April 21, 2015
Bill Moyers: ‘We’re Almost Out of Time’
Posted on May 18, 2011
Peter Scheer: Well, so, how do you find the communities? Who are the people who are providing this care? And how do you find, I guess, the people that you are trying to help, at the same time?
Cole Miller: Well, it’s all grass roots. So basically, we put together a couple of demonstration projects to show that people in ordinary circumstances could do it. And then I knew there would be news reports, because we do pretty aggressive media outreach, and we have been able to successfully penetrate quite a bit of mainstream media with these stories. And we knew that people would see it, and like-minded people would get in touch with us. At least, that was my assumption, and that’s exactly what happened. So a community gets in touch with us, expresses an interest in putting together a project, and we assist them in doing it. Now we’re—we’ve moved into phase 3, and it’s kind of an exciting time for us, because I always envisioned this as something where we put together demonstration projects, then we hook up with communities, with like-minded people and we bring children here and get those stories told. Because the basic premise is, if you object, help the victims and tell the story, and a lot will come from that. But I always thought that we would help communities to do that. And then at a certain stage, we would help communities to form it independently—use it as a model. In other words, do it themselves, raise the money themselves. And the first group, Healing Children of Conflict, in Grand Rapids, Mich., a boy whose leg was blown off by a U.S. bomb just arrived there last week.
Peter Scheer: Oh, good.
Cole Miller: So that after all of these years, we have our first—it’s been replicated completely based on our model, for the first time. Now, I … just want to say, really quickly, that we’re in the cross hairs as well. It’s not just the Iraqi people, you know—although they’ve been made to suffer savagely, obviously, things that we can’t even imagine. But the middle class is being destroyed in this country [the United States] before our very eyes. Now they’re going after Medicare; they’re going after Medicaid; they’re going after Social Security. We are being victimized by this war system as well, in a little bit different way. Now, that model—if you object, help the victims and tell the story—could be applied domestically as well as internationally. So let’s just take one instance. Supposing you have a veteran who’s come back and who discovers that there are no jobs for him, or that he’s lost his job. And that a corrupt bank is going to foreclose on his home. So he and his family are about to be evicted from that home. What would happen if some vets who are opposed to the war realize they were duped into it, got together and said, we’re going to get together with some other just everyday citizens who are of like mind, and we’re going to put our bodies between the people who are coming to foreclose on this veteran’s home, and the people who come to take it away from him. Now, if hovering in the background is some phony paperwork, you know, is some fraud on the part of the bankers, so much the better. But that kind of initiative, where you intervene to help the victim and you tell the story—I mean, I think you could get coverage for that in the mainstream media here.
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Peter Scheer: We’re speaking in studio with Cole Miller, who is the founding director of No More Victims, a grass-roots organization that connects American communities with war-injured Iraqi children and their families, and is …
Josh Scheer: … I just want to say, very quickly, part of that is that you can go to NoMoreVictims.org to find out more. And also you’re selling a book too, right, that one of your volunteers wrote, for …?
Cole Miller: It’s “The Lioness, the Rich and the Humvee.”
Josh Scheer: … yeah, the Humvee.
Peter Scheer: There we go.
Cole Miller: This wonderful woman, Beth DeLap, wrote that book after meeting one of the children—Russell, who’s the sister of Sally, who you can see in the Mother’s Day video at the site. That little girl—we brought, we then brought her sister, and Beth DeLap met her and brought her over. So yes, people can purchase copies of the book there; it’d be helpful to us. She’s donated all of the proceeds to help us with No More Victims work.
Josh Scheer: And—one quick question. You’ve been doing this, sadly, for nine years. I say sadly, obviously, for obvious reasons. How many children like the ones we’ve been discussing—how many have you met? How many have you helped, and then how many …
Cole Miller: Well, we’ve helped …
Josh Scheer: … more are there?
