Speech by Alan L. Maki of "Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice" [http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com] at the Sunday, August 29, 2004 "Detroit Lakes, Minnesota Peace March and Rally":
Greetings sisters and brothers!
This March and rally are great. Thanks to the organizers for making this event such a huge success.
The music, the poetry, it’s all fantastic!
It is good to see so many people I have been working with who have traveled from many parts of northern Minnesota to be here today and to meet so many new people.
This is our chance to demonstrate our solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of people who are now marching through the streets of New York City in opposition to this administration that lied about this war and has lied to us about just about everything regarding the state of our nation.
Before I begin I would like to call to your attention that I have placed dozens of these blue books scattered around the Pavilion on numerous tables. These books are free, your tax dollars paid for them. They are “Legislative Manuals” that include the e-mail addresses and phone numbers of Minnesota legislators and other pertinent information much of which will be useful should you decide to run for public office. Please take a copy and make good use of it. Legislators tell me they appreciate hearing from you and they like hearing from you often.
Also, I hope everyone has a copy of this leaflet that speaks to the unemployment appeals case I will make reference to. Please take it home and share it with your family, relatives, neighbors, and fellow workers. You could find yourself in a similar situation… especially if we end up with four more years of Bush.
Mark Twain once observed that the first casualty when a nation goes to war is democracy.
Because of my outspoken views for peace and social justice I am now the target of the most vicious restraining order ever issued in Minnesota since the days of Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch-hunts that robbed the working people of Minnesota of its strongest voices and best fighters for peace and social justice. This witch-hunt now involves Homeland Security Forces who not only viciously attacked me as they ran roughshod over my Constitutional Rights… but also attacked my dog and made my dog suffer.
I hope you will read this leaflet I am passing out here today. Minnesota’s unemployment compensation legislation is skewed and rigged against working people in favor of the corporations just like this two-party system is rigged to deny working people a voice in the Minnesota legislature and in the US congress.
What we need to understand is that poverty, joblessness, and war are universal features of this rotten capitalist system that puts profits before peoples’ needs. What we need is a system that puts people before profits. Take a look at reality… this dirty war is about oil company profits.
Floyd Olson, Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor Party governor once observed, “The capitalist system is failing as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.” This was a prophetic observation.
Floyd Olson was the most popular politician in Minnesota ever. Yet his name has been virtually erased from the history books.
How long will working people endure an economic system that breeds war and poverty?
What working people in Minnesota need is real living wages not these poverty wages.
We need to build affordable homes here… not bomb homes in Iraq. Isn’t it better to pay working people thirty dollars an hour to build homes right here in Minnesota than waste money bombing the homes of others? Think about this: the same people who say, ‘oh no, you can’t pay working people thirty dollars an hour for building homes’ are the very same people who think nothing of spending tens of thousands of dollars to drop one bomb on homes in Iraq! I hope you will think about that little fact. It’s about priorities.
Our children and grandchildren need quality educations… instead Bush and Rumsfeld bomb schools in Iraq.
It is rather ironic that the same oil companies out to steal the oil from Iraq are the same ones robbing us at the pump. They say gas prices have been hiked to catch up with inflation. Why don’t they have the same mode of thinking when it comes to our wages? Have you ever heard one single politician in the State of Minnesota say that the minimum wage should be raised to a level sufficient to compensate for inflation? Why not? Let the poverty wage paying employers cry like we do when we go to the gas station to fill our tanks… these poverty wage-paying employers won’t die from shedding a few tears.
Listen to what Mark Twain had to say over one-hundred years ago and see if it doesn’t ring true today as we discuss this war in Iraq:
The loud little handful--- as usual--- will shout for the war. The pulpit will--- warily and cautiously--- object--- at first; the great, big dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, “It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.
Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audience will thin out and lose popularity.
Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers--- as earlier--- but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation--- pulpit and all--- will take up the war cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open.
Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.
This is from, “The Mysterious Stranger” by Mark Twain.
How true all this rings today… from Bush right down to that one lone warmonger waving his little American flag shouting obscenities at us as we marched through downtown Detroit Lakes.
Apparently there is no room for freedom of the press and freedom of expression alongside the “free market” system that puts profits and wars before people.
The price of democracy and justice, like that of healthcare, is beyond the reach of working people in Minnesota.
What is the price of war?
Every bomb dropped on a school in Iraq robs our children of an education here at home.
Every home Bush bombs in Iraq is a home we can’t build here.
The price we pay for this war means there is not enough money for Universal healthcare like they have in Canada. The Canadians aren’t stupid… their excellent healthcare system is paid for with peace. Their government didn’t go to war in Iraq.
American working people are paying dearly for Bush’s dirty war… it is working class youth fighting and dying and it is workers who foot the bill. Do you raise your sons and daughters to be cannon fodder in some oilman’s war?
