N.B. All Editorials are always "current" Feel free to post resposes to any editorial at any time . The pages will be continually maintenanced. Do not feel obliged to agree. The object is to create a forum for intelligent debate on issues of national importance. Editrorials will remain posted until I believe that they are no longer relevant .Editorial Archives
Timothy McVeigh was a disaster waiting to happen.
Spawned by 'the culture of weaponry' which is peculiarly strong in, but by no means indigenous to the U.S.; trained by the American military, and profoundly alienated by his government he was, however, a weapon destined to explode in the face of his own creators.
In the aftermath of the events in Waco, Texas and at Ruby Ridge he began to view himself as a patriot at war with a ruthless and despotic administration. He may well have been paranoid or evil; but what is sobering for us all is this.
McVeigh was a trained military officer, a decorated veteran of the Gulf War who set out with military precision to eliminate what he perceived to be a miltary target; and there is no doubt that, in his own insane terms, he was successful. An awful lot of FBI personnel died.
What is truly appaling, however, was that along with these officers, he brutally murdered, maimed and disfigured an enormous number of 'innocent bystanders' including preschool children; and that he was prepared to do this in order to achieve his objective.
His only statement of concern about those deaths (which he viewed to be, in military terminology, "collatoral damage") was that they were a "a public relations nightmare".
As people around the globe began to ask how such a truly evil and twisted mindset could possibly exist, I began to wonder where I had heard something like that before.
It took a little while, but it came. It was Madelaine Albright, then US Secretary of State, who was quoted after the Gulf War as saying that the reported 50,000 Iraqi children who died as a result of that conflict were 'a tragic but acceptable price to pay for the destruction of Saddam Hussein's war machine'. The public weren't told about those deaths during the War. From a media perspective it was all very tightly and efficiently managed. No doubt the US Miltary knew that such a disclosure would be "a public relations nightmare" also.
The awful truth of the matter is that the innocent men, women and children who died in Oklahoma were essentially no different from those who died in Hiroshima, Belfast, Dresden, Lockerbee or London.
Most of them did not know why they died. Most of them were civilians. Most of them were unarmed. Most of them had no connection to the real centres of power which started the conflicts that led to their deaths.
All of them were slaughtered by men who, through some twisted sense of patriotism or duty, were prepared to suspend their own decency and humanity in the service of some greater 'patriotic' cause. Slaughtered by men who were able to bring themselves to think of defenceless human beings not as flesh and blood; dreams and bone, but as 'collateral damage' 'strategic targets' and 'kill ratios'; whose human rights were somehow subordinate to the wider aims of the policy of the day.
Timothy McVeigh was not an accident or an abberation; he was actually given the training and the mindset to inflict such appalling carnage on a civilian target; and he was given it by the American military. He had been trained to kill without remorse; trained to kill defenceless people, if ordered, (though admittedly in other countries, not his own); but make no mistake, he was trained to do just that.
Yes, he was a traitor and a rogue but, as a cold blooded killer, he was essentially no different to the men who flew the Enola Gaye above Hiroshima; no different to the men who fired V2 rockets into London; no different to the men who armed the militia in East Timor; no different to the men who carried out the bombing raids on Dresden or Hanoi. and no different at all from the man who emptied the lethal chemicals into his body; or the man who ordered it.
They were, and are, all murderers whose victims had no power at the time to defend themselves. Murderers whose atrocities were committed in the name of Duty. Timothy McVeigh, I have seen it argued, was no loss; but his brutal execution at the hands of a democratic government was a loss for all humanity.
I hope, however, that some good may come of it yet. Perhaps the Oklahoma bombing and that appalling execution might finally cause people, in the US and elsewhere, to realise what people in China, Serbia, Russia, Burma and Britain and Germany have known for years. And it is this.
You cannot fund organisations that train cold blooded killers and expect that they will not one day turn, or be ordered to turn, on you, their fellows citizens. That day will come. In Tiananmen Square, In Dachau or in Oklahoma City.. that day will surely come.
International Arms manufacturers and military institutions worldwide remain a grave threat to us all; but in the final analysis, in Terra Haute as in Nuremburg, any man who is prepared without question or rebellion to terminate the life of a defenceless human being, and who justifies it in the name of Patriotism or Duty, is always, and ever, the enemy.
Decimus Nukaga - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 11:59:22am (#14480 of 14518)
Pat Drummond - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 11:04:43am (#14478 of 14479)
A very insightful post. I agree 100%.
donald mcgowan - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 12:30:42pm (#14481 of 14518)
Pat I must also say great post
d weg - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 1:11:29pm (#14482 of 14518)
Pat Drummond - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 11:04:43am (#14478 of 14481)
No, this is not an "insightful" post. Eloquent yes, insightful no. In fact, it is typical of someone willing to reap on a daily basis the freedoms and priveledges won by the likes of the men who flew the Enola Gay. Typical of someone who thinks any peace is better than any war. Typical of someone who thinks there is nothing in the world worth fighting, dying...or even killing for if necessary.
