“Antiwar” Left, 10, died June 16th, 2013, with a few close, principled friends by its side in Anytown, USA. A memorial service will be held at the National Mall, rallying site for numerous massive “antiwar” demonstrations during the “glory years.”
“Antiwar” Left was born September 12, 2002 in New York City. The son of the Vietnam War protests, “Antiwar” Left grew up hearing stories about principled resistance/opposition to armed conflict as a means of hastening peaceful resolution. He learned about coalition-building, supporting whistleblowers who exposed war crimes…even bands who made popular protest songs! Suffice it to say, “Antiwar” had some rather large shoes to fill, and he felt up to the challenge. “Antiwar” yearned for a day when he might have an opportunity to show his parents that he had what it took to take a principled stand against the “masters of war.” His chance came in 2002 with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sadly, his heavily publicized “break” would lead to his untimely, tragic, and largely self-inflicted demise.
The “Antiwar” we knew and loved would hardly describe himself as “humble.” He LOVED the attention he gained during the “glory years” (the Bush years), and we loved giving it to him. He had massive appeal, and pushed into realms his proud parents could only dream about.. including a seemingly genuine concern with authoritarian abuses of civil liberties. Were “Antiwar” still with us in this world, we could join together and reminisce about his storied feats. His marches numbering in the hundreds of thousands, celebrity endorsements, and, most importantly, a national debate. While we can all remember this wondrous period in the American, indeed human, experience, and he’d be proud of his legacy, “Antiwar” would being doing us an injustice if he didn’t let his life serve as a cautionary tale.
“Antiwar” was living the highest of highs in 2007. Michael Stipe, R.E.M. frontman, had just performed an antiwar concert in NYC, Oscar speeches filled with antiwar bromides littered the airwaves, 500,000 had peacefully assembled in Washington, D.C. to protest our illegal/immoral occupation of foreign nations, and the national debate centered on the war, and civil liberties. Then it happened. A charismatic young Senator from Illinois emerged as the frontrunner for the 2008 Presidential election. He spoke passionately, and eloquently of his opposition to some of the foreign policy atrocities that “Antiwar” Left had been harping about for years. He declaimed against the unconstitutionality of abuses like torture, warrantless wiretapping, and undeclared war. He appealed to a nation to harken back to a day when the “rule of law” was honored, and cherished. He spoke with conviction, and authority, about that which made America a virtuous, respectable, “shining city on a hill,” inspiring “hope” that the he was “change” we could “believe in.” The rest, as they say, is history.
The war in Iraq eventually came to an “end” in December, 2011, leaving only thousands and thousands of civilian contractors behind to maintain order in an ethnically/factionally-divided, decimated country poisoned by radioactive munitions. A troop surge was immediately ordered in Afghanistan, which correlated with a massive escalation in troop/civilian casualties, accounting for two-thirds of the US troop fatalities in that country. Running concurrent to the troop surge was the expansion of the Bush-era program of unmanned aerial bombing which has since reached levels once unfathomable to those who opposed the program during the “Antiwar” glory years. The program has expanded from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, into Somalia, Yemen, and Libya, and accounts for a many hundreds of times increase in the high (of strikes) set during the “glory years.” The number of civilians being slaughtered by this drone bombing program is known to be staggering, and many, many times higher than the number of Taliban/Al Qaeda killed, though it’s ultimately shrouded in mystery as the word “militant” has been redefined to mean “all military-aged males in a strike zone.” A new policy of “double-tapping” drone sites has been revealed, and appears to be intentionally targeting the CIVILIAN first-responders who (humanly) rush to aid those unidentified, and often civilian, persons wounded during US drone strikes.
It seems that the more things changed..the more they stayed the same. The United States now asserts the authority to KILL American citizens without due process, and has done so at least 4 times, including to a 16 year old born in Denver, who was never accused of a crime. It’s asserted the authority to indefinitely detain US citizens, much like what’s occurring in GITMO, where dozens of prisoners, cleared for release, are enduring torturous force-feeding to counter their hunger-strike protestations. While “torture” has “ended,” the current administration has refused to prosecute those citizens who’ve been involved with torturing people TO DEATH, setting quite a precedent for “the shining city on a hill.” The decision was made, unilaterally, to bomb Libya in an effort to depose its leader, Muammar Gaddafi. Our Constitutional lawyer, Nobel Peace Prize executive made little effort to hide the fact that he felt within his rights to unilaterally dispense with LEGAL convention, and authorize military force against Libya. He did so without consulting Congress, and, though it didn’t fit the necessary requirements of an imminent threat, without regard for the time restrictions imposed by the War Powers Act. He’s implemented self-described “crippling sanctions” on Iran, which, like the sanctions which killed upwards of 1 million Iraqis, are serving to target the innocent civilian population. The expansion/intensification of the authoritarian state I’ve just detailed took its toll on our poor friend, “Antiwar” Left. His legion of impassioned, emboldened adherents seemed lost, mollified, or otherwise assimilated. Their “concerns” seemingly cast asunder.
“Antiwar” Left was distraught. What had he done wrong? He recalled his parents stern admonition that whistleblowers were important, and to be protected in a principled stand against the war machine. His parents depiction of Daniel Ellsberg, leaker of the “Pentagon Papers,” sent a pang of terror throughout his body. What had he done? Bradley Manning, an Army PFC who risked his life/freedom to alert a nation of the reality of war crimes, sat in solitary confinement in a windowless 6 x 12 cell, and he’d done virtually NOTHING. He’d betrayed his principle for a salesman in a suit, sellin’ “hope” and “change” to anyone with a shekel, and a dream. Guilt and shame began to affect his health, and it showed. He became a shadow of himself, and could hardly make an appearance without being mocked, and ridiculed for his perceived hypocrisy. What was once a robust, vibrant mass of signs, guitars, and principle had become a frail, peeling remnant on the bumper of a late 90’s Subaru Outback.
“Antiwar” Left died on a Sunday. He will be remembered not for clinging to relevance in a world where an Nobel laureate with a “kill list” decided to arm Al Qaeda fighters in Syria during the same week his pervasive spy-grid was exposed by a whistleblower, but for leaving the world with the impression that for a moment, however brief or genuine, Americans stood opposed to the immorality of our lawless, unchecked foreign policy.
“Antiwar” Left is survived by libertarians, anarchists, principled “Leftists,” a smattering of Tea Party conservatives, and a growing body of non-partisan Americans, and citizens of the world, who realize that war begets war, and is a total racket.
Donations may be sent to all the victims of the wars which our current administration is supporting/fighting, which are being tacitly endorsed by scores of “Antiwar” Leftist with votes, and deafening silence.