Human rights activist Ross C. “Rocky” Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, delivered these remarks May 28, on the occasion of a visit by President Bush. They are published here as part of the ongoing Moral Compass series, focusing on the spoken word.
You who are here today, raising your voices for an end to the tremendous abuses of power that are causing so much damage to our nation, are the true patriots!
For the third time in as many years, President George Bush is visiting Salt Lake City, the capital city of the state in which he enjoyed the greatest margin of victory in both of his presidential elections. And for the third time, thousands of us are gathered here on the occasion of his visit to raise our voices out of great concern for our nation.
We join together as people of conscience–people who not only love our country and the values upon which our Constitution rests, but who strongly believe that our actions, and the actions in which our country engages, should be consistent with our most basic moral values.
We are grateful that Daniel Ellsberg has joined us today. He is perhaps the greatest example in our time of the courageous exercise of conscience, who put everything on the line–his security clearance, his career, and a possible life sentence in prison–to let the American people know the truth about the lies that led us into, and perpetuated, the catastrophic war in Vietnam.
We raise our voices in unison today because President Bush, Vice- President Cheney, and other members of the Administration have engaged, with the sad and dangerous complicity of Congress and much of the mainstream media, in unprecedented, egregious human rights violations; vast deceit of Congress and the American people; astounding crimes against peace, of the same nature as those for which men were convicted during the Nuremberg trials; war crimes; crimes against humanity; and blatant violations of our Constitution, the rule of law, our nation’s most critical treaty obligations, and the system of checks and balances so crucial to our constitutional democracy.
We gather today because we understand that it is only through citizens embracing our democracy and demanding far better of our elected representatives that our nation’s course will be altered toward the restoration of the rule of law.
Although this Administration has only a little more than seven months left, we gather here today, not out of partisanship or a hunger for retribution, but out of a heartfelt conviction that our great nation will be irreparably harmed without the full disclosure of the truth and reforms that will, in the future, prevent the abuses suffered by our nation, and by people around the world, as a result of the unlawful and immoral conduct perpetrated by the Bush Administration and condoned by Congress.
We gather today because it’s not yet over. Far from it. So much damage is being done to our country every day, so much more hatred is generated toward us every day, and so many atrocities are being perpetrated against people around the world every day, with the unprecedented authorization of the Executive Branch and, in some instances, with the collusion of an astoundingly craven Congress.