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Why I'm Getting Arrested at the White House Today

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The first reason I'm going to lie down, refuse to move, and wait to be arrested outside the White House today is my belief that massive civil disobedience is needed if we are going to end the war and forestall the next war. The power of nonviolent sacrifice has been tried and tested. It may not work this time, but nothing else seems remotely likely to do the job, not even my most extravagant hopes for indictments. I'm being as practical as I know how to be. Public opinion is widely against the war in this country, in Iraq, and around the world. Talk is cheap. Our democracy is a shell. Something more is needed.

But there are other reasons for my action. A few of them are"

* Solidarity - I've been encouraging civil disobedience and reporting on it, but have not been engaging in it. If I miss another useful opportunity to engage in it, I become a hypocrite and a bad example. And were I to miss it, I would miss the bonds of solidarity that are formed in such actions.

If you think I am right, what do you think about what you, yourself, are doing? Or not doing?

* Admiration - I plan to get arrested together with Cindy Sheehan and other leaders of the movement for peace, including veterans of the war and family members of the dead. I greatly admire these people and consider it an honor to act with them.

* Honor - I want to honor and remember the people whose lives have been most directly destroyed by this war, including those who have fought in it on both sides, and those - the vast majority of the dead -- who have died in this war without ever picking up a gun. These people have been brutally attacked from behind a desk in an oval-shaped office. Children have lost limbs and minds by the tens of thousands for the greed and power of a small number of cruel people.

* Anger - I'm extremely angry. A gang of criminals blatantly lied to the world about the reasons for the slaughter. There could be no acceptable reasons for such a thing, but I would be less angry - I think - or it would be a very different anger if they had given honest reasons and my compatriots had accepted them. Instead they told lies. They concocted stories. They forged documents! [ ] And many of us knew they were lying. They weren't even so much lying as going through the motions of lying - this was the level of their arrogance. This sort of arrogance may never before have seen its match outside of the profession of journalism - a profession about which I am too angry to speak.

* Disgust - I am disgusted with the debate over whether the hell that is occupied Iraq might be even worse if it were no longer occupied. What's at stake here, primarily, is the future of international law, that is: the future right of the country with the most weapons to aggressively attack and occupy weaker countries and never face justice. If this war is allowed to stand, there is no more international law and cannot be for a long long time - perhaps longer than such a planet will have for human life. The debate must begin with a demand for justice. If I break into your house and bust up half your furniture, I do not then own your house and have a moral obligation to stay the night. If I bully the police into letting me, then I have created a lawless state. And if I force you to torture your family members and then claim that you and your family will fight horribly after I leave, that still does not give me the right to remain. The only decent thing I can do is get out. When I get out, I owe you reparations and repair services and counselors and aides of your choosing. But staying helps nothing and destroys great things.

* Communication - By pretending to die on the White House sidewalk, we will symbolize the dead. By being arrested, we will symbolically play out the only decent action a police officer could perform at the White House: arresting its occupant. It is my hope that the power of nonviolent action, and the brilliance of Cindy Sheehan in working the media (you should have seen them wait in the rain for her yesterday) will communicate the force of this message to those it has not yet reached, namely the United States Congress.

* Nausea - The U.S. Congress makes me sick to my stomach. Its members routinely ignore the will of the residents of their districts. With few exceptions, they work for corporate greed, not human needs. The exceptions include Senators (they can be counted on one hand) who have taken baby steps toward ending the ongoing global crime in Iraq. The main exceptions are the approximately 75 Members of the House of Representatives who inconsistently make general motions in the direction of forming an opposition party against the war party.

The stellar exceptions include the leaders of the Out of Iraq Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, members like John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Lynn Woolsey, Barbara Lee, and Charlie Rangel who have raised their voices with relative strength. Dennis Kucinich has introduced a Resolution of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group [ ]. Jim McGovern is preparing to introduce a bill to cut off funding for the war [ ]. Not a single Congress Member, despite the wishes of 72 percent of Democrats [ ], has the nerve to support impeachment.

* Hope -- We can give them the nerve. That's what I hope that civil disobedience will accomplish. (And let's hope for some help from Fitzgerald as well). There are signs that we may be turning a corner. There are members of both houses beginning to clear their throats and open their ears.

* Love - I love my friends, family, and colleagues. Above all, I love my wife and the baby who is due in March. I can't bring a child into a world like this without doing what I can to make it better. And I try my best to love my enemies and to do what I can to defuse their holy hatred.

Join us! 6 p.m. E.T. at the White House.

Take action at your house today:

Take action everywhere on November 2:

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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 and and works for the online (more...)
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