Speak Out - Drive Out the Bush Regime

Statements from a wide array of individuals and organizations about why they are taking up the Call for November 2nd.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Why I'm Getting Arrested at the White House Today

-David Swanson (signer of the Call The World Can't Wait - Drive Out the Bush Regime)October 26, 2005

The first reason I'm going to lie down, refuse to move,and wait to be arrested outside the White House todayis my belief that massive civil disobedience is neededif we are going to end the war and forestall the nextwar. The power of nonviolent sacrifice has been triedand tested. It may not work this time, but nothing elseseems remotely likely to do the job, not even my mostextravagant hopes for indictments. I'm being aspractical as I know how to be. Public opinion is widelyagainst the war in this country, in Iraq, and aroundthe world. Talk is cheap. Our democracy is a shell.Something more is needed.

But there are other reasons for my action. A few ofthem are:

* Solidarity -- I've been encouraging civil disobedienceand reporting on it, but have not been engaging in it. If I miss another useful opportunity to engage in it, Ibecome a hypocrite and a bad example. And were I tomiss it, I would miss the bonds of solidarity that areformed in such actions. If you think I am right, what do you think about whatyou, yourself, are doing? Or not doing?

* Admiration -- I plan to get arrested together with Cindy Sheehan and other leaders of the movement forpeace, including veterans of the war and family membersof the dead. I greatly admire these people and considerit an honor to act with them.

* Honor -- I want to honor and remember the people whose lives have been most directly destroyed by this war,including those who have fought in it on both sides,and those -- the vast majority of the dead -- who havedied in this war without ever picking up a gun. These people have been brutally attacked from behind a deskin an oval-shaped office. Children have lost limbs andminds by the tens of thousands for the greed and powerof a small number of cruel people.

* Anger -- I'm extremely angry. A gang of criminalsblatantly lied to the world about the reasons for theslaughter. There could be no acceptable reasons forsuch a thing, but I would be less angry -- I think -- orit would be a very different anger if they had givenhonest reasons and my compatriots had accepted them.Instead they told lies. They concocted stories. Theyforged documents! [http://www.repubblica.it/2005/j/sezioni/
esteri/iraq69/bodv/bodv.html ] And many of us knew they were lying.They weren't even so much lying as going through themotions of lying -- this was the level of theirarrogance. This sort of arrogance may never before haveseen its match outside of the profession of journalism-- a profession about which I am too angry to speak.

* Disgust -- I am disgusted with the debate over whetherthe hell that is occupied Iraq might be even worse ifit were no longer occupied. What's at stake here,primarily, is the future of international law, that is:the future right of the country with the most weapons to aggressively attack and occupy weaker countries andnever face justice. If this war is allowed to stand,there is no more international law and cannot be for along long time -- perhaps longer than such a planet willhave for human life. The debate must begin with ademand for justice. If I break into your house and bustup half your furniture, I do not then own your houseand have a moral obligation to stay the night. If Ibully the police into letting me, then I have created alawless state. And if I force you to torture yourfamily members and then claim that you and your family will fight horribly after I leave, that still does notgive me the right to remain. The only decent thing Ican do is get out. When I get out, I owe youreparations and repair services and counselors andaides of your choosing. But staying helps nothing anddestroys great things.

* Communication -- By pretending to die on the WhiteHouse sidewalk, we will symbolize the dead. By being arrested, we will symbolically play out the only decentaction a police officer could perform at the WhiteHouse: arresting its occupant. It is my hope that thepower of nonviolent action, and the brilliance of CindySheehan in working the media (you should have seen themwait in the rain for her yesterday) will communicatethe force of this message to those it has not yetreached, namely the United States Congress.

* Nausea -- The U.S. Congress makes me sick to mystomach. Its members routinely ignore the will of theresidents of their districts. With few exceptions, theywork for corporate greed, not human needs. Theexceptions include Senators (they can be counted on onehand) who have taken baby steps toward ending theongoing global crime in Iraq. The main exceptions arethe approximately 75 Members of the House ofRepresentatives who inconsistently make general motions in the direction of forming an opposition party against the war party.

The stellar exceptions include the leaders of the Outof Iraq Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, members likeJohn Conyers, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee,and Charlie Rangel who have raised their voices withrelative strength. Dennis Kucinich has introduced a Resolution of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group [http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/whig ]. Jim McGovernis preparing to introduce a bill to cut off funding forthe war [ http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/funding ].Not a single Congress Member, despite the wishes of 72percent of Democrats [http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/polling ], has thenerve to support impeachment.

* Hope -- We can give them the nerve. That's what Ihope that civil disobedience will accomplish. (Andlet's hope for some help from Fitzgerald as well).There are signs that we may be turning a corner. Thereare members of both houses beginning to clear theirthroats and open their ears.

* Love -- I love my friends, family, and colleagues.Above all, I love my wife and the baby who is due inMarch. I can't bring a child into a world like thiswithout doing what I can to make it better. And I trymy best to love my enemies and to do what I can todefuse their holy hatred.

David Swanson is creator of MeetWithCindy.org, co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org coalition, awriter and activist, and the Washington Director ofDemocrats.com. He is a board member of ProgressiveDemocrats of America, and serves on the ExecutiveCouncil of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild,TNG-CWA. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as acommunications director, with jobs including PressSecretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidentialcampaign, Media Coordinator for the International LaborCommunications Association, and three years asCommunications Coordinator for ACORN, the Associationof Community Organizations for Reform Now. Swansonobtained a Master's degree in philosophy from theUniversity of Virginia in 1997. His website iswww.davidswanson.org