Lynne d Johnson



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02.25.03 11:58 PM

things that matter

On the subway ride home this evening, I was reading this while simultaneously glancing at the latest print edition of this, and I have to say that Arundhati Roy deeply moves me.

The Nation features an excerpt from her Confronting Empire Speech that she presented at the World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre, Brazil on January 27. What moved me most was this...

"Still. many of us have dark moments of hopelessness and despair. We know that under the spreading canopy of the War Against Terrorism, the men in suits are hard at work. While bombs rain down on us, and cruise missiles skid across the skies, we know that contracts are being signed, patents are being registered, oil pipelines are being laid, natural resources are being plundered, water is being privatized, and George Bush is planning to go to war against Iraq." Or maybe it was this...

"Empire may well go to war, but it's out in the open now - too ugly to behold its own reflection. Too ugly even to rally its own people. It won't be long before the majority of American people become our allies. Only a few days ago in Washington, a quarter of a million people marched against the war on Iraq. Each month, the protest is gathering momentum. Before September 11th 2001 America had a secret history. Secret especially from its own people. But now America's secrets are history, and its history is public knowledge. It's street talk. Today, we know that every argument that is being used to escalate the war against Iraq is a lie. The most ludicrous of them being the U.S. Government's deep commitment to bring democracy to Iraq." But mainly, I think it was this...

"Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness - and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we're being brainwashed to believe."

Now, I feel ashamed that I did not make it to the protest in NYC. Though police harassed the hundreds of thousands of people who took to the streets on February 15, I should have been there. Especially as I move throuugh the subway system and in that place I am reminded of the vagaries of Empire. Making my way through the tunnels, I witness militia running up and down the subway stairs, standing on platforms, with rifles hanging from their shoulders. If I am supposed to feel safe, it is a surprise to my system for I feel more frightful than ever before. NYC's finest are there too. On the platforms. En masse. I see and hear them ask citizens for ID. They are on the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. Like sitting ducks. There to protect and serve. That it takes longer to travel from Brook'nam to Manhattan is an inconvenience, yes. But mostly it's frightening. I do not feel protected. I hear the words of Malcolm X, ricocheting like bullets through my brain computer. You do remember what was going on around this time in 2001, don't you?

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