Dissident Voice, United States
March 8 2004
The Coming Uncivil War: The Fire This Time
by Richard Oxman
“Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken,
their manhood effaced; better that they should die than live the
miserable wretches that they are.
— L. Frank Baum, later to become author of The Wizard of Oz, writing
as editor of South Dakota’s Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, encouraging
the extermination of each and every Native American, December 20,
Garland’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” had just ended. I was
lounging around, sipping my slave-picked Earl Grey from Sri Lanka,
and pouring over my May 11, 1911 original edition of Le Petit Journal
when the postman rang twice. A typical Tuesday afternoon, although
it could have been Wednesday this week. Unreal.
I’ll tell you what was in the parcel post piece shortly, a bombshell
of sorts for America. First, the obligatory parsing of pain.
The publication’s ink drawing portraying violent audience members at
the opera house of Livermore, Kentucky — spotlighting a quavering
figure on stage in the foreground — is unforgettable. There, yoked
to a pole, his upper torso strapped tight, with rope drawn across the
ankles forcing his lower body to bend at the knees, the black figure
in profile seemed to angle to the right, a twist, wanting to get away
from the drawn rifles and handguns, much like a dog — too afraid to
move — knowing that the Master is about to do something painful.
Perhaps more like a fish caught with a troll, in frozen anguish. His
clothes are in tatters, in stark contrast with a clenched fist behind
the back which is shooting out, stretching in the opposite direction
of his protruding lip. Millay’s “clutching at the South, screaming at
the North” comes to mind, the contortion commanding all. And
speaking of shooting, the public execution at Kentucky’s cultural
center only cost the usual prices for admission. However, those
holding orchestra tickets were allowed six shots whereas balcony
tickets were limited to one. For real.
Like Stamp Paid, the mid-19th century black man in Toni Morrison’s
Beloved, does when he notices a bit of bloody scalp, I want to scream
out “What are these people? You tell me, Jesus. What are they?” Of
course, they were white settlers. Demonic, not insane, to use
Terrence Des Pres’ yardstick. (1) Genocidal by all the standards
Raphael Lemkin established following Nuremberg.
The Jewish Holocaust was not an abominably unique event, unless one
is going to acknowledge the same for a million Armenians, Stalin’s
fourteen million “terror-faminized,” et. al. in Bangladesh, Burundi,
the Brazilian Amazon, Kampuchea, East Timor and elsewhere*(often with
our invaluable assistance). (2) Respecting Africans and Native
Americans, the only way Americans can make conscious-soothing
distinctions — allowing them to “do lunch,” shedding tears over
asparagus at an Oprah-based Book-of-the-Month tête-à-tête, in lieu of
taking any significant action — is to adopt the typical Eurocentric
bias that indiscriminately groups dark-skinned and red-skinned people
into only two undifferentiated masses; do that with white-skinned
people and one can totally exterminate the Polish population without
owning to genocide.
*There was a “total extermination of many American Indian peoples and
the near-extermination of others, in numbers that eventually totaled
close to 100 million.” (3)
It’s all horror that still goes on today, unabated here since the
European foot first stomped on this hallowed ground. But you’d never
know it to watch the parade of obese Americans, driving their SOVs
(Standard Obese Vehicles) going about their dailys. Not waiting on
them anymore to become compassionate, it looks like the guys who
mailed me the package have a Plan B. As promised, I’ll get to that
At a mid-90s conference sponsored by the Global Alliance for
Preserving the History of World War II in Asia (AOHWA) in Cupertino,
California I saw the most horrific photographs I had ever seen up to
that point. They were photographs, poster-sized, of the Rape of
Nanking. Relative to writings about the Jewish Holocaust, very
little has been made available to us concerning atrocities
perpetrated in China, Korea, the Philippines, Singapore and
Indonesia. The Japanese military was responsible for approximately
50 million deaths, 30 million alone in China. It begs the question,
>From December 13, 1937 to February 1938, in the single city of
Nanking, the International Military Tribunal of the Far East (IMTFE)
estimates that 260,000 were killed. The Memorial Hall of the Victims
of the Nanking Massacre in Nanjing claims that the number was over
300,000. Some Japanese put the figure as low as 3,000, its leading
historian of the war guessing that it was no higher than 42,000. (4)
Live burial competed with burning and freezing and the slowest and
most excruciating forms of killing ever known. Children were a
A long time ago. None of it has much to do with us now, right?
We’re not killing minorities in cruel ways any longer, yes? We have
our figures straight these days, no? Our scruples in a row, like so
many ducks, vraiment? All I can say is “Quack, Quack!!” to the good
doctors (Ph.Ds, Ed.Ds et. al.) who have diagnosed Our Day that way.
