Inauguration statement of conscience

Not In Our Name, which in 2002 issued a statement of conscience about where America was headed, plans a new one for the Bush inauguration. It is worth repeating verbatim:

George W. Bush is about to be inaugurated for a second term as President of the United States. Let it not be said that the people in the United States silently acquiesced in the face of this shameful coronation of war, greed, and intolerance. He does not speak for us. He does not represent us. He does not act in our name.

No election, whether fair or fraudulent, can legitimize criminal wars on foreign countries, torture, the wholesale violation of human rights, and the end of science and reason.

In our name, the Bush government claims to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq on baldly false pretenses, raining down unspeakable destruction, horror, misery and death to as many as 100,000 people. It destroys entire cities in the name of so-called democratic elections, while intimidating and disenfranchising tens of thousands of African-American voters at home. It holds an entire nation hostage, forcing on its people torture, hunger, and unimaginable privation and humiliation.

In our name, it holds in contempt both international law and world opinion. It has carried out torture and detentions without trial all over the world and proposes new assaults on our rights of privacy, speech and assembly. It has already stripped the rights of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians in the US, denying them legal counsel, holding them without cause, stigmatizing, and deporting tens of thousands.

Could we have imagined a few years ago that core principles such as the separation of church and state, due process, presumption of innocence, freedom of speech, and habeas corpus would be discarded so easily? But under this government anyone can be declared an “enemy combatant” by Presidential decree with no meaningful redress or independent review, by a President whose rationale for concentrating power in the executive branch is “trust me.” Its choice for Attorney General is the legal architect of torture from Guantanamo to Afghanistan to Abu Ghraib.

As terrifying “trial balloons” are floated about invasions of Syria, or Iran, or North Korea, about leaving the United Nations, about new “lifetime detention” policies, there is no telling what further crimes this government will commit in our name against nations or individuals deemed to stand in the way of its goal of unquestioned world supremacy.

The Bush government seeks to impose a narrow, intolerant, and political form of Christian Fundamentalism as government policy. We must face the fact that this extremist movement is no longer on the margins of society. It aims to strip women of their reproductive rights, to drive gay people from public life back into the closet. It seeks to drive a wedge between spiritual experience and scientific truth, smugly denying thousands of years of human scientific achievement.

We believe all people must be free to find meaning and sustenance in whatever form of religious or spiritual belief they choose. But we will not surrender our right to think to extremists and the President in whom they have their strongest ally. The Grand Canyon was not created by a biblical flood. Women are not human incubators. Breast cancer is not retribution for having an abortion. AIDS is not a punishment from God. Evolution happened. Religion can never be compulsory. This government may claim to make its own reality, but we will not allow it to make ours.

Millions of us worked, talked, marched, poll watched, contributed, voted, did everything we could to defeat the Bush regime in the last election. It was a massive effort, bringing forth new energy, new organization, and new commitment to struggle for justice. It would be a terrible mistake to let our failure to stop Bush in this way lead to despair and inaction. On the contrary, this broad mobilization of people committed to a fairer world, a freer world, a more peaceful world must move forward. We cannot, we will not, wait until 2008. The fight against the second Bush regime has to start now.

The movement against the war in Vietnam never won a presidential election. But it blocked troop trains, closed induction centers, marched, spoke to people door to door — and it helped to stop a war. The Civil Rights Movement never tied its star to a presidential candidate; it sat in, freedom rode, fought legal battles, filled jailhouses — and it changed the face of a nation.

We must change the political reality of this country by mobilizing the tens of millions who know in their heads and hearts that the Bush regime’s “reality” is nothing but a nightmare for humanity. This will require courage and creativity, mass actions and individual moments of courage. We must come together whenever we can, and we must act alone whenever we have to. This will require extraordinary acts from ordinary people.

We give our love and support to the soldiers who have refused to fight in this immoral war, and we pledge to create community that backs courageous acts of resistance. We applaud the librarians who have refused to turn over lists of our reading, the high school students who demand to be taught evolution, those who brought to light torture by the U.S. military, and the massive protests that voiced international opposition to the war on Iraq. We stand with the tens of millions of people throughout the world who fight every day for the right to create their own future.

It is our duty to stop the Bush regime from carrying out this disastrous course. We believe history will judge us sharply should we fail to act decisively.

If you’re interested in signing the statement or contributing to the cost of publishing it, go here

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