Nov 19, 2009

Robert C. Byrd Day Tribute: Byrd Spoke the Truth, and It Did Emerge

This is a non-partisan post, and excerpts of a great speech, to honor a true statesman (on his Congressional milestone and day of tribute), not a mere politician, who resisted the powers of propaganda and the tyranny of political-correctness to speak "truth to power" before it became more popular (and easier), in the aftermath of Sept. 11th.

This speech will be a historical classic (read it closely, not only its philosophic and practical discourse on truth, but wise analysis of post-9/11 national susceptibility of the public mind to rush into error) during the Bush presidency. Even now party loyalists, fearful of their political standing in the eyes of others, will dare not acknowledge its truth publicly, even though it now stands vindicated in full.

But let everyone, as the Bible so wisely counsels,"give honor to whom honor is due" and "rise up before the hoary (grey) head", in respect (instead of irreverent mockery for an aged man's frailties or weaknesses), for a Senator who has truly distinguished himself in not only age, but wisdom, oratory, industry, and integrity before his Congressional peers. It is a sad commentary upon Congress that there are few who bear these excellent marks and characteristics that he shares with some of the greatest statesman in American history, which even so many West Virginians of both parties do not appreciate or admire.

This speech was perhaps Senator Byrd at his Zenith, and at one of the most crucial times when speaking the truth, though drowned out, was needed in Congress to resist the "powers that be".

'The Truth Will Emerge'

By Senator Robert C. Byrd
Senate Floor Remarks - May 21, 2003

"Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again,--
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshippers."

Truth has a way of asserting itself despite all attempts to obscure it. Distortion only serves to derail it for a time. No matter to what lengths we humans may go to obfuscate facts or delude our fellows, truth has a way of squeezing out through the cracks, eventually. But the danger is that at some point it may no longer matter. The danger is that damage is done before the truth is widely realized. The reality is that, sometimes, it is easier to ignore uncomfortable facts and go along with whatever distortion is currently in vogue.... the run-up to our invasion of Iraq featured the President and members of his Cabinet invoking every frightening image they could conjure, from mushroom clouds, to buried caches of germ warfare, to drones poised to deliver germ-laden death in our major cities. We were treated to a heavy dose of overstatement concerning Saddam Hussein's direct threat to our freedoms. The tactic was guaranteed to provoke a sure reaction from a nation still suffering from a combination of post-traumatic stress and justifiable anger after the attacks of 911. It was the exploitation of fear. It was a placebo for the anger. Since the war's end, every subsequent revelation that has seemed to refute the previous dire claims of the Bush Administration has been brushed aside. Instead of addressing the contradictory evidence, the White House deftly changes the subject. No weapons of mass destruction have yet turned up, but we are told that they will in time. Perhaps they yet will. But our costly and destructive bunker-busting attack on Iraq seems to have proven, in the main, precisely the opposite of what we were told was the urgent reason to go in. It seems also to have, for the present, verified the assertions of Hans Blix and the inspection team he led, which President Bush and company so derided....

...What has become painfully clear in the aftermath of war is that Iraq was no immediate threat to the United States. Ravaged by years of sanctions, Iraq did not even lift an airplane against us. Iraq's threatening, death-dealing fleet of unmanned drones about which we heard so much morphed into one prototype made of plywood and string....

...there is little to constrain this President. Congress, in what will go down in history as its most unfortunate act, handed away its power to declare war for the foreseeable future and empowered this President to wage war at will. As if that were not bad enough, members of Congress are reluctant to ask questions that are begging to be asked....We cower in the shadows while false statements proliferate. We accept soft answers and shaky explanations because to demand the truth is hard, or unpopular, or may be politically costly....

But I contend that through it all, the people know. The American people unfortunately are used to political shading, spin and the usual chicanery they hear from public officials. They patiently tolerate it up to a point. But there is a line. It may seem to be drawn in invisible ink for a time, but eventually it will appear in dark colors, tinged with anger. When it comes to shedding American blood--when it comes to wreaking havoc on civilians, on innocent men, women and children, callous dissembling is not acceptable. Nothing is worth that kind of lie--not oil, not revenge, not re-election, not somebody's grand pipe dream of a democratic domino theory. And mark my words, the calculated intimidation that we see so often of late by the "powers that be" will only keep the loyal opposition quiet for just so long. Because eventually, like it always does, the truth will emerge. And when it does, this house of cards, built of deceit, will fall.