Every war is a war against a child

February 1, 2010


“Every war is a war against children.”  The elegant simplicity and hard truth of that statement is what made Howard Zinn a remarkable man. He embodied dissent in nearly every aspect of his life – as historian, teacher, author and citizen of the United States.

I remember back during the 2004 election, when many citizens consciously awoke to the realities of what was going on around the world. A close friend asked me “I really would like to understand politics better. How can I know more? What can I read? I immediately offered up Howard Zinn’s classic “The People’s History of the United States”.

To understand the politics of our country is to know the historical impact and extent of our power, our empire, how our tax dollars work. As unfortunate and difficult as it is to know, one must recognize we are all guilty of war crimes.  If America is a democracy to respect and love, it must be able to be assessed in honest and critical terms of its conduct.

That is what Howard Zinn always did. With a smile on his face, he reminded us of the importance to speak out and when necessary, use civil disobedience. Zinn’s life long dedicated to peace and social justice, is more than inspiring. It is a testimony to living a life of purpose beyond our own comforts and living rooms.

When we do not educate ourselves about the realities of U.S. policies, it is difficult to understand the impact of our own tax dollar. A good example is the tax funds paid for or Blackwater security services – here is a result of that investment.

Last night I was at a reception at Planned Parenthood in San Luis Obispo. I had not been in the clinic for many years. I was very happy to visit the warm and comforting reception area and tour the clean examination rooms. The reproductive health care services Planned Parenthood offers our community are monies well spent. Funding comes from member’s contributions and partly by state and federal programs, such as Family Pact. The State puts in $1 and the Feds put in $9. Nearly 60 percent of PP income comes from this program.

Our regional Planned Parenthood clinics provide services to over 30,000 patients annually. Not only do they ensure confidential and safe services to create a world where it truly is the birthright of every child to be wanted, cared for and loved but their educational outreach to teens and economically disadvantaged women is a great investment. By the way, did you know that California is the only state where teen pregnancy has dropped significantly in the past 10 years?

Always under fire and waging annual ballot battles on parental notification,  Planned Parenthood maintains a level of service and dedication to the health of women (and men) that is worthy or your donation or volunteer assistance. www.ppsbvslo.org

Meanwhile, Governor  Schwarzenegger is threatening to cut Family Pact to save his budget. Please call Sam Blakeslee and Abel Maldonado to let them know this would be penny wise and pound foolish policy making.   www.ppsbvslo.org

More of this short-sighted policy circus was unveiled last  week when we learned that in FY 2011, the Federal discretionary budget was going to be frozen – except, of course,  military and national security spending. Heaven forbid we use common sense and cut a bloated budget like DOD. Among the jeers and heckles from the most disrespectful Republican Congressional delegation I have ever witnessed, President Obama once more is trying to appease to a middle ground.

I say this is not only is not working, it is not the direction we should be going in if we want the United States to remain strong and vibrant.

If you want to increase jobs, reduce the deficit and the debt – do one thing Mr. President, change your foreign policy. PLEASE. A $3 trillion war debt, plus an annual $700 billion defense budget brings to mind a quote I often use from a Drake University professor of Economics:

“Prosperity and progress of a people or a nation depends not only on its ability to create wealth but also its wisdom to allocate it judiciously”.

Last May, Howard Zinn wisely said “not only does President Obama need to get the US out of Iraq and Afghanistan; we need to get out of the mindset that took us into Iraq and Afghanistan”.

Spending the majority of our economic resources on defense mentality must change.And we can change it. Howard Zinn reminded us that it is the People who matter most, not the elites. It is the People who give power and take it away.

It is up to us to determine how our money is spent and where we put our energy.  Jobs, environment, education, technology, health services for those in need – that is a country worthy of you, me and beautiful teachers like the late, great Howard Zinn. Thank you, Professor Zinn.

Dawn Ortiz-Legg is a local activist, businesswoman, and mother.

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Dear Mr. Freberg,

Thank you for your comments. I agree that worthy discourse is about sharing a variety of viewpoints. As it is, my “friends” are not even aware of my pieces here but more importantly, what is with your distaste in fellow citizens actively engaged in redirecting our nation’s resources to life sustaining activities thereby increasing security at home and abroad?

The fishbowl I live is the planet earth and according to Pew Trust surveys, the majority of the world’s people (including U.S.) consider military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan highly unproductive, whether its troops or drones or military bases. Besides, the cold war mentality as policy is completely unsustainable.

And speaking of values, why is it that conservatives such as yourself hail the tea party ideals but never see the now $1.05 Trillion tab for war in Iraq & Afghanistan for the tremendous waste it represents?

In the latest budget Obama has pledged billions of new taxpayer debt to the Star Wars missile defense program. This is the program that test launches from Vandenberg. The latest failed test cost $150 million. In order to secure our cherished freedoms, the base commander ordered the peaceful protest being held outside the base broken up, and 8 out of 11 protestors were arrested.

Meanwhile, the Roberts Court granted unprecedented political power to the very corporations which will benefit from gluttonous defense spending—multinationals and so-called “defense” firms (i.e. arms manufacturers—merchants of death.

Who guarantees and enforces the freedom which Americans have been enabled. Certainly not the military.

My dear Miss Dawn,

Howard Zinn was a joke…. and quoting university professors is not going to have credibility with most of the public. Besides, you really don’t have to read “Howard Zinn’s History of the United States’ to view his truth… just pick up a high schooler’s history textbook and you’ll read how the ‘huns’ were tolerant (I guess before they killed you) and how President Reagan’s father was a drunk … not ‘fair and balanced’ and definitely not accurate.

The wording that ‘every war is a war is a war against children’ is incomplete… it is a war against young and old , trees, shrubs and the birds in the air! No one wants war… especially military folks, but if the war comes to you… what are you supposed to do, sweetheart?

Oh, President Obama has had to endure some heat, but that, my dear, is the nature of the job. By proxy, I think you have trouble having your values questioned… but it isn’t just you who think they are on the side of the angels.

A word of advice, if you want to come across more convincing… acknowledge the others point of view or your audience will tune you out. After all, writing to just your friends is futile, ‘code pink’ is but a few goldfish in a very small bowl.

Roger Freberg

what are you supposed to do, sweetheart?

What Reagan’s smarter wife said to do; Just say NO.

‘No one wants war’ Please! You need to turn your condescending tone right back at yourself. Halliburton, with Cheney’s connections, went from the U.S. Army’s 19th contractor to it’s number 1 by 2003…. and at the same time somehow was able to decrease the amount of taxes it paid. The military industrial complex is making record amounts of $$ off of this War Without End – at our considerable expense and on the backs of our service people and their families.

A word of advice- if you want to be taken seriously- don’t treat everyone who disagrees with you as if they were a child.