Friday, October 26, 2007

Calling All Daily Show Liberals (you know who you are)

I'm one, too. We tune in to Jon Stewart (online or on TV) and laugh as he makes fun of the administration and the press and the lunacy of our current political situation. Maybe we post clips on our blogs, or links to important articles about the latest element of this fiasco. When we get together, we rail about the corruption and lies and doublespeak of the Bush administration. Even the media is complicit, we huff, and we're forced to rely on Comedy Central, of all places, for a balanced perspective.

It's time to get off our asses. Frank Rich wrote a great column in the October 14, Sunday NY Times: "The 'Good Germans' Among Us." In it, he concludes:

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those "good Germans" who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo. It's up to us to wake up our somnambulant Congress to challenge administration policy every day. Let the war's last supporters filibuster all night if they want to. There is nothing left to lose except whatever remains of our country's good name.

It's no longer enough to complain. I know it's easy to be cynical and feel like no actions taken by ordinary citizens count. The administration doesn't care. Congress is already bought and paid for. But taking no action guarantees nothing will change, and the message given to those in power is that we don't really care. We don't care if they torture in our name, if they hire mercenaries, we don't care how many innocent civilians die for a war that never has made a lick of sense.

We issue meme challenges all the time about irrelevant things, but this time I issue this challenge to myself and anyone who reads it:

Make a list of five actions you’ll take to help stop the war and hold the Bush administration accountable. Maybe I should call this a chain letter rather than a meme, because a memedoesn't threaten you with disaster if you break it. I could call this a meme with teeth. Break the meme and bad things will happen. People will die. Not you. Probably not anyone you know. But to a stranger in some rathole sweaty pit in Baghdad, a humvee, a canal, Guantanamo, or a dark cell in an former Russian republic.

The actions I'm going to take are these:
1. Attend the big peace really tomorrow, Saturday, October 27, on the Boston Common. This is part of nationwide effort in eleven cities. Visit this site to see if your city is one of them. I've only been to one peace rally before (it apparently didn't stop the war, did it). This time, I'm planning to bring my whole family. I want the kids to see free speech and peaceful protest in action. I want them to start thinking about action.

An event like this doesn't make much difference if only the usual suspects attend. But if new people, who don't usually do this sort of thing, show up, the numbers will swell and the people in power will understand that something is up.

2. After attending the rally, I'll observe the news coverage that night and the following day. If the coverage is weak or non-existent, then I'll write to the newspaper or TV station and complain.

3. I will write to my congressman and demand that he press to end the war and demand tougher investigations into the immense corruption that's happened in Iraq. I'm a taxpayer and I want to know where my money went. The tough part of living in Massachusetts is that our legislators are already pretty liberal (my congressman is Barney Frank), but that also makes me complacent, and I need to work harder to express my opinion.

4. I'll e-mail or call or write to my Senators (again pretty liberal--Ted Kennedy and John Kerry) and make the same demands.

5. Something else (I'll figure it out).

The sad thing is that I’m issuing this as an open call rather than a proper meme (partly because I think most people secretly detest memes and I already created one this year). But really it's because I’m gutless and more scared of public political disapproval than makes sense. I don’t mind annoying someone by telling them to write something nice about themselves (how brave of me), but I’m scared to challenge someone to take political action. What a wuss. Is it just me, or have we become a nation of cowards, because it’s no longer polite to actually engage each other, friends or strangers, in actual political conversation?

So what the hell. I tag Dan, Malachy, Laura, and Adam. (These are safe tags. I respect them and don’t think they’ll get pissy at me.)


Adam said...

I won't get pissy but I'm not really sure what I can do exactly. Teh current administration has made clear that dissent is not heard. I want bush and cheney up on war crime charges but I'm not sure how to do this. I give sometimes to moveon. I sign petitions. I blog angrily. I wrote an angry play that maybe will get done. But I can't help but feel that my emails to esenators and my name on a petition doesn't in any way affect our kinglike president and our terrified representatives.

patrick said...

I share the same confusion. What can I do that will actually be effective? I really have no idea.

I have a feeling, though, that if enough people suddenly rise up and take some concrete physical action, like writing a letter or making a phone call, it might get the attention of our congressmen. I say physical, because I feel (and this is not based on any actual data) that a phone ringing off the hook, or a bag full of mail dumped on a desk, makes an impact that an e-mail can't.

To me, if the bastards succeed in making me do nothing, or stop trying, then they win. I don't think that's a good option.