I find it hard to believe that there are people out there who truly can't see the difference between Mcveigh and the men who fought World War II, or who can't see the difference between fighting for a just cause (yes, there is such a thing) and a terrorist act carried out by a paranoid monomaniac.
Yes the war was terrible, but it is a shame that the men who fought it are compared to terrorists by someone who thinks the Japanese stopped short of invading his country out of the goodness of their hearts. Pat, there were plenty of your own country men who fought and died in defense of Australia in WWII...were they terrorists too?
KFitz - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 1:31:44pm (#14483 of 14518)
Well said, d weg!!
dweg wrote "it is a shame that the men who fought it
are compared to terrorists by, someone who thinks the Japanese
stopped short of invading his country out of the goodness of their
hearts. Pat , there were plenty of your own country men who fought
and died in defense ofAustralia in
WWII...were they terrorists too? "
dweg, I think you should read my post more thoroughly. It does not relate to battles fought between armed parties. It relates to the slaughter of defenceless civilians as a deliberate policy of the modern miltary.
And I absolutely accept that the Australian military (the same as all military organisations) have been from time to time involved in such acts.
Thousands of military actions by U.S. and allied; Communist Bloc and Asian forces have repeatedly and systematically targeted innocent civilians since World War One.
The reference to the Enola Gaye is particularly instructive.
I have personally stood on the bridge in Hiroshima where the United States became the first and only military power to ever drop an atomic bomb on a civilian population.
The strike was deliberately targeted to occur in the morning at a time when the maximum number of school children and students would be congregating in many of the nearby colleges.
Hiroshima was not a military target of any real significance. Ground Zero was no where near any military establishments. It was a College and Commercial District.
The purpose of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima was to terrorise the civilian population and to ensure the government of Japan would it realize that no one; man, woman or child was safe anymore.
It signalled to the Japanese government that, with Japan's air power broken, military targets were no longer the prime concern of the U.S.
It was, possibly the most gigantic act of what we now now call state-sanctioned terrorism ever commited and it enshrined the targeting of civilians as a legitimate strategy of modern warfare.
The totally unnecessary bombing of Nagasaki which followed almost immediately was, many historians agree, primarily aimed at demonstrating to Russia the capacity of U.S. to repeat such acts.
The civilians were not collateral damage. It was the intent and the outcome of the bombing to kill and maim as many innocent civilians as possible.
Once again, the truth is told. Some people still seem to
believe the childhood tale that the atomic
bombs were necessary to end the war - in complete contrast to statements made by the fliers of the
Enola Gay (who are still alive and have given many interviews), stating that the USA was well aware
that Japan was incapable of continuing to fight, but the bombs were dropped anyway just to speed up
d weg - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 2:29:13pm (#14486 of 14517)
Decimus Nukaga - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 1:53:58pm (#14485 of 14485)
Pat Drummond - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 1:48:10pm (#14484 of 14484)
If you are looking for someone to blame for the death of innocents in Japan (Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Tokyo fire bombing) then look to Tojo and the Imperial Japanese Military.and to the society that spawned them and allowed them to exist and thrive in their midst. If you think that military wouldn't have fought to the last man then please explain to me the logic of the Kamikaze. And if you think those "innocent" people who supported that military were going to surrender without horrendous losses then take a look at what happened on Okinawa and Guam.
You or I can debate this issue all day, but I believe the people you should ask, and the people who would really know whether or not the bombing of innocence was necessary to end the war are the American and Australian soldiers who were preparing and training for an invasion of the Japanese homeland.
Decimus Nukaga - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 2:46:43pm (#14487 of 14517)
d weg: I didn't ask them, I listened to an interview that the flier of the Enola Gay gave on the History Channel on the television programme "The History Of War". There are about 14 episodes. He appeared in the 6th or 7th. He clearly stated that the USA was fully well aware that Japan was prepared to surrender.
Pat Drummond - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 3:25:44pm (#14489 of 14517)
Everything you had said has merely served to validate my original posting; the one to which you took such objection.
Inherent in your appalling statement is the belief that the ruthless slaughter of innocent unarmed men, women and children is justified; as long as it achieves a desired military outcome and minimizes losses of your own armed military personnel.
You have just stated your support for this grotesque position and, as I pointed out in my original posting, it is precisely what Timothy McVeigh believed. It's what Calley believed. It's what Patton believed, it's what Vlad the Impaler believed and, clearly, it is what you believe.
