March 18, 2008

Connected Diss: The March of Military Madness

Go ahead and exhale. For a brief moment, I considered regaling you with my thoughts about basketball. Considering, however, that the sum of my knowledge about the sport is that it is played with an orange ball by really tall people, my musings wouldn’t have amounted to much anyway.But basketball isn’t the only March tradition. This year for the fifth time, we find ourselves observing the anniversary of the bloody, wasteful, seemingly-without-end war against Iraq. And we may be marking this day for quite a while if John McCain’s vision of a 100-year war comes to pass. As we approach this unfortunate milestone, we would do well to remember the promises that were made to us before the invasion. The war, we were told, would be over in a jif, a few weeks max, and not to worry, the price tag wouldn’t be more than a few billion dollars. The list of sanctimonious reasons we were given was endless, not a one of them true.And what do we have to show for a war that we are now told is costing $12 billion per month and rising? Mind-boggling expenditures of trillions of dollars that Congress keeps rubber-stamping, thousands of dead soldiers, tens of thousands wounded. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps more than a million Iraqis dead, many more wounded, their country in shambles with barely functional hospitals and schools, rampant unemployment, malnutrition, unpotable water and unreliable electricity, and the rights of women have been plunged back into the Dark Ages.The worst part of this is that we, the citizens of this country, could have said no. Well before the war started, many wise voices spoke up to sound the alarm that the justifications for the war were simply untrue. But those voices were no match for the promotional juggernaut unleashed by the White House with the willing complicity of the media. It really wasn’t all that hard to figure out that the White House assertions were a total crock. Many of us did, but the media for the most part chose not to, and it goes very deeply against our grain to disbelieve either the “news” or those who we have anointed to positions of power. They told us there was a threat and to be afraid, and by gosh, we were. How else do you explain the run on duct tape or the color-coded alert system or enough confiscated water bottles at the airport to meet the hydration needs of a small, drought-prone country?Even now — faced with the consequences of that misplaced trust — we have yet to stop the madness that is the “War on Terror.” And aside from the direct damages, we now have an economy in shambles, our homes being foreclosed upon, food and gas prices in the nosebleed zone and a social services infrastructure that is all but dysfunctional. And still it goes on. And will do so until we gain the collective will to finally say “no more.”So hoops, the war and, yes, it is Women’s History Month. There is still time to check out the numerous events going on around town. But take a minute to think about this — the problem with women’s history is that so much of it has been lost and continues to be lost from the documentation of our lives. Lest you doubt that this is true, try this little exercise: Look at the first section of The Courier-Journal over the course of a week. Count the number of stories about women. And then count the number of stories about men. Take the time to learn about women both past and present. Read a book about women. Read a book by a woman. Talk to the women in your life. Celebrate women’s lives and learn about the problems faced by women throughout the world. It’s the other half of the story. Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org. Contact her at lucindamarshall@feministpeacenetwork.org