AN APOLOGY (speech given by Richard Evanoff at the official launch of Edgar Henry’s book of poetry, Night Moves, June 5, 2004 at the Cerulean Hotel in Shibuya)
Since George Bush is visiting the Pope right now, I figure there are a few things Bush could learn from him. A few years ago the Pope apologized for sins committed by Roman Catholic Church throughout history, and in a similar spirit, as an American citizen, I’d like to apologize for some of the sins committed by my country, the United States of America, against various people of the world.
There are, in fact, so many things to apologize for that I can’t mention them all, so I’ll just focus on some of things that have happened since the end of World War II.
As an American citizen living in Japan, I would like to apologize, first of all, for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The American government, of course, never apologized for this, but I think we should.
I apologize for the 70,000 Iranians who were killed after a U.S.-sponsored coup installed the Shah of Iran in 1952; for the 120,000 Guatamalans who were killed after a U.S.-sponsored coup against Guatamala’s democratically elected government in 1954; for the 30,000 Chileans who were killed after a U.S.-sponsored coup in Chile against the democratically elected government of Salvador Allende, which occurred on the original September 11, 1973; and for the 800,000 people killed in Indonesia following the U.S.-sponsored coup in 1965, and the subsequent slaughter of over 250,000 East Timorese by Indonesia with the direct complicity of U.S. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
I apologize for the 4,000,000 people killed in Indochina between 1954-1975 during the Vietnam War.
I apologize for the 8,000 people killed when the United States invaded Panama in 1989 to capture a single man, Manuel Noriega, who, like Osama Bin Laden when he was fighting the Russians and Saddam Hussein when was he gassing the Kurds, was at one time supported by the American government.
I apologize for the 30,000 people killed in Nicaragua by Contra terrorists funded by the U.S., and for America’s mining of Nicaragua’s harbors, an act which resulted in the United States government being declared a “war criminal” in 1984 by the World Court.
I apologize for the 80,000 people killed in El Salvador in the 1980s and the 1,000,000 killed in Africa (especially Angola) as a result of U.S.-sponsored terrorism.
I apologize for the 1,000,000 Iraqis who died under U.S. sanctions against Iraq, including 500,000 children. Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, when asked by a television interviewer whether these deaths were justified as a means of bringing down the regime of Saddam Hussein, replied, “It’s worth it.”
I’m sorry but I don’t have figures for the number of Palestinians killed with weapons and military aid given by the United States to Israel but I’d like to apologize for that too. We also don’t know yet how many people will ultimately be killed by the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq since the number of victims in these countries is still growing, but certainly these deaths, along with the torture of Iraqi prisoners by the U.S. military, should also be apologized for.
Many other deaths have occurred as a result of American foreign policy, some of which we may never even know about. According to an article which appeared in the Green journal Synthesis/Regeneration, from which all of the data presented here has been taken, a conservative estimate of the number of people “who have been killed by U.S. terror and military action since World War II is 8,000,000 people,” 90% of whom were innocent civilians. This number 8,000,000 exceeds the number of Jews killed under Hitler. It exceeds the number of people who died under Stalin and Mao Tse-tung combined. The number of people killed in the name of democracy exceeds the number of people killed in the name of either fascism or communism. America indeed is number one!
I know it would be better if the American government itself apologized for all of these atrocities rather than an ordinary citizen such as myself, but I doubt that such an apology will be forthcoming from the present regime. Perhaps, therefore, I should also apologize for the fact that we, the American people, have permitted our government to commit such atrocities in our name. We, the American people, are also responsible and we cannot use ignorance or the fact that we personally weren’t involved as an excuse. We should have been fighting tyranny and working for regime change within our own country instead of abroad.
Instead of going around praising ourselves for how “great” America is, we need to learn humility. True religion doesn’t consist in thinking that we are righteous and that our enemies are evil “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists,” as Bush says but rather acknowledging and openly confessing our sins, asking for forgiveness, loving our enemies, and seeking reconciliation. And true patriotism doesn’t mean blindly following our leaders when they lead us into war and ask us to kill people in the name of freedom and democracy, as Bush continues to do, but rather using our power as citizens to stop the terrorism and oppression being committed by our own government. That, indeed, is the only way to achieve true freedom, democracy, lasting peace, and security.
(All the numerical data is taken from Larry Mosqueda, “Shocked and Horrified,” which originally appeared in the Winter 2002 issue of Synthesis/Regeneration and was reprinted in the Spring 2002 issue of Alternative Press Review, pp. 46-47; 55.)