Excellent post from Chris Clarke.
Forty years ago, one of my late neighbors involved in a very similar Free Speech fight stood on the steps of Sproul Hall, UC Berkeley’s administration building, and told an assembled crowd:
There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!
For all its manifold faults, for all its history steeped in racism and genocide, for all its wars of empire and Know-Nothing heritage, this country was manifestly founded on the notion that a just government bases its authority in the consent of the governed. Now the Bush administration has declared that the interests of this country are coincident with, and limited to, the short-term interests of the administration and its corporate backers, and the most basic, most essential Constitutional rights of the citizenry be damned, not by the odious exceptionalism of privilege that marred this country’s history, but across the board. All of us are three-fifths of a person now, granted the privilege of full protection only if we do nothing that requires protection, unless we are unlucky enough to be falsely accused. And I withdraw my consent.
I withdraw my consent. I am no one: a cog in the machine Mario Savio described. I am a man who would rather tell jokes than argue politics, would rather hike than march. But I have fought, over the course of my life, when the operation of the machine deprives me of the privilege of self-absorption. I have worked the past 14 years to educate, to inflame the public so that they might oppose environmental destruction done to enrich those who run the administration. I have worked the last three decades, if sporadically and without much consequence, to oppose the use of violence in the service of politics — any politics.
The Bush administration claims that all those who oppose it, though they think themselves loyal citizens sworn to defend the US Constitution, are enemies. I have opposed the Bush administration since before it began. The conclusion is a simple matter of logic.
I am an enemy combatant.
I am an enemy combatant, and I admit it freely and without reservation. You who reserve the right to climb up on that soapbox to say things unflattering to those in power: enemy combatants all.