January 5, 2003

Don't Give Up

In Reclaiming Our Courage (posted at workingforchange.com), Paul Rogat Loeb, the author of Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time, wrote, "It's hard to maintain hope when greed and fear seem to hold all the cards. Despite Bush's mangled phrases, the political operatives who surround him are as ruthless and cunning as any in recent memory."

As Loeb points out, these men will do anything to keep their power. But though they may succeed temporarily, they will only succeed in the long run "only if those of us who embrace more humane visions give up in despair."

Republican attacks on Georgia Senator Max Cleland, a man who lost three limbs in Vietnam, as unpatriotic and running ads linking him to Osama bin Laden is unbelievably low, but, Loeb says, it "parallels the shamelessness of so many high administration officials whose careers have embodied contempt for democracy: Otto Reich, Elliott Abrams, John Poindexter, and John Negroponte lying during the Iran-Contra investigations; Henry Kissinger (now resigned but still kitchen cabinet) launching a secret invasion of Cambodia and a military coup in Chile; John Ashcroft obstructing the registration of African American voters in inner-city St. Louis; Dick Cheney opposing the freeing of Nelson Mandela; and Trent Lott waxing nostalgic about the good old days when Strom Thurmond fought to keep blacks in their place."

Loeb gives a good diagnosis of the sickness gripping America, and follows with a prescription. It will require having courage, speaking out, connecting with organizations who share our beliefs, and "More than ever, we need to leave our comfort zones, reach past what divides us, and find opportunities for common action."

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