Monumental militarism on the rise

Happy Armistice Day! November 11 was and remains the day to celebrate the end of the first industrialized war, global in the scope of suffering it caused. Its anniversary has only been twisted into a day to “honor” veterans by the war machine known as the United States of America. (More on the perversion of Armistice Day and its motives from Veterans for Peace.)

The glorification of war is an ongoing project in the US and appears to be on steroids in the town of Brunswick, Maine.

I have friends there who hold a weekly peace vigil along Maine Street each Friday at 5pm, with whom I join when I can. They have been doing so continuously since the endless “war on terror” began following the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001. Many wonder if that’s why this particular site was chosen for an enormous $500,000 memorial to multiple wars (context: while an estimated 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry in Maine).

Fascist-style Brunswick memorial side by side with fascist-style plaza from WWII in Germany. Similarities include eagle motif and parallel obelisks that, in the Maine version, call to mind the twin towers allegedly felled by planes driving into them on Sep 11, 2001.
plans for Brunswick, Maine’s Veterans Plaza which is being unveiled today

A dual obelisk granite memorial was installed years ago at one end of what townspeople call “the mall,” a grassy strip used mostly as a park and as a venue for a weekly farmers market. Venerable trees visible in the first photo above were removed from the end of the mall to make way for the memorial, causing sadness for many peace vigilers. Their “replacement” by landscaping trees and shrubs is part of the overall design which includes bronze medallions for every war or conflict[sic] memorialized, and depictions of triumphant birds of prey.

One longtime peace vigiler describes Brunswick’s veterans plaza as “a circle of erections.”

The motto for this project has been “Long Overdue.” I have a different view: what’s long overdue in this country is an honest reckoning with what our wars have cost people and the environment, and where the continued glorification of militarism by erecting monuments is leading.

All the members of my family who saw wars up close and personal (my father in the Korean War, and my two grandfathers in WWII and WWI) returned thoroughly disgusted with militarism. You can read about that here in my past Armistice Day post.

Maine’s chronic economic depression makes it fertile ground for the poverty draft that replaced conscription following the highly unpopular Vietnam War. Thus, veterans and their family members abound in my home state. I’m sure some veterans will say I am disrespecting all of their sacrifices by expressing my views about Brunswick’s veterans plaza. But I respect all human beings no matter what mistakes they made or were pressured into making. Suicide is the leading cause of death among veterans because the moral injuries sustained from harming and killing other human beings create PTSD that is hard to live with. My compassion for those injured by militarism for profit will not sit well with some. I can live with that.

I will continue speaking out against the glorification of militarism because I’ve seen young lives ruined, families traumatized, and a lot of death and destruction for corporate profit. In the face of fascism, I cannot and will not remain silent.

Our Work Continues

Analysis using data from OpenSecrets by volunteer Brennan Barrington who commented, “As extreme as the difference looks, it’s actually an understatement of the cost for the major party candidates, given how much was spent by outside groups not affiliated with the campaigns themselves.”

It looks like the US will have a new president. The clown president the corporate media elected last time turned out to have too many liabilities in a public health crisis (now beginning its second peak and already worse than the first peak here in Maine).

He did what he was hired to do, though, which was entertain and distract the masses from ongoing plunder by their corporate overlords. The new guy has always been a willing helper for the plunder project, but will surely be far less entertaining. Also, the new guy is elderly with occasional signs of dementia. His vice president, the first woman in that role, is widely presumed to be both an Obama-like figure — an attractive, articulate, bi-racial presence that offers her liberal white supporters that coveted “get out of racism free” card without giving up an ounce of their white comfort and privilege — and a VP most likely to succeed to the White House.

Will stochastic violence continue to be urged from the White House?

Probably not. 

Will the Black Lives Matter movement that arose during the tenure of our first Black president continue to take to the streets demanding an end to police murder of Black men, women, and children? No doubt. 

Hamdia Ahmed of Black Lives Matter Portland delivers my closing statement in 4th debate

I take comfort in the fact that the Black thinkers I read and listen to mostly agreed on yearning for an end to the encouragement and empowerment of overt white supremacy by the demagogue with bad hair. I’m not in a position to deny their assertion that they and their loved ones will be a little safer going about their daily business. I also understand that institutional racism is pervasive and dangerous, and damaging to everyone’s children.

While all eyes were fixed on the counting of absentee ballot received late through deliberate malfeasance on the part of senior management at the US Postal Service, our own Maine senate race concluded counting the 40,012 votes I earned running as a senator for people, planet, and peace. When all monies raised are finally reported to the FEC the chart above can be updated, but the final version is likely to show similar metrics in terms of cost per vote.

The incumbent advantage, i.e. who brings home the warship contract bacon, helped Senator Susan Collins squeak by with a majority in the first round of counting. Many of us were disappointed that ranked choice voting instant runoff rounds did not ensue, but the weak performance of the Democrat meant that even if all voters for me and the other independent Max Linn had gone to Sara Gideon — a highly unlikely scenario — Collins still would have beaten her.

The GOP did a good job of turning out Trump voters in Maine and while voters were there they appeared to flip from undecided (a choice which polled between 6-9% consistently) to voting for Collins, likely not for the first time.

Whether the Project Veritas video interviewing me secretly about my 2nd amendment policies resulted in more turnout for Trump or even Collins is unknown; it was late in the game, and there’s really no way of knowing if the death threats in their YouTube comments section came from actual Maine voters or, more likely, from paid trolls in other locations.

As we knew it would, our work continues. The movement to elect a senator for the people attracted scores of true believers, and getting to know them and their wise hearts was the best part of this arduous experience. Many of the elders in my base I had known and organized with for years, pushing back against the mammoth military funding that makes it so we can’t have nice things we need like universal health care. Many of the younger folks came to our campaign from others like climate action, and electoral campaigns for progressive candidates the Democratic Party was never going to nominate. 

Their creativity and youthful enthusiasm were just what we needed as we approached the finish line!

I am and have long been an information worker, believing as I do that information control is the foundation of this rotten system that’s killing life on our planet. I agreed to run for elected office because I hoped it would elevate some truth as corporate media would be obliged to convey what I said. 

Cartoon by Forest Taber,

The four senate debates particularly fulfilled that hope, and even the fifth debate that the Hearst Corporation kept me out of provided a platform with 8,600 views of the video documenting my attempt to be included. 

(Sorry, only available on Facebook.)

That night, 33 of us stood in the rain outside ABC-affiliate WMTW in Westbrook trying to deliver a petition with 2,600 or so signatures saying “Let Lisa debate.” After laying the petition on the wet ground because the employee designated to turn me away would not accept it, we circled up and shared our appreciation for the effort and for each other. It had been a long campaign trail that was ending in days. I was footsore, very tired, and out past my usual bedtime, but lifted up by the love and gratitude for being “home” among so many wise hearts.

Our work continues. The movement we built deserves a place to thrive and I’m already at work building such a place. Our volunteer celebration next weekend will close out this chapter of my activism as a new chapter begins to unfold.

With my youngest endorser, “Girl on Fire” Fiona and family.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Lisa for Maine campaign. Stay tuned!