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The Threat to Democracy from the War on Terrorism

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General Assembly 2003 Event 2054

Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists spilled into the aisles and onto the stage to enthusiastically greet Tom Hayden, former California state senator. After an introduction by Rick Van Dyke, Hayden began by comparing the present with the 1960s, when protesters scandalized the conservatives by wearing beads and sandals, and when truth was manipulated, as it is from generation to generation. “It is in the nature of the State,” he told us, “because the State is afraid of its citizens. Truth is the first casualty of both war and peace—permanent war for permanent peace, a blending of war and peace.”

Hayden outlined a deeply disturbing description of the transition in Iraq from bouquets to bloodstains, in a war that was declared over but that continues to kill about one U.S. soldier a day; there is no good estimate of Iraqi casualties. He also described “the politics of the second term.” The issue of empire is emerging, while tax cuts strangle social programs. “Why wipe out the New Deal?” he asked. “Rather, let’s extend it to those who never received it.”

He asked if the present looks to us like the 1960s, which he described as a struggle against fear and apathy, and asked how people will look back on the time we are living. He invoked the spirit of Rachel Corrie, the activist who was killed in Gaza, and he looked to the anti-globalization movement for the energy to continue the struggle.

Politics is pragmatic and utilitarian, said Hayden, and urged us to keep the first and do away with the second, and claim a power over the future that has no term limits. Regarding the next election in light of President Bush’s high approval rating, he noted that the Democrats are deeply divided, and he recommended counseling for the Greens and the Democrats. With that, he expects a close election in 2004.

Reported for the web by Mike MacNaughton; edited by Margy Levine Young.

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Last updated on Thursday, September 8, 2011.

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