Timothy McVeigh sought to blame the deaths of the children in the day care center on the actions of the FBI at Waco and Ruby Ridge. You seek to blame the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the actions of the Japanese dictators.
But the truth is it was McVeigh who killed those children.... and it was the American servicemen who flew the Enola Gay who slaughtered the tens of thousands of civilians who died at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. They did it knowingly and deliberately.
It was a U.S. Justice who firmly established at Nuremberg that each man is responsible for his own actions. He cannot hide behind his orders, he cannot hide behind concepts of duty or discipline. Such aposition is indefensible and ever will be.
The Children who died in Oklahoma City had no capacity to influence the policy of the U.S. government. The children and who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; in Hanoi and in Iraq lived under dictatorships and similarly had no capacity to vary policies; yet They were targeted by military operatives quite prepared to slaughter them to achieve a strategic objective.
People who believe, as you do, that this can ever be justified, are no different to Timothy McVeigh . .. but, hopefully, you are different to many of us.
D. P. - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 4:22:56pm (#14490 of 14517)
Pat, you seem to ignore the Samurai code-which ruled Japan's military and essentially ruled Japan. Death in battle was right, surrender was always wrong. The two bombs showed the military that even a 'final' battle was not needed by the US to win and allowed them and the Emperor to surrender and 'save face'. It also allowed the quick finalization of the war to stop Soviet landgrabs of additional territory.
Chris Dickens - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 9:30:47pm (#14496 of 14517)
Concerning the posts I read above about the bombing of Hiroshima....it's
always nice to have the benefit of hindsight, and not having to
worry about your own security after the battle has been fought
and the war won. I dislike the notions that people have that the
aircrews of the Enola Gay and
Bockscar wontonly killed thousands of people just because they could. The fact is, those aircrews, and the people of that day, had to deal with the daily heartbreak of friends and family being killed or horribly maimed, and the notion that the horrible war could continue. Our modern day 'armchair generals', such as depicted in the above posts, do not have to deal with such stress, as they know the outcome of the war. Perhaps senior government planners may have known that Japan was nearing the brink of surrender (and it's proven that they did want to talk cease fire, but with conditions that would allow them to hold on to what was left of their empire), but it's doubtful that a single US aircrew would know of such intentions.
When the US Marine Corps invaded Iwo Jima in 1944, there were 22,000 Japanese on the island, and over 33,000 Marines landed on the island. At the end of the battle, all but a handful of the Japanese had fought to their deaths or committed suicide. Almost 27,000 Marines were listed as either killed or wounded. Similar ratios were reported at Guam and Okinawa. I can only imagine what an invasion of the Japanese mainland would have resulted in. During the invasion of Okinawa, thousands of civlians died as well as soldiers. As horrific as the killing of the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, I can only imagine that it not only spared the lives of US G.Is, but also countless Japanese soldiers and civilians. The environmental price paid by the atomic attacks were relatively light compared to the sight of most of the Japanese islands cratered and desolate after heavy bombing and artillery attacks.
Whether it was by atomic bombs or more than a million American infantrymen, the end of the warwould prove to be costly, and it was. But it ended. The US refused to accept a Japanese surrender that would have any possibility of the Japanese to restart hostilities. They wanted nothing more than to strip Japan of any power. America's allies, who suffered more than the US (China, etc), wanted the same. That entire hemisphere suffered greatly at the hands of the Japanese. To insist that the US was the bully and the demon of WWII is grossly overlooking all the events that transpired from the first Russo-Japanese war to the invasion of Manchuria and most of the rest of Asia. While you debate over the 'brutal' act of the US bombers killing civilians, you ignore the actions of the Japanese as they used civilians in grotesque medical experiments and other Holocaust-style torture methods. You ignore the fact that they beat or shot over half of their wounded POWs, for things as simple as asking for water.While you debate over the 'brutal' act of the US bombers killing civilians, you ignore the actions of the Japanese as they used civilians in grotesque medical experiments and other Holocaust-style torture methods. You ignore the fact that they beat or shot over half of their wounded POWs, for things as simple as asking for water. You turn a blind eye to events such as the Rape of Nanking, where thousands of civilians were raped and killed simply for the amusement of Japanese officers.
Completely incorrect, Charles, I have not ignored this at all.. My initial posting was absolutely even-handed in it's condemnation of all soldiers of all nations who at any time under any conditions, slaughter innocent civilians out of a 'twisted sense of patriotism or duty.
All you do is strengthen my position by quoting these further horrific instances of this.
