Like a Tree Standing By the Water

Text of remarks by Doris ‘Granny D’ Haddock at the Minneapolis
Rolling Thunder Chautauqua, Sept. 2, 2002

Thank you.

We have come to a time for communal remembering. We will see the
images again of 3,000 fine people dying. We will see again in our
minds those crematory clouds that overwhelmed the pink-vapored sun
and all our sensibilities.

The horror of September 11 was not only the horror of 3,000 deaths:
We were all victimized, all dehumanized by seeing our fellow human
beings killed in so wholesale a manner, as if we were but

Since that morning, in more than three thousand ways, we have tried
to re-humanize the city and our lives. We said ‘I love you’ in
public parks. We placed flowers in harsh places. In small caf?s by
candlelight we rekindled torches of human love and, like resolute
townspeople suddenly of one mind, we carried these torches against
the monstrously inhumane oppressions and abstractions of modern

As a democratic people, we deserved support from our political
representatives in that effort –they are supposed to be the agents
of our common dreams. We had an opportunity to make those deaths
mean something. We had an opportunity to honor those individual
hearts by bringing more humanity, more love into the world in vivid
and heartmoving forms. We had an opportunity to defeat the forces
of hatred–that sick product of the spiritually immature mind that
reduces humans to abstractions. For a moment, we looked at life
with the same amazement that I’m sure those who died shared from
the other side. Do they stand around us yet, hoping that we do not
fall back into the hypnosis of exploitation –hoping that we can
still imagine love and be conscious and amazed in the world?

Instead, their memories were harshly abused. We got an inhuman
response that yet grows –a sickening cloud that yet darkens the
American sky and the world’s sky. And to Ashcroft’s and Rumsfeld’s
and Cheney’s and Bush’s false alarm manipulations of the childish
news networks and the pushover Daschle Congress, we say, for God’s
sake, men, if you aren’t smart enough to see the positive
opportunities for the world at this moment, at least sit on your
hands and do no harm. This is no time to repeal the Bill of Rights,
or to renounce America’s citizenship in the world. Don’t do all
that because you think we fear a few madmen enough that we will
give up America’s freedoms.

Yes indeed, there are people intent on killing us who are as
dedicated as they are spiritually deformed and immature. What
indeed is more childishly selfish or more spiritually immature than
to love your religion so much that you would ask someone else to
die for it? But there are things in this world worth dying for
honorably. And one of those is real political freedom for our loved

I am from New Hampshire and our state motto is, ‘Live Free or Die.’
I never thought much about it until recently. But I tell you that
we must all now have the courage of our Constitution. I will take
the risks of living in a free country. I will risk the danger of
terrorists. I often carry a heavy purse and can defend myself, and
if that is not enough, so be it. But I will check my own bedroom
walls for subversive posters and I will monitor my own email and if
I find anything I will type myself up a nice report. But I will NOT
stand idly by and allow my government to commit treasons against
our Constitutional Bill of Rights.

Get a grip, Mr. Ashcroft, Mr. Cheny, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush: this
is America where we live free or die. Go visit a military cemetery
to remind yourselves that we are a courageous people and that we
mean it when we say LIBERTY or Death.

Whose dark cloud is it that darkens our Constitution, our Bill of
Rights, our national soul, our responsible position in the world
community? It mustn’t be one of our own making.

Would you have thought a year ago that people in America could be
arrested and held without charges, without lawyers, without any
rights? Would you have imagined that America would be running
detention and maybe torture camps, holding people secretly for
months or years, and with the corporate media cheering them

Would you imagine that the government would reorganize around the
idea of becoming something of a police state, and that soldiers
would be patrolling like policemen and that your email and that the
posters on your bedroom wall would put you at risk of all this
machinery of snooping and detention and isolation and perhaps
torture, and with the corporate media cheering them on?

