Michelle Obama on Refusing to Settle

And Barack stood up that day, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. He talked about "The world as it is" and "The world as it should be." And he said that all too often, we accept the distance between the two, and we settle for the world as it is -- even when it doesn't reflect our values and aspirations. But he reminded us that we also know what our world should look like. He said we know what fairness and justice and opportunity look like. And he urged us to believe in ourselves -- to find the strength within ourselves to strive for the world as it should be. And isn't that the great American story?

It's the story of men and women gathered in churches and union halls and high school gyms -- people who stood up and marched and risked everything they had -- refusing to settle, determined to mold our future into the shape of our ideals.

This is why I have set up VotePact

[originally published at husseini.org on August 26, 2008]

If Foreigners Could Vote, Obama Would Win. Right?

If people from around the world, from Asia, from Africa, from Latin America could vote, Obama would definitely beat McCain, right? Obama wants to work with the world after all, look at how they greeted him in Berlin.

This thought is probably considered obvious by political people across the political spectrum in the U.S. today.

And as such, it's a sign of how oblivious such people are to the global reality. Of how truly Common Dreams are kept at bay.

If there were a global election for the president of the United States -- not a morally absurd idea since the policies of the United States as executed by the president affect people around the globe -- neither Obama nor McCain would stand a chance.

Assuming the people around the world knew about other candidates, that is.

For example, if they knew that Ralph Nader (running as an independent) has been fighting against against big business dominating people's lives for decades. Or that Cynthia McKinney was proposing impeaching Bush back in 2004. Or that McKinney is running on the Green Party ticket -- a global political party. Or that they both did some actual work to try to avert the invasion of Iraq. Or that they both state they want to ensure the primacy of international law in international affairs.

Realistically, if the people of the world could vote in the U.S. election, it would probably be a close race between McKinney and Nader. The Socialist candidate would be the dark horse candidate. Obama and McCain would be in single digits.

[originally published at husseini.org on July 25, 2008]

The Onion Slips

The Onion claims, with some legitimacy given the lack of competition, to be "America's Finest News Source." However, their AV Club section has an article this week -- "The Darrin Effect: 20 jarring cases of recast roles" -- that amazingly makes no mention of the most diabolically brilliant example of recast roles: Mr. Slate on the Flintstones originally was short with a mustache and then he become tall and clean shaven. I didn't really get the joke until years later -- when theSimpsons spoofed the opening of the Flintstones -- but clearly the Flintstones was mocking the "Darrin Effect" in cartoon form. True genius.

One of the better pieces from the Onion recently -- Latest Cheney Tape May Contain Evidence Of His Whereabouts -- bears some resemblance to a piece I wrote with Bob Jensen (though the idea came from a talk with Jon Schwarz) back in 2003, when Bush went to Iraq during Thanksgiving, "New Bush Tape Raises Fears of Attacks."

But the Onion did have a couple of priceless lines:

"That video's a fake," said Bethesda, MD citizen Blake Bresler. "This Cheney looks fatter, and his lip snarl is on the wrong side." ...

"The only reason that this madman is still out there is because the previous administration messed up," said Richmond, VA resident Curt Meredith. "Bill Clinton should have killed him when he had the chance."

[originally published at husseini.org on July 19, 2008]

Independence from Nationalism

A Response to Bill Moyers: Waking from the Patriot's Dream to the Bliss of Global Reality

by Sam Husseini

When I was in high school in New York City, shortly after Ronald Reagan became president, they began reciting the Pledge of Allegiance over the intercom system during third period. As it happened, third period for me was Mr. Dubno's Social Studies class.

And we talked about why the sudden mandate to have the Pledge of Allegiance -- some kid said Reagan had ordered it. No, it was more subtle we agreed, the "mood of the country" had changed. But Mr. Dubno told us standing and saying the Pledge was voluntary, at least for the students -- he was required. And when that became clear, virtually no one did it.

Except me.

Everyday, I would stand, often alone or with one or two other people who would occasionally join -- and Mr. Dubno -- while everyone else sat. I'd place my right hand over my heart and recite the Pledge. Over and over again.