Regardless of the protracted discussions of the Hiroshima bombing, I have not any point in this discussion sought to infer that U.S. soldiers are any more nor any less culpable in this matter. Only that all soldiers who follow orders which target unarmed and innocent civilians are the enemies of all humanity.
d weg - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 4:42:58pm (#14492 of 14517)
Pat Drummond - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 3:25:44pm (#14489 of 14489)
Oh, I see. So now the men who flew bombing missions over
Germany and Japan were not only terrorists like McVeigh, but also
war criminals. Let me see if I can articulate this so that you
can understand it. The difference between misguided terrorism
that purposely targets civilians for a
"cause" and nationally sanctioned military action during war that purposely targets civilians for a "cause" is are you ready for this -- the cause. If the "cause" involves:
1) Stopping the wholesale slaughter of millions of innocent people in death camps
2) Ending the occupation and oppression of China, Malaysia,
Korea and the Philippinesand the
brutal/sadistic abuse of the civilians who lived there
3) The preservation of the lives of 500 thousand to a million
American, Australian and Japanese
soldiers, sailors and airmen that would have been lost in an invasion.
4) The saving of millions of Japanese civilian lives that
would have been sacrificed in an invasion (if
you doubt this then we really have a differing view of what the Japanese people were like in WWII)
Then, perhaps the action, though tragic, is justified.
If the cause involves an irrational, paranoid, psychotic
dislike of the duly elected government of a
country that you are free to leavethen the action is not.
d weg - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 4:42:58pm (#14492) wrote
Oh, I see. So now the men who flew bombing missions over Germany and Japan were not only terrorists like McVeigh, but also war criminals.
If they were knowingly and deliberately
targeting unarmed and innocent civilans, the, Yes, dweg, they
d weg - Tuesday, 06/12/01, 4:42:58pm (#14492) wrote
Let me see if I can articulate this so that you can understand it. The difference between misguided terrorism that purposely targets civilians for a "cause" and nationally sanctioned military action during war that purposely targets civilians for a "cause" is are you ready for this -- the cause.
Soldiers and terrorists often intentionally kill and maim unarmed and innocent civilians. Unarmed civilians do not kill or maim soldiers and terrorists.
Simple huh? And I'll make it simpler.
The cause for which you commit an atrocity; does not justifies it one whit. This was a fundamental principle of the Nuremberg judgements. it is a fundamental principle of US and International Law. The end does not justify the means. Such a position is now and has always been morally indefensible.
The Taliban believe they serve God and do His will. A lofty cause indeed. It does not justify the atrocities they commit against Hindus and women.
The Communist Bloc believed they represented the interests of the working class and the downtrodden. It did not justify the atrocities Stalin committed against the Jews.
The Jews and Arabs in the current conflict believe their causes to be absolutely justified. There is much to support the claims of both sides. But the arguable rightness of their positions does not justify the suicide bombings or the Israeli reprisals if the targets selected are unarmed civilians.
The crew of the Enola Gay doubtlessly believed for all the reasons you list that they were bringing about peace. Another lofty cause. But the strategic correctness or otherwise of their action did not justify the wholesale slaughter of tens of thousands of unarmed civilians.
Like Timothy McVeigh; all these people believed the importance of their cause justified their atrocities. Like Timothy McVeigh they could not have been more wrong.
The mass intentional killing of unarmed civilians is never right under any circumstances. Military personnel who do this in the service of any cause, however noble, are the enemies of all humanity.
S. Richardson - Wednesday, 06/13/01, 12:22:18am (#14502 of 14517)
Somwhere along the line the US military and it's brave men and women started to be compared to traitors and murderers. People started to say things like "there is no difference between a murder in the streets of Los Angeles and the bombing of "innocent" people in Iraq". Somewhere along the line, we became the bad guys.
I have been to a lot of countries where people can only dream of the freedoms in which we take for granted every day. Places where merely making a rude gesture towards the figure of a countries leader will land you in jail or worse...dead. Places where the American lower middle class is considered "extremely rich". I have gone to these countries and I have done my duty. But apparently I am a vicious murderer like Timothy McVeigh. As are all the brave men and women who have served before me........tell that to Gen. Robbie Risner who spent seven years of torture and depravity inside the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Tell that to the men who still lie buried on the shores of Normandy. You choose to call these men murderers...I call them heroes. I only wish that I can live up to what they expect of me.
Steven Richardson, SSgt, USAF
This message was not directed and any one individual, it was merely written to make a point. Rest assured myself and all of my brothers and sisters in uniform will fight and die if neccesary to protect your right to disagree with me and others.
Steven Richardson, SSgt, USAF wrote : - Wednesday, 06/13/01, 12:22:18am (#14502) "Somwhere along the line the US military and it's brave men and women started to be compared to traitors and murderers. Somewhere along the line, we became the bad guys."
