Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hopeful Anniversary

Something is terribly wrong in this country, and there is no more clear example of it than Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s comment that critics of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq are morally confused, and modern-day versions of Nazi appeasers.

The very fact that the administration has to go to such extremes to demean their political opponents tells us how frightened and fearful they are. What we need is honest argument on what is happening in the world and how best to address it, and what we are offered is rhetoric of the most dangerous kind.

I am not morally confused. The war in Iraq was wrong from the beginning. Not that war is always wrong, it isn’t. But this war was and is illegal, immoral, and damaging to the United States and freedom worldwide. And to be told that saying so makes me somehow un-American makes plain that many of our leaders have no idea of what America is.

America is rooted in law and not as President Bush seems to believe on the whims of chief executive. Bush sees himself as above the law. He is playing king, and there are few is any behaviors that are less American than that.

Torah is clear on the danger of kings. God’s plan for Israel was to be a loose confederation of tribes without a king. We were ruled by judges whose authroity rested in their ability to do justly. Today judges are pawns in the hands of politicians who long for authoritarian rulers who are kings in all but name. Read your Bible: When Israel insisted on having a king they were told they were violating God’s will, and things went badly for them for centuries.

It is time for us to speak truth to power. To stand up for America and what is American.
This September 11th is the anniversary not only the horror of the Twin Towers, but the hope of Gandhi’s satyagraha movement. Founded on September 11, 1906, satyagraha (soul force) sought to provide a third way between acquiescing to violence and becoming violent ourselves. This September 11th we must honor our murdered dead by reclaiming what is best about us as Americans.

On the campus of MTSU I plan to host a dialogue on Nonviolence in an Age of Global Terror. We will draw from Gandhi and explore if and how his teachings can guide us today. I am using material from a group out of New York. I know this isn’t much, but it is something. I cannot look myself in the mirror if I remain silent. I urge you to visit the website of the satyagraha anniversary people in NY and do something this 9/11 to make a difference. Their url is

I am hurt, outraged, and frightened by what Rumsfeld has been saying this week. I refuse to be silenced by him. I believe that we are at war, but that it must be fought with greater wisdom, compassion, and finesse than this administration is capable of using. Don’t let this anniversary of horror pass without at least trying to give voice to the sound of hope.

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