Friday, June 26, 2009

Home, Home it is Strange

It's always hard returning to the US after being out of the belly of the beast for a while. Hell, it's even hard coming back when we go up to Vancouver for the Jazz Festival for the day.

After spending two weeks in Vietnam, a country we self-professedly tried to "bomb back into the stone age," it's been particularly hard.

We were taken off guard by the way the War managed to come up virtually every day in some form, large or small. Some of those were expected: the Museum of the Revolution, where the exhibits spoke with great detail and eloquence about what the US did, and how the Vietnamese won the War and defeated imperialism. Very inspiring, and hopeful. Some were unexpected: sitting on a bench out at the temple in Hoan Kiem Lake, looking for the legendary turtles, we were approached by an elderly Vietnamese man who kept asking , "American?" when we said yes and were able to communicate that, he turned around, pulled up his shirt and showed us the torture scars on his back. Taking a leaf from Susan's book, we apologized in one of our few words of Vietnamese, "Sin Loi" (I'm sorry.). He turned back around, took our hands and smiled. warmly, and then took his leave of us. But his face remains burned in my memory.

Then there was the American-born Brit we shared a train compartment with going back to Hanoi from Hue, who insisted, on the verge of apoplexy, that the US was right, and that the domino theory was right, decades after it was proved to be a lie and a pretext.

Now, here we are back in the US, which has learned, apparently, no lessons from history, returning to stories of attacks and bombing in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, where we just killed 60 attending a funeral, by remote-controlled drone, witnesses to a nightmareous science fiction movie of a distopian high tech world.

The problem with Che's dictate that we Americans must fight here in the belly of the beast, is the amount of acid and bile that lives here, the amount of denial and apathy.

But, fight we must, A former client now witnessing for peace in Jordan, on the Iragi border sent a message that yes, the Iraqis too know about our demonstrations and marches: that the media in the Middle East give them prominent coverage and elicit public discussion. So, 30 years from now, our efforts may appear in the history books of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the people may know that we stood in solidarity in the small and large ways that we can.

From Bellingham, WA, a designated "Troops Home Now City" we struggle on. Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary."

Larry Hildes

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