Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Enjoying your freedom? Thank a protester!

Katherine Heerbrandt -- Telling it like it is
December 26, 2007

"Enjoying your freedom? Thank a protester." ("Cost of Freedom: An Anthology of Peace & Activism").

Ever vigilant, standing against tyranny and corrupt leaders motivated by economics rather than democratic ideals, voices of dissent have changed the course of history in this country and continue, in the face of public condemnation, to ferret truth from lies, to unmask false patriots and affronts to civil liberties with courage and perseverance.

That's the in-your-face, tell-it-like-it-is message throughout the personal narratives, poetry and artwork from 75 activists in "Cost of Freedom," published earlier this year by Howling Dog Press.

As one of three co-editors, Frederick's Whitney Trettien, a Harry Truman scholar and graduate student at M.I.T., is justifiably proud of the effort expended compiling, editing and weaving together first-person accounts that tell the story of a national grass-roots peace effort, a movement that's raged like a wildfire during the Bush administration.

"As several people have told me, it's not really a book -- it's a movement," Trettien says. "We're trying to capture the experiences of the American protester, from the grandmother who only recently attended her first rally to the aging hippie activist, and everyone in between."

The anthology presents a scope of work and voices you'd be hard pressed to find in any mainstream media.

It's not what you'd call "politically correct." It doesn't bludgeon truth into soft-sell, easily digestible sound bites for consumption by the masses, but serves it up raw and quivering on a plate with the fervor of a true believer.

The anthology is the brain child of novelist Michael Palecek, an outgrowth of his disgust with the rhetoric surrounding the war in Iraq.

He names the enemy and the enemy is George W. Bush.

"Dare we say it? Yes. We dare. We say it. We shout it. With a fist for punctuation," Palecek wrote in the introduction.

He identifies the true freedom fighters as those who have "had the courage to light a candle in the fiercest wind."

Helping light the way are co-editors Trettien, whom Palecek calls "a genius," and poet and founder of Howling Dog Press, Michael Annis.

Prophetic words from Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Paine, Ghandi, Mark Twain and other voices from history add context and depth to the contemporary narratives.

It's not something to read in one sitting. It's heady, provocative and inspiring stuff.

Trettien, a lauded academic and founder of Frederick County's Green Party, is following in the footsteps of Noam Chomsky when he wrote in 1967 that it is the responsibility of the nation's intellectuals to expose and analyze "the lies of government" and the hidden intentions behind the actions.

An M.I.T. professor for over half a century, Chomsky has received death threats for his outspoken and often unpopular views. In his endorsement of "Cost of Freedom," Chomsky says the book "should inspire many more to join these efforts to create a powerful force of concerned citizens that cannot be ignored, and that will help shape a much more hopeful and decent future."

The essays make a staggering case against the current administration on one level. On another, they celebrate the power of dissent in a pluralistic society.

Underscoring each and every contribution is editor Palecek's not-so-subtle message, a message he expounds on in a July 2007 blog: "The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. Somebody said that. We have not been vigilant, we have been watching TV."

Perhaps the book is, as Trettien says, a movement, a call to the American people to wake up, turn off the TV and do something.

For information, or to order the book, visit

kheerbrandt AT yahoo com

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posted by u2r2h at 9:14 AM


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