Writing a column to appear in the July 4, 1975, issue of the Boston Globe, I wanted to break away from the traditional celebrations of Independence Day, in which the spirit of that document, with its call for rebellion and revolution, was most often missing. The column appeared with the title “The Brooklyn Bridge and the Spirit of the Fourth.”
I was dismayed when I heard Barack Obama was given the Nobel peace prize. A shock, really, to think that a president carrying on two wars would be given a peace prize. Until I recalled that Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Henry Kissinger had all received Nobel peace prizes. The Nobel committee is famous for its superficial estimates, won over by rhetoric and by empty gestures, and ignoring blatant violations of world peace.
This current financial crisis is a major way-station on the way to the collapse of the American empire. The first important sign was 9/11, with the most heavily-armed nation in the world shown to be vulnerable to a handful of hijackers. And now, another sign: both major parties rushing to get an agreement to spend $700bn of taxpayers’ money to pour down the drain of huge financial institutions which are notable for two characteristics: incompetence and greed. There is a much better solution to the current financial crisis. But it requires discarding what has been conventional "wisdom" for too long: that government intervention in the economy ("big government") must be avoided like the plague, because the "free market" will guide the economy towards growth and justice.
IDEAS: Don't presidential elections reflect the will of the people as much as protest movements do?
ZINN: More important, I think, than who sits in the White House is who sits outside it. Whenever social injustices have had to be rectified, they were rectified not at the initiative of the president or Congress or the Supreme Court but because of social movements.…Only after thousands of black Americans demonstrated and were beaten, jailed, and killed was segregation in the South done away with. Despite winning the Nobel Peace Prize for it, it was not only Kissinger alone who ended the Vietnam War, but the antiwar movement.
If John Kerry wants to win, he must recognize that our military intervention in Iraq is a disaster -- for Americans, for Iraqis, for the world. He must stop boasting about his courage in Vietnam and instead start talking about his moral courage in opposing that war. He needs to stop saying, as he did recently in the Midwest, that he defended this country when he was fighting in Vietnam. That is not an honest statement. If it were true, then he would not have turned against the war. He was not defending this country when he fought in Vietnam. He was defending this country when he said that we were wrong to be in Vietnam and we should get out.
After a year of fighting in Iraq and an occupation fraught with violence, surely it is not rash to suggest, given the debacle over missing "weapons of mass destruction," that it is a good general rule to treat any official rationale for war with skepticism. This conduct would be a healthy departure from the tendency of both Congress and the major media to assume, as was clearly done on the eve of this war in Iraq, that the government is telling the truth. And such skepticism would certainly be a prudent approach to any supposed candor coming from presidential press conferences, such as last night's, during an election campaign.
At some point soon the United States will declare a military victory in Iraq. As a patriot, I will not celebrate. I will mourn the dead - the American GIs, and also the Iraqi dead, of which there will be many, many more. I will mourn the Iraqi children who may not die, but who will be blinded, crippled, disfigured, or traumatized, like the bombed children of Afghanistan who, as reported by American visitors, lost their power of speech.
The Bush administration's plan for preemptive war against Iraq so flagrantly violates both international law and common morality that we need a real national debate. The discussion should begin with the recognition that an attack on Iraq would constitute an attack on the Charter of the United Nations, since the United States would then be in violation of several provisions...
Now that Timothy McVeigh has been put to death, and some people's need for revenge or punishment may be satisfied, we can begin to think calmly of how he learned his twisted sense of right and wrong from the government that executed him.
Memorial Day will be celebrated as usual, by high-speed collisions of automobiles and bodies strewn on highways and the sound of ambulance sirens throughout the land. It will also be celebrated by the display of flags, the sound of bugles and drums, by parades and speeches and unthinking applause. It will be celebrated by giant corporations, which make guns, bombs, fighter planes, aircraft carriers and an endless assortment of military junk and which await the $100 billion in contracts to be approved soon by Congress and the President. There was a young woman in New Hampshire who refused to allow her husband, killed in Vietnam, to be given a military burial. She rejected the hollow ceremony ordered by those who sent him and 50,000 others to their deaths. Her courage should be cherished on Memorial Day.