Hey look, people are still dying in the war

Not paying attention? I know. We’re busy downloading ring tones for our cell phones and trying to make enough to pay the bills while people are getting blown to bits in a country we invaded on the premise that Saddam Hussein was a WMD-bearing cancer that needed careful excision.

Surgery is painful, wae were told, but the world would be a better place without Hussein.

Hussein’s on trial. Is the world a better place?

In the past two weeks, says one “conservative” estimate, at least 500 people have been killed in Iraq in the wake of the Feb. 22 bombing of the al-Askari shrine, a Shiite religious site.

Ultimately, this violence began with us. Counting God as our ally three years ago, we started bombing and blasting and breaking into Iraqi houses, cussing, torturing and forcing our hostages to perform ungodly acts for amateur porn cameras at Abu Ghraib. We don’t know how many civilian moms, dads and babies have been killed in Iraq, but it’s at least 30,000 and could be more than 100,000.

Said George W. Bush last week: “The people of Iraq and their leaders must make a choice. The choice is chaos or unity. The choice is a free society or a society dictated by evil people who will kill innocents.”

Chaos. A society dictated by evil people who will kill innocents. As usual, Bush is blind to the irony.

I’ve been told I need to get over the war thing, as if it’s some quirky obsession. Go back to writing humorous anecdotes. Stop offending people with my hateful talk of peace. Don’t I realize that we’re the good guys? That some wars are just wars?

Howard Zinn, historian, recently wrote about his epiphany as an Air Force pilot during World War II, a so-called “just” war. (His columns are online at www.zmag.org.)

“Once we decided, at the start, that our side was the good side and the other side was evil, once we had made that simple and simplistic calculation, we did not have to think any more,” Zinn wrote. “Then we could commit unspeakable crimes and it was all right.”

We are the good guys. And people rarely leave their homes in the country we invaded.

What are we doing?

So glad you asked.

Local activists are holding an annual peaceful and legal strategizing Peace Summit from 1 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday March 12 in UNR’s Jot Travis Student Union. The keynote speaker is David Hartsough, executive director of Peaceworkers. As a Quaker, Hartsough is deeply committed to nonviolence in working for social change. He’s put his ideas into practice in Kosovo, the former Soviet Union, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the Philippines.

Also coming up: An “It’s Time to Come Home” march on March 19. Activists will gather for a peaceful and legal rally at 11 a.m. at the plaza formerly known as Brick (near Java Jungle) in downtown Reno. At noon, activists will peacefully and legally march to the Thompson Federal Building.

Please come. Don’t let this administration’s illegal spying keep you fearful and at home. We’re living in surreal times. Americans have turned against the war. Bush’s popularity has plummeted. But nothing changes.

People are not enjoying freedom in the country we invaded. Many military experts agree that our presence in Iraq is only fueling the insurgency. Speaking for them, Rep. John Murtha said back in November that U.S. troops aren’t merely impeding progress in Iraq, and Americans are making things worse.

“We have become a catalyst for violence,” Murtha said.

We know this. We know our leaders have failed. When will we hold them accountable?