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What It Would Take to End Racism and War

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Charlottesville has several monuments around town and on the campus of UVA, and they are almost all war monuments. Ninety-nine percent of our history, all of our activism, artistry, scholarship, athletics, music, industry, architecture, education, and all of our non-war glories and tragedies are missing.

Now, if you look around Charlottesville for the racist war monuments to take down and the non-racist war monuments to leave up, you run into another big problem, other than the law. Who can tell me what it is?

That's right. There aren't any non-racist war monuments. We have monuments to the wars on the Native Americans. We have a memorial to the war that killed almost 4 million Vietnamese plus hundreds of thousands of Laotians and Cambodians -- though "Vietnamese" was not the most common word used to designate the people being killed in Vietnam. We have a monument from World War I, a war promoted as a race war against the evil race of Huns. In fact, it turns out that racism is a very effective tool for building war support, and it's quite difficult to find any war that did not make use of racism or related types of bigotry. It's simply too difficult to get people to kill large numbers of human beings, and far far easier to get them to kill something subhuman.

So, if any of you raised your hands to say we should end racism but not to say we should end war, you may effectively be proposing a new kind of war unlike anything we've seen before.

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When former Secretary of State Madeline Albright said that killing a half a million children was "worth it," whatever the it may have been, she meant a half a million dark-skinned, Arabic-speaking, Muslim children. When President Obama said he was really good at killing people, as he bombed eight different countries, as candidate Donald Trump promised to kill more of those people's families, and as a debate moderator last year asked candidates for U.S. president whether they'd be willing to kill hundreds and thousands of innocent children, everybody meant and understood foreign people, dark children, creatures of the wrong religion and language and dress. Not because the U.S. government wants to pursue genocide (although sometimes it or parts of it clearly do -- see John McCain's threat of "extinction" for North Korea earlier this week), and not because the weapons companies make more money if non-white people die, but because public support for bombing and shooting and torturing human beings is much harder to generate than is public support for waging war on those who are not thought of as human.

Look at how the war on Afghanistan is labeled the longest U.S. war, as though wars on Native Americans were not real wars because those killed were not real people. I just watched a documentary about the 1893 Chicago World's Fair that noted that at the time, Germany and France were great friends, and the U.S. was great friends with the Muslim nations of the Middle East, and the U.S. was not engaged in any "multi-national wars." What, you may ask, is a non-multi-national war? Presumably it is a war against people who don't count as having a nation. The massacre of Wounded Knee happened during the planning of the World's Fair. The Apache also were far from giving up. The Apache, like many other Native Americans, by the way, are now the name of a U.S. military weapon used to attack new enemies often described as natives and Indians. Killing Osama bin Laden was called Operation Geronimo.

The U.S. Senate voted down today 61-31 a proposal to repeal the so-called authorization for the use of military force that has served as a legalistic excuse for 16 years of war in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

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The racism of these wars comes home through media and entertainment, through the actions of some returning veterans, through the military training given to police departments. The racism at home fuels the wars through public support, through torture techniques exported from U.S. prisons, and through willingness to give up rights in the name of pursuing enemies.

So it makes perfect sense for those pursuing peace to also pursue the end of racism. Similarly it makes sense for those opposing racism to address the problem of war -- something addressed very well in the platform of Black Lives Matter, which I recommend everyone read.

Raise your hand if you know something, anything at all, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thank you.

He said that we needed to go after three evil things together. One of them was racism. One was militarism. What was the third? Raise your hand if you know.

This is more important than knowing that he had a dream. This is more important than knowing that his dream was not for immigrants to become citizens if they either found enough money for college or participated in fighting wars. The so-called Dream Act, in my humble opinion, should be called the Well It Could Be Worse Act.

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But what was the third thing?

Extreme materialism.

What is that? Who can tell me?

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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