Monday, August 13, 2012

See what's become of me.....


In recent months, Ryan has been receiving briefings from Elliott Abrams, George W. Bush's former Middle East director at the National Security Council, and Fred Kagan, one of the architects of the military surges in Iraq and Afghanistan, as first reported by Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes on Twitter. Another conservative foreign-policy specialist who has briefed Ryan said the Romney campaign in Boston has arranged for briefings with a parade of former government experts on foreign policy in recent weeks.
Why do we care?
Back in the cowboy days when St. Ronnie winked at the rape and murder of American churchwomen in Central America — noted funnyman Al Haig suggested the four murdered nuns ran a roadblock, and radio comedian Laura Ingraham once told a reporter from the Times magazine that she was going down to stay "at the Four Dead Nuns Inn." Yes, they're all sociopaths — besides being a co-conspirator, Abrams was the pre-eminent cheerleader for that policy, which included the murder, on the altar, during mass, of Archbishop Oscar Romero, a crime committed by men for whom Abrams was a conspicuous apologist.

Besides, some of us remember Reagan's presidency.  As tbogg says, William Kristol is getting the band back together.  I'm not trying to connect Paul Ryan to the death of Oscar Romero, but if Kristol can get his band back together one more time, can't we use to occasion to re-examine the past that isn't over, and isn't even past?  Can't we get our own band together? This is from Memory of Fire: Volume III, Century of the Wind, by Eduardo Galeano, tr. Cedric Balfrage, Pantheon, 1988.

"ARCHBISHOP Romero offers her a chair. Marianela prefers to talk standing up. She always comes for others, but this time Marianela comes for herself. Marianela Garda Vilas, attorney for the tortured and disappeared of EI Salvador, does not come this time to ask the archbishop's solidarity with one of the victims of D' Aubuisson, Captain Torch, who burns your body with a blowtorch, or of some other military horror specialist. Marianela doesn't come to ask help for anyone else's investigation or denunciation. This time she has something personal to say to him. As mildly as she can, she tells him that the police have kid-napped her, bound, beat, humiliated, stripped her-and that they raped her. She tells it without tears or agitation, with her usual calm, but Archbishop Romero has never before heard in Marianela's voice these vibrations of hatred, echoes of disgust, calls for vengeance. When Marianela finishes, the archbishop, astounded, falls silent too.

"After a long silence, he begins to tell her that the church does not hate or have enemies, that every infamy and every action against God forms part of a divine order, that criminals are also our brothers and must be prayed for, that one must forgive one's persecutors, one must accept pain, one must. . . Suddenly, Archbishop Romero stops.

"He lowers his glance, buries his head in his hands. He shakes his head, denying it all, and says: 'No, I don't want to know.'

" 'I don't want to know,' he says, and his voice cracks.

"Archbishop Romero, who always gives advice and comfort, is weeping like a child without mother or home. Archbishop Romero, who always gives assurances, the tranquilizing assurance of a neutral God who knows all and embraces all-Archbishop Romero doubts.

"Romero weeps and doubts and Marianela strokes his head."

Or the four women Alexander Haig joked about:
"THERE are so many deaths everywhere that it is incredible.

"The 'death squadron' strikes in so many poor homes. A family of seven, including three small children, was machine gunned to death in a nearby town just last week. It is a daily thing- death and bodies found everywhere, many decomposing or attacked by animals because no one can touch them until they are seen by a coroner. It is an atmosphere of death.

"The organized, as they call the left, are made up of some of those simple courageous, suffering farmers. In the Pastoral de Asistencia [pastoral Assistance] work that Ita began in Chatelango, one comes in contact with so many poor refugees-women and children especially, who have lost husbands, brothers, fathers.

"It has become an ordinary daily happening. Two lovely young women were cut into pieces by machetes in a community nearby where so many of the people have been killed. The brave mother of one of these young women is also the mother-in-law of the other and she was here with us taking refuge. We are trying to help the refugees-bringing them to shelters and getting food to places where it is desperately needed. "Archbishop Romero [murdered while he said Mass in San Salvador on March 23] and all the martyrs of this little violent land must be interceding for a new day for Salvador.

"I am beginning to see death in a new way, dearest Katie. For all these precious men, women, children struggling in just laying down their lives as victims, it is surely a passageway to life or, better, a change of life. . . .

"I don't know what tomorrow will bring. I am at peace here and searching-trying to learn what the Lord is asking. Ita is a beautiful, faith-filled young woman. I am learning much from her. At this point, I would hope to be able to go on, God willing. . . . This seems what he is asking of me at this moment. The work is really what Archbishop Romero called "acompanamiento" [accompanying the people], as well as searching for ways to bring help.

"Write to me soon. Know that I love you and pray for you daily. Keep us in your heart and prayers, especially the poor forsaken people."--Maura Clarke

Maura Clarke was a Maryknoll sister working with the poor in EI Salvador when she wrote this letter in October 1980. On December 2 of that year, Maura Clarke, Ita Ford, Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel were brutally murdered.
Mitt Romney is currently ignoring a request from the "Nuns on the Bus" to pay attention to the poor in America, something I've noted we haven't really done since Robert Kennedy ran for President. The nuns have also called Paul Ryan's budget immoral.  Unless the poverty rate has changed since last August, the fact that more people are in poverty today than in the last 50 years is probably not only appalling, but misleading.  But then, misleading is what our public discourse does best.

So, for once, can we just get the band back together and stand for something moral?  Can we, just this once, declare people more important than things (money) or ideas (politics as usual)?  Can we try to remember what we've done in the name of liberty and freedom (D'Aubisson was a graduate of the School of the Americas).  We won't dredge up the ghosts of the past, like RFK walking among the poor in full view of the cameras, or to consider the blood of priests and nuns on our hands. Granted, that's not much of a reason for a reunion, but can we for once try for atonement?  Or does that exceed the carrying capacity of a nation, to acknowledge its sins and ask for redemption?  If we don't go that far, can we at least try to be moral?  Just this once?  If nothing more, in opposition to business as usual?

1 comment:

  1. Scott the Obscure7:57 AM

    We can't get our band back together, because they've either sold out or been murdered by those who desperately want might to make right. I can't even think to much about Romero or the Maryknoll nuns. I was taught to admire these people, back when I was in Catholic school, and they were presented as well along the track for sainthood. And then admiring them became too incovenient for the Church's relationship with Power, and next thing I knew, I'm told Liberation Theology is heresy. Now the collusion of Bidness and Politics As Usual to make us ordinary folk suffer as much as possible seems insoluble, and I have moments that I fear blood in the streets and the sound of tumbrels.
    I'm holding my tiny baby daughter, and I just don't know where this goes. Where can I find comfort without breeding complacency? Any passages you'd reccomend, RMJ?