On Thursday, author, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges and Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg were among the 131 anti-war activists arrested during a nonviolent demonstration outside the White House to protest against the war in Afghanistan as well as America’s ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Pakistan.
Hedges delivered a rousing speech about the nature of hope (in contrast to what certain campaign slogans might have suggested in recent years), pointing out that “hope has a cost, hope is not comfortable,” before joining other supporters of Veterans for Peace who chained themselves to the White House fence. When asked why he chose that course of action, Hedges replied, “Because it’s all we have left at this point. ... The normal mechanisms by which democratic participation are rendered possible in this country have been closed shut, and if we don’t do this, we die. This is what’s left of hope in this country.”
Ellsberg said he was drawn to the demonstration in part because veterans were leading the action. “I know that people here understand this war is as hopeless and wrong as the war we participated in in Vietnam, and it is not going to end by a presidential initiative,” he said. “It’ll only be because the American public has awakened to their responsibilities and to the realities of this war.” The “big lie” that the American government is telling its people now, Ellsberg believes, “is that these wars are protecting us at home.” —KA
Click here for Hedges’ reflections on Thursday’s protest and arrests.