By The Progressive on November 03, 2005
Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton, and Iraq
By Matthew Rothschild

November 3, 2005

When Hillary Clinton strode to the podium at Rosa Parks’s funeral, she was greeted as the Presidential heir apparent.

But she hasn’t earned that role, and she pales in any comparison between her and Rosa Parks.

On the pivotal issue of her day, Rosa Parks rose to the challenge.

On the pivotal issue of our day, Hillary Clinton has shrunk from it.

That issue, of course, is the Iraq War, which Hillary voted for in the first place. And unlike John Kerry and some other Senators who have since come to their senses, Hillary is still in favor of the Iraq War, 2,000 dead U.S. soldiers later,15,000 wounded U.S. soldiers later, and maybe 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians later.

How many lives is she willing to sacrifice on the altar of her ambition?

Unlike Rosa Parks, Hillary is not taking a courageous stand on principle. She is engaging in a narrow, opportunistic calculus of political advantage.

I think her math is off.

I believe a Democrat with guts to oppose this war can win in 2008.

But Hillary is under the sway of the same hypnotic triangulators who trained her husband.

These are the ideologues of the immoral middle.

New York Times Magazine writer Matt Bai lavished praise on Hillary in an October 2 cover story entitled “Mrs. Triangulation.” He hailed her in part because she “wants nothing to do with ideological crusades.”

Discussing that article three days later on radio with Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s “On Point,” Bai discarded his flimsy cloak of objectivity and offered his “third way” advice. He denounced the “old liberalism,” which he defined as “withdraw the troops now, we don’t fight for freedom, we protect our borders, and we make people love us around the world.”

Instead of that, he called for “a leader of the party” (are your listening, Hillary?) to confront the folks who “are talking about immediate withdrawal and to say, ‘Look, I have a plan, I have a notion, I have a sense of how the world is going to look and what we need to do as Democrats in the twenty-first century, but it’s not about withdrawing, it’s not about not taking risks to protect ourselves. Iraq may be the wrong war, and Iraq may have been prosecuted wrongly, but I’m not going to shy away from what is a titanic struggle.’ ”

Or take Noam Scheiber, a senior editor at The New Republic, who wrote in the October 24 issue that moderate Democrats not only need to call for “a larger military, but something dramatic to signify the shift—like a plan to strike an Iranian or North Korean nuclear facility if need be.”

Now that’s a swell idea for Democrats.

But I’m afraid it’s the kind of idea that Hillary—no saint or savior—might just adopt, after she messes Iraq up further.

In the eulogy Hillary Clinton delivered in Detroit, she said we all can have “a Rosa Parks moment.”

That moment, for Hillary, came and went in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

But it is here again, now.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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