Could you possibly imagine that any American could be stripped of
all his or her rights by being named, with not proof, an enemy
combatant, an enemy of the state? Could you have imagined that
permanent war would be declared against nobody in particular and
that it would be used to de-fund every social program the radical
right ever didn’t like? Could you imagine the idea of our elite
storm troopers being authorized to go anywhere in the world,
without invitation, to kill anyone they please, and with the
corporate media cheering them on?

Could you have imagined we could fall so far so fast under this
dark cloud?

These dark clouds from the towers, if they darken our Constitution,
are clouds of darkest opportunism. The corporate elite behind the
radical right miss no trick in manipulating our own fears into a
mass capitulation of our freedoms. The maneuvering to undermine our
Bill of Rights by a fraudulent pursuit of public safety is as
un-American as anything that has occurred in my 92 years.

These un-American usurpers of our election and of our freedoms do
not represent us in the least.

We have the courage of our Constitution to live free on our garden
Earth as brothers and sisters –to live free or die. And together
as the human community we stand for love. And against death and
exploitation and the lie of projected evil we link our arms. We
shall not, we shall not be moved. Just like a tree that’s standing
by the water, we shall not be moved.

The responsible course for America is no secret. Our only real
safety lies in crafting an American success story that does not
rely upon the repression of the world’s people and the destruction
of their systems of self-determination for the sake of our
industrial needs, but instead upon their rising health and wealth
and freedom. Otherwise a state of constant war is indeed
inevitable. We know that. We choose against it.

Our only real safety lies in the crafting of an American success
story that does not rely upon the trashing of the American and the
world environment for the sake of corporate profits, funneled to
political careers. Otherwise there is no America the Beautiful for
our children or life on earth for our grandchildren. We know that.
We choose life and love, and we shall not be moved.

The blue haze that keeps us from seeing our mountains and that is
warming the earth and threatening our survival is the product of a
domestic political terrorism that harms us far more than any cells
of terrorists. In the Northeast alone, where the Hudson River
Valley is now blanketed in coal pollution coming from as far away
as the Midwest, twice as many Americans die each year from the
loosening of environmental standards on coal plants as died in the
twin towers. Are we dehumanized when we are killed in so wholesale
a manner? To get that coal, a thousand times the explosive might of
the Oklahoma City bombing is used each day against the mountains of
Appalachia by Mr. Bush’s coal friends, who help finance his career.
Every four days, the explosive power of the entire Afghanistan
campaign is used against Kentucky and West Virginia mountain ranges
we once called ‘almost heaven,’ –all while Mr. Bush rejects any
effort to conserve energy. What kind of patriotism is that? It is

And what, then, are we the people to do? Well, there is November
coming. Let us work hard so that we have some candidates who
recognize a needed regime change when they see one, and who are
leaders in fact. Our system is overrun with ego-driven would-be
reformers who really just take up valuable space, and with ossified
political parties who are more interested in protecting the elite
on the right or the elite on the left than the people or the
future. We have hard political work to do, and the big parties need
transforming or dumping.

We also have a war to stop. We need to organize massive peaceful
demonstrations in Washington and in our state capitols. The
trumped-up war in Iraq is power madness and pure stupidity. The
fact that it is monstrously immoral ought to count for something,

But beyond the necessary effort to stop the continuing coup, and
beyond the need to use the coming election to box in these power
mad frat boys, we must each in our own creative ways give testimony
to who we are, that we have the courage of our Constitution to live
free on our garden Earth as brothers and sisters –to live free or
die; That we are members of the human community and that we stand
for love; That for the dead we light candles, not fuses; That
against death and exploitation and the lie of projected evil, we
link our arms; That we shall not, we shall not be moved. Just like
a tree that’s standing by the water, we shall not be moved.

Thank you.
For other Granny D Speeches,
Three years ago, at 89
years old, Granny decided to walk across the country to call
attention to the lack of moral leadership in either major political
party. She walked 10 miles per day and almost a year, but she did
it. Now at 92, she is still touring and talking.

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