Stephen, Those who proudly claim the warriors role can only hope to sustain the dignity of their claim by engaging with similarly armed warriors. The premeditated and deliberate slaughter of unarmed and innocent civilians, is an act of cowardice and evil of the highest order, one which brings dishonour and condemnation upon all warriors
It is the point at which any soldier; acting under orders or acting alone; in the course of discharging his duty and serving his country; or acting on his own volition; commits such an act of cowardice and evil, that he becomes 'the bad guy'
You infer that the world has unfairly assigned the military this position. It did not. When soldiers began to accept unarmed civilians as a legitimate targets in war; when they began to follow the orders of their superiors over the dictates of their own concience; they chose it for themselves.
Steven Richardson, SSgt, USAF wrote : "This message was not directed and any one individual, it was merely written to make a point. Rest assured myself and all of my brothers and sisters in uniform will fight and die if neccesary to protect your right to disagree with me and others."
And I will assume, Sir, from the dignified and courteous tone of your posting that you would be one of those with the moral courage to refuse such orders.
Thu, 1 Nov 2001 21:03:34 +1100
"Ron & Claire Drummond" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Pat Drummond" <email@example.com>
I notice the comment on this subject has become strangely muted since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Re-Visiting Your Timothy McVeigh Editorial
Sat, 20 Oct 2001 14:42:39 +0900
"Robert Wanner" <Robert.Edward@Wanner.com>
I am surprised and disappointed that there have not been more responses to your Timothy McVeigh editorial. It is an issue that needs to be examined closely and often. Perhaps I can relight the fires of debate by expressing my views on the subject. As someone who is fortunate to have been born in the great, free nation of America, proud to have served in the U.S. military, retiring after 20 years, and blessed to be married to the most wonderful woman in the world - who happens to be Australian, a friend of yours, Pat - and like many Australians, holds opinions similar to you, I am both offended and disturbed by your comparisons of McVeigh with the rest of the U.S. military. I believe Timothy McVeigh was twisted and evil.
The United States military has over two million personnel on active duty and nearly 1.5 million reserve service members. Because of the sensationalist nature of the American news media, whenever a criminal or heinous act can be attributed to the government or military, in any way, that will be emphasized over all other factors. Reports of this type are for the most part, non-existent in the U.S. news. Statistically, contrary to your views, McVeigh was an aberration of the U.S. military.
The U.S. military is required by law, to receive annual training on the Law of War. This training tells us when and how much violent force we are allowed to use. Others things the Law of War training covers is how and when we can commandeer or destroy property and how and when we can confine or control non-combatants. In times of peace, these acts are called murder, assault, theft, vandalism and kidnapping. Law of War training emphasizes that these acts, even in war, are still crimes, unless carried out for very specific and appropriate reasons and with the appropriate military command knowledge and approval. We are not allowed to kill defenseless people, including unarmed enemy soldiers. Many acts that would be considered minor crimes under American law, punishable by only a few years in prison, are considered capital offenses under U.S. military law, especially on the battlefield. During battle, if an officer were to witness these acts, he can be required to summarily try, convict and execute the solider who committed the crime, or face possible execution himself.
We are trained to kill without hesitation, not without remorse. That's a very big difference. Before going into a situation where we might need to kill, we need to know there is no other solution to the conflict. We need to know the conflict will end when we take out an identifiable enemy (plain language - kill someone). We know killing is a bad thing and we do not want to go to war. But we believe that sometimes it is necessary.
Killing is very traumatic. Look at
the Viet Nam War vets. The Australian and American vets are both
the same. Most did not want to go there. They didn't know why
they were fighting. Most couldn't tell who was the enemy. They
couldn't distinguish the South from the North, or even civilians
from soldiers. Women, children and elderly were just as likely
to try to kill you, as were the soldiers. Many returned home spiritually,
emotionally or mentally scarred, even if physically intact. One
of the primary missions of the military chaplains and mental health
professionals is to help heal these terrible, non-physical wounds
of war. If we were really trained to be remorseless killers, there
would be no need for military chaplains or psychologists. I wouldn't
want to serve with anyone who isn't affected in some way by death
and destruction. A soldier needs to know that what he is trained
to do is horrible and frightening. He has to know he does the
things he does so that his family, friends and fellow countrymen
back home never need to know these same horrors.
I have served with many brave and
honorable men and women (I include Australian, Canadian, British
and Korean militaries, in addition to the U.S.) who understand
this. I am proud to have known and served with them. Comparisons
to Timothy McVeigh are an insult and a slap in the face of each
and every one of these fine people.
Having said all this, I thank you Pat, for raising this subject of debate. I think the militaries of the nations of the free world need to constantly review and examine why and how they do the things they do, so that comparisons to McVeigh and his ilk, always and without fail, are crushed and thrown at the feet of their critics.
Regards from Korea,
Robert Wanner, U.S. Navy (ret.)
Alicia(nee McDonald) and I look forward to seeing you perform again, when we return to Australia for good next December.
