October 2006 Archives

Check this out from the Rosie O'Donnell blog, this was a letter
written by a brother of a soldier killed in Iraq. You can check it
out also on www.rosie.com

It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after.
It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we
joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the
papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American
leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a
direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave
us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct
threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored
terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received
weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or
WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a
democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created
that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that
it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and
humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly
kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not
charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that
overt policy of torture became the fault of a few "bad apples" in
the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-
year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it
overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an
extra pad in a helmet. It's interesting that a soldier on his third
or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or
a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra
pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his
vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin
melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal
invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its
people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal
the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are
allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.
Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.
Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.
Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people
is tolerated.
Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is
Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country
Somehow torture is tolerated.
Somehow lying is tolerated.
Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.
Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.
Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that
it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the
world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared,
and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been
replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous,
malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.
Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the
people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this
generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity.
Most likely, they will come to know that "somehow" was nurtured by
fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to
unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a
voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat's

Brother and Friend of Pat Tillman,

Kevin Tillman

Documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses

The screening of the documentary about Jehovah's Witnesses, "Knocking," produced by Joel P. engardio and Tom Shepard was a standing room only event at the University of Boulder. It was part of the conference on "Fundamentalism and the Media." The documentary is successful in expressing , in visual terms using nuanced close-ups, what the many academic papers talked about: fundamentalism has an integrity because it tries to protect vital truths about human life. But there are complex questions about the turns that such integrity takes, sometines into violence.

The JW were publicly beaten and imprisoned because of their stance against the US fighting in WW II. They suffered and died in German concentration camps (wearing purple triangles) because of their stance against the German fighting in thte war. "Knocking" tells these stories through the lives of two families. The drama is well constructed and it is obvious that the two producers/directors are seasoned journalists. The fact that they are gay makes their perspective all the more interesting, since they had to get very close to the Witness families they filmed and since the JW shun any member who is gay.

The documentary will air on PBS in early 2007 but you can buy the DVD now.

Fundamentalism and the Media

Last night the keynote address of the International Conference on Fundamentalism and the Media by Scott Appleby was long (over 70 minutes) engagingly dense and, at the conclusion stirring. Held at the beautiful Old Main Chapel auditorium on the campus of the University of Colorado, the standing room only keynote address received a loud and sustained applause.

In studying Fudamentalism, said Appleby, we are also holding up a miror to ourselves. Fundamentalism can be understood as a mode into which we and religions go in and out at various times and for various reasons. Going through five characteristics of Fundamentalism, with funny personal anecdotes, he concluded with a brief analysis of why media are at the core of fundamentalism and the centrality of peacemaking today.
He proceeded to very briefly talk about five Media practices that peacemakers, churches, should undertake asap:
1. Frame the myth
2. Legitimate the action plan (" sharpen the propaganda" )
3. Shape the headlines ("spin, frame, interpret" )
4. Use media as a form of transformative socialization
5. Recruit and retain via the media demonstration effect

What a terrific conclusion to the day which also included topics like the use of new media in Iran by women and the marketing of the Kosher phone by Motorola in Israel. . This is a terrific, edgy conference.


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