of the Sep 24-26 Rally in D.C.
Guest blogged by Katrina Wilcox
Only 4 hours of sleep last night, but we're rarin' to go again! So here is another interview until we can get back to fill you in on our day. I was trying to get up the courage to come to DC and Charles Sullivan's article "Nation of Fools" helped push me that last little bit. Maybe it will help inspire you to join US for the next show of strength.
1. What caused you to become an activist and when was this?
I began my many years of activism during the latter part of the seventies. I began with Earth First! defending our National Forests from degradation and destruction under the auspices of the U.S. Forest Service. It is never in the mainstream news, but we are living in the midst of the greatest extinction crises since the disappearance of the great reptiles some sixty-five million years ago at the close of the Cretaceous Era. That crisis is anthropogenic in nature--it is human induced. We have an ethical obligation to fight for the right of those plants and animals to exist and to fulfill their own respective evolutionary destinies. I have been on the front lines of the wild forest movement. I have participated in direct actions on behalf of the forests. I have committed acts of civil disobedience that were outside of the law. The words of Thoreau have inspired me to act. He said, 'Let your life be a friction against the machine.' Unjust laws exist. When we encounter unjust laws we should not hesitate to break them. The trouble with America today is not civil disobedience. It is civil obedience. Progressives tend to be too civil and too obedient. Our political enemies do not have that problem.
I am not sure what compels me to act when I see injustice. It appears to be something that is hard wired in me. I cannot ignore wrong doing. I must try to set things right. There is something about fighting for just causes and the common good that is innate.
2. What compelled you to write Nation of Fools?
'Nation of Fools' actually sprung from a brief visit with my mother a few weeks ago. I was so disturbed and disappointed with the distorted view that she and my two sisters have of the world that I had to write something. Incredibly, one of my sisters (a white supremacist) actually believes that George Bush is a Christian. This is incredible because Bush says many Christ like things; but his policies are the polar opposite of the non-violent, benevolent philosophy of Christ. If there is in fact an anti-Christ, it must be George Bush. There simply is no evidence to support the view that Bush is a Christian. I was so angry when my mother told me about my sister's draconian beliefs in regards to Bush, that I drove home and in about an hour and a half 'Nation of Fools' poured out of me. If there are people like my own family in America, there must be others like them. So I occasionally pick their minds in order to comprehend what a sizable proportion of the populace is thinking. It is an odious task but it has to be done. They are, of course, the product of a superb propaganda campaign, orchestrated by Karl Rove and the corporate media. It is nothing less than manufactured consent.
The example of my own family underlies the extent to which a great proportion of the American public is being manipulated into believing the lies and distortions spewed forth like so much bilge by Bush and the corporate propaganda machine. I am not a Christian. Nor do I want to be a Christian. However, I know enough about the teachings of Christ to know that most of his efforts were on behalf of the poor, not the rich and powerful. George Bush is the kind of man that Christ would have opposed. Bush is the kind of man who would have crucified Christ. Yet, people like my sister still believe that Bush is a Christian and is protecting us from the world's evil doers.
Nothing in America is what it appears to be. America is in the condition of the alcoholic who sinks into drunkenness in order to escape the painful reality that he has created. In place of reality we have woven this Disneyesque fantasy life that we have chosen to live. A fantasy that allows us to loot the planet, deny global warming, and to subjugate others so we can buy cheap goods from Wal-Mart. This peculiar view permits us to ignore the violent history of our nation that has allowed us to exterminate the original inhabitants of North America, lynch black people, deny equality to non-white males and foster supremacist views, while calling our form of government a democracy. The evidence simply does not support such ludicrous views. It is this same denial of reality that allows us to invade and occupy once sovereign nations and claim that we are liberating people and spreading democracy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It is the same kind of dangerous self denial that allows some people to perceive George Bush as Christ like. This is a bizarre phenomenon! And it is dangerous.
3. What message would you like every American to hear at this crucial time?
Question authority. Wake up. Inform yourself. Learn to think critically for yourself. Understand that the corporate media and our so called elected leaders do not operate in the public interest. The working class and the ruling class have nothing in common.
4. Given the chance to address Congress and the administration, what would you say to them?
Get out of town! Congress is so corrupt and awash in corporate money that it cannot even conceive of acting in the public interest. The system cannot be reformed. It must be overhauled. It will require an active and informed citizenry, a militant citizenry; a revolution to change it and to put power in the hands of the people. There are some courageous exceptions to the rule in Congress. Cynthia McKinney, for example, has great integrity. She has my utmost respect. Maxine Waters has done some good things. Dennis Kucinich holds promise. But then for every good human being in Congress you have fifty people like Tom Delay, Dennis Hastert and Bill Frist. The cancer of greed pervades the body of Congress and it can only be removed by radical surgery. Otherwise, the outcome is certain death.
We must understand that America is a one party system. The Democratic Party is dead. It has been dead for thirty years or more. There is no viable opposition party any more. Congress is not part of the solution. It is part of the problem. We have no real choices in our elections. The multitudes see and understand this; and that is why there is rampant apathy in America. That is why voter turnout is so low. Unfortunately, citizen apathy makes it easier for those in power to tighten their grip on power.