I don't think I was doing it to impress Mr. Dubno. As someone who had been rooting for Jimmy Carter, I was surprised to learn he was for some guy named Barry Commoner who was for things like communities developing local energy sources -- whatever that meant. Unlike virtually everyone else in class, I wasn't born in the U.S.; I had a name "even funnier" than the one I have now -- Osama Farid Husseini -- and had encountered my share of racism, including from other teachers.

Like the flag waving immigrant rallies of the last few years, I think I was try to show that I was ok. I'd even tried to make my "difference" an asset -- the previous semester just before the election, I made and wore a button: "Don't be a Khomeini, Vote like Husseini -- Carter for President." (As I think on it, I think on alternate days my friend Serge Nehama would stand, his parents were from Greece.)

And I remember the day Carter lost to Reagan -- a couple of friends and I were at a pizzeria near school when it dawned on me what had happened -- that the country had taken a severe turn for the worse and we'd live with the consequences for decades to come.

Not that I idealized Carter.

One reason for that was Bill Moyers. I frankly don't remember much of the substance, just the emotional sense that he was a sane voice. I have a vague memory of him trying to do a program -- was it with a Soviet at the height of the Cold War? -- and chastising the Carter administration for hindering it, perhaps they stopped a visa. He ended a commentary with the refrain that we have to "Remember who we are." That the people of the U.S. were better than what the government was doing.

And Moyers is still saying that. At the recent National Conference on Media Reform, his speech, "We Just Might Rekindle the Patriot's Dream" echoed what he said in the 1970s. Indeed, its title was echoing Arlo Guthrie's call of even more decades before. Always trying to rekindle the Patriot's Dream.


I think we need to wake from the patriotic slumber. We need to stir and open our eyes to the reality of the world. In all its aspects. From the sickening economic gaps. To the cultures we need to understand -- not for some pragmatic reasons, but simply to be fuller human beings. Enrich ourselves with those cultures before they are overwhelmed by mind-numbing Western commercialism. Saving them and ourselves.

Instead of embracing the world, "progressive forces" in the U.S. constantly seem to be touting their patriotic credentials -- and they are constantly losing.

In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq, part of what was needed was more dialogue with the rest of the world. Instead the "progressive response" was to set up something called Air America. In 2004, the National Conference on Media Reform was begun. Global voices, global dialogue, were at best an afterthought. At the 2007 conference, Rev. Jesse Jackson made xenophobic comments about China and the Mideast, to the deafening cheers of the audience.

And in 2004, the Keynote speech at the Democratic Convention by a certain Senator had as its refrain we are one country -- not one world.

The "God and Country" rhetoric from some quarters should be viewed as hollow. Truly religious people bow before no man or nation. But even "spiritual progressives" in the U.S. make no serious, sustained attempt to question the precept of nationalism. Rather, they argue that we should be a "caring nation."

It's left to Bush and his cohorts to make false -- and therefore necessarily vague -- claims about wanting "democratic globalism." They get to pretend to be the idealists, the globalists. "War critics" talk about the Iraq war not being the "U.S.'s fight," that the Iraqis have "failed to stand up," that bombs that "explode in Iraq are felt by the lack of resources in the U.S." It takes real nationalistic blinders to utter such statements.

The great irony is that over the last ten years, progressive forces in the U.S. have been most ascendant when they have embraced global forces: The World Trade Organization meetings in 1999 -- the "Battle of Seattle" and the February 15, 2003 global protests that caused the New York Times to write that the peace movement was the "second superpower."

And yet, those successes are not built upon. Why?

Do "progressives" in the U.S. identify more with Dick Cheney than with an African or and Iraqi child? Do people in the U.S. fear becoming close to the rest of the world, putting their lives and struggles along side those of people from other countries? And putting aside their nationalist privilege?

Do we prefer the patriot's dream to the reality of embracing the world?

Nothing I'm saying should be at all controversial. There are great minds and we ignore them.

Albert Einstein was declared Time magazine's "Man of the Century," but how many people -- other than physicists -- actually listen to his ideas? "Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind. ... Is nothing more than an idealistic rationalization for militarism and aggression." The essay that comes from is not even freely available on the web, remarkably given all the garbage that is. There is a cultural collapse, the ideas that matter most are most obscured.

We call this thing you're probably reading me on the World Wide Web -- but how much of it is really global? For the most part, at least in the U.S. -- it's used inside the country.

