Oh America, So Much to Answer For

By Jill McLaughlin, World Can't Wait Steering Committee Member

I woke Tuesday morning having had seven hours of sleep the night before. I was happy I turned in early the night before. There was a reason why I had done so, but I had forgotten why. I got my shoes and jacket and got my dog on the leash for the early morning walk. As we walked along something was fighting to make its way into my consciousness, but I couldn't think of what it might be. It was making me anxious. I ran into a neighbor whom I barely know. We said our hellos and my dog greeted him and as he pet her he informed her he was on his way to vote. Voootttee. That was it. Vote. Election. Obama. McCain. Election Day.

That was what was trying to break through to my consciousness and thus the reason I had turned in early the night before. Not because I planned to be standing for hours at the polls or trying to avoid that scenario, but because I knew it was going to be a late night for me and my fellow organizers. We were going to be down in Grant Park where the big Obama rally was going to take place. We were going out to the people who so badly hated the last 8 years of the horrors the Bush Regime and were now so full of a hope that was hinged on the outcome of this election. We were going out to them with one clear and righteous message: No Matter Who the Next President is Only You Can Stop the Crimes of Your Government. It was hard to know what to expect and I admit I was filled with a bit of anxiety, but no matter what it would be important for us to be out there with our "No More Wars for Empire" banner and the fliers.

Anticipating the evening I rounded the corner to get back to my apartment. I thought about all the hope that the people were pinning on this election and how that if Obama won it that for so many it meant change from the last 8 years of monstrous crimes. I was thinking that there needed to be some kind of accounting for the crimes of the Bush Regime and that Obama neither represents an accounting for these crimes or a real departure or change from these crimes. Suddenly a line from a song intruded on these thoughts. I found it bit odd and I thought a bit twisted because it's a line from a song that in my opinion is one of the most eerie and disturbing songs out there. The title is "Suffer Little Children" by former British band The Smiths. The song recalls the abduction, sexual torture, and murder of five children whose bodies were buried on the moors of Manchester, England in the early 1960's. In the minds of the British people these crimes were so horrific and shocking that the murderers, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, were the most hated criminals of England for decades.

The line from the song that first popped in my mind was Oh Manchester, so much to answer for. At the moment I could only draw the parallel that America has so much to answer for with regard to the illegal and immoral war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan in which a million have died and millions more displaced, for the detention and torture of hundreds, and now the attacks on Pakistan and Syria all in the name of the so called "war on terror". All of these continued in our name over the longest election cycle this country has seen. We have been going out to the people throughout it all to point out the contradiction between the hope and change from the crimes of the Bush Regime that Obama represents to them and what he is actually saying he is going to do. Over the last couple of days I"ve had more time to think about why this song in particular keeps coming into my mind.

Myra Hindley had a blind and twisted obsession and love for Ian Brady that led her to complicity, acceptance, and ultimate participation in his world of torture and murder. It is interesting to note that Ian Brady had a sick fascination with Nazism, sadomasochism, and the idea that it was man's right to control and ultimately destroy others who were deemed inferior. The people's longing and aching to break with the spying, repression, war, torture, and murder that Bush has come to symbolize has manifested itself into the blind hope that Obama symbolizes peace, freedom, and justice. Let's consider what Obama has actually promised: the illegal and immoral occupation of Iraq continues until 2013, more troops will go to Afghanistan to fight the "good war", all options stay on the table (including nuclear weapons) with regard to dealing with Iran, Bush's spying program stays intact, detainees get one chance to prove their innocence and "God have mercy on their souls, because I won't" if they"re guilty. What is this but spying, repression, war, torture and murder?

When Obama puts his agenda in motion will the people's hope that he would stop and reverse these crimes mutate into complicity, acceptance, and ultimate participation in these crimes. One has to wonder this when Obama put out the call for sacrifice and service in his celebration speech. These lines from the song come to mind.

Hindley wakes and Hindley says:
Hindley wakes, Hindley wakes, Hindley wakes, and says:
"Oh, wherever he has gone, I have gone"

Hindley wakes and says:
Hindley wakes, Hindley wakes, Hindley wakes, and says:
"Oh, whatever he has done, I have done"

Many rightly called those in the Bush Regime war criminals and rightly demanded that they be held accountable. This was something that so many united around. So I will be bold here and I will ask now. When during Obama's presidency do we begin calling him a war criminal if he actually does what he says he is going to do?

Millions are still being buried by the crimes of our government and many of hear their cries. And like the children in the song they are pleading with the people of this country and sending a message to the people of this country. Again words from this song,

Oh, find me, find me!
Find me!
I'll haunt you when you laugh
Oh, I'll haunt you when you laugh
You might sleep
Over the moors, I'm on the moor
Oh, over the moor
Oh, the child is on the moor

For anyone who's conscious was shocked and is still shocked by the horrific crimes of the Bush Regime it has been and continues to be the responsibility of the people here to unearth and keep unearthed these crimes. It is the responsibility of this country to hold accountable those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is the responsibility of the people to stop the crimes of your government no matter who the President is.

I will end this by saying that there are new people stepping forward to take on this responsibility. They are not confused or blinded by the Obama phenomenon and honestly want to bring these crimes to a halt and bring something far better forward. We met these young people on Tuesday evening in the midst of the celebration in Grant Park. They all took turns agitating, handing out fliers, and debating with people. I was humbled by their moral clarity, their courage in speaking the truth, and their determination. They will not allow the truth or real hope and change to be buried by a continuation of war crimes and crimes against humanity no matter who the new face of the empire is. There were those too among the celebratory crowds who nodded emphatically with what we were saying and others who were asking honest questions because they too do not want to see a continuation of these crimes. They want to know the truth and they want to know what they should and can do to change the direction of things. All the people we met and spoke with represent those who have not so easily and readily accepted the mistaken belief that Obama will stop and reverse these crimes. We kept coming back to them with the message that nothing short of a mass movement of the people acting independently of official politics can stop the crimes of our government. We must keep going out to the people with this message and we must help them and guide them to do like wise.