April 4, 2007
I will not tire of declaring that if we really want an effective end to violence we must remove the violence that lies at the root of all violence: structural violence, social injustice, exclusion of citizens from the management of the country, repression. All this is what constitutes the primal cause, from which the rest flows naturally. ---Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980)
Contrary to the perpetual barrage of bovine fecal matter spewed forth by our beloved corporate media whores, terrorism is not an imminent threat to the continued existence of moral, peaceful human beings. Certainly there are groups and individuals who kill innocents in pursuit of demented agendas. However, by and large, those labeled "terrorists" by the Bush administration and their unofficial mouth-pieces at Fox News and similar outlets are people who are simply using "asymmetrical warfare" to resist the ongoing oppression, exploitation and subjugation of an imperialist aggressor. Increasingly, United States foreign and domestic policies are determined by a relative handful of cynical bourgeois, some of whom are not even US Americans. Their malevolence is exceeded only by their avarice.
True to their deceitful natures, the moneyed elite have contrived the "War on Terror" as an attack on those bold enough to violently oppose their enslavement. Yes, the latest campaign to enforce Pax Americana is simply a new front in the "War on the Poor and Oppressed." Humanity has been embroiled in an epic struggle between the pecunious and impoverished since it developed agriculture, abandoned nomadism, and began the acquisition of wealth. Industrialization, consumerism, materialism, debt slavery, wage slavery, hyper-competitiveness, egocentrism, and the myriad of ills spawned by American Capitalism have catapulted the plutocracy into the stratosphere in terms of wealth and power. They are not about to quietly relinquish their ill-gotten spoils.
Despite the deepening misery and increasing numbers of indigent human beings, our corporate masters and their loyal propagandists assure us that the class wars are over. After all, the collapse of the Soviet Union and China’s rush to embrace "free markets" "prove" that Socialism and Communism are utopian failures. The United States and the countries it has conquered (sorry, that’s liberated), are meritocracies. For those of you in rags, riches are just around the corner. Simply get off your lazy posteriors and apply a little elbow grease. Such tripe rolls easily off the tongues of those pulling down six, seven or eight figure incomes, people who nestle safely within the confines of their gated communities and rest upon the comfortable support of their inherited or plundered fortunes.
Yet far from having ended, thanks to the tireless efforts of Goldwater, Buckley, Nixon, Reagan, Cheney, Bush, and a host of other neo-fascists, the enduring socioeconomic struggle has reached a fever pitch. Tragically, the ruling elite have utilized their formidable agitprop to beguile the confused masses into believing that our depraved system’s victims (and their champions) are the enemy.
In stark contrast to George Bush, a man responsible for the deaths of a million or more Iraqis and Afghanistanis plus thousands of US Americans in New Orleans and Iraq, Hugo Chavez has no blood on his hands. And Chavez, a man who has mitigated the suffering of millions of people, is the "threat".
Resistance fighters battling to expel a foreign occupier which has been waging genocide against the Iraqi people since the Gulf War are "terrorists". The invading hordes are hailed as "liberators".
Ridiculously out-gunned and out-financed Palestinian groups like Hamas, which resort to violence in a desperate attempt to counter brutal Zionist ethnic cleansing, Apartheid, occupation, and colonization, commit "acts of terror" when they kill Israeli civilians. Conversely, Israeli IDF forces are "fully justified" when they commit murder on a much wider scale because they are "defending Israel’s right to exist".
One can find numerous other instances of the empowered establishment vilifying and attacking the "wretched refuse", but let’s rewind a few years for a revealing look at a specific example of the pernicious machinations of the opulent. Concurrently, we will also explore a potential solution to the cancer of American Capitalism which plagues the Earth and nearly every living being on it.
Free at last?
Liberation Theology, a movement widely embraced by Central and South American priests and bishops in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s, traces its roots back to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran pastor who was hanged in 1943 for his resistance to Hitler and the Nazis. Interpreting Christ’s teachings as a clarion call to devote their lives to the struggle for social justice and human rights, people like Don Helder Camara, Leonardo Boff, Dorothy Stang, and Oscar Romero faced harassment, punitive action from the Vatican, persecution, and assassination in their quests to uplift the exploited, violated, and destitute.
The Red Bishop
Taking on both the Vatican and the military dictatorship that ruled his home nation of Brazil from 1964 to 1985, the Red Bishop, Don Helder Camara, was a fearless advocate for the down-trodden. World renowned for relentlessly assailing the ruthless Brazilian government for human rights violations, Camara attacked the Right Wing elements of the Catholic Church with equal vigor. Before Pope John Paul II and Joseph Ratzinger, his reactionary confidant, effectively silenced most liberation theologians (because of their Marxist tendencies), Camara managed to significantly advance the cause of humanity in Brazil.
Camara is noted for once having said, "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist."
Leonardo Boff in particular drew Ratzinger’s wrath. Boff, another Brazilian clergyman, was even more radical in the eyes of the Church than Camara. His tireless intellectual efforts set the foundations for Liberation Theology in Latin America. The Vatican was loath to associate itself with this Leftist political movement, Christ’s call for justice be damned. As its chief architect, Boff was a marked man.
