With Us or Against Us: A Discourse on Terrorism
Either You are With Us or Against Us: A Discourse on Terrorism
By Manuel Valenzuela
Jan 20, 2004
Without justice, there can be no peace. He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it…. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter… Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love… Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed…. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it
--Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Neither prosperity nor empire nor heaven can be worth winning at the price of a virulent temper, bloody hands, an anguished spirit, and a vain hatred of the rest of the world.
- John Milton
If you are a terror to many, then beware of many.
Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
January is a month in which we celebrate one of the most respected world personalities of modern times, Dr. Martin Luther King. He was one of those few select human beings endowed with certain unalienable gifts that throughout the annals of history changes the world for the better, assisting in the evolution of civilization and helping to unravel the evils of the day for the betterment of humanity. Dr. King was a monument to what all human beings should aspire towards. Yes, he had his faults, he was human after all, but his undaunted courage in the face of tremendous obstacles helped lift the dormant spirits of millions of marginalized Americans and opened a new dawn of hope to this nation’s fractured society.
The exploits of Dr. King cannot be underestimated, and his teachings, speeches and philosophies should be made mandatory learning material for all people of this country. He was a visionary and a prophet, both a hope to millions and a threat to the few powerful elite. With the help of his army of supporters he changed the fabric of society, the belief structure of a nation growing up and the opening of goals and dreams once thought impossible to reach. Dr. King was a true American Patriot.
Under constant threat of death he rose and faced down the barrels of the invisible guns pointed at him. Under constant threat of imprisonment he tore open the bars of oppression and subjugation. Facing a government and a society not willing to unhinge the chains of quasi-enslavement he walked proudly through the streets of America, raising his voice so all could hear, demanding change, equality and justice not through the threat of violence but through the power of peace. To the end Dr. King, in circumstances not one of us could imagine, knowing death could strike him down at any moment, continued preaching his philosophies, sacrificing himself during times that were most likely under extreme duress so the rest of us could one day walk side by side in his dream. Today, we are all better women and men as a result.
Yet if Dr. King were living in today’s environment of terrorism and suspicion, of enemy combatants and evildoers, under the ever watchful eye of Bush and his marauding maniacs, he could very well be caged like an animal down in Guantanamo. When the Bush mantra is "either you are with us or against us," Dr. King would certainly be seen as a threat to the establishment and to the Bush Administration. Dr. King’s philosophy of change through non-violent means is the sword that pierces the dragon’s breast, the kryponite that weakens the powerful establishment. No weapon is stronger than non-violent revolution; no army can withstand its force. In today’s world of eviscerated democracy and perpetually-diminishing rights and freedoms, however, Dr. King would most inevitably be persecuted, as he was in his day, though to a much greater extent.
Any perceived threat to the establishment and to Bush gets the well-thought out, exploitative marketing propaganda campaign designed to make enemies of anyone not in the administration’s pockets. Labeled "unpatriotic," "terrorist sympathizer," "treasonous," "enemy combatant" or as "cavorting with the enemy" those who do not follow Bush’s idea of how the nation and the world are run are subjected to a public relations blitzkrieg not seen since the days of McCarthyism. Those who refuse to lie to the American public or who refuse to cover up the plethora of Bush lies, distortions and deceptions are scorned, smeared and trashed. The fine-tuned propaganda campaign to debase the opposition has penetrated into the minds of the masses. September 11 unleashed the perfect mechanism by which to silence anyone with contrary views to Bush and his cabal of crusaders. This allowed the administration to do anything and everything it wanted.
If Dr. King were alive today, in the same capacity as before his death, awakening and inspiring, educating and leading, it is not far fetched to believe that Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft would have labeled him any of the vast names designated under the fictitious "war on terror" designed for the opposition. Dr.King would never be allowed to question authority, the government’s perpetuating downward spiral that is ruining this country, the Leviathan’s ever-increasing power and control of the nation, the military-industrial complex’s maximizing profit motives by seeking perpetual war and death, the energy/oil oligarchy’s insatiable thirst for the world’s oil nor Bush himself. He would have never been allowed to stir the oceans of ignorance, in the end creating tidal waves of enlightenment and discontent as people minds were made free from the grip of brainwashed diatribe.
In Bush’s world, Dr. King would be a terrorist. If you are not with us then you are against us. To question us is to be unpatriotic, even treasonous. To not blindly follow Bush and his failure of leadership, integrity or honor is to be an "enemy combatant."
