Zinn: What do we do now?

/ 6 May 2004

Howard Zinn has an eloquent piece in the June issue of the Progressive asking “what should we do now?”

It seems very hard for some people -- especially those in high places, but also those striving for high places -- to grasp a simple truth: The United States does not belong in Iraq. It is not our country. Our presence is causing death, suffering, destruction, and so large sections of the population are rising against us. Our military is then reacting with indiscriminate force, bombing and shooting and rounding up people simply on "suspicion."

Amnesty International, a year after the invasion, reported: "Scores of unarmed people have been killed due to excessive or unnecessary use of lethal force by coalition forces during public demonstrations, at checkpoints, and in house raids. Thousands of people have been detained [estimates range from 8,500 to 15,000], often under harsh conditions, and subjected to prolonged and often unacknowledged detention. Many have been tortured or ill-treated, and some have died in custody."

Zinn goes on to talk about the current wisdom that “we can’t leave now” — and to point out numerous historical examples in which “staying the course” merely deepened and spread the bloodshed. I don’t pretend to any answers here, just a deep anguish. But I know that Jesus always walked with those are the margins, those who were oppressed. Right now it seems to me that I ought to be walking with the people of Iraq, and in doing so, question what our government is doing.