Transcript of Mayor Rocky Anderson's speech
Washington Square Salt Lake City, Utah August 30, 2006
A patriot is a person who loves his or her country.
Who among you loves your country so much that you have come here today to raise your voice out of deep concern for our nation - and for our world?
And who among you loves your country so much that you insist that our nation's leaders tell us the truth?
Let's hear it: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Let no one deny we are patriots. We love our country, we hold dear the values upon which our nation was founded, and we are distressed at what our President, his administration, and our Congress are doing to, and in the name of, our great nation.
Blind faith in bad leaders is not patriotism.
A patriot does not tell people who are intensely concerned about their country to just sit down and be quiet; to refrain from speaking out in the name of politeness or for the sake of being a good host; to show slavish, blind obedience and deference to a dishonest, war-mongering, human-rights-violating president.
That is not a patriot. Rather, that person is a sycophant. That person is a member of a frightening culture of obedience - a culture where falling in line with authority is more important than choosing what is right, even if it is not easy, safe, or popular. And, I suspect, that person is afraid - afraid we are right, afraid of the truth (even to the point of denying it), afraid he or she has put in with an oppressive, inhumane, regime that does not respect the laws and traditions of our country, and that history will rank as the worst presidency our nation has ever had to endure.
In response to those who believe we should blindly support this disastrous president, his administration, and the complacent, complicit Congress, listen to the words of Theodore Roosevelt, a great president and a Republican, who said: The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile.
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.
We are here today as truth-tellers.
And we are here to demand: "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
We are here today to insist that those who were elected to be our leaders must tell us the truth.
We are here today to insist that our news media live up to its sacred responsibility to ascertain and report the truth - rather than acting like nothing more than a bulletin board for the lies and propaganda of a manipulative, dishonest federal government.
We have been getting just about everything but the truth on matters of life and death . . . on matters upon which our nation's reputation hinges . . . on matters that directly relate to our nation's fundamental values . . . and on matters relating to the survival of our planet.
In the process, our nation has engaged in an unnecessary war, based upon false justifications. More than a hundred thousand people have been killed - and many more have been seriously maimed, brain damaged, or rendered mentally ill.
Our nation's reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq.
And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our invasion and occupation of a Muslim country.
What incredible ineptitude and callousness for our President to talk about a Crusade while lying to us to make a case for the invasion and occupation of a Muslim country!
Our children and later generations will pay the price of the lies, the violence, the cruelty, the incompetence, and the inhumanity of the Bush administration and the lackey Congress that has so cowardly abrogated its responsibility and authority under our checks-and-balances system of government.
We are here to say, "We will not stand for it any more. No more lies. No more pre-emptive, illegal war, based on false information. No more God-is-on-our-side religious nonsense to justify this immoral, illegal war. No more inhumanity."
Let's raise our voices, and demand, "Give us the truth! Give us the truth! Give us the truth!"
Let's consider some of the most monstrous lies - lies that have led us, like a nation of sheep, to this tragic war.
Following September 11, 2001, the world knew that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the horrific attacks on our country. Our long-time allies were sympathetic and supportive. But our president transformed that support into international disdain for the United States, choosing to illegally invade and occupy Iraq, rather than focus on and capture the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
Why invade and occupy Iraq? Vice President Dick Cheney and Condoleezza Rice represented to us, without qualification, that there were strong ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
In September, 2002, President Bush made the incredible claim that "You can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam."
President Bush represented to Congress, without any factual basis whatsoever, that Iraq planned, authorized, committed, or aided the 9/11 attacks.
Our President and Vice-President, along with an unquestioning news media, repeatedly led our nation to believe that there was a working relationship between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, a relationship that threatened the US. Even last week, when I met with Thomas Bock, National Commander of the American Legion, I asked him why we are engaged in the war in Iraq. He said, "Why, of course, because of the 9/11 attacks on our country." I asked, "What did Iraq have to do with those attacks?" He looked puzzled, then said, "Well, the connection between al Qaeda and Iraq."
I was shocked. Here is a man who has criticized us for opposing the war in Iraq - and he is completely wrong about the underlying facts used to justify this war.
Not only has there never been any evidence of any involvement by Saddam Hussein or Iraq with the attacks on 9/11, but there has never been any evidence of any operational connection whatsoever between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda.
Colin Powell finally conceded there is no "concrete evidence about the connection." "The chairman of the monitoring group appointed by the United Nations Security Council to track al Qaeda" disclosed that "his team had found no evidence linking al Qaeda to Saddam Hussein." And the top investigator for our European allies has said, 'If there were such links, we would have found them.
But we have found no serious connections whatsoever.'"
President Bush himself finally admitted nine days ago during a press conference that there was no connection between the attacks on 9/11 and Iraq. It's terrific that the President has now admitted what others have known for so long - but where is the accountability for the tragic war we were led into on the basis of his earlier misrepresentations?
Besides the fictions of Saddam Hussein somehow being linked to the 9/11 attacks and his supposed connection with al Qaeda, what was the principal justification for forgoing additional weapons inspections, failing to work with our allies toward a solution, refraining from seeking additional resolutions from the United Nations, and hurrying to war - a so-called "pre-emptive" war - in which we would attack and occupy a Muslim nation that posed no security risk to the United States, and cause the deaths of many thousands of innocent men, women, and children - and the deaths and lifetime injuries to many thousands of our own servicemen and servicewomen?
The principal claim was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction - biological and chemical weapons - and was seeking to build up a nuclear weapons capability. As we now know, there was nothing - no evidence whatsoever - to support those claims.
President Bush represented to us - and to people around the world - that one of the reasons we needed to make war in Iraq - and to do it right away - was because Saddam Hussein was seeking to build nuclear weapons. His assertions about Saddam Hussein trying to purchase nuclear materials from an African nation and about Iraq seeking to obtain aluminum tubes for the enrichment of uranium were challenged at the time by our own intelligence agency and scientists, yet he didn't tell us that! Ten days before the invasion of Iraq, it was proven that the documents upon which President Bush's claim about Saddam Hussein trying to obtain uranium was based were forgeries. However, President Bush did not disclose that to the American people. By that failure, he betrayed each of us, he betrayed our country, and he betrayed the cause of world peace.
Neither did the vast majority of the news media disclose the forgeries - until it was far too late. It took our local newspapers here in Salt Lake City four months - until after President Bush declared that major combat in Iraq was over - to report the discovery that the documents were forgeries - and, therefore, that there was no basis for the false claims about Saddam Hussein trying to build up a nuclear capability. By its failure to promptly disclose the forgeries, the news media betrayed us as well.
Had the American people known we were being lied to - had President Bush informed us that the documents were forged and that he had no other basis for his claim - had our nation's media done its job, rather than slavishly repeating to us the lies being fed to it by the Bush administration - our nation may well not have allowed the commencement of this outrageous, illegal, unjustified war.
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I just read an acocunt of this speech and found it so heartening that someone is pushing back on the McCarthyits tactics being used by the Republicans, in such a well-grounded way. Rumsfeld's comments are un-American (especially since he was attacking a majority of Americans who oppose his occupation of Iraq).
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