Cynthia McKinney recently lossed her bid for re-election as a representative of the 4th Congressional District of Georgia. She wrote a speech on the eve of her defeat which has been published by Counterpunch.org and of which the following is an excerpt:
I first got into trouble when I was compelled in 1991, while serving in the Georgia Legislature, to speak against George Herbert Walker Bush’s war against Iraq. And during a point of personal privilege, I declared that I could not support any of George Bush’s reasons for war.
My colleagues got up and walked out on me, I was vilified in the press, and compared to Julian Bond, who too had spoken out against an unjust war.
Ladies and gentlemen, there comes a time when people of conscience are compelled to dissent.
Bobby Kennedy said, ‘The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.’
We love our country, and that is why we dissent: because we care.
We care about the dignity of all the world’s people.
We care about minimum wage workers; we care about no wage workers; we care about the homeless-too many of whom are veterans; we want a healthy future for all our children; we want our seniors to live in dignity. Our country is too rich to tolerate such poverty in our midst.
We have more to give to our people and the world than DynCorp, Halliburton, and the Carlyle Group.
We care about the air and the earth and the water. And so we reject George Bush’s science lessons that distort the facts and justify policies that support drilling for oil in Alaska; exacerbate global warming; and allow more human consumption of known toxins and pollutants.
We care about the projection of US power around the world. Either we can be a force for good in the world; or we can rely on force and upset the world.
Sadly, this Administration has chosen the latter.
At a time when this country has failed to train enough certified teachers to educate our children, George Bush is spending billions, nearly one trillion, dollars for war. And in a point of personal privilege right now I echo what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal; we are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls ‘enemy.'”
One year to the day before Dr. King was murdered, he declared that the greatest purveyor of violence in the world was his own country. With Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, there might even be a call for more US or UN troops to be stationed in the Middle East, we – here tonight – say to our Commander-in-Chief: Sir, No Sir.
And so, before we engage in yet more war, I declare tonight that we stand with the families of our hurt soldiers and the hundreds of thousands of innocent hurt and dead Iraqis.
We stand with the homeless Vietnam and Gulf War veterans.
We stand with the Agent Orange victims and the 160,000 sick Gulf War veterans.
We stand with the 37,000 green card soldiers, not even citizens, but willing to trade their lives for a chance to live and work in America because our foreign policy has failed to uplift their hopes and aspirations in their own countries.
Dr. King told us that in order to stop the madness we would have to match actions with words. Mario Savio before that told us that we have to put our very bodies against the wheels and the gears and the levers of the machine and we have to say to those who own it, that they must stop it, or we will stop it.
Ms. McKinney’s speech is a compelling read in its entirety. Click the headline to read all of it.