Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving -- A Day of National Atonement (?)

The following three articles, “Thoughts for Thanksgiving” – “Give Thanks No More: It’s Time for a National Day of Atonement” – “The End of American Thanksgiving” – are must reads. Many will take very strong exception to them, mostly by those who refuse to take an honest look at this nation’s history. To paraphrase what William Blum (Killing Hope and The Anti-Empire Report) has stated many times -- which I am firmly convinced of – “there is a deeply held belief in this country that no matter what is done, no matter how badly “things” may turn out, the only thing that matters is that ‘we’ mean well, that ‘we’ have good intentions.” What a load of clap-trap!

The Greatest Evil We Do Is To Deny The Evil We Doperiod! And the more resistive people in this nation are about looking honestly at our history, and putting today’s events in historic perspective, we will have absolutely no hope of making any corrections.

Looking honestly at this nation, what it has done, what it hasn’t done, what it should or should not do, what it is doing and what it should not be doing – that is not hating your own country, damn it! It means nothing more, or nothing less than knowing that people are what they are; with all the same human strengths, weaknesses and fallibilities. Without real recognition of this, this nation’s so-called leaders will continue the re-writing of the nation’s history so that it will coincide with the illusion of “American Exceptionalism” that has so imbued itself into the national psyche.

We as a nation are NOT an exception to anything. We are not an exception to nationalism and the xenophobic hatred it breeds; we are not an exception to self-serving corrupt “officials" – not at the local level, not at the state level and not at the federal level – we need only take a cursory look at those under indictment in congress or in the White House, with the list of indictments growing almost daily. We have a 230 year history of government corruption at all levels.

We are not an exception to “gun barrel” diplomacy; we are not an exception to the time honored method of invading other lands in the name of “liberation” -- when the only thing that ultimately gets “liberated” are people from their homes, land and in too many cases, their very lives. We have the specter of Iraq before us which bears this out.

I am of the opionion that war is the cowards response to the perils of peace.

Without an honest look at our past, how this country was built and upon whose backs it was built – how will we ever be able to confront and change those things that must be changed if this nation is to survive? Or to become the nation it can become – one that not only professes to stand for freedom, democracy, human rights, civil rights and the rule of law, but is. Something that it could be, but currently is not.

This nation was built on the backs of slavery and the genocidal wars against the original inhabitants of this land we call America – Native Americans. Who still have to fight to try and get this nation to live up to even one of the treaties it has signed. Of the 4,500 treaties signed, not one has been honored by those within the body government in Washington, D.C.

Our Constitution is without a doubt one of the single greatest documents ever penned by man. It, along with the Bill of Rights does not tell us what “rights” we have, as the rights of all people’s are a given as stated by the preamble to the Constitution. The Constitution and Bill of Rights simply states what government cannot do in terms of the rights of people. The other thing is simply this: nowhere in the Constitution or Bill of Rights is it stated that application is only to and for American Citizens – these documents say “People.” If they do not apply to “people” as a whole, the documents and what they enumerate do not apply to anyone.

Enough from me, again for now, but there will be more on this later. For now, please take the time to read the following essay carefully. If this nation is ever to become a beacon of hope in the world for the oppressed, the weak, the tired, the hungry, the poor – then we cannot continue to repeat all the mistakes of the past. But we have no hope of doing that as long as a nation, we continue to refuse to look and then change our national direction so as to not continue making the very same mistakes over and over again. – Jack
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Thoughts for Thanksgiving
Center on Conscience & War
November 23, 2005

This Thanksgiving before you eat your turkey or tofu, you may consider the things for which you are thankful. One thing is the young men and women who are sacrificing themselves in this war–even though the war is wrong, the sacrifice is not meaningless. Another is the young men and women who refuse to be part of this war. One such woman is SFC Katherine Janshinski who, on Thanksgiving day, will be given a direct order to train with weapons.

A member of the Army National Guard, Katherine Jashinski, has been on active duty with the 111th ASG since January of this year. She was born in Milwaukee, WI and is 22 years old. After she graduated high school, she went to college in Austin, TX. At age 19 she enlisted in the Guard as a cook because as she says, "I wanted to experience military life. When I enlisted I believed that killing was immoral, but also that war was an inevitable part of life and therefore, an exception to the rule."

Katherine no longer believes there is an exception to the rule. She applied for CO discharge from the military. During the nearly 18 months that she went through the discharge process, she was activated and she followed all of the orders she was given. The military, however, did not follow its own regulations, and this summer her CO application was denied. She is now in the process of bringing the wrongful denial of her CO application for discharge to the courts.

In the meantime, however, she has been ordered to Ft. Benning. She arrived just days before the SOA demonstration was to begin. A press conference was held November 17, 2005 at the gates of Ft. Benning–the most notoriously harsh basic training base and home of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) known to many as the School of the Americas.

At her press conference, Katherine Jashinski said:

**Now I have come to the point where I am forced to choose between my legal obligation to the Army and my deepest moral values. I want to make it clear that I will not compromise my beliefs for any reason. I have a moral obligation not only to myself but to the world as a whole, and this is more important than any contract.

**I have come to my beliefs through personal, intense, reflection and study. They are everything that I am and all that I stand for. After much thought and contemplation about the effect my decision will have on my future, my family, the possibility of prison, and the inevitable scorn and ridicule that I will face, I am completely resolute.

**I will exercise every legal right not to pick up a weapon, or to support the war effort. I am determined to be discharged as a CO, and while undergoing the appeals process; I will continue to follow orders that do not conflict with my conscience until my status has been resolved. I am prepared to accept the consequences of adhering to my beliefs.

**What characterizes a conscientious objector is their willingness to face adversity and uphold their values at any cost. We do this not because it is easy or popular, but because we are unable to do otherwise. Thank you.

On Thanksgiving, Katherine will be given a direct order to train with a weapon.

If she refuses—as she expects she will—she will face a Court Martial and jail.

Let us be thankful this Thanksgiving for the men and women who are far away from home, believing they are protecting our rights. But let us be even more thankful for the men and women who have come to realize that the best way to protect our rights is to refuse to participate in war.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Center on Conscience & War
1830 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009
Ph: 202-483-2220
Fax: 202-483-1246
www.CenterOnConscience.org

(Note From Jack--Kevin Benderman and Monica Benderman know full well what Katherine is facing as do I. As a combat vet myself, I am in full support of Katherine's decision to resist this war in Iraq as a Conscientious Objector just as I support my good friend Kevin Benderman, and Monica, and their decision to not only object as a Conscientions Objector, to openly and publically oppose not only the invasion and occupation of Iraq, but those who planned, orchestrated and initiated this madness as well. See the Benderman Timeline for full details: http://www.bendermantimeline.com/ )
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Give Thanks No More: It’s Time for a National Day of Atonement
by Robert Jensen

One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self-indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self-reflective collective fasting.

In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model; since 1970 they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas.

Not only is the thought of such a change in this white-supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits -- which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States.

(Read Prof. Robert Jensen's Full essay Here: http://www.commondreams.org/views05/1121-22.htm )
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The End of American Thanksgivings
The Black Commentator

Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity....

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England.

The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.

(Read The Full Essay Here: http://www.blackcommentator.com/66/66_cover_thanksgiving_pf.html )

Note: "...We didn't land on Plymouth Rock, Plymouth Rock landed on us..." Malcolm X

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