This Thing Called Courage

Friday, January 11, 2008

"March in My Name"

I LOVE STORIES LIKE THIS-- when quiet, 'normal' Americans become so outraged by the torture and lies of the Bush Administration that they finally feel compelled to do something about it. John Nirenberg is his name, and he is so outraged byt he antics of the torturing Bush Adminsitration that he decided to walk from Boston to Washington to express that outrage. John arrives in Washington, DC tomorrow (Saturday) after starting his 'March in My Name' project for impeachment from Faneuil Hall in Boston on December 1. You go John!

A quick search on the internet showed that (surprise!) NO main stream media has picked up John's wonderful story-- apparently it's more important that we hear about the real estate market, the Patriots, and the 'horserace' of the primaries ("diamonds or pearls?") I've just written to the Globe, asking why they haven't covered this truly American and truly wonderful story-- I don't expect an answer, and funny how it is that we no longer expect answers from not only our congresspeople, but our media...

Anyway, here is John's story, and you can read more, and check out his progress, on

About Me

What makes this 60 year old, slightly overweight believer in the system take to the street? What makes this life-long servant of the establishment more at home in comfort than in conflict spend an inadequate retirement savings to seek the President and Vice President’s impeachment? What exactly shook me awake from my trance of complacency?

My name is John Nirenberg. I was born in the midst of the Nuremberg Trials. I grew up conscious of that place as both the beginning of the hate and violence that destroyed all of Europe, and the trials that confirmed a powerful moral sense of what is acceptable and unacceptable even in the depths of war.

As a child I watched all the war movies and believed we Americans really were different and that we fought for a noble cause. I believed in the supremacy of freedom over fascism, I surely thought our glory was based on doing the right thing and our victory showed the power of real democracy.

But even as a child I was puzzled about how the world could sink so low. How could a civilized country like Germany turn into a nightmare of fear, violence and wanton destruction? Watching the movies and seeing a nation turn on one scapegoat after another I asked myself, “when do you see the evil for what it is and resist it?” For me, I know the time is now. I am appalled that Americans are actually debating the usefulness of torture techniques and that the Government of the United States is systematically torturing people in the name of freedom and security. As I write this, knowing that President Bush and Vice President Cheney actively support these methods, my skin shudders with anger and fear. Anger because we have stooped so low. Fear because all of what we have cherished as a nation - indeed, all of the great things about the United States that we have shown the world - are being destroyed by the current administration. It isn’t just that this administration authorizes torture, that is reason enough for me to take this action, but Bush and Cheney have placed themselves above the law. And that is the first step of all dictators and tyrants.

I am not an activist. The defense of the Constitution isn’t ideological. I march because it is essential to stand up to this shame. I march also because I am fortunate enough to do so. I march for everyone uncomfortable with movements, organizers and radicals, but who understand the dire straights we’re in. This is about saving our Constitution. This is about restoring the promise of America. This is about doing what I can as a citizen. This is about shaking the Congressional leadership out of their complacency so that they, too, see the urgency and the importance of their action to right a host of perilous wrongs perpetrated by Bush and Cheney.

Finally, I need to walk because as a citizen it is all I can think to do that demonstrates how important this is to me. I can’t sit back any longer satisfied with my outrage. It isn’t enough. So I am doing this for me and, I hope, for you.

A Little Bit More About the Project

With a little help from my friends…

This project developed rather spontaneously after one Bush/Cheney outrage too many finally moved me to literally walk my talk. My first job when I was discharged from the Air Force was teaching high school social studies including American History. It was during the Nixon era a year before he resigned. When he resigned I was overjoyed that it proved to the whole world our system of checks and balances and the very ideals I taught were alive and well.

I moved on to study organizational systems and taught management at the collegiate level on three continents. I was fortunate enough to see the world and to confirm my suspicions that our democracy, as imperfect as it is, still works. I never dreamed that it would be hijacked and that my return to active citizenship would be in a time of another Constitutional crisis. I certainly didn’t think my return to active citizenship would be because the institutions I assumed would look after the Constitution would abandon it.

I have decided to undertake this walk from historic Faneuil Hall in Boston to Nancy Pelosi’s office in Washington D.C. because I’ve written the letters, spoken with my Congressman, and been patient while the Democrats settled into their leadership role. I hoped they would do the right thing. But they haven’t. Impeachment is “off the table.”

This effort is to put it back on the table. Maybe I can walk for you, too. I happen to have the time now to do this. Maybe you don’t but would like me to do it for you. Click on the store link and look at the options. Perhaps, together, we can help Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to the right thing.

At least, let’s get out and talk to one another and then, together, tell Speaker Pelosi just how important this is, so that she and the Democrats will reconsider their stand and truly hold Bush and Cheney accountable for their many high crimes and misdemeanors. In fact, why not call her now at (202) 225-0100. Impeachment is the Constitutional process designed to hold elected officials accountable for their actions. If we don’t take this action now, we won’t be able to do so later.


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