I marched against both U.S. wars in Iraq in my lifetime, and yesterday Parker and I took the bus and the subway down to the mall. We didn’t march with the Buddhist contingent like I’d planned, partially because we got a later start than I intended, and partially because I figured standing around waiting to march would have been pretty boring for Parker. So we went to the rally, listened to the music and a few speeches, took some pictures (I picked up the sign, but Parker asked to hold it and then proceeded to hold it in front of his face while I rolled him around in the stroller) and rode the merry-go-round by the Smithsonian before we got back on the subway to go home. (As I promised him we would when we passed the merry-go-round on our way to the rally.)
It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged much about Iraq as much as I used to. Maybe it’s because I can’t think of anything to say without repeating myself. Maybe it’s because I can’t think of anything to say that doesn’t start with “We told you so.”
Remember, we were “crazy leftists” who were accused of being “with the terrorists.” Turns out we also were with “reality.” Let’s review a tiny sample of these predictions, and celebrate outlets with not even a “liberal bias” but a progressive one, which, it turns out, was the smart and correct worldview. Also note this wasn’t Monday morning quarterbacking but, like, really early pre-season quarterbacking. The following were all written months before the invasion even started.
The rest of that post is a laundry list of things I would have been screaming a couple of years ago, while jumping up and down and waving my arms about. Now, I might recited the same list with a sigh or, more likely, a yawn. Before the war, nobody wanted to hear it. Now, even though a lot more people have second thoughts about the war (even the quintessential angry American) they don’t necessarily want to be told that they were told before.
But they were. And it’s worth saying if only because of the very slim chance that the next time maybe the “reality-based” among us won’t be completely shouted down, and maybe stuff like this won’t be done in our name again.
Canada apologized to Maher Arar and his family on Friday and said it would compensate him C$10.5 million ($8.9 million) for its role in his deportation by the United States to what he said was a year of repeated torture in a Syrian jail.
U.S. officials deported the Syrian-born Canadian citizen after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said he was an Islamic extremist, but an official Canadian inquiry said there was no evidence he was linked to terrorism.
The deportation has become a sore spot in relations between Canada and the United States, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper renewed his call for Washington to remove Arar from its security watch list as he announced the settlement.
It is more and more difficult these days to talk about the United States in the first-person plural. I hate to say “we” sent this innocent man off to be tortured. I hate to say “we” maintain secret prisons where this sort of thing happens to thousands of inmates who have never been charged with any crime.
And I especially hate to say “we” are too stubborn to admit when “we” have screwed up. “We” are going to keep this man’s name on the watch-list, so he can’t travel anywhere, so he is always suspected of being a terrorist, even though the evidence against him was nonexistent and a Canadian investigation found nothing to link him to terrorism.
I just hate having to say that.
Even if “we” received bad information from the Mounties, there is no way his treatment was justified. If “we” had a legal system, with laws in writing and courts and legal representation and habeus corpus, the consequences of “our” mistake would’ve been something “we” could live with, instead of something “we” have to lie about and deny.
I took Parker with me because of a sign I saw outside of a church around the time the current war in Iraq started, and I was despairing that efforts to stop it either failed or were ignored. The sign read “How are you living your life to prevent the next war.” The next time maybe my son have to try to be one of those “crazy leftists” with a grasp on reality, and not be afraid to speak up.
On the way down to the Mall, I tried to explain to Parker where we were going and why. I’m not sure how much he understood, but he seemed impressed with what he saw (maybe it was just the carrousel), and maybe he’ll remember it. Maybe the best I can do towards helping prevent the next war is equipping him to do just that. And I have to start somewhere. Right?