It was a dubious distinction for Indiana. Last month, the day after news that International Red Cross inspectors reported that detainees at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo were subjected to torture, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at a news conference before a scheduled speech to the Economic Club of Indianapolis. Myers denied the U.S. has engaged in torture. The general said, "Let's not forget the kind of people we have down there (in Guantanamo). These are the people that don't know any moral values."
Moral values? There was more than a little irony in the nation's top military official invoking moral superiority. President Bush's team has little concern about either adherence to the rule of law or the avoidance of hypocrisy. As has been too often the case in its prosecution of the war on terror, the Bush administration hurls stones at enemies while taking shelter in a glass house created by its own dubious morality and credibility.
In my years working for NUVO, one of the greatest joys of the job was getting to meet so many of you and share your passion for justice and peace. In the past year, you have impressed me greatly. You drove over to Ohio to walk door-to-door for John Kerry. You stood out in the snow on Monument Circle to demonstrate against the war in Iraq. You wrote letters to your representative demanding living wages and health care instead of no-bid contracts for campaign contributors.
The starving children in the Sudan and the mother dying of untreated AIDS in Kenya still need you. So do the U.S. soldier and the Fallujah schoolboy at risk of getting blown up in the chaos of the next street-level attack. The Indiana single mother who can't afford child care because her job pays below-poverty wages needs you.So I know that least week's election returns make you feel like crap.
But I have a message to deliver that I hope will snap you out of your doldrums: They still need you.
Back in 1992, when the good folks at the Butler University Political Science Department must have been a little desperate for some class coverage, they asked me to teach a semester of constitutional law. I ended up standing in front of a classroom full of pre-law students, where I held up one of my former law school casebooks, a 5-pound text full of heavily footnoted analysis of centuries of decisions by the United States Supreme Court.
This, I said, will not be assigned reading in this class. Instead, I walked to the blackboard and wrote in big letters: LAW = POLITICS.
Two weeks ago, in his State of the Union address, President Bush called for renewal of the U.S. Patriot Act. Last week, U.S. District Judge Audrey Collins struck down part of the act as unconstitutionally vague.
The attorney general and FBI can force your bank, Internet service provider and telephone company to turn over your records, merely by writing a "national security" letter.
Do you hear that? It's a cry for help.
I've written about Michael Parrish several times before, and talked with members of your staff about him a lot. Michael has struggled with severe mental illness since he was a child. He was first thrown into your prison system over a decade ago, after a botched teen-age escape from LaRue Carter Hospital.
There are two different stories being told about the global AIDS crisis. The first is told by President Bush and his appointees. In January, Bush made headlines with his State of the Union promise of $15 billion over five years to fight global AIDS. He accepted praise for the pledge of "a work of mercy beyond all current international efforts to help the people of Africa," and endorsed an authorization of $3 billion for 2004.
But now Bush is quietly backing away from the promise.
"I was spit on, beaten while pregnant, pushed down stairs and shot at," says Ieta Kimbrough, a caseworker at Coburn Place Safe Haven in Indianapolis, which provides housing for women and children escaping domestic violence. "An ambulance did come once, the time he hit me in the face with brass knuckles." She points to her left eye, which still has impaired vision 20 years after that final beating.
"I didn't call the police because I just thought it was a family issue. My grandmother and mother and aunt were all victims of domestic violence themselves, and none of us called the police. I twice tried to kill myself. I thought that since I was married to him, that was the only way out."
To: Jim Poyser, managing editor, NUVO
Jim, I hope you don't mind that I'm turning in my column for Oct. 8 a little early. It's getting to the point where it is pretty easy to predict a week ahead where the news is going, so I built the column around local events that seem certain to happen this week.
The other day, a man told Pamela Peters, author of The Underground Railroad in Floyd County, Indiana (McFarland and Company, 2001), that he had made a discovery of great historical importance. He had found a caved-in ditch in the Southern Indiana area of Washington County. Surely this must have been the site of the legendary below-ground railway that whisked escaping slaves Northward to freedom.
Wilma Gibbs, program archivist for African-American history with the Indiana Historical Society, once had a teacher call wanting to arrange for her students to ride the historic railway. Peters, Gibbs and other Hoosiers who have studied the underground railroad routinely hear from people who are convinced that their homes built as late as the 1900s were a stop on the railroad.
I think I misled my daughter. If you've ever read this space before, you likely guessed that the policies of President George W. Bush are not well thought of in our household. We're not supportive of him handing out huge tax cuts to the wealthy while saddling our children with the largest deficit in U.S. history.
Wasting billions of dollars and innocent lives because he was too arrogant to get international support for his Iraq adventure? Not popular in the Quigley house, either.