Or consider Moyer's own landmark interviews with Joseph Campbell:

Moyers: Don't you think modern Americans have rejected the ancient idea of nature as a divinity because it would have kept us from achieving dominance over nature?

How can you cut down trees and uproot the land and turn the rivers into real estate without killing God? ... Scientists are beginning to talk quite openly about the Gaia principle.

Campbell: There you are, the whole planet as an organism.

M: Mother Earth. Will new myths come from this image?

C: Well, something might. ... And the only myth that is going to be worth thinking about in the immediate future is one that is talking about the planet, not the city, not these people, but the planet, and everybody on it. That's my main thought for what the future myth is going to be. ...

M: So you suggest that from this begins the new myth of our time?

C: Yes, this is the ground of what the myth is to be. It's already here: the eye of reason, not of my nationality; the eye of reason, not of my religious community; the eye of reason, not of my linguistic community. Do you see? And this would be the philosophy for the planet, not for this group, that group, or the other group. When you see the earth from the moon, you don't see any divisions there of nations or states. This might be the symbol, really, for the new mythology to come. That is the country that we are going to be celebrating. And those are the people that we are one with.

M: No one embodies that ethic to me more clearly in the works you have collected than Chief Seattle.

C: Chief Seattle was one of the last spokesmen of the Paleolithic moral order. In about 1852, the United States Government inquired about buying the tribal lands for the arriving people of the United States, and Chief Seattle wrote a marvelous letter in reply. His letter expresses the moral, really, of our whole discussion.
"The President in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The land? The idea is strange to us. ..."

We need to stop reciting the same Pledge.

We need to wake from the Patriot's Dream. It obscures history -- slavery of blacks, slaughter of native Americans, colonialism.

We need to see the other dreams of the world and awake to the bliss of our collective Global Reality.

[originally published at husseini.org on July 4, 2008]

How Russert et al Planted the Seeds for War

I really don't have any interest in speaking ill of the dead. But what of the dead who never get talked about on our TV screens?

It's become liberal orthodoxy that George W. Bush promulgated lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the media echoed those claims, building the case for war.

Were it that simple.

The survivors of those killed in the U.S.'s war in Iraq since the 2003 invasion cannot simply blame Bush. Under the guise of "tough journalism" Russert and others disseminated lies and built the case for invasion even before Bush got to the White House. A letter I sent to Russert tells a slice of the story:

Tim Russert Meet the Press NBC News Via Fax 202-966-4544

January 21, 2000

Dear Mr. Russert:

On Dec. 19, you asked Vice President Al Gore: "One year ago Saddam Hussein threw out all the inspectors who could find his chemical or nuclear capability -- one year. He now said just yesterday, 'You're not coming back.' When is the administration going to get in there and start inspecting?" However, Iraq did not throw out the weapons inspectors; Richard Butler, the head of UNSCOM withdrew them after submitting a contradictory report that, according the Washington Post, the U.S. government had a hand in drafting. You might recall that all this happened just before President Clinton's scheduled impeachment vote. The removal of the weapons inspectors paved the way for the bombing campaign, "Desert Fox," the following day. (As later became public knowledge, the U.S. had used the weapons inspectors for espionage, a subject that I recall you did some good work on.) 

Last month, I left a message on your voice mail with the above information and talked to two of your assistants, hoping that you would correct the error, or invite someone who is a serious critic of the administration's Iraq policy to come on "Meet the Press." So I was quite surprised, when doing a Nexis search recently, to find that you actually made the same mistake two weeks later, on Jan. 2, in an interview with Madeline Albright: "One year ago, the inspectors were told, 'Get out,' by Saddam Hussein," you said. (This was particularly ironic, since that very morning, as a guest on C-Span's "Washington Journal," I noted your error of Dec. 19.)

You now have a serious obligation to correct these errors. Iraq did not throw out the weapons inspectors. Butler did it, apparently at the administration's behest. This is important since it sets the terms of how the new inspections regime should be viewed.

It's noteworthy that a sophisticated, experienced journalist like yourself could get so sucked into the cliche of Iraq as aggressor/U.S. as victim that how the administration launched "Desert Fox" is forgotten. It's a case study in the conventional wisdom trumping the facts. I hope to hear from you shortly so that we can rectify this matter.


