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Tuesday, July 01, 2003


I'm thinking simplistic this month – heat waves have that effect on me. As does the figure 13,000. Thirteen thousand men deported from the US since 9/11. Thousands more still among the "disappeared", seized by the FBI and INS and not heard of since. For being of Arab, North African, or South Asian descent. For being Muslim. 13,000 families irreparably maimed or permanently shattered, left in limbo, by a regime that claims to stand for family values. That brings out the binary thinker in me. With us or against us. Dead or alive. Fight or perish. Fish or chips. Sorry, slipped off track there.

In the words of Bill Schulz, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, this is what we're up against.

"This year we are witnessing the orchestrated destruction by the United States of the fragile scaffolding on which international human rights have been built, painstakingly, bit by bit by bit, since World War II.

" I may have been naïve, but I never thought I would see the day when the United States would again unapologetically round up immigrants simply because of their ethnicity or religion. That happened during World Wars I and II. But surely not again. I never thought I would see the day when the United States would shred the Geneva Convention,as we are doing at Guantanamo Bay, or deny a U.S. citizen the most fundamental right in our justice system – the right to consult an attorney. And I surely never thought I would see the day when the United States, the great champion of human rights, would unabashedly torture suspects in custody, chaining them to ceilings, depriving them of food and medicine, holding them in freezing rooms and painful positions for hours on end. I never thought I would see this day.

" But see it I have, and so have all of you."

Here's what we have to fight with, says Arundhati Roy:

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe.

"The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling - their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

"Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing."

Turn the blowtorches on whatever makes you angriest this month. Lay siege to it daily. With letters, faxes, calls, protests, comedy, boycotts, education, art, with every creative, non-violent tool of your hands, mind and imagination. Remind yourself that millions across the world are doing the same, chipping away at every brick of this monstrous edifice. We on the planet who cherish life, peace and justice, we will always outnumber the killers. And we'll always have a funkier fashion sense too.

In community,
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