Sat,27th Nov 2001 14:42:39 +0900
Hello Robert and others
Well ...where to start...
In the long days in September 11th; I, like many people, have struggled to find something adequate to say.
My inability to contribute anything meaningful has distressed me somewhat. Distressed me because I feel that sometimes people look to me to find the words to describe their own feelings.
Piaget says "Word's are the hooks on which we hang our ideas"; without them we may formulate ideas but we cannot hold onto them. There are so many conflicting ideas that surround such a gigantic tragedy. To search for any central one is daunting to say the least.
Quite bluntly the trouble for me was that all my initial responses were rage-filled; and the trouble with history is that it is often initial outrage that inadvisedly shapes it's responses. Rage against the terrorists began to give way slowly over the days following the attacks to be replaced by similar emotions towards those who brought about the conditions that gave rise to such murderous and despicable acts of desperation.
The ongoing refusal by the American based media (and, by extension, most Western media) to recognize any part that U.S. foreign policy may have had in the passage of events also enraged me.
As the U.S. response became more martial; as the drums of war swelled in volume; and as the Bush Administration made it clear that to fail to support their position was to be in league with their enemies, my anger turned on the manufacturers of the weapons of violence who were soon to profit so greatly from all of this.
The first song that overflowed out of me onto the stage was "Money To Be Made" a somewhat brutal piece about that.
It's a hard song, brutally frank. It said some of what I was feeling about the culture of the dollar; but in the end I think it was probably faulted. Faulted, because it did not offer anything but criticism. There was nothing in it that provided any hope or liberation. Not that there is anything wrong with criticism; but like all things, I suppose, it's a matter of timing.
The funeral of a friend is hardly the time to raise the matter of his infidelities, (unless affectionately.) That's not some sort doublespeak for 'avoiding the truth' when you are out of step with public sentiment. But it is a recognition that if you want to have a meaningful dialogue, you first must engage. And to engage means to recognize and share the grief, the trauma, the anger, the deep sense of loss and fear.
By the second week I decided to largely cease playing the song but even this decision brought a new sense of unease for me. I was not sure how much it was my own decision based on charity and how much I was bowing to public sentiment. (Private archive reference link "Money to be Made" NB. If you sensitive to this issue or likely to be easily offended ..give it a miss. Don't read it and then complain!)
Increasingly the media was demanding that public people take sides. It was an extension of the outrageous Bush initiated 'if you're not with us you're against us' mindset.
Anthony Mundine was stripped of his world boxing ranking for expressing Anti-American sentiments when unexpectedly questioned by Australian reporter Richard Wilkins and with that incident, it was clear that 'freedom of speech' supposedly so highly prized by the US was now to become the first casualty of the new war. In Australia, with the added polarization of an election campaign I was increasingly asked in the light of the song, if I sided with the Taliban or the U.S.
For over three years, and I might add, long before many Americans and Australians even thought much about where Kabul was, I had been condemning the Taliban regime from the stage in my preamble to "Flicker of an Eye" Their destruction of the ancient Buddahs, their institution of a system of marks on clothing to identify religious belief (something the world had not seen since Hitler) and their oppression of women were not only an appalling distortion of Islam but had ensconced them at the top of the 'hit list' for most human rights organisations such as Amnesty.
To characterize them as other than a brutal, misogynist, repressive and even criminal regime would be a huge distortion of facts. Equally to claim that U.S. support for the two brutally murderous and expansionist regimes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon; that it's long history of U.S. covert interference and destabilization in Middle Eastern countries; including the supply of military weaponry to subversives did not contribute to the events of September the 11th is also a huge distortion of facts.
It is , after all, the systematic abrogation of the terms hard won Peace Process, a courageous initiative that cost Yhitzac Rabin (Israeli Prime Minister) and Abdul Nasser (Egyptian President) their lives, which remains at the heart of the current Middle East impasse and thus all Jewish/Arab conflict world wide.
But beware the dangers of a balanced viewpoint and the perilous assumption that democracy allows one to hold and express it. Suddenly I found that the social milieu in which I move was increasingly demanding that I take a definitive side in the conflict. I am sure I am not the only one who felt that pressure.
Initially it would seem a fairly easy choice. The hard-line brutally repressive Taliban enforcing their view of religious righteousness on everyone around them; as against the U.S., ostensibly, and actually, one of the world's great democracies, with freedom of speech and the value of the individual central to their constitution. Most Australians had no trouble coming to the conclusion that, put like that, our sympathies must lay with the U.S.
Upon reflection however I have come to the conclusion that such a choice is both spurious and ill conceived. The real choice is not between America's 'good' military machine and the Taliban's 'evil' one; between dictatorship or democracy. The choice is, as always, between the violent and the innocent.