Sam Husseini
Communications Director
Institute for Public Accuracy

This lie, echoed through much of the political-media system around the time Russert told it, helped set the stage for the invasion after 9/11 -- and was a predecessor of the lie that Bush has repeatedly stated since 2003 that he invaded Iraq because Saddam Hussein did not allow the inspectors into Iraq.

Of course I never received a reply from Russert.

[originally published at husseini.org on June 16, 2008]

Iraq Winter Soldier Hearings Show Weakness of Independent Media

Jeff Cohen -- full disclosure: he used to be my boss and is a friend -- makes some very valid and important points in "Iraq Winter Soldier Hearings: Victory for Independent Media."

But there is another way of looking at this.

The fact that the mainstream paid so little attention to Winter Soldier -- as well countless other worthy stories -- is itself a failure of independent media to propel those stories into the mainstream.

Jeff writes that "these Iraq veterans had little but scorn for U.S. corporate media whose journalistic failures helped sell the war five years ago, and whose sanitized coverage helps sell the troop 'surge' today. But thanks to the Internet and the growing capacity of independent TV, radio and web outlets, a significant minority of Americans had access to these proceedings. And the archived hearings are now available to anyone anytime with computer access."

But only if you already know about it for the most part.

The great success of Fox News Channel is not that it has done what it has done, but that it has influenced the "mainstream" as it has.

And in that sense, independent media has totally failed.

To take the example at hand, what we did not see in the last several weeks was independent media asking questions about Winter Soldier at the White House press conferences, or at the Pentagon or State Department. Had they done so, the administration spokesperson's words would likely have led to more attention to Winter Soldier than all the work of all the people who labored on it for months. A serious debate between the veterans speaking out at Winter Soldier and the administration and its allies may well have ensued. This would have likely led to a dramatically different dynamic around the fifth anniversary of the war.

But no one asked at the news conferences, so none of that happened.

As it is, Winter Soldier likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to put on, and it was a very important, historic event, but it so far has not reached beyond those who likely already agreed with much of what was said. Web activism and other worthwhile efforts might build on what was done, but the lack of challenging government officials at the crucial time makes a world of difference.

People in independent media who complain about the lack of coverage of Winter Soldier and other important stories by mainstream U.S. media really have to look at the mirror as well.

Early in this decade I was among many who spent a great deal of time and effort to "save" Pacifica. After that battle was "won," I repeatedly urged the Pacifica board, then executive director Dan Coughlin, board chair Leslie Cagan (now of United for Peace and Justice) and Democracy Now host Amy Goodman to have reporters at news conferences in Washington. It never happened.

I publicly criticized Pacifica for this failure almost two years ago in "Can Pacifica Live Up to Its Promise?" Still, virtually nothing has changed. (Free Speech Radio News, aired on Pacifica stations, has a reporter on Capitol Hill, very rarely at any executive functions.)

Pacifica at one point actually canceled a program by Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter, who at the time was getting into the White House to ask questions. His questions were posted on Common Dreams, but were not broadcast anywhere. (Ron Pinchback, the manager of WPFW, at one point assured me that Mokhiber's show would not be canceled after it was repeatedly pre-empted, shortly thereafter, it was canceled.)

This indicates that the problem is not so much one of resources, but of journalistic integrity and political will.

Now Pacifica will reportedly be bringing on a new executive director shortly, Nicole Sawaya. Will she do what is needed? Will Pacifica listener members demand it?

Other institutions have similarly failed. The Nation magazine's "Washington Correspondent" (John Nichols) is based in Wisconsin. Similarly, The Progressive magazine had an editor based in D.C., (Ruth Conniff) but she moved (also to Wisconsin) several years ago and was not replaced by anyone. Last year Mother Jones magazine proclaimed in an email heralding the re-opening of its Washington office (the office was closed about a decade ago): "This Changes Everything." They have some informative blog postings, but that's hardly going to "change everything."

Nor is the failure limited to U.S.-based independent media. Al-Jazeera (both Arabic and English) has scores of staffers in Washington, but not one gets into the White House to ask a tough question. Al-Jazeera reporters in Afghanistan and Iraq have braved U.S. missiles, but Al-Jazeera reporters in Washington have not braved White House news conferences.

Similarly, the BBC and CBC and tons of other media from around the world simply report out of Washington, but do not really change the landscape.