5. What do you consider to be the most important problem facing America at this point? Do you have a solution?
We are a culture that suffers from information overload. Virtually all of that information is useless and superfluous. From cradle to grave we are inundated with an all pervasive corporate propaganda that distorts our reality. We are constantly under the influence. We are like a grasshopper that finds itself suspended on a silken web while being eaten alive by a spider. Our bodies have been flooded with paralyzing venom that prevents us from acting to save ourselves. The result is that we have lost the capacity to think for ourselves. We can no longer act in our own best interest. Too many of us actually cheer on the corporate predators as they suck the life out of us. That is some powerful venom. That is what we are up against.
America is a class society. We must view ourselves and the history of the United States in that terrible stark light and come to grips with our past. If we fail to do this, the future will be no better than our past; and it will be much shorter.
6. Bringing about change in the government through letter writing, signing petitions, and making phone calls is not working. Do you have any thoughts or ideas on ways to accomplish real change?
We should not stop doing these things. But we must organize an effective resistance movement. These movements are not without precedent. Dr. Martin Luther King did it. Malcolm X did it. To some extent even Robert Kennedy was becoming successful at it. We all know what happened to them. We will have to operate mostly outside of the law. We will have to risk our lives for our beliefs. We must conduct massive campaigns of civil disobedience. The labor movement near the end of the nineteenth century and early in the twentieth century was both powerful and at times effective. Rockefeller and his thugs at the Felts Detective Agency murdered miners and their families at Ludlow Colorado, including women and children. None of them were ever prosecuted. The leaders of the labor movement were routinely harassed by the authorities. Many of them were beaten, murdered, and imprisoned because of their political views and their demands for social justice. But because of their courage, their willingness to fight back, we gained the eight hour work day, the weekend; and we saw the end of child labor in America. The labor movement struck fear into the hearts of the ruling class in America because they had the courage of their convictions. This is the version of American history that we are not taught in school. It is the history of America that the ruling class does not want you to know about. This is the history of hope. When I ponder the lives of Geronimo, Frederick Douglas, Henry Thoreau, Lucy Parsons, Albert Parsons, Joe Hill, Mary Harris (Mother Jones), Eugene Debs, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Malcolm X, my spirit is filled with hope. When people of heart, conscience and soul organize, things happen; and often they happen very quickly and unexpectedly. Had Dr. King and his followers not taken to the streets people of color would still not have any protection under the constitution and the bill of rights.
So, as I see it, the question is do enough of us have the courage of our convictions today to fight for social justice? Nothing is given without a demand. We will gain nothing by acting like timid sheep. Freedom is not free. It will not be given. It must be taken. It belongs to us. But it will cost us something. We will have to give up our complacency, our boredom.
7. One such idea is for everyone that attends this weekend's rally to stay in Washington until the government is forced to change and bring the troops home, etc. Do you think that idea would work?
I think these kind of actions have value. Otherwise, I would not participate in them. Did they stop the invasion of Iraq? No, but they probably lessened the severity of 'Shock and Awe.' They probably saved lives. Those in power do not want individuals of conscience to think they have any power. And as long as they convince them that this is true, they have been marginalized. As individuals we must know that we have power. We have only to exercise it. The rulers lie and distort, rather than just state outright that we are an imperial nation, because they know that we have power. They are afraid of that power. God help them if enough people should ever awaken and decide to do something about them. Their days would be numbered.
8. Do you have any thoughts or ideas on ways to get the corporate media to get our message out?
We cannot expect the corporate media to do our work for us. However, occasionally they are forced into doing exactly that. When people like Cindy Sheehan come to the fore we have forced their hand and actually caused them to act against their own self interest. It is a thing of beauty to behold. I rely on publications like CounterPunch, From the Wilderness, Information Clearing House, Pacifica Radio, community radio and other non-corporate media for truth. I read people like Howard Zinn, William Blum, Noam Chomsky, Mike Ruppert, Arhundati Roy and others to learn what is really going on. I harbor a deep distrust of the corporate media. When I know that a person is lying to me, I do not waste my time listening to them, unless I plan to use that intelligence against them.
9. Are there any further comments you would like to make?
Yes. Do not lose hope. History is full of remarkable people who have chosen to make a difference. Never give up. Fan the flames of dissent. Do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the enormity of our task. These are dark times. Ignorance and greed rule the day. The neocons have stolen the levers of power. Do not try to do everything yourself. You will only succeed in burning yourself out and falling into deep mental depression. But do something. If enough of us organize and choose to do something to make the world a better and more just place, it will make a difference. It is simple cause and effect. Each of us are like individual drops of rain hidden in the clouds of a gathering storm. No one knows how powerful and intense that storm will be. It is still gathering energy. When it reaches critical mass it will release its fury and flood the land with hope and justice. It will wash away greed and injustice. It will make a difference. Change happens one person, one event at a time. Do something every day to make the world a better place. Be the change you wish to see. Added together, those seemingly small acts will have a cumulative and profound impact.
Don't lose heart. Join together with kindred spirits and like minds. Discuss the issues that matter to you. Get involved in local politics. Run for office. Form new political parties. Attend public hearings, work in a soup kitchen, clean up a stream, get on the school board, speak at the monthly meetings of your county commissioners. Hold pot luck suppers at the homes of your friends and enemies, watch documentaries together, march on Washington; and have some fun doing it. You will meet some amazing people; and you life will be more interesting.