I have been working as a stone mason’s apprentice for a few months now… necessity, more than anything else. Believe me, as the highs go daily into the nineties and my aching, approaching-56-year hands wake me every night with aching, this is not some weird attempt to recapture my lost youth. Just haven’t found a job. I am confronted daily with metaphors, though.
It’s physical work… as in physics… as in it obeys the laws of physics, no exceptions; and if your mind forgets that for a second, a misplaced hammer blow, a sharp edge, a dropped weight, or a sprung back will pull you out of that cerebral fantasy with a tough reminder of universal intransigence.
Sometimes stone work is repetitious. One arm, four-pound strike-hammer, three-inch chisel, five-inch flagstone… you hit, hit, hit, hit, hit… and no matter how tired your deltoids and flexors get, the stone will fracture when the requisite strike vibrations with the requisite force reorganize the requisite number of of molecules in the stone for that sudden change of tenor, followed by the break. Not a moment sooner. Then you go to the next stone.
In the last two days, more than 100 Iraqis have been killed, along with more than a dozen US troops. Children have been killed and maimed. People have lost limbs and eyes. For four years, these horror stories from this obscene and completely unnecessary war have dripped like muriatic acid into our awareness; and for four years, people here in the US and around the world have protested, written, gotten arrested, and resisted from within the military… to try and stop this deeply sinful enterprise. Hit, hit, hit, hit, hit… and still the war goes on.
On the surface of this stone are the war promoters and the war profiteers. But the depth of the stone consists significantly of Democratic Party politicians. I’ve said it before, again, and again, and again, and again… as have many others. Since the last national election, that party has had the collective power to stop this war. They have refused to do it; and for this reason it is now they whose hands are dripping in the blood of soldiers, of Iraqis, of children. So I’m hitting the damn chisel again. And I’m tired, sometimes almost despondent in the face of this intractable horror show; but the stone hasn’t fractured.
In the next election, I will not vote. I’ve already decided that. I promoted a Democratic Party victory in the last election precisely to expose them for the cynical shits that they are. They will walk over the dead bodies of children for their careers… and they are. There is now a better chance for the war to end by plain old Saigon-style defeat than there is that it will end by the will of the sovereign people of the United States… because there is no such thing any longer. At least the Republicans are more likely to ensure the Saigon option; and if that’s what it takes, then so be it.
It was Alice Walker who said, in her reflection on the life of Zora Neale Hurston, “When I have considered the enormity of the white man’s crimes … I think in perfect harmonyâ€”with my sister of long ago: Let the earth marinate in poisons. Let the bombs cover the ground like rain. For nothing short of total destruction will ever teach them anything.” The same can now be said of the government of the United States; and that includes the dung-heap of ambition that is the Democratic Party.
If I hear another politician or commentator make another “measured” remark about how it doesn’t matter how bad the reasons we went, we are there now and what a mess and we can’t just leave blah blah blah blah blah… I will projectile vomit. While this dilettante’s chatter pollutes the air and steals oxygen by turns, the obscenity continues. And the main catalyst — we can never lose sight of this, or say it too much — for the violence in Iraq is the American occupation.
There is nothing merciful abut our presence there; and the most merciful thing we can do for Iraq, for ourselves, and for the world, is to leave. Without a moment to even explain. No ifs, ands, or buts. We are the poison in this pain wracked body. Pack up, make out the passenger manifests, load the aircraft, and fly home. Now. If the most wretched right-wing Republican tells me s/he will run for Congress or the Presidency on this position — leave right by-God now — I will spend every waking hour on that politician’s election campaign. Both my sons are in the Army.
But don’t count on candidates. Opportunism is their religion.
We have to hit that chisel again… and again. Pessimism of the intellect, and optimism of the will.
So as we approach September, I want to give a heads-up on the Iraq Moratorium. Will this be the strike that cracks the stone? I have no idea. The willful cowardice and sycophancy of politicians, especially Democrats, is a thick, thick thing. I just know that we can’t stop. We can never stop. This war is too sinful, too horrible, too hopeless, too obscene on a scale of obscenity that cries out for our commitment and sacrifice to make it end.
The Freds and Rudys and Obamas and Hillarys can all go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut for all I care. I’ll put on my black arm band in September; and I’ll ask readers to take an additional pledge: no votes for anyone who votes to fund or extend the war in any way.
Sign on to the moratorium. Get a good night’s sleep. Pray for endurance.
And bring the hammer down again.