I believe former UN relief chiefs, Hans Von Sponeck and Denis
Halliday –with decades of devotion to UN efforts behind them– would
not agree. As I remember, they quit their UN posts at very crucial
times over the cruel sanctions that were being imposed on the Iraqis.
Over the bombings, too, that had been going on for at least ten
years; there was that incredible 18-month study that John Pilger
cited not too long ago in The Mirror, wherein something like 36,000
sorties were flown over the Iraqi no-fly zones, 26,000 of them combat
runs (when there was no war!) (5), all in violation of international
law. And that didn’t account for the British bombs or the Turkish
air-campaign atrocities inflicted on the Kurds, the American and
British flyboys conveniently looking the other way.
In our own country, as Jeffrey St. Clair points out — lamenting the
federal government’s abandonment of efforts to prevent
pesticide-caused cancer — “Corporate and governmental statisticians
will broker the ‘acceptable’ number of people permitted to contract
cancer from pesticides residues, comforted in the knowledge that most
of these people will be poor and black or Hispanic.” (6)
I cite the particulars above — when there are an endless number to
choose from — because, for the most part, they’re the ones that were
alluded to in the little package I opened on Wednesday, March 3rd.
The one that informed me –anonymously– that something was in the
works, and motivated me to do something about it all.
“There is a physical difference between the white and black races
which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on
terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot
so live, while they remain together there must be the position of
superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of
having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
— Our own Abe Lincoln during the Stevie Douglas debates
(Undermining underlining mine)
As much as any other man? What man? He’s not talking about
Frederick Douglas here. Nor you, I presume. Certainly, he’s not
speaking for me. And I know those fellows who mailed their missive
to me have quite a different attitude.
However, one can’t say the same for Tommie Jefferson (“the
blacks…are inferior to the whites”) or Benny Franklin (“Why
increase the sons of Africa….?”); and they were the so-called
“soft-liners” who were nowhere near as maniacal as the likes of
Andrew Jackson, a leader far more representative of our past. Of
course, there’s the shining example set by John Quincy Adams who
“gave lip service” to the Indians and others. (7) What a crew. What
a foundation. Quelle dommage!
The point is is that the country is rotten to the core respecting the
issues touched upon above, and the stench is starting to motivate
compassionate/infuriated minorities, and their sympathetic brothers
and sisters of different stripes, to take trenchant (unprecedented in
America) measures. Take note, if you will, a house divided will not
One has to get notions of rebellious rag-tag youth gathering at the
gates of the Capitol Building (putting heads on the chopping block)
out of one’s mind. It’s not going to happen that way. Mau-Mau in
Kenya is more the model*. Mobilization by MoveOn will not be the
order of the day. And to make hay, the midnight killers — for
that’s what they will be if our present momentum is not reversed —
will not require huge groups, consensus or any form of
politically-correct sanction. They will be Invisible Revolutionaries
more along the lines of the Algerian Resistance. But unlike the
Algerians and Vietnamese, they will not demand the cover of the
general population. For they will not be fighting — in the most
immediate sense — for the people, nor in unison, but, rather, out of
rage, and out of unrequited love for what’s right. They will be
frustrated warriors who — in the face of stultifying surveillance
and overwhelming weaponry — simply can’t sit by and take it anymore.
Without any Grand Plan that all the academics and most
“officially-approved” leftists demand of those who would force
change. Arundhati Roy and Pilger, of course, are exceptions, but
where are the prominent U.S. examples?
* Minus the secret society meetings, the mountains of retreat being
replaced by myriad buildings, “habitats for humanity” in the minds of
many. No Kenyatta to capture, the individual insurgents will
proliferate on their own like cancer cells.
It’s a real shame ’cause it wouldn’t take much for a Bush or a Kerry
or a Nader or SOMEONE to simply step forward regularly, acknowledge
the horrors we continue to perpetrate…and remind the populace that
there’s not much else that’s more important than changing the course
of history in this respect. To show that they are doing this and
that…daily…to make it so, to make things right. A little bit of
Emily Dickinson’s “thing with feathers,” not token gestures.
That, or I’m afraid it’ll be a thousand points of burning lights,
illuminating everything from gas stations and office edifices to
private residences, ski lodges and wherever it is that golfers
congregate. Perhaps fire won’t be necessary in the clubhouses.
Thomas C. Mountain of the Hawaii Black History Committee, in an
article that appeared in Counterpunch, February 27, 2004, asked, “How
are we ever going to come to grips with racism in this country if we
continue to deny people of color their historical place? How could
white people hate people of color if they were taught Jesus would
pass for black if he were to rejoin us today?” He noted that Buddha,
Jesus, Krishna, Mohammed and Moses were all people of color.
