Let me get this clear at the outset. I’m 19. I will always be 19, with the optimism and idealism of 19 year old youth. The sorrows stem from a miracle: 19 though I am, I know everything I would know if I were a 75 year old polyglot who has always paid attention, and who has forgotten nothing.
The sorrows began April 12, 1945. There was excitement from the radio. Memories are nailed by emotional content, and this was emotional. I was carried outdoors under the streetlights on my mother’s right forearm, with the whole neighborhood. Not yet given speech, I had comprehension: Is Truman going to be president now? I was content. True Man. Truman becoming president did not disturb me in the least. True Man after all. But True Man dropped the atomic Bomb, yes True Man dropped the Atomic Bomb. And True Man originated the CIA. And True Man invented War Without Congress. True Man thus caused the murder of millions in Korea. And True Man helped Greek fascists murder the Greek partisans, who had all by themselves thrown out the Nazi occupiers. And True Man created Operation Gladio in Italy.
Thankfully, there was Eisenhower. Africa throughout the continent overthrew the colonial yoke, and was mocked in a popular song: “They’re rioting in Africa…” Kwame Nkrumah was the greatest thing since sliced bread. And so was Patrice Lumumba. But between Nkrumah and Lumumba, there was a downed U-2. Eisenhower said it was a weather plane off course. Oh! Ike! Ike! Ike, my president, LIED! I threw away my I Like Ike pin. We all had one. And Lumumba was murdered, by order of the CIA, who got their orders from Ike himself. And we were taught that Cuba would never go communist. Why? It was a Catholic country, that’s why! Oh the stupidity of our teachers!
Thankfully, there was John Fitzgerald Kennedy, whose presidency was sandbagged by the invasion of Cuba, and his not supporting it. They murdered him, as coolly as if he were Lumumba. Oswald spoke true: “I’m just a patsy.” But “Oswald acted alone.” So, of course, did Sirhan, and so, too, did Ray, even though the FBI had been advising Martin Luther King to kill himself. The official world believed the Warren Commission Report, which is where the official pretend world and actual public perception parted ways. But the same people who killed John Kennedy had to kill his brother. If you killed John Kennedy, what could you expect if his brother ever became president? I wept. I was living in Chicago in 1968, with a front row seat to the police riots. Poor Hubert Humphrey. So we got Nixon, whose big crime was not his Plumbers’ Watergate, but his ensuring that no peace was made before his election, thus paralleling Reagan’s obvious arrangement with Iran after his criminal arms for Contras arrangements. And finally, Dick Nixon’s dirtiest trick, the all-volunteer army, removing the cornerstone of the Peace Movement. We had one then. DO NOT REMAIN SILENT ABOUT THE WAR. And WHAT IF THEY GAVE A WAR AND NOBODY CAME? And SUPPORT OUR BOYS IN CANADA. That’s all gone. Like yesterday.
About then, halleluja! The Cold War was Over. In the unforgettable words of Georgiy Arbatov, “We are depriving you of an enemy.” The same official pretend world that led off with the Warren Commission took over. Russia, ready to play the role or not, was the enemy. It had to be. Actually, of course, it was the only credible enemy — not to us but to the Wolfowitz Doctrine, which extended the Monroe Doctrine to cover, not just the hemisphere, but the planet. This Doctrine can be expressed in a word: We will permit no other superpower. This meant Russia and China, the only conceivable competitors, were, by doctrine, the foe.
Then along comes an outsider so clueless he can say “wouldn’t it be great if we were friends with Russia and China?” They have since clued him in, and our Wolfowitzian junta has military bases all over the world. No, I do not blame Wolfowitz. He was describing what was already going on, not directing the future course.
Now, in contrast, not even Lindsey Graham knows where all our volunteer soldiers are. Because they know I monitor the news in several languages, mothers ask me where the Aircraft Carrier Harry Truman is, because their kid is on it and the Navy doesn’t tell them, either where they are, or what they are doing. And our wars are through puppets. We destroyed Yugoslavia and turned one of the resultant statelets, Kosovo, into one huge US military base. We destroyed Libya for humanitarian reasons. Our fact-checkers are hirelings who deny there are slave markets in Libya, who assert that the White Helmets are humanitarian altruists. Who will fact-check the fact-checkers? Our Nobel Peace Prize President in his own words “brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine,” putting admirers of Nazi collabos in charge there, who daily bombard their own citizens.
War crimes around the world now are so overwhelming and everyday that a peace movement is utterly overwhelmed. Outright Murder in Gaza? Yawn. Genocide in Yemen? Yawn. Now non-compliant government in Syria, where it is open knowledge that we pay, we, the light of the world, pay fighters to overthrow a non-sectarian government – the U.S actually finances the beheaders! Yawn. The war crimes are everywhere, every day. The Nobelist proclaims Venezuaela is a National Security Threat and the regime change mode is so everyday that when the US representative to the UN takes the megaphone to encourage the overthrow of the elected government there, it causes nary a ripple. Our officialdom promises the overthrow of another government, Iran.
The war crimes are everywhere, every day. Azov and Sich Battalions modeled on the Nazi Einsatz, are melded into the Ukrainian regular army, where they maraud both in the stand-off republics and back home as “veterans,” and our Congress votes them aid. 5,000 Palestinians have been shot since March. And our Congress votes the murderers millions of dollars a day. And Saudi Arabia uses our weapons and starvation to slaughter ancient Yemen, with the armed support of the civilized world.
And we pay attention instead to the circus, where, domestic sorrow of sorrows, the Supreme court of the land is staffed on political, not judicial priorities. The advice of listing of good judges by the American Bar Association is no longer sought.
My title is of course, modeled on Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther, Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. Werther’s impossible love of Charlotte leads to his suicide. This writer’s impossible idealism, painfully realizing that this is not the way the world should be, will lead instead to a call to arms:
Reason must rise.