By Jill McLaughlin
My decision to help Otto was because I saw no alternative. I could foresee many sleepless nights and an unhappy life if I refused. And that was not the kind of failure I wanted for myself. Permanent remorse about failing to do your human duty, in my opinion, can be worse than losing your life.
- Miep Gies on why she took on the responsibility of helping the family of Anne Frank
In the wake of the recent outrageous FBI raids on the homes of anti-war activists in Minnesota, Illinois and North Carolina I want talk about courage…courage in the face of state repression. These raids on anti-war activists, as Ron Jacobs points out, have everything to do with intimidating people into silence about the crimes they’re government is carrying out here and abroad. He writes in his recent article that appeared in Counterpunch:
“These raids are a clear and vicious attempt to intimidate the antiwar movement. The grand jury is a fishing expedition, as evidenced (for example) by the warrant asking for papers from no determined time. This intimidation is a continuation of the harassment of the Twin Cities left/anarchist community that began before the 2008 Republican National Convention. As I recall, several organizers had their homes and offices raided prior to the convention. In addition, hundreds of protesters were arrested and many more were beaten by law enforcement thugs. Eight organizers were eventually charged with a variety of charges including conspiracy. As of September 25, 2010, three of those charged had all of their charges dropped and the rest face trial on October 25, 2010.”
There is a strong parallel between the government’s current ramping up of repression as it continues carrying out war crimes. We cannot afford to look at the government’s crimes against humanity as nothing new, nor can we afford to look at its repression of people who would oppose and resist it’s crimes as nothing new. During the years of the Bush Regime we witnessed this government wage illegal and immoral preemptive wars of aggression and we saw it nail into place horrifying legislation to indefinitely detain and torture people all under the guise of fighting terrorism.
At the same time it nailed into place legislation that would/could be used to intimidate those would stand up and speak out against these very crimes i.e. the Patriot Act of 2001. And as Jacobs so aptly points out this repression didn’t stop with the Bush Regime but as he puts it, “makes it clear that the PATRIOT Act and its excesses are alive and well under the Obama administration. Repression is a bipartisan activity, especially when it comes to the repression of the left
.” It is important to keep in mind that what the Bush Regime codified the Obama administration is increasingly legitimizing. And as World Can’t Wait says Crimes Are Crimes No Matter Who Does Them
I recently wrote about a glaring example of this kind of repression carried out under the Obama administration in my article, Criminalizing Dissent: When Courage Is The Moral Imperative
. In that article it was discussed that the Supreme Court had found in favor of the DOJ in Holder V. Humanitarian Law Project. The ruling put forth that it was constitutional for the government tomake the claim of “material support” to alleged terrorist organizations even if that assistance is through training or counsel for peacefully resolving conflicts. This ruling was another stark example of the government criminalizing dissent.As the Obama administration escalates the war/occupation in Afghanistan and increases drone attacks into Pakistan it is at the same time systematically trying to squelch any dissent of its crimes just as the Bush Regime did.
Here we are confronted with the reality that these wars/occupations do not belong to either the Republican or Democratic parties, but rather to a system that is expanding U.S. Empire by brute force and are not about liberating the people of those countries or protecting U.S. citizens from terrorism. Nor does the repression belong to either party but belongs too to the system in which those of the ruling class are trying to desperately maintain through its expansion of this empire. And when this is the case the ruling class cannot have righteous dissenters in the way lest the very nature of this system be exposed.
This reality must be met with a morality that does not allow for these repressive attacks on activists and the people to go unopposed, especially when the people across the globe are counting on us to resist and oppose the crimes of our government. In a recent article in Revolution
newspaper about these repressive attacks these points are strongly emphasized
“This is a very sinister move by the government, one that should alarm and concern anyone who thinks the government should not be allowed to trample on people's rights, and who thinks it is important that there be opposition, and the freedom to oppose, what the government is doing here and around the world. This is a major escalation against the anti-war movements in particular.
The attacks on the individuals and the organizations targeted so far are very serious and should be vigorously opposed politically and legally. In addition the government is loudly sending a message to intimidate very broadly—don't get involved in support of people from or in other countries; don't give money to any group that the U.S. government doesn't like; don't be active in anything that opposes your government. This message should be uncompromisingly opposed too.”
We cannot allow these repressive attacks to deter us from righteously opposing and resisting the crimes of our government. We must have courage. I will put it this way, we are like Miep Gies whom I quoted at the beginning of this writing, left with no alternative to both stand up for humanity and stand up to the repressive forces that would try to silence us so that this Empire can continue to carry out its crimes. This courage can from going forward with actions that meet the reality of the situation as well as going forward with a morality that meets the magnitude this reality. We must because as in Miep Gies’s words it is our human duty.