In Bush’s worldview, where the battle is between the forces of good (the US) versus evil (anyone else who is not with us) and between the Empire and Barbarians, many historical figures who dared question those in power would be labeled "terrorists," many undoubtedly to be disappeared and sent to Guantanamo. Those figures who dared question authority, the evils of the elite, the exploitation of Empires, established dogma and civilization’s ills would today be rotting in cages, sent to suffer brutal repercussions at the hands of the nation that espouses and demands human rights onto to world.
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist. Take, for example, the case of Jesus Christ. Jesus grew up under the exploitative hands of the Roman Empire, its proctors, along with corrupt and gluttonous Jewish high priests who had turned the Temple into a debauched market of greed. He grew up ever mindful of Roman occupation, exploitation and subjugation of his people. When he finally decided to speak his mind and try to embolden people into not accepting what had been placed at their feet he became the political activist that he was. He spoke of peace, love and forgiveness, of the need to give, share and empathize.
He called for change, at all levels of society, seeking justice and equality, honor and salvation. He criticized the high priests for their corrupt ways and trashed the Temple market in a rage of anger. He was a champion to the poor and less-fortunate, the downtrodden and the hopeless. He offered passion and hope, confidence and a better way of life.
Christ became a freedom fighter to the masses, a terrorist to the Romans and the high priests. If he were preaching the same philosophy today, fighting the Pax Americana instead of ancient Rome, what label would Bush place on him? Jesus changed the world, his teachings, powerful and necessary, continue to be taught to this day, though hardly listened to anymore. His philosophies, much needed for our survival, were corrupted by the church in the 2000 years since his death. Freedom fighter and activist, seeking change through peace, non-violence, love and equality, crucified by those at the top, those with the power that saw him as a threat to their continued existence and as an example for future agitators.
What were the prophets of the Old Testament if not activists seeking a betterment of people and society? They too were freedom fighters, yet in their day to go against those in control and power meant certain death. Seeking justice, equality, freedoms and rights meant persecution, just as before, just as now. The freedom fighters who brought down communism in Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s were heroes, but if they did the same to Bush today they would be hung for treason.
The French resistance who fought the Germans, the Jewish resistance that clashed with Nazis in ghettos, those who fought in the American War for Independence and the French Revolution, would they all be terrorists today? Would Martin Luther, Galileo and Darwin be labeled "terrorists" under the Bush definition even though they revolutionized the world through their actions? We romanticize freedom fighters in movies or theatres, be it William Wallace in Braveheart, Joan of Arc, Les Miserables, Gladiator, Michael Collins, The Patriot, Schindler’s List and so on. In Hollywood, to fight for freedom, survival and the rights of your people is glamorized and accepted. In Bush’s bubble and brainwashed world, it is castigated and annihilated.
India presents us with another great human being in Gandhi that would today likely be considered some form of "terrorist." Gandhi espoused non-violent remedies to troubles afflicting his country and people at the hands of the British Empire. He organized, helped awaken hundreds of millions, mobilized a new movement that through peace brought the British to their knees, and eventually out of India. Yet he was a man fighting the system, fighting for justice and equality, freedom and rights. A greater freedom fighter has not existed. Yet in today’s world, where Bush decides who is and who isn’t, Gandhi might be persecuted and jailed, caged and beaten, treated as a terrorist. One man transformed an entire nation, and left behind the keys to human survival in his teachings. But he fought the powerful, the entity in control, much like Jesus or Dr. King, and suffered their same fate.
Real terrorists do exist, Osama bin Laden being the most prominent, destroying 3000 lives in order to fight the evils of the Great Satan. But to hundreds of millions around the world, bin Laden and Al-Qaeda represent a new breed of freedom fighter that struggles against the vast expansive and exploitative grip of American Imperialism. We in this country need to understand why so many people espouse such sympathy and admiration for bin Laden and his kind. Only then can we understand what drives them to slam hijacked planes into tall buildings.
We need to understand the role the US government, military and Leviathan play in the decimation of millions of lives through the various mechanisms imposed to assure the spoils of Empire. To hundreds of millions, we are the terrorists through the actions of our government, and this has only been amplified through Bush’s policies of death, destruction and suffering. Bin Laden fights us because of our economic and military exploitation around the world that causes misery and torment to billions. He attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon for this reason, seen as symbols of the methods by which the US subjugates billions of people worldwide. The roots of terrorism must be understood before we unleash the whirlwind that will spread even more seeds of hatred around the world. The so-called war on terror must focus on the root causes of terrorism and not its branches.
