May 22, 2003

From Democracy Now

New York Times reporter Chris Hedges was booed off the stage and had his microphone cut twice as he delivered a graduation speech on war and empire at Rockford College in Illinois.

“As I looked out on the crowd, I was witnessing things I had witnessed in the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina or in squares in Belgrade… it breaks my heart when I see it in my country.”

“Speaker Disrupts RC Graduation” – this is the headline in the Rockford Register Star in Illinois.

The article describes how a commencement speaker was booed of the stage for making an antiwar speech at the Rockford College graduation on Saturday. The paper reports that two days later, graduates and family members are “still reeling.” They had envisioned a “go out and make your mark send-off.”

The speaker wasn’t an antiwar student. It wasn’t an antiwar faculty member. It was New York Times reporter and veteran war correspondent Chris Hedges. Hedges reported from war-torn countries for fifteen years. Hedges spent the last year covering Al Qaida cells in Europe and North Africa. He was a member of the New York Times team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for the paper’s coverage of global terrorism.

In his new book War is a Force that Gives us Meaning, Hedges writes: “War and conflict have marked most of my adult life. I began covering insurgencies in El Salvador, where I spent five years, then went on to Guatemala and Nicaragua and Colombia, through the first intifada in the West Bank and Gaza, the civil war in the Sudan and Yemen, the uprisings in Algeria and the Punjab, the fall of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the Gulf War, the Kurdish rebellion in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq, the war in Bosnia, and finally to Kosovo. I have been in ambushes on desolate stretches of road in Central America, shot at in the marshes of southern Iraq, imprisoned in the Sudan, beaten by Saudi military police, deported from Libya and Iran, captured and held for a week by Iraqi Republican Guard, strafed by Russian Migs-2IS in Bosnia, fired upon by Serb snipers, and shelled for days in Sarajevo.”

But this didn’t stop Rockford College officials from pulling the plug on his microphone three minutes after he began to speak. The college president told Hedges to wrap it up. He resumed his speech as to the sound of boos and foghorns. Some graduates and audience members turned their backs to Hedges. Others rushed up the aisle to protest the remarks; one student tossed his cap and gown to the stage before leaving.

Rockford College’s most prominent alum is Jane Addams, a pacifist who was booed off the Carnegie Hall stage for opposing US intervention in World War I. Addams was the founder of Hull House, a non-profit social service agency, the first president the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and a Nobel Peace Prize Winner.

Transcript of Chris Hedges Speech

Posted by David Perry at May 22, 2003 07:29 PM | TrackBack

he talked about this on wednesday (may 21) on democracy now! you can listen to the interview through the archives at
dn! played hedges's speech, too

Posted by: carol m on May 23, 2003 01:29 PM

I wrote the following prose-poem after listening to Bil Moyers interview Chris Hedges in early March. - Ron Brand

