News Release

Independence Day: Interviews Available

CECILIA O’LEARY
Associate professor of history at California State University at Monterey Bay and author of To Die For: The Paradox of American Patriotism, O’Leary said today: “Under the banner of patriotism, the right has successfully institutionalized repressive policies and justified an occupation of Iraq with no end in sight. Aspirations for American empire are not new, nor is the use of state-sponsored campaigns to limit political dissent. At the previous turn-of-the-century, the U.S. became a colonial power on the world stage when it occupied the Philippines. Less than 20 years later, during World War I, a ‘my country right or wrong’ brand of patriotism — fueled by a federal agency set up to influence public opinion — criminalized dissent. It was during this period that the institutional and ideological basis for what later became the national-security state assumed its modern shape. A form of patriotism, born of the fight against slavery and based in the U.S. living up to its professed ideals, was all but driven out. Now, at this new turn-of-the-century, the need to reflect on what kind of country the U.S. is becoming is all the more urgent. As Frederick Douglass asked when slavery still defined what it meant to be an American, ‘What is the fourth of July to me?’ — so too we need to ask what does it mean for our government to subvert the very ideals we celebrate in the Declaration of Independence?”

MIKE GRAVEL
Former Senator Gravel was a noted critic of the Vietnam War and entered the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. He said today: “Ours is a free country that’s regressing into tyranny. Last summer many of us felt a déjà vu over the lies about the Gulf of Tonkin and others that drove the U.S. to war in Vietnam [see www.accuracy.org/press_releases/PR080202.htm]. Bush was saying that Iraq was a threat. We said ‘prove it’ and Bush couldn’t prove it — and still can’t. He made all these claims about weapons in Iraq, but now can’t produce any. Much of U.S. government policy has been based on lies, including lies to the people of the United States. But the people should be free, independent and sovereign. Representative government was as good as we could get before, but now we can do better.” Gravel is director of the organization Philadelphia II, which has launched the National Initiative for Democracy and is working towards building the mechanisms of direct democracy. Gravel added: “Representatives in government end up caring about other things: their reelection, their funders, their parties, and not about the public interest. We need to have a form of government that puts the people at the center, to make them sovereign and not manipulated by those who rule. People can vote for this through www.philadelphiatwo.org.”
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BRIAN WILLSON
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Willson is now a peace activist. He said today: “Born on July 4 and carrying our flag in hometown parades prepared me well for Vietnam. It did not prepare me for witnessing systematic burnings of civilians while protestors back home were denounced for burning the flag. This cognitive dissonance motivated serious study of history when I painfully discovered a similar brutish pattern in our civilization’s founding and preservation. Our government justifies interventions using noble-sounding pretexts, i.e., well crafted lies, contributing to a delusional belief in our ‘exceptionalism.’ As a people are we now prepared to expose this make-believe story, embarking upon a genuine revolution based on justice rather than plutocracy and arrogance? Our survival is likely at stake.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167