Sunday, February 24, 2008

Orange Ribbons at the Oscars!

"Out on the red carpet, Paul Haggis (the director whose 'Crash' won Best Picture in 2006) said he didn't know what accounts for all these deeply dark, brooding, troubled films. But isn't it obvious, he asked, flashing an orange ribbon on his lapel. Orange, why orange? 'It's Guantanamo,' his Max Azria-clad wife, Deborah, said, showing off her orange bracelet, which read: 'Silence + torture = complicity.' Suddenly, we noticed -- orange ribbons and bracelets everywhere (boldfacing added)." From the Washington Post, "Lights, Camera, Glamour," by William Booth, 2/25/08.

Alex Gibney, Winner for Best Documentary, "Taxi to the Dark Side:"

"Wow. Thank you very much, Academy. Here's to all doc filmmakers. And, truth is, I think my dear wife Anne was kind of hoping I'd make a romantic comedy, but honestly, after Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, extraordinary rendition that simply wasn't possible. This is dedicated to two people who are no longer with us, Dilawar, the young Afghan taxi driver, and my father, a navy interrogator who urged me to make this film because of his fury about what was being done to the rule of law. Let's hope we can turn this country around, move away from the dark side and back to the light. Thank you very much."

Here is an interview of Gibney by Robert Scheer.

Julie Christie, nominee for Best Actress

Ms. Christie mentions in this interview that several people at the awards including nominees were also wearing orange ribbons. (Note: the orange idea was picked up by ACLU but actually originated in summer 2007 with Declare It Now!)

This is an excerpt from an essay I wrote back in July 2007 entitled "Shifting the Center:"

More on the Competing, Legitimate Authority

Shifting the center of gravity is directly tied to the matter of bringing forth a competing, legitimate authority. That leadership will manifest itself in two ways. First, it is materially present in us as activists. We are contending for the people’s allegiance against the suasion and influence of the existing establishment. We are trying to bust them loose from following these bankrupt misleaders who can say with a straight face disingenuous things like “I haven’t seen any impeachable offenses” or “We just don’t have the votes.” We are urging people to follow us and to step forward themselves to become leaders and thereby materially expand the ranks of the DOBR [Drive Out the Bush Regime] movement. There isn’t something magical about us as individuals that they should follow us. It’s the content of our morality, our worldview, and our motives that we want them to respect, follow, and emulate. Another part of that leadership will come from among prominent individuals in society - authors, lawyers, teachers, artists, actors, military officers, politicians, etc. – who step forward.

Second, the choice all of the people now face is whether we are going to go along with torture and war crimes and so on, or are we going to condemn it, speak out against it, and fight it. Taking the moral high ground is itself a form of asserting leadership. To the extent that the people make the conscious choice to declare themselves against the horrid things that this regime is responsible for and represents, they are becoming part of that competing legitimate authority. They are acting as carriers and popularizers of the very different future that we want and need. Their visible stance on this moral question is a form of authority and a form of leadership in its own right. That is another reason why the heart and soul of DIN [Declare It Now] is the day-to-day lives of individual people.

We aren’t just making visible the invisible majority sentiment – although that is a key part of what we’re doing. We are also throwing into high contrast the gulf between this system’s morality – it’s ok to invade other countries who pose no threat to us, it’s ok to commit mass murder, it’s ok to use nukes on innocent countries and people, it’s ok to torture people, it’s ok to deny science and global warming, it’s ok to elevate the rights of a fetus over the life of a woman, it’s ok to create a theocracy, it’s ok to allow the torture and killing to go on if it benefits my political party’s ambitions, and it’s not ok to challenge any of this – and the morality of holding dear the rights of humanity and the planet, equality among peoples of all nations (for Iraqi and Afghani lives are just as valuable and just as important as American lives), truth, facts and science. We are the carriers of a sacred trust (I’m not religious, but I do think sacred is an appropriate word here) to be this precious, irreplaceable planet’s guardians and not allow it to be savaged by the people presently in charge.

If we do this work right, we are going to see a blossoming of this movement because the soil for this to take root is exceedingly rich and deep. There are going to be difficulties and there are challenges we have to solve. We will have to work hard and with great verve, we don’t have time to waste contenting ourselves with small improvements and small advances, and it’s not going to be a linear development, but all of our experiences tell us so far that this campaign resonates powerfully among the people and that it can work.

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