Monday, February 7, 2011

Max Kantar's Statement

Max Kantar graduated Cum Laude from Ferris State University in 2009. In August 2010 he was arrested after reading this statement. He was not arrested for reading the statement, he was arrested for the apple pie that was pushed into Senator Levin's face after he read the statement.

Max faces eight years in federal prison. The story has gone national, but the story is all about the pie. It seems to me, the story ought to include his reason for putting his freedom at risk.

Below is the statement Max read. This is Max's opinions and they do not necessarily represent those of the blogger.

Senator Levin,

There's no doubt that you are one of the most respected senators in the United States. Coupled with three decades of senatorial experience and your role as Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, this respect translates into great influence in policy making, especially in regard to US foreign policy.

Despite your relative popularity, I sincerely doubt that many of your constituents know the extent of your contributions to increasing human suffering around the world.

How many people know that you were an enthusiastic supporter of the primarily Clinton-era US-led sanctions on Iraq during the 1990s--sanctions which likely killed over one million innocent people by way of starvation, disease, and denial of medicines? Who were these victims? Certainly not Saddam Hussein and his regime--their grip on the besieged population was strengthened as a result. The victims were poor people, children, the sick, and the elderly. Publicly available declassified government documents now reveal the murderous (and ultimately successful) intentions of the US government to destroy Iraq's water system and then to systematically ban the importation of crucial items such as chlorine-- the effects of which were designed, according to top officials, to unleash "disease epidemics" which were predicted to affect "children in particular." The result? Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children were deliberately murdered, perhaps up to half a million, according to mainstream estimates. Their blood is on your hands.

For three decades you have been the strongest supporter of Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people. While the record is far too long to run through here, it is worth mentioning that just two winters ago, the Israeli military slaughtered some 1,400 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Over 1,000 were civilians according to leading Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups. Over 300 were children. Israel used F-16 fighter jets paid for by us; they used guns and ammunition, paid for by us; according to Human Rights Watch, Israel dropped white phosphorus--a chemical weapon supplied by US taxpayers which burns the flesh at 1500 degrees Fahrenheit--on Palestinian schools and incinerated children and noncombatants alive. Your response to these atrocities was to co-sponsor a Senate resolution praising the US-organized bloodbath. In fact, for years you have worked diligently to make sure that US taxpayers subsidize these campaigns of murder and oppression against the Palestinian people. Perhaps this is why you receive more pro-Israel lobby money than any other senator aside from Joe Lieberman. The blood of thousands of Palestinians living under military occupation and apartheid is on your hands.

You have repeatedly voted to allocate billions of dollars in funding for the US invasion and occupation of Iraq; an occupation and invasion which has killed, according to conservative British estimates, well over one million human beings. It might behoove you to remember that according to the ruling at the Nuremberg Tribunals following World War Two, an aggressive war is "the supreme international crime" because it encompasses and is ultimately responsible for all of the crimes and suffering that comes about as a result of the aggression. This funding--our money--is the lifeblood of a brutal military occupation which has killed, maimed, caged, tortured, humiliated, devastated, impoverished, and otherwise destroyed the lives of millions and millions of people. But you don't care how many Iraqi mothers bury their sons; you don't care how many tears are shed over the unfathomable amounts of death, destruction, degradation, and humiliation suffered at the hands of the US and its surrogates. This blood, too, is on your hands.

And power learns no lessons about human suffering. Today you urge more taxpayer support for the war in Afghanistan and for a so-called government in Afghanistan which is run by, in the words of Human Rights Watch, some of the "most notorious warlords in the country,"; warlords and criminals who killed some 50,000 Afghans during the early 1990s after the US and Russia had systematically destroyed Afghanistan in a nasty game of imperial Cold War politics. The blood spilled in every house raid and every air strike on civilians is on your hands.

Today, you continue to call for more murderous attacks in the region. You have prominently called for increasing US drone strikes in Pakistan. These cowardly bombings--which are carried out by robot planes guided by Americans sitting at computers on an Air Force Base in Nevada--have killed several hundred civilians, including women and children. Not only are these bombings wildly immoral because of this, but they also inflame and incite, quite understandably, hatred against the United States. Pakistani blood will continue to drip from your hands as long as the bombings continue.

You remain hawkish and aggressive in your posture towards other sovereign nations as well. For example, your position on Iran--a country that, in stark contrast to Israel, hasn't attacked its neighbors for centuries--is that "all options, including military options, should be on the table." In plain terms, this is a threat to bomb Iran, maybe even with nuclear weapons. Such threats are flagrant violations of the UN Charter, if anybody cares. If and when the US or its Israeli client attacks Iran, that blood, too, will be on your hands.

Senator Levin, reasonable people can disagree on policy and politics. BUT, reasonable people CANNOT disagree on basic human principles of justice and decency. It is both perverse and shameful that you claim to uphold values like freedom and justice while actively taking part in the murder, mutilation, repression, and infliction of suffering on millions of Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Afghans, Pakistanis, and many more peoples living under the whip of US imperialism, from Latin America to Africa, to Asia and the Middle East.

And back home in Michigan, you treat the people you purport to serve with equal contempt. While you go to sleep in your Detroit mansion as a millionaire each night, nearly 20,000 human beings in the same city go to bed homeless, on the streets. Do you have even the slightest idea what being homeless entails? These people could be housed with money you prefer to spend on war, or money you prefer to spend on yourself. While you sit self-righteously in Washington making laws to protect power and privilege, the police systematically brutalize and imprison our state's African-American population at rate nearly THREE TIMES that of South Africa during the years of apartheid.

The truth is that, on principle, you are no different than every other senator in the U.S. and I don't respect you. And I'm not the slightest bit interested in hearing your entirely predictable response, replete with the same old lies and apologetics for heinous crimes against humanity. If there was any justice in this country or in this world, you would be in prison and I am going to say it straight to your face.

1 comment:

  1. Max ...

    I admire that you are so secure in your story that you need not hear any other story. The beautiful part of dialogue is that one hears the story of the other side, and at a very deep level understands that both stories have elements of truth. I don't enjoy violence. I do however believe that the Jewish Israeli story contains truth. I also believe that there is truth in the Palestinian narrative, and I am deeply disappointed that those in power on the Palestinian side have chosen to engage in violent, rather than non-violent means of protest for the injustice that they have experienced. I am disappointed that the Palestinian leadership has consistently refused to acknowledge the Israel story. Because of the violence, the Israeli side is increasingly unable to hear the Palestinian story with compassion. To claim, as you do, that the sins are all on the side of Israel and the United States is to shut your years to a portion of the truth.

    There is a famous series of disputes in pre-first century Jewish life between two sages named Hillel and Shammai. It is said, however, that no matter how much they disagreed they still showed proper respect for each other. Hillel taught Shammai's position before his own. This means that he listened carefully to Shammai, so he could articulate both his and Shammai's positions authentically. It is said that their children or the children of their respective followers married each other. This is a model of how to disagree with respect.

    Eight years in prison for throwing a pie is a long time. Even though I think what you did was deeply wrong, I don't wish that on you. I wish that you would acknowledge that pie throwing does not replace respectful dialogue, and that would lead to a lighter or a suspended sentence with community service. I wish it was the case that all people would agree on basic human principles of respect ... it that were the case, you and Senator Levin would have engaged in a lively dialogue that over time, might have affected both of you. Sadly, your method of dialogue will come to no such conclusion.