If you pull out the root the branches cannot flourish, they cannot bloom. If you fight the branches the roots do not die, they only spread. This is why the war on terror is destined to fail, lasting into perpetuity, killing thousands of our loved ones and robbing us of the vast amounts of money needed to rebuild our people and our land. This is the reason Bush must be defeated in November, because to re-elect him would mean the continuing and never-ending war on terror, the enactment of the draft, and the continued usurpation of both our wages and our loved ones to the military-industrial complex and the Leviathan.
The war on terror can be won, but only if we pull it out from its roots, devoting a new philosophy of peace, non-violence, communalism, assistance, education, and openness to the billions of souls living in misery, endemic poverty, disease, suffering and lack of opportunity, understanding their cultures and their needs, their reasons for hating us and their need for a life worth living. In most instances, the US and its policies are to blame; our actions create reactions which come back to haunt us.
Bush is falling directly into bin Laden’s trap, creating entire waves of new recruits, helping transform the Middle East into a fundamentalist enclave ready to erupt. With every Muslim death, usurpation of their lands and futures, ill treatment of their people, continued poverty of their lives and support for the atrocities of the Israeli government against the Palestinians by Bush the hatred only intensifies, the fire only rages, searing higher into the air with each act of humiliation. This is no way to fight a war that cannot be won by the use of the sword being plunged into the belly of misery and hopelessness. But in Bush’s world, terrorism must be made perpetual in order to satisfy the insatiable hunger of the Leviathan and the oligarchy. There is method to Bush’s madness.
The more "terrorists" are created the more wars will be fought meaning increased levels of profiteering, imperialism, resource allocation, people subjugation and the greater the excuses will become to instill fear into an already paranoid American public. The so-called war on terror is nothing more than a vicious cycle that is designed to make war endless, terrorism ceaseless, profit everlasting and power omnipotent. It is a way to control the American people into acquiescing to every dictate Bush seeks on his way to robbing us all of our freedoms, rights and democracy and of the nation we once knew to be true.
If terrorists are to be pursued, captured and killed, then we must also unleash our full fury and might and go after all kinds of terrorists, not just Muslim fundamentalists. I am talking about those people who without remorse or apathy pollute and pillage our world, our bodies and our minds. I am referring to those who rob us blind, stealing our life savings and our wages. Environmental and financial terrorists, those living among us, should also see the wrath of the war on terror. Do these individuals not terrorize when they release pollutants and toxins into the only air we can breathe? Do they not terrorize when they poison our water, our food and our bodies? Do they not terrorize the world when they spew and leave barren forests and oceans? Is that not terrorism? After all, they kill hundreds of thousands of people every year, many more times than bin Laden and his fanatical followers. Don’t the Kenny Boy (at one point W’s best friend) Lay’s of the world terrorize when they rob millions of their life savings, basically enriching themselves at the expense and misery of millions? Are these people, such as those at Enron, not terrorists? They severely affect the lives of millions, altering their ways of life, forcing many to suffer agony and stress at the thought of the impotence they now find themselves in.
What defines a terrorist? Who defines one? Is the military-industrial complex (MIC) a terrorist because it lives off of people’s death, maiming and suffering? That is exactly what bin Laden does, and he’s labeled a terrorist. Why not the MIC? Building instruments of death, knowing that your products will kill and maim and cause pain and suffering, should in many instances label you a terrorist. After all, you are spawning and furthering terror, are you not? You are perpetuating murder of human beings and violence among us.
Is the Leviathan to be considered a terrorist entity? It pillages and exploits both workers and consumers, after all. It ruins lives, kills hundreds of thousands through its products and pollutants, and does everything in its power to rob power from workers. It destroys our planet, is warming our globe, uttering in a new era of human death and suffering.
Should our own government be labeled a "terrorist government?" It is quite apparent that it terrorizes the world, indeed, has been doing it for many decades, affecting billions of lives through its economic, military and financial apparatuses, ruining lives, making misery endemic, poverty perpetual, opportunity non-existent and exploitation all-encompassing. Our government has financed, supported and fostered hundreds of despots, dictators and monarchs that have laid waste to hundreds of millions of lives. Is this considered "terrorism?" If to cause so much suffering and ruination is considered terrorism, then we are guilty. There are many reasons why we are hated throughout the globe, and it is time we become aware of what our government does to billions of humans in our name. It is not pretty, and it is not right.