I am on the side of the innocent. The chef in the Trade towers top floor restaurant as he fell those long, long seconds to his death; the children in the residential areas of Kabul slaughtered by the US military blundering in the first weeks of the campaign; the passengers on the respective airliners as they rang their loved ones and contemplated their last minutes; the fire fighters and rescue workers entering those doomed towers only moments before their eventual collapse; the 200 pro American Villagers slaughtered in their sleep in Khel D'har by appalingly poor US intelligence; the UN workers killed by the patently not so 'smart' missiles unleashed by the US Navy and the aid workers imprisoned for their faith during those long and terrible months. I am on the side of all of these.
I am not, however, on the side of those whose economic wealth has been founded on the manufacture of such appalling weaponry. I am not on the side of those like the Taliban, the current Israeli Administration or the Palestinian extremists groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad, whose religious zealotry leads them to believe that innocent lives are acceptable losses in their earthly pursuit of a heavenly Utopia.
And as I stated in the Editorial "McVeigh and The Military mindset" (written somewhat prophetically it seems, six months before the New York and Washington tragedies) I am not and will never be on the side of those who stubbornly insist that civilized human beings can ever accommodate the revolting euphemisms of 'acceptable loss' or 'collateral damage' into their mindsets in the way that the cowardly exponents of the strategies of remote high altitude, 'high ordinance' bombing demand. Civilians deaths are not excusable accidents of history; they the predictable result of deliberate acts. I absolutely refuse to accept the proposition that they are some sort of regrettable but less significant side effects of the pursuit of more important and more legitimate military objectives by the armed services.
They are real, illegal and unjustifiable homicides for which the human beings who perpetrated them stand accountable.
That accountability remains the same whether they were committed by servicemen under orders (Hiroshima, Auswitch), militia under supervision (East Timor, Bosnia); terrorists under command (New York, Belfast) or individuals acting on their own volition (Oklahoma City)
No one has the right to the defence that they have subjugated their own conscience to another man in the attempt to transfer culpability for their own murderous actions to a superior officer.
In the end it is one man who pulls the trigger, who releases the bomb, who launches the missile. That one man is personally and eternally accountable for the outcomes of that action.
It would be considered reprehensible to suggest that the 6700 people who lost their lives on September 11th were merely 'collateral damage' and it is equally disgusting and unacceptable to suggest that the children of Nagasaki or any of the other innocent civilians slaughtered in the wars of the last century were such.... although it may well be said that it is only in the wake of September 11th that we in the Western world may be coming to clearly see the comparison.
Is it a time for us choose sides?
Yes, perhaps it is; but we are remiss in allowing the rampaging media to frame those choices in the biased and rhetorical manner that they have.
If it is time to choose then the choice is between the innocent and the violent.
It is a choice made all the more profound by the fact that it is one that is immediately relevant to us all; whether our governments are directly involved in the present conflicts or not; because it is essentially a choice of the heart; not one of political alliance.
All The Best
Subject: Timothy McVeigh and The Military Mindset
Andrew Introna <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When this editorial was posted in June who would have know what was going to happen on the 11th of September.
Once again the lives of thousands of civilians and military personel have been needlessly wasted in a act of terror. Watching the events unfold on TV last night I was chilled by only one thought. "The killing will continue" and for what?.
Is there not enough death through disease and hunger in the world without members of the human race needing to kill in such a cowardly and unnecessary way. Maybe I am terminally idealistic but I hope for a world where all people are free to choose their own way of life, where peace exists and poverty does not. Where difference can be celebrated rather than feared. This is a concept that many of us here in Australia strive for and I firmly believe that it is possible. It is up to each of us to take responsibility to ensure that we live this in ourselves and openly encourage and challenge others when necessary. Life is a fragile thing. I believe it is imperative that we nurture and protect it, not with violence but with acceptance and cooperation.
From: Dad and Ryans car <email@example.com>
Subject: Contact from Pat Drummond's Website
To: Pat Drummond <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I am quite impressed about the words you said on your statement of Local Rag Editorial #8 and also #5.
I lived then in Oklahoma when this occurred and it was shocking in a peaceful state to have that happen as most Okies are very rurally minded.
I also heard ,which you did not state that Timothy Mcveigh used to be violent with the POW's in his control and abuse them. It was the article about Schapelle Corby and looking at the pictures of young men that will be executed for what ever reason, I am shocked about.
But your statement of the white christian people being hung out really caught my attention. Take it they should not have been doing this activity, I agree, but to execute young white christian people is more than I can bear.
I just want clemency for these people as I feel they were set up and maybe just made a bad mistake in their journey through life at the aspiration of the AFP. But why fodder these men on a mistake they did.
Keep up the good work Pat Drummond, as you can quite articulate and explain things quite clearly and concisely to the point of it all.