It should be obvious that many of these journalists and outlets have done good work -- I'm pointing to a broad, institutional -- really, perhaps cultural -- failure.

I should say that I've regularly asked tough questions at the National Press Club where I'm based and that's gotten crucial information out. I've also spent some of my Sunday mornings doingWashington Stakeout -- asking questions to politicos as they leave the Sunday morning talk shows, to some good effect with virtually no resources, other than the help of a few friends. I have done some work with The Real News and hope this crucial project can do much of the work that is desperately needed.

There needs to be lots of independent media doing much more than "preaching to the choir." The most obvious thing to do is set up the structures to question and scrutinize officials. It will not only lead to a broader dialogue, but will force independent media to get to specifics, to not rely on demonizing Bush and sloganeering. This is the way to get to the truth: challenge, scrutinize, repeat.

Isn't that what real independent media should be?

[originally published at husseini.org on March 25, 2008]

Jackson Must Apologize -- Dueling Muslim and Arab-Bashing: Recipe for Perpetual War

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), Saturday on an Iowa radio station: "If he [Obama] is elected president and the radical Islamists, the Al Qaida and radical Islamists and their supporters will be dancing in the streets, in greater numbers than they did on September 11. Because they will declare victory in this war on terror."

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill), Sunday on CNN's Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer: "To suggest that somehow Barack Obama's election to the presidency of the United States would be celebrated in the Arab world or in the Islamic world as a moment of jubilation is fearmongering at its worst, and it's just horrible."

As bad as King's statement was, Jackson's is actually worse.

Many have claimed that the way out of this war is to "win hearts and minds."

However, this "debate" would indicate that what's really going on at the twin polls of the establishment is how not to win hearts and minds. It's now a scourge to have "the Arab world" or "the Islamic world" "celebrate" a given candidate. So it might be a badge of honor to piss off Arabs and Muslims. Great -- I'd thought that was the problem.

Jackson's view is a prescription for perpetual war.

I happen to think that any jubilation regarding Obama is misplaced -- and it might lead to false hope and global misunderstandings about the course of the conflicts -- but let's put that aside for the time being.

It is not "fearmongering" if Arabs or Muslims want a particular candidate. We're supposed to want a non-military end to the wars the U.S. is in. Muslim or Arab support would be a sign of hope that the non-stop war in Iraq and elsewhere might be over. That's supposed to be a good thing. Right?

Jackson stated King's comments are "Reckless, irresponsible, certainly divisive. ... And quite frankly, I think he owes the senator [Obama] an apology."

But it is Jackson who owes an apology.

He owes an apology to the over one billion people in the world who are Arab and/or Muslim. They deserve to have an opinion about the U.S. election without being shunned; quite the contrary, it should be welcomed.

Jackson also owes an apology to anyone in the U.S. -- no matter their religion or ethnicity -- who wants the perpetual war to end. By his logic, we want to be at constant war to the death.

The so-called neo-conservatives talk of the opinions of Arab and Muslim countries. Of course, they fabricate things, like claiming that the U.S. military will be greeted with flowers and sweets by Iraqis following the invasion -- but still, they seem cognizant of the notion that Arabs and Muslims have thoughts that should matter.

Judging by his words, so-called liberals like Jackson apparently do not -- though perhaps Jackson was prostrating himself before Late Edition's host, the pro-Israeli Wolf Blitzer.

No matter his motives, Jackson needs to apologize.

[originally published at husseini.org on March 10, 2008]

Stoning King

Today, the Washington Post lead editorial prominently quotes King: "'When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,' Dr. King said. 'This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.'"

The people behind the King Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C. are planning on using that exact same quote from his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech. If all goes as scheduled, come April, ground will be broken for a statue of King with the above inscription on it, frozen for the future.

The quote uses a financial analogy for justice; subpar for King in my view. Its substance will seem to many to be a validation of a corporate capitalist future for African Americans, quite acceptable to those atop the Washington Post as well as Verizon and other corporate backers of the MLK Memorial. And the quote is a plea for the United States to live up to its stated goals; it does not seek to radically alter the structure of the nation and of the world, as King sought to do. At minimum, other specific aspects of King must be given prominence.