Statements like, "Jesus was a political prisoner, who died on the Cross, not an old man who died in bed," did little to endear him to an institution far more interested in expanding its wealth and influence than in taking a stand against established powers on behalf of the indigent. The Church stripped Boff of a number of his priestly duties. He eventually left the Church and went on to pursue a better world through independent political activism.
Affirming his fervent opposition to our criminal potentates, in November of 2001 Boff commented, "For me, the terrorist attack of September 11 signs the turning for a new humanitarian and world model. The targeted buildings send a message: a new world civilization couldn't be built with the kind of dominating economy (symbolized by the World Trade Center), with the kind of death machine set up (the Pentagon) and with the kind of arrogant politics and producer of many exclusions (White House spared, because the plane fell before). For me the system and culture of the capital started to fell. They are too destructive."
A US American nun who eventually became a naturalized citizen of Brazil, Dorothy Stang was an indefatigable and valorous defender of both the rainforests and the rights of peasant farmers. Despite death threats from wealthy land-owners and logging interests, she continued helping poor Brazilian families work small land parcels without engaging in deforestation. On 2/12/05, assassins gunned her down at close range.
Dot, as her family called her, summarized her noble agenda succinctly with these words:
""I don't want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment." "
Perhaps the most influential member of the deeply inspiring Liberation Theology crusade was "San Romero." The Vatican gave Oscar Romero his position as Archbishop of San Salvador because he ostensibly supported the "Washington Consensus". However, witnessing thousands of horrific crimes against humanity catalyzed Romero’s profound conversion. Jimmy Carter (and later Ronald Reagan) helped finance the military of a government in El Salvador dominated by a few wealthy oligarchs who were closely aligned with US corporations. In their efforts to defend their wealth from the threat of the "Communist scourge", Washington’s friends in El Salvador were murdering 3,000 unarmed "oppositionists" each month by 1980.
Romero advocated a path of non-violence. In 1978 he wrote:
""The counsel of the Gospel to turn the other cheek to an unjust aggressor, far from being passive or cowardly, shows great moral force that leaves the aggressor morally overcome and humiliated. The Christian always prefers peace to war.""
Utilizing his position and voice within the Church, Romero delivered powerful sermons calling for an end to the torture and slaughter. As an active means of protest, he closed schools, cancelled masses, opened the seminary to the homeless and wounded, and halted construction of the new cathedral. He leveled powerful accusations against the ruthless tyrants ruling El Salvador. Romero called upon the US to stop funding the butchers in San Salvador (Washington continued sending $1.5 million per day for 12 years), the penurious to take up ""their own struggle for liberation", and "the peasant soldiers of El Salvador to defy their government masters:
""Brothers, you are from the same people; you kill your fellow peasant . . . No soldier is obliged to obey an order that is contrary to the will of God. No one has to fulfill an immoral law. It is time to recover your consciences and to obey your consciences rather than the orders of sin. . . . In the name of God then, in the name of this suffering people I ask you, I beg you, I command you in the name of God: stop the repression.""
As a result of his appeal to El Salvador’s troops to defy their orders, on March 24, 1980, Monsignor Romero unknowingly presided over his final mass. In the midst of the service, an assassin’s bullet ripped through Romero’s heart. Within moments, he had passed to the other side. Reactionary forces had slain yet another intrepid defender of the tyrannized and poverty-stricken.
Hit Me with Another Round of Inculcation
Yet as Western media pundits, think tanks, and our "public servants" have so astutely observed, there is no class war. Socioeconomic classes are fluid and amorphous in a US-dominated world economy offering limitless upward mobility. Marx and his philosophies are dead, buried, and forgotten. It is simply the natural order that "moral beacons" like Carlos Slim Helu, the Walton’s, Charles Koch, Rupert Murdoch and a few hundred others possess more wealth than the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people. While it is a pity, the 11 million children who die as a result of poverty each year are necessary sacrifices upon the altar of Mammon.
In the terrifying and unlikely event that your indoctrination fails and you find yourself suddenly afflicted with the profound feeling of existential emptiness that accompanies the realization that our hedonistic, acquisitive, narcissistic, shallow, mean-spirited, and bellicose American Way is spiritually bankrupt, remember that the Liberation Theologians showed us that there are other ways of being.
Oh, to Hell with it!
Just turn on the TV. Luxuriate in the fantasy that you could become as affluent and privileged as "The Donald." That’s much more gratifying than attempting to emulate those hopelessly idealistic wannabe saints!
[Note of Disclosure: In his relatively nascent but profound divorce from the rabid centrism posing as "liberalism" infecting many US Americans, this author unwittingly advocated and embraced notions akin to Liberation Theology prior to discovering the existence of this incredible movement. Despite abandoning his Christian faith in favor of a personal spirituality forged in the crucible of personal struggle, the two pieces linked below reveal the striking similarities between his personal principles and those of Liberation Theology:
In short, the author is heavily biased in favor of many aspects of Liberation Theology.]
Jason Miller is a wage slave of the American Empire who has freed himself intellectually and spiritually. His essays have been widely published, he is an associate editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online, and he volunteers at homeless shelters. He welcomes constructive correspondence at firstname.lastname@example.org or via his blog, Thomas Paine's Corner, at http://civillibertarian.blogspot.com/