Cole Miller: We’ve helped … well. I mean …
Josh Scheer: … Yeah …
Cole Miller: … incalculable number. And it’s really hard to get good information about the number of wounded. They—you know, we don’t do body counts; it—what is it, how many hundreds of thousands, is it a million, is it a million and a half; we don’t know. You know? And if you ask—like it’s, the mean estimate of the number of people that the United States killed in Vietnam is a hundred thousand. Well, we know it’s somewhere between 2 or 3 million … so it’s always much larger. It’s always much larger. But we have brought 10 children to the United States. They’ve been treated from coast to coast. We’ve brought a couple of the children multiple times; Sally was just here for her third trip to get prosthetic legs this year …
Peter Scheer: And this is all grass roots. This is all …
Cole Miller: This is all grass roots. And, you know, we’re in a privileged position, but see, that’s … it’s much, much harder to do now. I mean, since Obama got elected, he was the progressive’s hope, it was pretty obvious to me that he wasn’t going to end any wars. But people thought that he was going to, and then kind of went to sleep. And with the—that combined with the economic implosion has made it really, really difficult to put these together. We managed to meet all of our obligations to all the kids who were already in process. Now it’s beginning to pick up a little bit again, as people realize that this war system is not going to end simply because we have a smiley face in the White House that can pretend to be a progressive. So I think things are going to pick up, and I really do hope that people will think about ways that they can apply this model domestically. Because, you know, what does solidarity really mean? You know, what does mutual aid really mean? Unless we’re getting out there. And if you do assist somebody who’s being victimized by this system, and tell the story, it can pack a punch. And the other people out there who are frightened of losing their jobs, or who have just lost their jobs, they’re going to be in a lot of need. So the question then becomes, how do we within local communities actually create genuine community, where we look out for each other and we assist each other? And where we actually defy and point an accusing finger at the people who are taking advantage. The people in privileged positions who want to squeeze every last drop of sweat and blood out of the public that they can. And I think …
Peter Scheer: And actually do something about it, actually …
Cole Miller: … and actually do something about it …
Peter Scheer: … not just complain, not just, you know, write a blog post about it, but actually get—help someone, and then get the story out. I think this is a great model.
Josh Scheer: Well, yeah, I’d love to get more foundation support, you know. The problem is that a lot of these—not just human rights groups, but all these groups, is that they—you get these, you know, big foundation checks and everything else, and you know, a lot of these foundations could do probably a lot more for smaller human rights groups that are doing grass-roots stuff, right?
Peter Scheer: But what’s so great about this is … you’re connecting people. You’re not just—you know, it’s not institutional; it’s not, like he’s saying, bogged down in this stuff. But it sounds like you could use some help.
Cole Miller: Well, no, we definitely could use some help. Now, we focus on children who have been hurt by U.S. forces. And for that, I think for a lot of corporate money and probably foundation money too, that’s going to be a bit of a problem. We haven’t had anybody step forward and offer, you know, that kind of assistance to us. We did have an interesting experience with CNN. We went over to—it was a long, you know, all of these projects take a good long while, especially earlier on when it was so hard to move people around in Iraq and get people into other countries. But there was a little boy who was traveling with his family from Mosul to Baghdad to be with the family for Eid. And they passed an American convoy; the convoy opened fire on the car; the mother was burned to death, the boy was burned really terribly, the father was shot a couple of times. We brought that little boy to the United States for medical care, and he was treated in Boston. And at that time, we had two contacts on the inside at CNN, two senior producers, segment producers. One in New York and one in Los Angeles. The one in Los Angeles had already done a couple of segments based on, you know, about No More Victims and its work. And so they were pitching on the inside, and could get no takers. And they were very eager to tell the story, but they just could not get any takers. About a month and a half later, you saw the story of a boy named Youssef—who of course deserved assistance—but he was hurt by bad guys.
Peter Scheer: Oh …
Cole Miller: So, suddenly, he’s all over CNN.
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