The oil barons even profit from the body-bags our sons and daughters are brought home in--- sadly and ironically, these body-bags are made from an oil byproduct. Our sons and daughters fight and die… the oilmen profit, even from their deaths.
The home healthcare industry in Minnesota is a racket in the fullest sense of the word. An examination of the way Provide Care, Incorporated has been feeding at the public trough like a pig and evading public scrutiny while trampling on the rights of its “customers” and employees alike as they fatten their corporate profits is no different than the way the merchants of death and destruction hawk their wares of bombs and bullets.
Then they have judges and the police in their hip pocket to silence workers with restraining orders like this, which have been placed upon me.
Think about this: If these judges can silence me for defending the right of one worker to unemployment benefits… do you think they can’t silence you for speaking out for peace and for social justice in the same way?
Al Capone would have been envious of such rackets!
A nation cannot squander its resources on wars unless it robs its own people of the right to decent livelihoods and the things they need like universal healthcare, housing, and education.
When a nation squanders it resources on wars it is like taking the wealth of the nation and throwing it into the ocean. Would you take money from your pocket and throw it into the waters of Detroit Lake?
Look at this… this is what your tax dollars are buying in Iraq! People like this little boy here, his arms and legs blown off while his entire family lay dead. Not even his mother left to try to comfort him through this agony. Is this the way to win friends and influence people? (picture displayed)
Is there any wonder the peoples of the world said no to this war before it started and continue to be opposed to it?
In my opinion this election shouldn’t even be a contest the way working people hate Bush and his bunch of corporate profiteers and warmongers.
Why then are so many people considering not even voting in this important election?
Because the Democrats, for the most part, have been docile and cowardly in standing up to these warmongers and the corporate thieves.
With Democrats like Collin Peterson who support this dirty war and those who have remained silent is it any wonder people are fed up with politics and don’t want to vote?
Look around you, how many DFL legislators do you see here today? Do you see your DFL Congressman?
Why should I remain silent about their absence if they are not here?
And it is not only on the issue of this war that they have remained docile. It is on minimum wage legislation, the right to organize, and universal healthcare… even the right to fair hearings.
Leaders of the Minnesota DFL in justifying either their support for this dirty war or their silence on the issue pointed out to me that the polls show that a significant number of people support this war. You know what I told them? Well, because it is Sunday and there is a clergyman or two here… I won’t tell you exactly what I told them, but I will tell you that I told them this: “Polls don’t die and suffer in wars… people do.”
It made me sick to see people, even union leaders, stand and applaud Collin Peterson here in Detroit Lakes at the 7th Congressional District DFL convention a few months back. It was just sickening. You know, I was the one and only DFL delegate that did not stand and clap after Collin Peterson got done with his speech supporting Bush’s dirty little war in Iraq.
In my opinion John Kerry’s one and only strong point is that he is an opportunist politician who sticks his finger in his mouth when he gets up in the morning to see from which direction the political winds are blowing. “Waffling” is his strong point because what this means to us as labor, peace, and social justice activists is that with a powerful and large movement demanding peace and universal healthcare we might be able to influence him. Provided we generate enough wind for him to feel on his wet finger when he pulls it out of his mouth.
I was a Kerry delegate… I am firmly convinced that the only way we can get rid of Bush is to elect Kerry. This is the reality of the present political moment.
Is there anyone amongst us today that believes we can influence George Bush? If you are a billionaire with pockets lined with cash… yes, you might be able to influence George Bush or Tim Pawlenty… I don’t know about you but I have had… p-a-w-l-e-n-t-y of Bush.
We must insist that John Kerry set a date for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq! Then vote for Kerry so we can get rid of Bush. Getting rid of Bush is the next step we need to take towards ending this dirty war.
I was glad to see John Kerry take a stand against predatory lenders. This is a serious problem in this state.
By the way… I am voting for Kerry, but no way will I vote for that warmonger Collin Peterson. I certainly won’t vote for his Republican opponent. I hope my non-vote sends a message to someone, someplace.
I think that as we go out to defeat Bush by electing John Kerry we need to begin a serious discussion of putting an end to this two-party fiasco. The moneyed interests in the DFL continue to resist Farmer-Labor voices in the Party. Maybe it is time to go back to what we had in Minnesota: A real farmer-labor party. The time has come to consider the option of rebuilding the old Farmer-Labor Party in Minnesota on the legacies of Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson, and John Bernard. I don’t care what the Party is called. From the red-roots of the farmer-labor movement have grown many new green shoots that need to be nurtured to maturity.
Peace! Sisters and Brothers… Let this word peace ring out throughout every household, union hall, church, and community in Minnesota!
Thank you for the opportunity to speak here today on behalf of Minnesotans for Peace and Social Justice.