Licht der Straße

 

Die Straßenzeitung "Streetlight" in San Diego wird seit 5 Jahren vom Ehepaar Anne und Forrest Curo betrieben. In Kürze übergeben sie die Redaktion an Rocky Neptun, seines Zeichen Mexicofan und Experte für die Zappatistenbewegung rund um Subcommandante Marcos.

"Streetlight" ist eine kleinere der über 40 nordamerikanischen Straßenzeitungen und erscheint monatlich in einer Auflage von 10 000 Exemplaren. San Diego sei ein hartes Pflaster für soziale Initiativen, meinen die Curos. Die Stadt ist direkt an der aufwendig bewachten Grenze zu Mexico gelegen, mehrere Militärstützpunkte befinden sich hier. "Im Vergleich mit Streetpaper-Hochburgen wie z.B. San Francisco haben wir es in San Diego mit einer Mischung aus Militarismus und Tourismus zu tun. Obdachlosigkeit gibt es hier natürlich auch, wie überall in den USA, nur wird sie in San Diego besonders stark verdrängt. Wir empfinden Obdachlosigkeit als eine Schande für die Nation. Bis Ende der 70er Jahre war Obdachlosigkeit in den USA fast unbekannt. Erst mit der Reagan-Ära und dem Beginn der neoliberalen Wirtschaftspolitik wurde sie zum Massenphänomen. Und das Schlimmste dabei ist, daß heute eine Generation in Amerika aufwächst, die dies bereits für normal hält, für die Obdachlosigkeit zum selbstverständlichen Straßenbild gehört."

Alle 3 Streetlight Redakteure gehören der Glaubensgemeinschaft der Quäker an, eine christliche Bewegung, die jede Form von Gewaltanwendung und kirchlicher Hierarchie ablehnt.

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Terrorism

>>In the first moments of astonishment and horror at the news of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon I also experienced a reluctant admiration for the ingenuity of the perpetrators. A highly coordinated operation involving four simultaneous hijackings of our country's largest commercial airliners succeeded in bringing almost all activities in the United States to a standstill for over 24 hours and crippling others for days, weeks or possibly months.

Nearly 5,000 lives were lost including 19 which were willingly sacrificed in accomplishing the attack. I mourn all of them. The country and much of the world is sharing a sense of outrage. The president is declaring it an act of war. Many Americans are calling for revenge, though some use less volatile words like "justice."

Although many observers are comparing the attack to the one on Pearl Harbor 60 years ago, there is really no comparison. Unless the aftermath proves otherwise. This was an assault against mainly civilians at the heart of our continental empire.

America has fought many wars outside our continental boundaries during the past century. We have wrought destruction on many less powerful nations and threatened others. Throughout all this, Americans have felt our country to be invulnerable to outside attack because of an unparalleled accumulation of weapons of mass destruction.

But that armory did not protect us from a small, determined group of men with the intelligence, organization, patience and boldness to figure out how to turn our own civilian aircraft into skillfully aimed missles. Our leaders tell us they think they know who the enemy is. They point to Osama Bin Laden who has been hiding in remote mountains of Afganistan for the past 10 years training groups of militant Islamists in terrorist arts and orchestrating occasional attacks on American targets around the world.

The president has vowed to punish all terrorists and the countries which "harbor" groups like them--a sweeping and ambitious statement, indeed. A typically arrogant American statement that, unless successfully carried out, leaves him open to a tremendous loss of face. Attempts were made in 1998 to destroy Bin Laden's retreat in Afganistan with long-range missles. It was impossible. Now authorities are gearing up to use Pakistan as a staging area to send in ground troups. Yesterday, on the news, Henry Kissinger was consulted as an expert in guerilla warfare. For 30 years, the government has tried to stay away from any conflict that might involve massive loss of American lives, interpreting the anti-war movement during Vietnam as primarily an objection to putting American military lives in jeopardy. American lives have already been sacrificed (mostly civilian ones at home) so that objection can no longer hold water.

But the anti-war movement during Vietnam had another message: We, as a world power, do not have the right to commit mass destruction on remote, powerless, mostly civilian populations whose governments fail to cooperate with our own economic and political interests. Does the need for revenge make an exception of that message? Was that message ever heeded by our leaders?

Is there a message attached to that horrendous terrorist attack of September 11 that we are not attentive to? Nineteen people were willing to sacrifice their lives to bring the United States to its knees. These were not stupid people, at least in most practical matters. And they must have had strong support from a large back-up organization. Somebody is powerfully angry with our country. Perhaps, before we ask who, we should ask why.

One response to the attack has been to start seeking ways to beef up domestic security. Before any of the civilian airports were re-opened, massive efforts were underway to apply costly, inconvenient and intrusive security measures to all airline traffic. To completely secure the United States from any form of internal attack by outside interests, all immigration, international tourism and business travel would have to be curtailed and all our borders secured--an impossible task. We can't prevent terrorist attacks by security measures, we would have to virtually incarcerate every one of us. As one of our leaders said immediately after the attack, the country will be under "lock down."

The only way to prevent terrorist attacks is to remove the causes of terrorism. We should be asking the question: what is it about our actions in the world that bring on acts of violence against our selves? Is it possible that we have acted as the "bully" in world affairs? Where other nations refused to comply with our wishes in political and economic matters, have we used violence to enforce our will? Have we equated superior force with moral authority? There has been talk from our president about forces of "evil" over which "good" must prevail. Is mass destruction evil only when it is purpetrated against us? Is mass destruction good when the victim is "evil?"

We are always provided with words of moral justification when we commit state terror on other peoples. But, quite possibly, those peoples' perceptions are askew. It is even likely that some of the victims of our aggressions are not convinced of our moral superiority.

If we were to interpret the president's stated dichotomy between good and evil in the light of our Christian heritage, we would find the meaning of the Biblical admonition to "overcome evil with good" pointing to specific acts, not people. If "evil" means deeds of murder and destruction, then "good" could not be the same thing, even though committed by the former victims. Good would be overt acts of forgiveness and reconciliation. Good would be the recognition of the needs and personhood of the evil doer, so that he might not feel the necessity to do the evil deed again. Violence breeds violence. When you hit back, you can expect to be hit again--on and on until ultimately one or the other is destroyed. We can't keep looking back to see who hit first and thus determine which one is evil. Hitting is the evil, not the hitter. That's why Jesus told us to "turn the other cheek." The hitting has to stop somewhere.<<


 
Anne Curo. San Diego, 17.09.01