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Rita Wlodarczyk - An American Hero Passes

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Message Michael Leon
Madison, Wisconsin-My girlfriend just received a phone call from Tekla Wlodarczyk that her mother, Rita Wlodarczyk, passed away yesterday, February 3, 2007.

In a state blessed with so many committed to social justice, Rita Wlodarczyk stood out.

Peace activist, union supporter, civil rights hero, Rita's accomplishments dating back decades will live forever.

I dedicate this column to Rita Wlodarczyk, a giant in the annals of social justice, whose name will live along with Jefferson, King, Knoll, Muste, and all those thirsting for life, liberty and simple human kindness.

Bush's Vicious Narcissism

President Bush reportedly told a closed-door Democratic meeting on Saturday that the Iraqi war is "sapping our soul in some ways." (Josephine Hearn, The Politico)

Yes, war does that.

That's why most of the world believes that war is an obscene, awful act that we should do our best to avoid. That's why Rita Wlodarczyk spent her life fighting against war.

But not George W. Bush.

Bush continues to duplicitously wage this obscenity with, to borrow the words of Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, "...a casualness and swagger that are the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions - or bury the results."

But not even Newbold's words capture the moral outrage of George Bush using the word "our" when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are killed, maimed, ruined and traumatized for life.

Our souls? What of the Iraqis! Are they human too?

The war-making fever of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney has created the circumstances where a rational course of action for Iraqi civilians, in fact sometimes the only course of action, is to join a militia and in defending their families and neighborhoods, kill fellow Iraqis and young American soldiers.

Winning with Us

In 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-WI), witnessing the destruction of Vietnamese society, told Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird in disgust that "the cold, hard fact of the matter is...that South Vietnam would be better off losing to North Vietnam than winning with us."

As Bush and Cheney and their allies profess concern about the repercussions of U.S. withdrawal, the cold, hard fact is that nothing is worse than the U.S. hegemonic war waged out of lust for oil and indifference to humanity.

Iraq cannot win with us, Iraq can only win without us.

Bush, get out of Iraq NOW.

And Rita Wlodarczyk, may you live on with the peace and comfort that you have brought to everyone fortunate enough to have been touched by your life.

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Michael Leon is a writer living in Madison, Wisconsin. His writing has appeared nationally in The Progressive, In These Times, and CounterPunch. He can be reached at
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