Indeed. Again, what would it take for a president at a podium to
preach what’s begging to be expressed? To talk constructively about
what’s been wrong, in real language. Not much. Little for anyone.
But nothing like that is heard, periodic pontifications on places
like Haiti –during crises only– notwithstanding. On the other
(bloody) hand, it wouldn’t take much for the senders of my package
and their underground compatriots to set off bonfires in continental
coordination, sort of flambes for freedom, if you will. Bonfires,
originally, were fires in which bones were burned, evil-smelling
affairs that were nothing like the celebratory fires of today.
Nothing liked brings nothing liked.
Please tell Ashcroft, once he’s back to full health, making his
disgusting, fascistic overtures in full force, that I burned the
communication I opened last week; it would be too easy for him to
draw a line between this article, my recent piece “AH!” ARSONISTS FOR
HAITI” (which appeared on and
), the coming catastrophes and (alleged)
advocacy on my part. That’s if he asks. I want no part of an
investigation into the coming Kikuyu-like catastrophe that we’re
bringing on to ourselves.
Yes, I’ve got nothing more to say to the Justice Department or the
American people regarding the above. After all, it IS the American
people who are responsible for what’s taking place –as per legal
precedent established at Nuremberg by us– and they will have nothing
to complain about once the fan starts blowing, hurtling unwanted
waste and more their way.
“Will all great Neptune’s oceans wash this blood, clean from my
hands?”, asked Macbeth. Today, yes. The day after tomorrow, maybe
Finally, it would behoove us to give some thought to these additional
(personal, emailed) words of Thomas C. Mountain (quoted also above),
perhaps relating them to this article’s opening quote from L. Frank
“You might want to consider just how bad for black folk “integration”
or rather assimilation has turned out. Before
integration/assimilation black folk controlled the institutions in
their lives, the schools, the shops, the sports, even the music.
When their struggle began to lead the movement in the US, the move
was made to “integrate” them into white society, to take their
children out of the schools they controlled and assimilate them into
white schools, with white teachers etc. If one looks at the
statistics covering the majority of black folk, the 2/3s who did not
benefit from equal opportunity, life has gotten worse since the
“civil rights movement”, since assimilation started. Infant
mortality, maternal mortality, birth weights, drop out
rates/graduation rates, incarceration rates, drug addiction rates,
all the statistics show that life has gotten worse for most black
folk. In other words, if you want to break a people, break their
institutions first, than they become a crushed and broken people easy
to control and not a threat to the status quo.”
Keep in mind, if you will, that we’re not just talking about
dark-skinned people here. And the parameters of hostility might
easily extend to include people wanting to protect our public
lands…and many others.
Those dangerous-sounding gents who reached me at home via the postal
service –color not clear– claimed to be the three guys who I wrote
about recently in the Counterpunch piece cited above. I understand
the points they made about the U.S. not honoring The Universal
Declaration of Human Rights of December 9, 1948, and our ignoring
subsequent related international agreements and conventions. What I
don’t understand is a) why they contacted me, b) how they were able
to read my article and get something out so quickly (a day following
its appearance!), c) why they used a box when the only contents were
a letter, and d) how they got my home address.
I have a lot of questions.
Richard Oxman, a big fan of James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, can
be reached at [email protected] He has fire gear available
(1) Terence Des Pres, “Introduction” to Jean-Francois Steiner,
Treblinka (New York: New American Library, 1979), p. xi.
(2) See Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn, The History and Sociology of
Genocide: Analyses and Case Studies (New Haven: Yale University
Press, 1990). Also, Richard G. Hovannisian, ed., The Armenian
Genocide in Perspective (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers,
1986). And Robert Conquest, The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet
Collectivization and the Terror Famine (New York: Oxford University
Press, 1986), especially chapter 16.
(3) David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New
World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 151.
(4) See Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of
World War II (New York: Basic Books, 1997), pp. 99-104. Also, Haruko
Taya Cook and Theodore F. Cook, Japan at War: An Oral History (New
York: New Press, 1992), p. 39.
(5) John Pilger, The Secret War: “The U.S. War Against Iraq is well
under way” in The Mirror (December 20, 2002), as posted on ZNet
(6) Jeffrey St. Clair, Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green To
Me: The Politics of Nature (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press,
2004), p. 133.
(7) R. David Edmunds, “National Expansion from the Indian
Pespective,” in Indians in American History, ed. Frederick E. Hoxie
(1988), pp. 159-165.