimes. We've had a ton of positive responses from around the world. We've even had positive responses from citizens who were naturalized and citizens who would have been naturalized if not for Bush's presence. We also had a meeting Sunday evening of the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice at which its members overwhelmingly expressed their strong disagreement with CCPJ's decision not to support the July Fourth protest of Bush.

I appreciate McKenzie covering the protest, but he should at least get right what we were protesting, even if - like the rest of the media - he doesn't develop it in any substantive way. I also appreciate him asking me to provide a statement on patriotism for him to use in Monday's paper. He's only able to include part of it, so I'd like to share the whole statement with you:

***

I'm not a fan of patriotism, nationalism, racism, religion, or anything that does more to divide people into often antagonistic groups than the benefits seem to justify. I think we should be ashamed of our schools teaching children to stand like robots and swear obedience to a piece of cloth. I think we should be frightened of how easily a president can use that piece of cloth to cover the most hideous crimes and incite the most catastrophic wars of aggression. The flag that is imposed on some 150 nations around the world in some 1,000 military bases paid for with my tax dollars is not something I can bring myself to feel warm and fuzzy over. I prefer the Virginia flag. It is associated with no military, and it bears a motto that inherently counters the tendency of rulers to use flags in a fascist manner - that is to wave them at a populace as a toreador might wave one at a bull. On the other hand, probably the single greatest step toward instituting fair and responsible government on this earth was taken on July 4, 1776, in Philadelphia. I take no pride in it, because I played no role in it, but if we manage to preserve the democratic republic that was born that day for another generation, I will take great pride in that. The indictment that was published that day reads almost entirely as an indictment of the new King George III. Our ancestors gave their lives so that we might have the rights that George Bush is stripping us of almost unchallenged. For that I am deeply ashamed and frightened.

***

That was my statement. This much made it into the newspaper:

ā€œIā€™m not a fan of patriotism, nationalism, racism, religion, or anything that does more to divide people into often antagonistic groups than the benefits seem to justify. I think we should be ashamed of our schools teaching children to stand like robots and swear obedience to a piece of cloth. I think we should be frightened of how easily a president can use that piece of cloth to cover the most hideous crimes and incite the most catastrophic wars of aggression. The flag that is imposed on some 150 nations around the world in some 1,000 military bases paid for with my tax dollars is not something I can bring myself to feel warm and fuzzy over. I prefer the Virginia flag. It is associated with no military, and it bears a motto that inherently counters the tendency of rulers to use flags in a fascist manner; that is to wave them at a populace as a toreador might wave one at a bull.ā€

While that part can stand alone, it can also elicit responses along the lines of "Why do you hate your country?" in a way that the whole statement could not have. In fact, I am sure it will.

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screw McKenzie! What a sleazy, apologist son of a bitch! This nation is on the brink of it's own goddamned CIVIL WAR now, replete with dead bodies in streets, and burning buildings, rioting, and people shooting at black helicopters in the sky, and he's worried about hurting the feelings of the CONJOB AND THIEF who illegitimately has the smirking chimp balls to stand at that podium and chortle and smirk at people who take his crimes against ALL HUMANITY with a great deal of seriousness?

get real. McKenzie is the kind of son of a bitch who'd like to see this modern day CALIGULA who was at that podium that day, turn the entire earth into a radioactive, burnt cinder..

yeah, that's the ticket! Instant rapture. Guess what christian retards, THAT AIN'T THE WAY IT'LL BE, you get to burn here in agony, pain, and suffering, dying from your radiation burns, for a very very long, agonizing time, before you realize you bought a pack of lies about redemption and salvation.

your salvation is in your mind. Free that, then you're saved. Pull your heads out of your wishful thinking, childish, gibberish beliving assholes!!!!!!!!!!!

this is reality, you stupid pieces of shit. THE WORLD IS BURINING!!!!!

I have the greatest respect for the protesters who were making our case for us at Monticello Friday. I would have joined them if I didn't live a thousand miles away. Clearly, we need to speak up. But....

Let's remember that the protest was played out in Bush's court using Bush's rules. By the looks of everything I've seen and heard, the protest on the grounds of Monticello was the straight line for Bush's punch line, to the effect "In America we believe in freedom of speech." There were no arrests, the ceremony continued threw the objections, and Bush had the opportunity to make his point, about His America, as he sees it. And corporate media remained pretty much faithful to Governor Bush.

I guess I prefer protests where the corporate media and the government have less control over the event. The Seattle WTO protests come to mind. But then again we haven't had one of those since and even that one didn't get the coverage it deserved!

We can't stop conducting public protests. Monticello was a great opportunity. We just can't expect great things from them, given the way "freedom of speech" is now defined by the permanent government in Washington.

We have no venue, except the opportunities we take as free citizens for free speech. If only they would provide the MAJORITY OF AMERICANS that are against Bush's Neocon foreign policies with the proper venues, such as Impeachment , the Hague, Criminal Courts, something anything that smacks of accountability , etc

Until then, Bush and Cheney will be tried in the court of public opinion, wherever they may be...

IMPEACH BUSHCO & RICO PNAC/AIPAC>"OUT" ANTI-AMERICAN CABALS!

WE MUST DEFEAT MCCAIN!!! http://www.cafepress.com/bootthepnac

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