"Silence in the community?" That's an e-mail I just read. Well, C.I. won't write (remember The Common Ills isn't a blog, it's a resource/review) for awhile because of the difference in time zone. I am on the east coast. I'm not silent, I am late blogging. I've been on the phone with Mike and Rebecca.
Veteran Who Spoke Out About War's Psychological Affects Commits Suicide (Democracy Now!):
In Ohio, a 35-year-old veteran of the Iraq war was buried on Saturday - a week after he committed suicide. Army Reservist Douglas Barber was a member of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and had publicly spoken out about the psychological toll war takes on veterans. A month before he died he appeared on Doug Basham's radio show. Barber reportedly spent two years fighting the military to get counseling and for the VA to recognize his disability. Just days before he shot himself, Douglas Barber wrote QUOTE, "We cannot stand the memories and [we] decide death is better. We kill ourselves because we are haunted by seeing children killed and families wiped out." Meanwhile a new report from UPI is estimating 19,000 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress since 2002. Overall 40,000 veterans from the two wars have exhibited some signs of mental health disorders.
I'm tired of some on the left screeching "Support the troops! Support the troops!" like some doped up parrot. Barber came home and spoke his truth but because it didn't fit into a nice, tidy line, he didn't get support. I don't just mean the issue of mental health care. I've noted that at The Third Estate Sunday Review. (Disclosure, some of my patients are veterans from the Iraq war.) Barber needed help and the system Bully Boy's constructed failed him. However, that's not all that failed him.
In our society, we're still not creating the space for those who have served and now oppose the war to speak out. They can go to groups run by other vets and those are wonderful resources, healing ones. But in terms of the general public, those spaces do not exist. There are many people trying to create those spaces, vets and non-vets, but they aren't getting the groups aren't getting the attention they need (and deserve). I'm writing in circles and deleting so I'll just leave it at that and try to pick up on it at another time.
Peace Activist Teresa Grady Sentenced to 4 Months in Prison (Democracy Now!):
In a update to a story we have been following - peace activist Teresa Grady was sentenced Friday for four months in prisons for spilling her own human blood at a military recruiting station in upstate New York to protest the Iraq war. Grady and her three co-defendants, known as the St. Patricks Four, received prison sentences totaling 20 months. They were all sentenced during the same week that a military jury in Colorado decided not to jail an Army interrogator even though he was found guilty of negligent homicide in the torturing and killing of an Iraqi detainee.
Here's another area where no public space exists. Democracy Now! is doing their part (on this and on the previous topic). Some others are as well, but that's not true of alternative media. There seems to be a reluctance to speak. It's as though some playbook's been handed out that says, "You can say you're opposed to the war but you better follow that up with, 'I support the troops!' and then let the matter die." I think too much time is spent worrying about how others may perceive you and not enough time is spent exploring.
We can't even explore. Last week, a guy writes an op-ed and he's slammed all over the place with the psuedo-left and the so-called left (as well as a few of the genuine left) lining up. What did he write? He started out with "I don't support the troops." Did anyone read beyond that? Did anyone try to understand what his column was about?
I don't know. I know I'm tired tonight and just want to go to bed. But a blanket statement of "I support the troops!" seems to me to be a blank check. "I support Abu Ghraib!" "I support the slaughter in Falluja!" "I support kidnapping the wives of suspect like we're something out of The Godfather!" (Actually, I think many in the mob, as portrayed in movies, usually had too much integerity to target someone's family.) What is it we're supporting? The column that got trashed could have been a wonderful starting point to a deeper conversation about what our values are and what our values aren't.
The space doesn't exist for that either, apparently. That's too bad. That seems to indicate that despite the opposition to the war, there's no end in sight.
War crimes are being committed. The orders are coming from the top. But a signal is emerging and it's "Keep your mouth shut and you won't do much time or any." I don't support the murder of the Iraqi and I don't support the man convicted of murdering the Iraqi walking. It's not "a few bad apples." It's a system that's rotten at the top. But when those at the bottom do things, such as killing, it's less than honest to look the other way or act like it's okay that they walk.
Visit Mike's site for his thoughts at Mikey Likes It!. On the Senate news? "Editorial: Will the Dems Stand Up or Stab Us in the Back? " says it all and with that in mind . . .
Time expended on maintaing false fronts is theft of the soul.