The Democratic Activist
Last Sunday afternoon, my teenage daughter and I had the opportunity to hear The Nation writer John Nichols speak on the main stage at the San Francisco Green Festival being conducted at the Gift Center that weekend at the urging of blogger Gail Jonas, publisher of Thinking Out Loud. Gail credits a John Nichols talk with being the spark that lit her fire for impeachment ... and after seeing him deliver the powerful, articulate, and inspired speech he gave last week, I can certainly see why.
11/11/07 was a beautiful day in San Francisco. Sunny, warm, crystal clear after a cleansing rain (postcard weather). The Gift Center's main pavilion was filled to capacity with 500-600 Nichols fans waiting for John to do his magic. Before he began his talk, Gail had managed to arrange a short interview with the man of the hour, and armed with her video camera I did the deed. John was as gracious as can be, and allowed me several questions. A portion of the interview appears below:
John spoke first of an American soldier, a friend of his, who recently returned from Iraq, and his buddy whom he met on his first day there. After being given just 30 minutes of "cultural sensitivity training" (but no language training, etc.) and then sent off to guard a Bagdad checkpoint, this brand new soldier shot and killed Iraqi civilians in a car whose driver failed to stop when given the "Halt!" signal -- a fisted arm raised to the square (the driver had returned the signal to the American soldier, apparently thinking it was the international signal of "solidarity," and that it meant he was free to proceed). Later that night, John's friend had to repeated coax his buddy back to sleep, but to no avail; he kept waking in fits of screaming. The soldier finally explained, "You don't get it. I'm a Christian. Today I took innocent life, for no reason. I'M GOING TO HELL!"
Could experiences like this be the reason that American vets are up to four times as likely to commit suicide as is the average American, as cited in this recent article in the Herald Sun?
John also told of American President James Polk, the "George W. Bush" of his day, and his plan to start the Mexican War under false pretenses, steal vast swaths of Mexican territory, and divide the spoils into southern slave states to prevent the sin of slavery from passing from American as it was beginning to pass from the rest of the world. John went on to tell the rest of the story, that of a young rural congressman, the "Dennis Kucinich" of his day, who, though alone, stood up forcefully against Polk, continually demanding that if the president could not provide actual evidence of Mexican attacks to justify our invasion of Mexico, that he be impeached and removed from office!
Who was that rural congressman? He was Abraham Lincoln.
John confessed to being "a plagiarist, a stealer of ideas, a copycat." He explained that he'd been spending the last several years "not in the 21st century but in the 18th century, copying down the ideas and statements of the American founding fathers." Referring to the founders' belief in impeachment as the sine qua non of the American experiment in democracy, John said: "George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have violated the Constitution. Jefferson, Madison, Mason DEMAND that you impeach them NOW!"
I've only recounted here a couple of the highlights of John's magnificent speech. His delivery was fiery, the content enlightening, and the response overwhelming. Being there was a powerful and memorable experience. No doubt there were many others, who, like Gail, had their fuses lit for impeachment by Mr. Nichols.
Realizing it would be impossible to capture the impact of the speech in writing, I purchased a CD of John's speech, and will update this post with a link to the complete audio file, as soon as I can get it online.
Please check back later, to listen to the full speech. You really shouldn't miss it.
Pass it on.
The Democratic Activist