THE TWENTY FOURTH OF MAY
RENATO REDENTOR CONSTANTINO
May 24, 2004
Competing legacies of a single day. Infamous and immaculate: the bequests of the twenty fourth of May.
On the 24th of May 2004 issue of The Weekly Standard, the neocon wellspring of imperial wet dreams, chicken hawk editor general William Kristol asks a Bush administration reeling from the Abu Ghraib Prison body blow: "Are you a man or a mouse? Squeak up." At the White House, officials tuned in to Kristol's crystal clear prose stiffen their spines and respond: "We will not be cowed. We're staying the course!" Along with Richard Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and other Bush administration stalwarts, Kristol was a signatory to the Project New American Century document issued in 1998 calling for America to invade Iraq.
"[S]end 50,000 more troops to Iraq to win the war," huffs Kristol. Declare that "any site where Americans are attacked will be regarded as a combat zone, and anyone who chooses to go there to celebrate will be subject to attack." Vrrrrmmm! said the toy tanks in the White House sandbox.
On May 24 many years ago, the death of Shoichi James Okamoto was recorded. Okamoto was "driving Truck #100-41 at the order of the construction supervisor ... to get lumber piled across the highway from the old main gate, which is called Gate #4." At the gate, Okamoto was refused permission to pass by Private Bernard Goe, who did not like Asians. Goe takes a few steps back, lifts his shotgun and, "at approximately 2:20 p.m.," fires it at Okamoto, who died at the age of 30 years old. Goe is charged and fined a dollar for "unauthorized use of government property" - a bullet. The year is 1944, and the site is Tule Lake, America's concentration camp for Japanese-Americans. Okamoto is one of the camp's 'prisoners.' Okamoto was born in Garden Grove, California and had never been abroad.
In 1968, on May 24, while American-made gunships were vigorously spilling blood in Southeast Asia, four American protesters, including peace icon Philip Berrigan, were jailed six years each "for pouring blood on draft cards" in Baltimore, Maryland.
At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on May 24, 1971, an antiwar newspaper advertisement signed by 29 US soldiers supporting the Concerned Officers Movement is published. The movement had been formed in 1970 in Washington, D.C. by a group of naval officers opposed to the war.
Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater proposed the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam in an interview on May 24, 1964. According to The Daily Bleed, Goldwater "sees a brighter light at the end of the tunnel." Lyndon Johnson destroys Goldwater at the polls thanks largely, according to some pundits, to Goldwater's publicly professed nukie solution. After his win, Johnson goes ahead and destroys Vietnam conventionally.
In his 1964 interview, Goldwater discusses "the use of low-yield atomic bombs in North Vietnam to defoliate forests and destroy bridges, roads, and railroad lines." Four decades later, the US Congress ends restrictions on programs which will likely lead to the production of new "low-yield" nuclear weapons - mini-nukes. The lifting of the restrictions is tantamount to an order to weapons labs to proceed with dispatch in nuclear weapons research that include enhanced "agent defeat" capacity (killing soldiers) and "reduced collateral damage" (not killing too many civilians). In fact, the Bush administration plans to hold this year a "subcritical nuclear experiment" which US officials acknowledge will be a "full-blown nuclear explosion." This, despite a global treaty which commits nations of the world to forego nuclear weapons test explosions and despite the 1992 US moratorium on nuclear weapons testing. Poor Barry Goldwater, he lived ahead of his time.
The United Kingdom celebrated its first Empire Day on May 24, 1902. Years later, on May 24, 1959, Empire Day is renamed Commonwealth Day. On May 24, 2004, a Filipino proposes to rename July 4 as Empire Day.
May 24: a day of distinction. On this day in 1980, hundreds are arrested as protesters occupy a nuclear power plant construction site in Seabrook, New Hampshire. On the same day, in 1981, the First International Women's Day for Disarmament is launched. A year later, in 1982, over 200,000 people participate in a massive anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo.
May 24, a day of infamy. On this day in 1951: the US performs an atmospheric nuclear test at Enwetak. On the same day in 1972: the US performs a nuclear test at a Nevada Test Site. On May 24, 1979: the USSR performs a nuclear test at Eastern Kazakh/Semipalitinsk.
On May 24, 2003, CommonDreams.org, an online news center, reported the eagerness of the Bush administration to expand America's nuclear arsenal even as it orders other nations to disarm. The same article reported US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's moving defense of the Bush administration's pristine intentions to develop new nuclear weapons: "It's not 'pursuing.' And it's not 'developing,'" said Rumsfeld. "It is not 'building.' It is not 'manufacturing.' And it's not 'deploying.' And it is not 'using,.'" Yup. We believe you Donald.
On May 24 in 1844, the first Morse Code message inaugurating America's telegraph industry was transmitted by Samuel F.B. Morse from Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Maryland. Curiously, the message was the Biblical quotation "What hath God wrought?"
Not God but man. Mini-nukes, more war, increasing imperial ambitions. The world today asks the same question asked by the first telegraph message. And sends its response through the most famous Morse Code signal of all time.
... --- ...
World in distress. Save our world.
1. "Of Mice and Men," William Kristol, Volume 009, Issue 35, The Weekly Standard, May 24, 2004.
2. See http://www.geocities.com/Athens/8420/shootings.html
3. From chronologist Robert Braunwart, in The Daily Bleed, http://www.eskimo.com/~recall/bleed/. See also http://www.safran-arts.com/42day/history/h4may/h4may24.html
4. "Remembering Barry Goldwater," Howard Gleckman Business Week Online, June 1, 1998. http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/june1998/nf80601d.htm
5. "U.S. rearms while telling others to disarm," Helen Thomas, May 24, 2004. http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0524-04.htm.