Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action --
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali 35 (1912)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Walt Zlotow's letter to Congressman Peter Roskam

Congressman Peter Roskam
150 S. Bloomingdale Road, Suite 200
Bloomingdale, IL 60108

Dear Congressman Roskam,

Lack of moral courage appears to be a hallmark of your Congressional career these past seventeen months.

With your keen and insightful intelligence you know as well as the roughly two thirds of Sixth District constituents that the Iraq war was made up, sold with lies and continued for sixty-three months with shameless propaganda. Yet, as Congressman, you continue to fund it with twelve billion dollars monthly while Iraqis and Americans needlessly suffer and die.

Somehow you have compartmentalized this immoral position from your daily duties as our Congressman. There is no Iraq war issue to review or comment upon on your Congressional website. There is no call for a war tax to pay for its estimated three trillion dollar price tag which most certainly adds to the colossal financial woes we face as it damages our standing and reputation around the world. There is no plea for the sons and daughters of your constituents to join the military to be served up as canon fodder for a cause we now know was to make the Commander in Chief revered by historians as a great wartime President. And there is no sense of shame or outrage that 1,041 Americans and untold thousands of Iraqis have perished on your watch through May, 2008.

Having run for office by pledging unquestioned support to the war party and their catastrophic war, you know you are boxed into an untenable position. Your solution? Simply pretend that it does not exist. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west and 300 million dollars must be spent during that daily cycle no matter what and no questions asked.

You would do well to read one of the great speeches in American history, Martin Luther King’s April 4, 1967 anti Vietnam War speech entitled, “A Time To Break Silence”. King’s display of moral courage in giving that speech was breathtaking. He risked and received a torrent of criticism from President Johnson who had supported his civil rights work; from leaders within the civil rights movement who felt he was abandoning the task at hand of securing black civil rights; even from the progressive news organization such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

In the speech King asserts,
“Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world.”

But knowing full well the criticism that would follow his speech, King concludes, “I have worked too long now, and too hard to get rid of segregation in public accommodations to turn back to the point of segregating my moral concern. Justice is indivisible. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. And Wherever I see injustice, I’m going to take a stand against it whether it’s in Mississippi or in Vietnam”.
Forty-one years after that speech, former presidential press secretary Scott McClellan, for three years the public face of the deception, propaganda and mis-information which enabled the Iraq war, exhibited a bit of the moral courage that King so eloquently cried out for in 1967. He has cut his ties with the war party forever with his memoir “What Happened?” which strips away the last shred of respectability from a President and his councilors who so foolishly plunged us into this quagmire of bankruptcy, both moral and financial.

When you finish Martin Luther King’s speech, pick up McClellan’s mea culpa to see first hand that no matter how much damage one does during one’s time in public service, it is never too late to speak as well as know the truth.

Sir, you know the truth. It is time to speak it and to act it. Don’t wait till you are out of office like Scott McClellan. Do it while there is still time to make a difference.

Respectfully yours,

Walt Zlotow
Originally published in Glen Ellyn News, June 12, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008