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QUOTATION: People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote - a very different thing. - Walter H. Judd

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2004-08-26 - 1:19 p.m.

Hijacked and Held Hostage!

The debate of the candidates that we deserve to hear is being held hostage by a managed news agenda. The front page of every newspaper, as well as hour after hour of talking heads on cable channels, discussing one thing: honor. Sadly, it has displaced what might have been, should have been covered. I can almost envision the high fives between Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, congratulating themselves on avoiding discussion about the sad figures that came out Thursday from the Census Bureau “Ranks of Poverty, Uninsured Rose in 2003”(AP news release) The number living in poverty in the United States increased by 1.3 million last year with the uninsured increasing by 1.4 million. Perhaps the public won’t notice the most recent report about global warming focuses on federal research, indicating that emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are the only likely explanation for the sudden global warming over the last decades. Perhaps we’ll forget job growth is practically at a standstill. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth in combination with the Olympics has us held hostage!

“Honor: so intangible, yet so powerful. The glue, some soldiers say, of any fighting force; the raison d’être of many a soldier. If it's military, it's about honor. Without it, a soldier is a rogue. A scoundrel. Perhaps a war criminal? A politically opportunistic veteran? Who? A John E. O'Neill, he of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth? Or a Sen. John Kerry, the very decorated but embattled soldier who wants to be commander in chief?” - “Disband of Brothers,” an article by Lynn B. Duke in the Washington Post today. [ By Lynne Duke,Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, August 26, 2004; Page C01]

There is no doubt that many, even most, military serve with great honor, if not distinction, but there are some that fall into the category of atrocities such as those in Vietnam cited by John Kerry and corroborated by others in this Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles. It would seem there is something about war that increases violence against civilians, as well. Violence doth beget violence, me thinks.

The United States still has bases in Okinawa all these years after World War II. The reasons for the bases are clear. The U.S. has fought two major wars in Asia – Korea and Vietnam – that could not have been fought without bases on Japanese territory, critical staging and logistic areas, as well as sanctuaries, at that time invulnerable to attack by North Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese or Cambodian forces. And as we speak, the sabers are rattling in Washington, D.C. and North Korea, each calling the other names and making threats, so it could be argued that the bases in Okinawa should be retained. But there have throughout the years been violent acts committed by some of our military against innocent Okinawans, whose land has been occupied.

In 1945, a gang rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by two Marines and a Sailor caught the attention of the world. Commanders of U.S. forces maintained it was an isolated incident. However, according to a Japanese newspaper, Frank Gibney, who studied bookings records in 1949, GIs killed 19 Okinawans and raped another 19 in that year. [The full report by Russell Carollo, Jeff Nesmith, and Carol Hernandez is available from Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. 138 Neff Annex, Missouri School of Journalism, Columbia, MO 65211.] Further research of 1958 records showed a quarter to a third of the Third Marine Division in Okinawa was infected with venereal disease. Since 1988, Navy and Marine bases in Japan have had 169 courts-martial for sexual assaults. This does not even include the Army and these were only the reported assaults. In Okinawan culture, it is beyond humiliating for an adult woman to bring a charge of rape, so it is believed the numbers are undoubtedly significantly underreported.

While these servicemen may have been serving their country with honor, surely no one would argue murder, rape and exploitation of prostitutes are honorable behavior. Some obviously were guilty of the kinds of crimes Senator Kerry, as a young man found repugnant and deplorable. Would it have been more honorable for him to remain silent? Would it have been more honorable for the whistle-blower at Abu Ghraib to remain silent? It seems to me that it is a matter of character to follow one’s conscience, even though it may not be politically correct or appreciated.

Because some are guilty of criminal and immoral behavior does not dishonor those who served with dignity. Nor should those who chose to take advantage of the loopholes provided to avoid the draft be considered dishonorable – many served their country in other ways. In fact, even those who protested the war did service by questioning our government, by exercising their rights assured by the Constitution, by upholding democracy, which ostensibly was being fought for in Vietnam. It is wrong to paint all with a broad brush of disapproval. It is especially wrong to highjack the media, get the front page of every newspaper, fill the cable channels with hourly debates over the swift boat accusations and old grudges, displacing current important issues that might otherwise have been covered.

Beware What You’re Not Aware Of, It Measures Your Humanity

Today in an article “Beware what you're not aware of, it measures your humanity”, about the current Sudanese humanity crisis, Joan Chittister wrote:

“War has been raging in the Sudan since 1983. The government, dominated by Arabs from the country's north, has wanted to impose sharia law on the Christian and animist populations of the south and subjugate the black African Muslims of the west. On the side, of course, the government also wants control of the land and water of the west and the oil in the south.

All these things are real and all these things are stoppable if the world really set out to stop them. But we don't. And that question is why? The answer to the third question is that we love warriors. And wars will never end until the world stops adoring its warriors.

We are waging a presidential election in this country at this very moment, the major issue of which seems to be who of these two men is the greatest warrior? The one who didn't go to war at all but started his own or the one who went to war only to come back to tell us that going to that war was wrong?

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