Dear God, weep for us, for we have forgotten how
by R. Brand
Will god help us bury the dead when our loud rage has fallen silent? When the screams of children buried in the rubble are exhausted? Will god dirty himself, or herself, as she wields the spade, leveling the mounds of blood and sand, hiding the human brains and gristle. Will she, or he, be blinded by useless tears and fall silent, or just stand there, not worth his pay?
The death of the accused is always worth the cost. One kills and one dies, each one stripped silently of their humanity. The powerful, who’s will this is, are glorified in their own eyes. The tumultuous dead must not bother their dreams. This is the job of the old man, the old god.
Shall we name each sweet little one as we disinter the graves? And mark it with a stone in memory? Mohammed, Shiva, Buddha, Allah, Yahweh, Jesus; each one a single name, dearly remembered in the tears of the mothers. That girl running toward you on the road, her flesh wreathed in napalm, has been removed from the old photograph, her silent scream gone from memory. The hands of our strong soldiers encircle the wasted thighs of each sweet little one as they carry them to rest. Their whispering is silenced.
We rate our kings by the mounds of dead that accumulate around their thrones. With 1.7 million dead of starvation and disease we bomb them again, then make a movie of one brave GI rescuing a single child from the rubble of what was once his home in Baghdad. Strong fingers cradle the broken thigh. Millions in the homeland breathe a sigh of vindication and relief, 1.7 million are dead, one is saved. A brown-eyed woman looks back momentarily as she disappears into the forest. Her image is not saved.
We have committed evil to memory and human reason has fled. Bored, our soldiers march.
The old god stands aside, staring mutely at the mounds of dead that form his horizon. The concussive force of our imperial bombs has shocked him into hopeless futility. Having no other recourse, he will work or he will die, leveling the burial mounds of the useless dead, instilling silence. The children can fend for themselves. We will teach them our great game, to tear at each other’s throats as their mothers weep. They will be dishwashers and waitresses, and feast the rich man at his repast.
Jamil is not racked with pain by Maria’s hunger. Josef’s stride does not halt for that hobbling fool, Josefina of the twisted thigh. Hakim will die alone, unwept. Felicia will weep alone. Our watchful TV screens instruct them, each by each and one by one, that each one of us chooses his or her own fate. All are shown pictures of children wreathed in blessed smiles, but some just gape stupidly at wasted faces bulldozed into the sand, at bodies torched in Panama. Some do not take well to our instruction. They have wandered hand in hand with the sweet children of the forest, or have grown old before their time.
One idea without its contrary can rule the world with impunity. Capitalismo without Machismo. The hero’s face is not smudged, his hand not dirtied by the filthy child, the image not marred. The child weeps only for the camera, then disappears, never having been. The thigh of the Nicaraguan child must have been repaired somehow. 4 million dead in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos simply did not understand the value of human life as we do. 5,000 Afghani civilians have not died in the rubble of their homes, they have not been filmed dying by the cameras affixed upon our gleaming planes. They just are not.
The frail old man who weeps holding the filthy clothes of children is banned. His hands are unsightly. He must work unseen.
The broken bodies of the useless dead lie unburied, but do not break the stride of our soldiers, who kick them easily aside for jackals to rend and devour. US forces watch as Israeli forces bulldoze family homes filled with families of refugees into the flattened rubble of Jenin. Since, heroically, not a word of witness. We point our finger at the dead, they move not, speak not a word in their own defense.
When we lie, the names of our various gods become hopelessly jumbled, difficult to conjure properly. Mammon, Yahweh, Shiva, Buddha, Death, Jesus. In our worship now, who can tell them from Pablo or Inez? We proclaim that efficiency is the question that demands answer in the rendering of life. Gas is cheaper than bullets, bulldozers and incineration are useful in hiding those tell-tale numbers. Even the old man will not count the dead we turn to nuclear vapor. Our great leaders smile to evade detection. Our sky machines now scan the earth and quiet our minds.
When evil was first named after the great war it offered the power of exceptionality, that murderous abstraction. We now kill fruitfully, enriching the soil. Our soldiers everywhere enforce our rule. But hordes of rats have multiplied, their chattering teeth intruding on the silence of the night, eager for the fear they smell in our bones. Great with power, we try to warn the unwashed horde. Some say that kill or be killed is now our law. Some say that terror is good for the soul when it teaches that the tyrant is beneath loathing and you set your mind to fight, not an ogre, but men like you and I.
In the tenth circle stands a perfect legion of miniature men and women. Their blue eyes are distant and unfocused, crystalline. But we, watching, cannot make this out, their legion is a secret in our midst. Forbidden, we never see what is right in front of our faces, we have no eyes to see. We cannot hear the piteous cries of children blasted by our bombs because we’ve grown tired of pity. We cannot taste the sweat or tears of the little ones because we refuse to dirty our idyllic dreams. A grizzled old man, leaning on his spade, chats affably with a brown-eyed woman by the side of the road coming from the lush green forest. The wind blows and I cannot make out what they say. I do not know my brother or my sister, or my neighbor, or the man across the way, or that woman hiking on the path, or even know what God I worship. Dear God, weep for me, for I have forgotten how to live. Tell me, dear God, what I have done.

Posted by: Ron Brand on May 26, 2003 10:45 PM

Listen to the audio track of this anti-American, anti-Semitic SHITHEAD ruin this commencement ceremony. And even after unplugging his mike this demigogue continues to drone on ...Hedges Hoopla may sell more books but his comments were inappropriate to the venue. It was the graduates' day, not his soapbox!
And the nerve of it is...when liberals take to the streets they are COURAGEOUS...when a conservative viewpoint is strongly expressed...we are told that we are intolerant....liberal = hypocrite! Wake up, conservatives are no longer Wimpy Gentry. Sleeves are rolled up and ready for the fight to have the same freedom of expression that liberals have haughtily enjoyed for decades.

Posted by: Lynn on June 26, 2003 12:38 PM

Very nice website

Posted by: Victor on November 29, 2003 07:51 AM

That gives us a pretty good starting point to understand a lot more about variables, and that's what we'll be examining next lesson. Those new variable types I promised last lesson will finally make an appearance, and we'll examine a few concepts that we'll use to organize our data into more meaningful structures, a sort of precursor to the objects that Cocoa works with. And we'll delve a little bit more into the fun things we can do by looking at those ever-present bits in a few new ways.

Posted by: Cadwallader on January 19, 2004 04:34 AM

Earlier I mentioned that variables can live in two different places. We're going to examine these two places one at a time, and we're going to start on the more familiar ground, which is called the Stack. Understanding the stack helps us understand the way programs run, and also helps us understand scope a little better.

Posted by: Randall on January 19, 2004 04:34 AM

But variables get one benefit people do not

Posted by: Randolph on January 19, 2004 04:35 AM