Ronnie (Okie from Muskogee)
Right Neighbourly of you to drop in. Good to have an Oklahoma perspective.
All The Best
On 25/09/2006, at 2:31 AM, David Gulley wrote:
I read your messages and I disagree
with you. When the Enola Gaye dropped those bombs I feel it was
justified. On December 7, 1941 we were struck early that morning
without warning. Many Americans lost their lives that morning
and we responded as I feel we should have!!!!!!!
I say if you kill you will be killed. Plain and simple.
War is hell and if you start war then someone will end it some way. I has always been that way and it will be when Christ returns then there will be no more wars."
How nice to hear that this blog has finally been reopened after several years of dormancy, particularly given it's newly increased relevance since the US led invasion of Iraq.
On 25/09/2006, at 2:31 AM, David Gulley wrote:
I read your messages and I disagree
with you. When the Enola Gaye dropped those bombs I feel it was
justified. On December 7, 1941 we were struck early that morning
without warning. Many Americans lost their lives that morning
and we responded as I feel we should have!!!!!!!
I say if you kill you will be killed. Plain and simple.
As I have pointed out several times in my postings, the main and stated targets in the attack on Pearl Harbour were American servicemen and women, although many innocent civilians were murdered also in that cowardly and unprovoked assault. But the were not killed by Japanese civilians. They were murdered by other servicemen like themselves. Japanese military personnel, who, without dissent, mindlessly obeyed the immoral orders of their military leaders.
They were not killed by the innocent children in the school and colleges of Hiroshima who were deliberately targeted by the captain and crew of the Enola Gaye.
The fascist dictatorship that controlled Japan was not a democratically elected government and this is a pivotal point.
It might be argued that vast numbers of Americans and Australians are in fact responsible for the massive civilian deathtoll that has resulted from our attacks on Iraq because we are democratic countries. Many voters in both our countries had voted for the governments that perpetrated the attacks on Bagdad and then returned them with increased majorities in the subsequent elections. The Japanese civilian population, however, had never elected the Fascist Dictators that controlled Japan. Your logic that they were somehow legitimate targets is tantamount to claiming that the Jews in the Nazi death camps were responsible for Adolph Hitler's actions because they were Germans.
At a military level, "If you kill you will be killed" is only a rational and valid line of argument if it effectively targets the people who attacked you. Indiscriminate High ordinance bombing does not do that. It murders innocent civilians who have had no part in the attacks and may never ever have supported them. Your logic completely collapses at this point.
The most reprehensible thing about the bombing of Hiroshima is that it DELIBERATELY targeted innocent civilians. Hiroshima was not in any way a military target . It was selected on the basis of being a heavily populated civilian city which would effectively demonstrate the raw 'killpower' of the new weapon.
It is not enough to simply say "I don't agree with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!", David. You must engage with the debate. Please deal with issues that I have raised and point out where what I have said is logically wrong. If you cannot do so, you must accept that it is in fact correct.
"War is hell and if you start war then someone will end it some way. I has always been that way and it will be when Christ returns then there will be no more wars."
I take it by the inclusion of this line, David, that you and I are fellow Christians. This, however, does make your position even more confusing for me, because you are completely at odds with Christ's teaching in the position you take.
Christ said "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your friends, hate your enemies.' But now I tell you; love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you" (Matthew 6:43), He said ' If someone slaps you on the right cheek, let him slap your left cheek too." (Matthew 5:38)
And it was not just what He taught that precludes your position. It was in how He demonstrated those teachings by His own example. It is by this, most of all, that we must measure how we should respond to such attacks .
Let's look at that example. Christ was living in a country that had been attacked and subjugated by the Romans. Barrabas and the zealots were keen to involve Christ and His followers in their war on the enemy. Christ would have no part of it (Matthew 5:41) (Matthew 22:18) And at a personal level when He was finally physically attacked and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane and His followers drew their weapons in His defence, He stopped that attack, going so far as to actually heal one of the man whom His followers had wounded. He submitted to Himself to arrest and death rather than retaliate with deadly violence.
Most importantly, on The Cross at the last, He did not 'call down a legion of angels' to retaliate against His enemies as many in the crowd exhorted Him to do. Instead He forgave those who had murdered Him saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Okay mate, I've stuck my neck out here and put my Faith on the line. Your turn. Please reply with a quote from Jesus where He says that it is good to kill your enemies, that it is acceptable to deliberately or knowingly target and murder innocent people in the pursuit of military and political objectives or that one should respond to aggression with aggression.
You won't find one. The uncomfortable Truth for many American and Australian Christians is that their ongoing support for governments who indulge in this sort of behaviour is in direct contravention of their Christian Faith.
All of that said though, David, I do sincerely thank you for reopening this blog.
All The Best