Jared Ball has warned of the "assassination of the image and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr." Says Ball: "While his name is evoked each year, and at times of heightened political activity even more so, this reference comes specifically to recast a revolutionary into one comfortable with current and false notions of 'progress' or 'change.' Barak Obama borrows King's oratorical flare (attempts at least) with none of his politics; Hillary Clinton misuses his legacy to give undo credit to the executive branch for a movement's struggle for equality while simultaneously suggesting that King himself saw president Johnson's signing of Civil Rights legislation as completion of victory and liberation. He most certainly did not."

Moreover, King was a universal figure, not a nationalist one. His greatest influences were Jesus (a Palestinian Jew), Tolstoy (a pacifist Russian Christian novelist) and Gandhi (a leader of India from the Hindu tradition).

(Even some of the others honored prominently on the Mall -- Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, FDR, presidents all -- have their universal statements highlighted in monuments. Atop theJefferson Memorial: Is etched: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.")

King offered damning indictments not only of racism, but of capitalism, of militarism -- and of nationalism and imperialism; this is most clear in his speeches against the Vietnam War in the last year of his life:

King came out most publicly against the Vietnam War on April 4, 1967 at the Riverside Church in New York, exactly one year before his assassination. In that speech, he shows a palpable shame at having been rather quiet on the issue. Major media outlets immediately attacked him. TheWashington Post patronized that "King has diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country, his people." He was also criticized by groups like the NAACP.

While King in his own day was hurled derision for such stances, today, his statements are iced out of the record. We are offered a petrified King, not a flesh and blood man who cried upon reading the New York Times attack on him.

On April 30, 1967 at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (a pulpit Obama just tried to fill), King replied to his critics:

I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. ... There is something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that would praise you when you say, 'Be nonviolent toward [Selma, Ala. sheriff] Jim Clark!' but will curse and damn you when you say, 'Be nonviolent toward little brown Vietnamese children!' There is something wrong with that press! ...

"To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. ...

"I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. ... When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered. A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. ... True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation."

Many people clearly didn't want to hear it; King, even more emphatically in his "The Drum Major Instinct" address -- part of which was used in his own eulogy -- again at Ebenezer Baptist on February 4, 1968.

I would submit to you this morning that what is wrong in the world today is that the nations of the world are engaged in a bitter, colossal contest for supremacy. And if something doesn't happen to stop this trend, I'm sorely afraid that we won't be here to talk about Jesus Christ and about God and about brotherhood too many more years. (Yeah) If somebody doesn't bring an end to this suicidal thrust that we see in the world today, none of us are going to be around, because somebody's going to make the mistake through our senseless blunderings of dropping a nuclear bomb somewhere. And then another one is going to drop. And don't let anybody fool you, this can happen within a matter of seconds. (Amen) They have twenty-megaton bombs in Russia right now that can destroy a city as big as New York in three seconds, with everybody wiped away, and every building. And we can do the same thing to Russia and China.

But this is why we are drifting. And we are drifting there because nations are caught up with the drum major instinct. "I must be first." "I must be supreme." "Our nation must rule the world." (Preach it) And I am sad to say that the nation in which we live is the supreme culprit. And I'm going to continue to say it to America, because I love this country too much to see the drift that it has taken.

God didn't call America to do what she's doing in the world now. (Preach it, preach it) God didn't call America to engage in a senseless, unjust war as the war in Vietnam. And we are criminals in that war. We’ve committed more war crimes almost than any nation in the world, and I'm going to continue to say it. And we won't stop it because of our pride and our arrogance as a nation.

Perennial presidential adviser and pundit David Gergen, after Obama won the Iowa caucus, noted that his speech was very nationalistic. Said Obama: "In lines that stretched around schools and churches, in small towns and in big cities, you came together as Democrats, Republicans and independents, to stand up and say that we are one nation. We are one people. And our time for change has come."

Is that really the message for our time? A retrenchment of nationalism -- and quite likely a facilitation of further neo-imperialism? As King was increasingly articulating, especially in the last year of his life, the message for our time is that that we are all one people -- not from the U.S., not from any other country. All humanity. Virtually no political figure in the U.S. today articulates anything approaching this (Kucinich perhaps does so occasionally.) But King did do so, and paid for it. Any monument to King that does not recognize that would be an insult to him and to the entire World.

[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 21, 2008]