American Views Abroad

Wednesday, October 18, 2006
William T. Vollmann sets off each movement of his epic Europe Central with a quote. In Operation Magic Fire it's from Shostakovich ca 1970:

And it's in that vague grey middle ground that the fundamental conflicts of our age take place. It's a huge ant hill in which we all crawl.

Interesting quote, but what happens when someone tries to step out of that vague grey middle ground and take a stand? A case in point is Agustin Aguayo who has been struggling to be recognized as a conscientious objector for over two years now. He served a year in Iraq as a medic, was given a good conduct medal, but went AWOL when he was ordered on the plane back there. He has since turned himself in and is now confined in a military jail here in Germany awaiting trial. His story including press releases at
The Army cut off pay and benefits to his family. Not easy taking such a stand, that's for sure.

One single person takes a stand, but how has US society and in particular the US media treated the very well researched study on the over 600,000 deaths of Iraqi civilians that the present war there has wrought? A leaflet that was distributed outside a lecture given by NYT's Executive Editor Bill Keller at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor on October 16 asks Why is the New York Times Silent on the Massive Iraq Deathtoll? Read it at
Another op-ed, Bush Plays Politics with Iraqi Dead by John Nichols, is listed at

In Olbermann's On the Murder of Habeas Corpus, the Day King George Was Crowned at, he interviews Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional Law Professor. Turley points out the 'huge sea change for our democracy' now taking place and how 'people have no idea how significant this is. We have become Constitutional couch potatoes.'

Vague grey middle ground can become treacherous water.

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