Monday, June 12, 2006


Dear Genay,

June 5, 2006

Justice means that all human beings are entitled to fair, equitable, and decent standards of action and behavior from worldly powers or nations or institutions, and that violations of these standards must be exposed, testified to, and fought. Justice demands participatory democracy, the injunction that people be allowed to participate in all the decisions that effect their lives. Further, justice means that no one’s condition be allowed to become so emiserated that he or she is forced to sell herself to survive, and no one’s be so exalted that he can buy or sell another human being. There’s a lot of open space here, it’s true, but justice is working within those open spaces in the mud and muck of the real world and in the swirl of changing conditions.
The American war against Viet Nam was illegal and unjust. It was murderous and brutal, and My Lai, while not necessarily a daily occurrence, was emblematic of the war: an invading group of foreigners running amok against a peasant population. This is like Wounded Knee, which was emblematic of the conquest of Native Americans, and the currently uncovered murders of civilians by US Marines in Iraq. And how do the powerful respond? “We’ll have more training in the core values of the Corps,” they say. What? You forgot to tell them not to murder babies and children in their homes? It’s a lie. Occupation by an invader always involves patronization of the “exotic” and sensationalization of their pitiful condition, demonization of the “enemy,” dehumanization of the “other,” and then routine humiliation and oppression with occasional extravagant outbursts of murderous acts. This is the way it is. But remember, while the world may not be decolonized yet, your mind is your own—don’t let anyone colonize you.
The media lied and lied and lied—although some individual reporters risked speaking the truth. Don’t over rely on the bought media or the profit-making press to bring you the facts or to affirm your existence, identity, or struggle.