Friday, September 05, 2008

Enemy Combatants: The War at Home

There was a startling moment in 2005 at the World Tribunal on Iraq in Istanbul. Arundhati Roy was delivering her closing speech as the chair of the international jury. We had been listening for three days as medical doctors, environmental engineers, historians, lawyers, Iraqi victims, human rights activists and others detailed the gross violations of (as Roy put it) "this huge, enormous bloody thing." Her last words were:

" the end of it, today we do seem to live in a world where the United States of America has defined an enemy combatant, someone whom they can kidnap from any country, from any place in the world and take for trial to the US. An enemy cambatant seems to be anybody who harbors thoughts of resistance. Well, if this is the definition, then I, for one, am an enemy combatant. Thank you."

Watching the violence perpetrated against demonstrators and journalists in Saint Paul, I realize that the war has indeed come home. We who resist are, in the eyes of Homeland Security, of the Saint Paul Police and Secret Service, enemy combatants.
We can be shot at at will. We can be gased at their discretion.
LIke our counterparts in Fallujah, and Basra, and Baghdad, our homes can be raided in the middle of the night. Our children, our sisters, our grandparents, our uncles and aunts, our colleagues, our dear friends can be hauled off and held for days without explanation or reason. Kicked, beaten, cuffed and even tortured.

We have to resist. The enemy is us.

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Blogger deb and jason said...

Not that it matters - but I wonder when was the turning point? Does this go back to 1999 or even earlier? Has the backlog of cynicism in the wider (read - casual) activist community permitted things to get so bad? Maybe it is the self loathing part - but I fear that one some level, armchair activists like the PEG access community helped passively usher in this new era. I must be crazy right?

8:36 AM  

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