I'm always saddened at the all too often small turnouts for important events such as yesterday's downtown El Paso observance of the anniversary of the dropping of the first atomic bomb. Sixty-four years ago on August 6th, 70,000 people were instantly vaporized with one terrible new weapon and all we can muster is 30-35 people from El Paso and Las Cruces to remember?
Dada wonders, what if 64 years ago 70,000 people in the border city of El Paso/Juarez were incinerated in a second? Would more Americans remember? (Well, maybe not.) But, say, what if it was 70,000 people in Denver or Seattle burned to a crisp? (Maybe?) I don't really know.
Here then are the words of one of yesterday's speakers, Fr. Peter Hinde, who is exceptionally qualified as our Monday afternoon's instructor on Latin America this summer.
[Note: Fr. Hinde's theme about "Where is the media?" inspired my opening for today's blog. Oh, and sorry, but from a quick check of the EP newspapers, this was apparently a non-story also, which is frightening in that 64 years later human annihilation is about as imminent as ever and growing more so by the year with the proliferation of such weapons].
Pax Christi Aug 6, 2009 (sporsor of yesterday's Hiroshima memorial)
"Good afternoon. Father Vincent introduced me as a member of Pax Christi. I am also a member of Veterans for Peace, a veteran of the US Army Air Force of WW II. The bombing of Hiroshima was on August 6th, Nagasaki on the 9th, and three days later with the 457th Fighter Squadron I flew over Nagasaki. We were on a fighter sweep to Seoul, Korea to knock down Japanese fighter planes. From 15,000 feet looking down I could only detect where the port city of Nagasaski had been.
"What would be the most hopeful sign for true peace today? Rallies like ours here in El Paso occurring all over the country? A mobilization of hundreds of thousands … maybe millions in Washington, D.C.? Or hundreds, even thousands, of people arrested at civil disobedience protests? Such protests have already happened. Those arrested and tried, before sentencing, called on judges to hold US war policy accountable before international law? But the Media. Where is the Media to pick up such testimony?
"Too few in military service know their right and obligation to obey international law when given an unlawful command. They have a right to speak the truth even if it leads to the indictment of a superior officer, even if that superior is the President of the United States. We have witnesses from those who have served in WW II, in Korea, in Vietnam, in the Gulf War, in Iraq and now in Afghanistan, and they have joined Veterans for Peace. But where is the Media coverage? (in Hell, Healing and Resistance wherein you find their testimonies)
"Major General Smedley Butler of the US Marine Corps tells us: “I spent 33 y ears and 4 months in active military service as a member of our country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major General. During that period I spent most of my time being a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers. [Do some of these names sound familiar?] In short I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.” But where is the Media to pick up his voice?
"Major General Butler goes on: “I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession, I never had an original thought until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended motion while I obeyed the orders of high ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.” When I flew over Japan in WW II, I was but a cog in a war machine, a skilled fighter pilot promoted at the age of 23 to the rank of Captain. I didn’t wake up till years later when I met a Japanese priest whose whole family was wiped out in Hiroshima, he away at the time of the bomb in training for the Japanese Air Force.
"Again General Butler: 'I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of a half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909 – 1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American Sugar interests in 1916. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.'
"The raping of those same and other countries in the Latin American continued after Major General Butler’s service. Over the 40 years of my own experience in those countries as a priest missionary the U.S. supported military dictatorships: Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras. Over this time frame there was better media coverage, but always with the Administration’s spin, and outright lies.
"A case in point to illustrate such lies in our US media. In August 1985 a New England delegation of Witness For Peace, I with them, went down the San Juan River on the border of Nicaragua and Costa Rica to investigate charges that the Contra forces were operating out of bases in Costa Rica. Reagan denied it; the government of Costa Rica denied it. Yet the 26 of us - reporters, ABC, NBC and CBS camera crews accompanying - were taken off our little boat by Contra forces and held for 24 hours at one of their outposts in Costa Rica.
"In the return at one point a New York Times reporter rented a high speed launch and we got to where he could phone his editor at the Times from the only phone in the town of David. I overheard the reporter’s end of the conversation as he insisted with the clearest of evidence: “Yes, they were Contra! Yes, we were in Costa Rica!” We had traversed a river with Nicaragua on one side and Costa Rica on the other, taken by soldiers outfitted with boots and guns from the US. The armed men admitted they were Contra and expressed their grievances against the Nicaraguan government.
"The “report” in the Times as also in the other media could be summarized: “These were hippie types from the US. There is confusion as to where they were taken and by whom. Some said one thing; others contradicted that.”
"In recent years with preparation to invade Afghanistan and Iraq, Chiefs of staff at first told the President a war in the Middle East was doomed to failure, but President George Bush, who never saw a day of war service, knew better. Generals, Colonels spoke out about this Iraq War saying it was poorly planned, Col. Andrew Bacavich expert on the history of the US military charges that the US is addicted to military solutions to conflicts. You will find him on Internet… not in the Major Media. We need courageous whistle-blowers.
"Some in the Administration in important positions in the chain of command gave evidence that Congress and the US people were being misled. Our problem is the Media, the IVth power of government, and maybe the most powerful, is owned by corporations. We have to fight for the right to be informed and that our Congress listen to the people instead of to the corporate lobbyists. The case of Dan Rather is also illustrative. He was fired because he would not toe the Bush Administration line.
"There is a straw in the wind. Some of our top military strategists are now questioning the US Nuclear Policy. Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore was asked by STRATCOM, the military command in charge of the Nuclear program for the United States to give the keynote address to a conference of top military strategists and to challenge them from an ethical point of view. They trusted Archbishop O’Brien for he had been in the military service in charge of all catholic chaplains.
"O’Brien reminded them of the US Bishops’ 1983 Peace Document that called for nuclear disarmament. The bishops back then tolerated a policy of deterrence, but only if serious efforts were made toward disarmament. Instead the US maintained its policy of Mutual Assured Destruction in the last three administration and has gone ahead to develop tactical nuclear weapons. Obrien called for a policy of ZERO nuclear weapons.
"We need of a Federal level Peace Department with funds subtracted from the Defense Department, formerly and more properly called the War Department .
"Let’s boycott the Major Media and go to sources that can be trusted to really inform. If there is anything the previous administration learned from Hitler it is that you keep things secret, keep the people dumbed down, and then rally them around the flag. One administration after another has used “false flag” issues to justify war, and by that much have desecrated the flag. Let’s make that flag stand for truth, justice and love for all humankind. In God we trust. OK then let’s trust God and begin to disarm. Then our freedom with be complete and the USA worthy to be called the land of the free and the brave.
"(Remember the first of Professor Britt’s 14 characteristics of fascism. “Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public display.)"