Archive for September, 2010
Hello sister citizens and hell-raisers.
I’m mad. For a 54 year old happy mother and neighbor, I still feel fury. I can live with chaos. But I can’t live with disgust. I am boorishly fed-up with our leaders’ incompetence. I’m angry because last week in the Senate, the DREAM Act was ricocheted out of target. The Dream Act, which has been languishing in Congress since 2001 (yes, that’s 9 years) was voted on Sept 22, 2010. Harry Reid amended the DREAM Act to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2011. (Now the Dream is 10 years old.) What ways are the three branches of government improving jobs, health care and education?
I write this story to all activists who are fighting for their dream. I write to transform anger.
So I went to Scott Brown’s office on Sept 21st with my friend, Susan. I had to give him a piece of my mind. He isn’t giving hard working young people raised for years as US citizens half a chance. Did I tell you I was wild-eyed? Susan, made her own sign and carried it on her back as she biked into the state house. Young people were swarming around the steps of the Statehouse. They looked like a rainbow nation, many in graduation robes. All sat on the steps with funny square hats on. I talked to several trying to keep the grit out of my growl. They spoke about having a chance for a diploma from a US university. They enacted a cap and gown ceremony without the diploma. A few wanted to enlist in the navy. The sun glinted on the gold capped dome. A few crows flapped around the iron fence keeping the public off the statehouse grounds. The sky was cerulean with signs bobbing up against it saying, “I have a Dream. I want to study engineering.” Or “Don’t just Dream, ACT.” The crows were yapping, “Caw, caw, caw.” The wind blew off a black hat and it tumbled close to the curb on Beacon St.
The Dream Act (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), introduced when these young folks were 10 years old, hasn’t done anything. No D, development. No R, relief: only a narrow portal for E, Education. No person is illegal and no A, aliens. M, for minors insults these adults. Senators, don’t ignore them, don’t stunt their knowledge. The Brazilian, Chinese, and Dominican, students towered over me that bright afternoon. Long brown locks blew in the wind; onyx eyes spoke out their dreams of education; a Mexican girl in low shiny flats started to cry and sputtered out her hopes to become an architect. Three crows landed in the tree above Colonel Shaw of the 54th Regiment Memorial.
“We will not be quiet.
We have heard the promise.
We knew the dream.
We were promised the dream.
We will be heard.
The Dream Act must pass.”
The crows too, kept harping from one tree to the next, their necks stretched in an open throttle.
So Susan and I and others went up to the 24th floor of the government building. I barely passed the security gates because I had knitting needles on me. We listened to a Salvadoran woman speak to the Senator who’d left her country during the US-fed insurgency in the 1980s. As she spoke of her escape to this country, I looked over the steely Boston skyline and glittering harbor. The Salvadoran said her children didn’t choose to come here and pay taxes. They deserve their full rights and to live here without death squads. We spoke about how the Dream University helps the aptitude of the US as a whole; it brings revenue for the state coffers; it offers justice in a land where the rich rule. But the Senator’s office didn’t give us much mind. It was a polite and heated conversation. Something on the order of how crows talk across the noisy street. ‘Talkin’ about revolution | money pays | anchor babies |no amnesty | which immigrants.” We must teach the fledglings “Who migrates? “Caw, caw, caw.”
Susan and I retrieved my knitting from a safe place (To muster attention from authorities, carry knitting needles!) and strode out to the day. Susan cheered me up despite our defeat. Our Senator was going to vote against the Dream Act sure as a bat out of hell. My eye caught a seagull wheeling high above the T station. Its wingspan a blade of glinting sharpness. These young people, still disenfranchised, are preparing their next fight to pass the Dream Act. They are pugnacious. They know justice is on our side.Why after 10 years are we so hopeful?Where does the will to learn and to stand proud come from even when access is denied?. Something divine is under these high-flying wings. Yes, indeedâ€”caw, caw, caw.
Why am I not elated? A pallor descends on my face. Why does my heart come to a standstill? The President pulled out the last fighting troops in Iraq, but I’m not jumping for joy. I wish I could celebrate. I admit that removing combat troops is a step in the right direction.
“Operation Iraqi Freedom ends on your watch!” exclaimed Colonel John Norris, as the last brigade crossed into Kuwait. Operation Iraqi Freedom was the name coined in our blitzing 2003 invasion of Iraq.
“Hooah!” the soldiers roared. Over 7 years of fighting is good news? As a soldier I’d definitely be delighted to pull out. The living conditions in Baghdad are torrid, so I hear. There’s lower education than under Saddam Hussein 10 years ago. Since 2003 and the fall of Saddam, the war on terror and in country conflict has destabilized the Iraq education system. 2751 schools were damaged severely. Other schools experienced looting. Teachers attendance dropped drastically. It is unsafe for many female scholars to attend school.
Water, jobs, and doctors are lacking. I heard that houses, bakeries and sewer plants limp on 3-8 hours of electricity in Baghdad. Imagine that! There are many injured and an estimated 100,000 innocent Iraqis killed by troops. Need I state that the infrastructure in Iraq is much worse than 10 years ago? War destroys progress.
Some regimes are toppled such as the British reign in India (1930s) and the apartheid government in South Africa (1989) with a humanitarian outcome. But in Iraq since Operation Iraqi Freedom we now know there were no weapons of mass destruction, and no elimination of terrorists. Members of Al Qaeda in Iraq have increasingly resorted to kidnapping and extortion to stay afloat, General Higgins said. What freedoms did we offer the Iraqi? Do they have a democracy? No, they can’t even arrive at results from the March elections. As of September 5th, there’s more suicide bombings and killings in Baghdad against American troops.
Does the quality of life allow new enterprises? Has the crippling war delivered any more religious tolerance? With grinding poverty can Iraqis enjoy cultural pride of film, art and architecture? Would you be happy if a country, letâ€™s say Sweden invaded the US saying that the religious right and the practices of oil companies was a form of terrorism? Supposing the Europeans came to occupy the USA until BP criminals could be put to trial?
I plead to Obama, Palin, or Elijah that we arrest our war making. We still have 50,000 troops in Iraq. And 57,000 in Germany; 60,000 in Japan and Korea; and now about 100,000 in Afghanistan. Altogether we have 360,000 troops deployed in other countries. We are armed to the teeth; we are a nation always at war without studying methods of peace. Instead of putting our best foot forward in other lands, we put our combat boots first. I admit to a sharp tone here, but as a Quaker, I aim to eliminate the need for war. Quaker principles aside, does anyone claim Operation Iraqi Freedom a worthy war? Iraq didnâ€™t prosper even with our tax dollars to the tune of $751 billion gushing over there. And so in short order, we will say of Obama’s Afghanistan war.
Friends, let’s seize this opportunity. As the combat troops disappear out of Iraq, let all citizens ask for a time of amnesty. Each of us ask the US to do one thing to lead to peace among countries. What are the many avenues to consider? I’m asking for a 30% reduction in US military spending for our next fiscal year.
I’m aiming to salute my neighbors Asalam`alakum during this holy month. And I’m knitting wool hats and blankets during my planning meetings. I could send these to some Iraqi injured children. Or should I send it to one of the soldiers stationed in Iraq, 5,000 kilometers away from this home that is still hemorrhaging?
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