If Bush were on the losing side of the war on terror, might he be labeled a terrorist? He has unleashed mass murder and suffering onto the world, after all, killing so many thousands and injuring so many more. Throughout the planet he is considered the most dangerous man in the world, the gravest threat to world peace. Does this make our President a terrorist? Does his support for the dehumanization of Palestinians by Israel make him a terrorist? To dehumanize is to terrorize, as is the unleashing of harsh collective punishment onto an entire people. He has been responsible for the death of at least 10,000 Iraqis in a war that we all know was unjustified, based on lies, deceptions and dishonor. If history were not written by the winners and those in power might he be labeled a terrorist? Might he be tried in the Hague for crimes against humanity? Might he be labeled: Wanted: Dead or Alive?
At home, Bush has made worse the lives of millions of Americans through his callous disregard for the people in his quest to enrich his friends in the Leviathan. Three million jobs have been lost, worker rights have all but disappeared, healthcare benefits only the elite and the corporations, education gets worse and worse, poverty keeps increasing and our loved ones are being sent to his illegal war to die, return maimed or psychologically fractured for the benefit of the powerful. His administration terrorizes us with incessant calls of fear, of boogie men ready to strike. Every fear factor orange terrorizes, creates paranoia and erodes America more every time. Is this not terrorism? To many, this would be considered the work of a terrorist. To us, he is called the President of the United States, George W. Bush.
Terrorism can take many forms; it can hide underneath many masks. To side with power might give you immunity to continue your reign of terror; to fight it makes you a target and a threat. Those in power judge who is and who isn’t, for their benefit they determine and label, accuse and persecute. The books of history are full of terrorists, of freedom fighters and those in between, their titles decided more by the victors than the truth. We live in dangerous times, from threats both here and abroad, with enemies known and unknown, those dressed in clear sight and those hiding behind masks of innocence. Today our most cherished historical figures, those who sought better ways of living for all by fighting the system through peace, non-violence and love would be labeled "enemies of the state," treasonous individuals fighting against those in control, those who decide what it and what isn’t. They would be called terrorists.
It is in times such as these that we must rise and challenge those notions of good versus evil, black versus white, waking up from our conditioned minds to see the reality that has been thrust upon us. The veil of ignorance must be lifted, the shades of gray must make way. A collective introspection of what is happening in the world today must be applied. For the end result soon approaching, which few dare speak, but that reality wants to warn, is that soon you and I might find ourselves being called "terrorists," caged like animals, made to disappear, for the simple God-given right and freedom to oppose, judge, debate and discuss what Bush is doing under our name.
The winds of totalitarianism are fast approaching, and the day when we can speak our mind in opposition to what our government is doing will soon erode, gone like the many rights and freedoms that no longer exist. To oppose and question authority, to fight against the injustices and the exploitation, to try and awaken millions to what is slowly happening to them might mean that we are stripped of our rights and freedoms, pursued and persecuted, and, in the end, silenced. Threats to the establishment have never been accepted, and, with so much power in Bush’s claws of despotism, this will continue to be the rule rather than the exception.
For in the end, freedom fighters and true patriots are but terrorists to those in power, and, in many cases, real terrorists continue walking our steel-glass canyons and concrete jungles, robbing us of all we have, polluting our sickened bodies, raping and pillaging our land and water, heating up the planet, killing those we love and cherish, sending our sons and daughters to fight for profit and firing, exploiting and ruining our ever-worsening lives and the country we have grown to respect.
As always with words and semantics, the definition of terrorism lies within those who are led to believe and those who refuse to be misled. The key is understanding deep inside yourself what you believe to be true, of going beyond what corporate and governmental brainwashing and conditioning makes you think is right. Wiping clean the fiction that has enveloped us for three years, throwing it down the pipes of sewage and realizing that we are being lied to is our only hope of returning to what we once were. Only you can decide, based on what your hearts and minds tell you, who is what, what is who and how to proceed along the path to the truth. Only then can a full discourse of the word "terrorism" and its meaning be completed and the fear that we have been living under erased.
© Copyright 2003 by AxisofLogic.com
Manuel Valenzuela is social critic and commentator, activist, writer and author of Echoes in the Wind, a novel to be published in Spring of 2004. His articles appear weekly on axisoflogic.com. Mr. Valenzuela welcomes comments and can be reached at email@example.com