Revolution #89, May 20, 2007

Highlights from The Revolution Interview

The Revolution Interview is a special feature to acquaint readers of Revolution with the views of significant figures in art, theater, music, literature, science, sports and politics. Following are a few highlights from The Revolution Interview:

Colombian artist Fernando Botero discussing his series of paintings about Abu Ghraib: The whole world was shocked with the revelations in the American press of the American torture of the Iraqis in Abu Ghraib prison. I read this in the New Yorker in a famous article by Seymour Hersh. I was surprised, hurt, and angry, like everybody. The more I read, the more I was motivated and angry, upset. A few months later I was in a plane going back to Paris and reading again of this tragedy. I took paper and pencil and started doing some drawings. Then, when I got to my studio in Paris, I kept drawing and painting. It became like an obsession for 14 months.”

William Bell, the father of Sean Bell, killed by NYPD cops in a hail of 50 bullets: “[T]hey can’t keep us in that cage forever. Some time and at some place on this earth, things gotta change. Not only here but all around the world. It’s just getting out of hand, and people all around the world have to stick together. This separation has to stop. I don’t care about this color, this person, this attitude. No. After a while, this stuff going on is going to affect everybody. You think it can’t happen to you? Oh yes it can. Think about it, yes it can. And when it does, you’re going to want people like me to support you, and I’ll be there for you, because I don’t want to see it happen to another kid, no matter who they are.”

Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights, explaining the significance of attacks on attorneys for detainees at Guantánamo: “[T]he real issue is when are they going to give human beings at Guantánamo and other U.S. detention facilities their legal, constitutional and international law rights and stop treating them in a manner that reminds you of the Middle Ages.”

Lisa Loomer, writer of the script for the film Girl Interrupted and the play Living Out: “There are so many people in this country who feel unseen. The very idea that you are not a citizen, that you are "illegal" or "alien" means that society is refusing to see you as a full and equal human being. Just look at those words!”

Historian Howard Zinn: “I think history can be useful in suggesting that people have often been in very, very terrible periods where nothing seemed to be happening--and then they were surprised. We've always had surprises take place. When these surprises take place, we wonder why. And the reason is that we didn't all look under the surface and we did not have faith in people.”

Correspondent Dahr Jamail, who reported from Iraq in 2003 and 2004, and who was an eyewitness to the U.S. siege of Fallujah: “It's their standard operating procedure now, in combat zones, to target the medical infrastructure. Collective punishment is now standard operating procedure. In Haditha, Fallujah, Al Qaim, Ramadi, Samarra, Saniya, just to name a few off the top of my head, the standard policy is: if the U.S. is getting attacked a lot in the area, cut the water and electricity to the city, prohibit medical supplies from going in or out of the city, and use snipers quite often to deliberately target anything that moves in the city at certain times, impose curfews – this is the standard procedure now.”

Playwright Naomi Wallace: “Sometimes people are beaten down. Sometimes people do not come to a consciousness about their situation. But I don't believe things have always been the same, and that you've just gotta accept that there are a lot of bad endings. People do change and they do reach out to each other and they do resist. Those are the facts, and if I'm a playwright who's writing about the different elements of power and exchange between people, then I have to include those who resist or say I'm taking a different way, or I don't know where I'm going but I'm not going to do what I did before."

Former Army Colonel and U.S. diplomat Ann Wright: “I never dreamed we would have a government that would be so immune, and so dismissive of what the citizens were thinking. And so now I am doing the acts that I encouraged in other countries (laughs), you know? Take to the streets! You don't like what your government is doing to you, take to the streets. You the people have the power. Well, now I am the people, and I want us to regain our power. That's the way I'm working my life now.”

Others interviewed include: Antiwar active-duty GIs Jonathan Hutto and Liam Madden; Father Luis Barrios; educator Bill Ayers; Debra Sweet, Director of World Can’t Wait; Shannon Minter, Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights; Iranian singer Gissoo Shakeri; Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie; Catholic gay rights advocate Frank O'Gorman; Cindy Sheehan; attorney Lynne Stewart; Esther Kaplan, author of With God On Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy, and Democracy in George W. Bush's White House; political prisoner and death row inmate  Mumia Abu Jamal; basketball player Toni Smith; Bill Goodman, legal director for the Center for Constitutional Rights; spoken word artist Danny Hoch; rapper Boots from the Coup; embattled abortion doctor James Pendergraft; director David Riker; musican Lester Bowie; activist Yuri Kochiyama; Amnesty International Executive Director Pierre Sané; former political prisoner Luis Talamantez; performer Karen Finley; journalist Gary Webb; imprisoned Native American activist Leonard Peltier; writer and playwright Ntozake Shange; dramatic and comedic performers Culture Clash… and many more.

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