Feed Item

RAY McGOVERN: I just want to thank the people who already spoke, and I’d like to just remind people, if they don’t already perceive it from looking at me, I was born before World War II, and I have immediate experience with World War II. My uncle died in the war. I’ve also worn the uniform of the United States of America as an Army Infantry Intelligence Officer. I know a little bit about war.

Joe Biden doesn’t know anything about war. Tony Blinken doesn’t know anything about war. Jacob Sullivan doesn’t know anything about war. None of them ever donned a military uniform except maybe the Cub Scouts, and I haven’t checked the Cub Scouts. Biden had how many deferments during Vietnam? Would you believe he had as many as Dick Cheney—five; count them. So, this is a point that is really worth making; they don’t know what they’re getting into.

These are the times that try men’s souls. This is where we have to step up; organize, and put our bodies into it. There are a bunch of things that come out of Gaza and come out the situation in Ukraine. I might also mention that there are U.S. Marines on islands in sight of China; islands that are part of Taiwan, but they’re there. So, Americans have no idea, because of the media, of how close we are to having not only a one-front or a two-front, but a three-front confrontation with very powerful entities. This not even to mention Iran, which is some power to be coped with now.

I’d just like to comment on Mr. Putin. Now, he is riding high; an 87% win in the election on March 17th; 77% of people came out. How many of you would come out if you knew who was already going to win? He’s riding high, and yet in my view he is still very cautious. Now, I don’t understand exactly what he is meaning by saying he prefers Biden because Biden is predictable. I think Putin may be playing us. Predictable? A week after Putin said I prefer Biden because he’s predictable, Biden called Putin a Sukin syn; it sounds worse in Russian than son of a b—ch. Next day, Putin is asked what he thinks of that. He says, it’s just what I told you; he’s completely predictable. Now, what does that mean? It means that, as Putin said, Biden is, first and foremost, a politician. It is an election year. It is entirely predictable that he will do everything he can to avoid losing war in Ukraine, NATO losing war in Ukraine, U.S., U.K. losing the war in Ukraine before the election in November. So, I’m Mr. Putin, and I spent a whole career putting myself in the shoes of Soviet and then Russian leaders. What am I to think? What am I to think about Biden, about Macron, about all this craziness, as Colleen explained craziness, that’s going on right now. Well, I have to make sure that my strategic arms are fully alert and able to handle anything that comes down the pike. That’s a big chore; that’s a danger in and of itself. I’ve been too close to too many “almost” nuclear exchanges to be comfortable with relaxing.

So, what do we look for in these circumstances? For example, what do we look for in circumstances of genocide? I remind you, I was alive during the genocide of Jews in Germany during World War II. What happened? Well, for the most part, with very few exceptions, the German people docilely said, “Well, as long as it’s not me, just my Jewish neighbors,” they acquiesced in it. Was there anyone of moral standing who spoke out against this genocide and against this war? Very few. No voice from Rome; no voice from the Catholic Church or the evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany. There were voices—Dietrich Bonhoeffer was one. There’s another one who maybe I could use as an example. His name was Albrecht Haushofer; perhaps one or two of you have heard of him. He was a geographer, a professor at the University of Berlin. He made tenure because he kept his mouth shut. Unfortunately for him, but fortunately for us, he had a conscience—ein Gewissen. It troubled him to see his neighbors carted off to God-knows-where. So, he started to speak out against Hitler. He assembled a little group around him, and it grew and it grew so he became a threat. The Gestapo rolled him up, put him in a prison; not the same prison Bonhoeffer was in; a different prison where they shoot you rather than hang you. Then, in their meticulous way, the German wardens said, “OK, Mr. Haushofer, here is your confession. You have to sign this confession.” Haushofer says, “Du bist verrückt”; “What, are you crazy? I’m not going to sign a confession.” They said, “Well, OK,” but they shot him anyway. The Allies were approaching. As they picked him up from the floor, out of his pocket came a little piece of paper. It was a sonnet; a sonnet written by Haushofer in German. It’s very brief; I’m going to read it to you.

Schuld—Guilt

Doch schuldig bin ich. Anders als Ihr denkt! (I’m guilty, but it’s not what you’re thinking.)

Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen,

Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen, (I should have earlier recognized my conscience. I should have spoken out much more strongly against evil.)

Mein Urteil hab ich viel zu lang gelenkt… (I put off my judgment far too long.)

Ich hab gewarnt — nicht hart genug … (I did warn, but not enough)

Nicht genug und [schaf genug]

Und heute weiss ich was ich schuldig war. (And today, I recognize what I was guilty of.)

So, what are we to take from that? Well, are we speaking out loudly enough, sharply enough, clearly enough? Klar (clear) is one of the words I forgot to include here. OK, let’s not put ourselves in the position of Haushofer. Let’s speak out early enough, strongly enough, and clearly enough. Because you know what, folks? We can’t look for our leadership from the normal church folks or others who speak but don’t act, like the Gospel of James. Lots of nice talk, but no action. That is not faith.

Here we have ourselves on Good Friday. Good Friday, an appropriate day for this discussion. I would just remind you that we are not to be discouraged. Discouragement is not allowed. Disgusted, yeah. Discouraged has to do with the heart. We have to keep up our hearts. We have to realize that as the poet Annie Dillard said, “There is only us.” But look at us! Look at us assembled here today. There are enough of us; there never has been any other but us.

Finally, I worshipped in African-American churches in the United States, and there was one preacher who on Good Friday, had an incredible sermon or homily, whatever you call it. He pointed out that among all the indignities, all the cruelty in that particular part of the world, he said, “But that’s Friday; that’s Friday.” Then he finished up by saying, “But Sunday’s coming; Sunday’s coming.” We have to realize that Sunday’s coming; we have to keep up our spirits and look around and see who many other wonderful people are working for justice. Not be disappointed, but speak out, because we are the only ones left to do this, and we have a prospect of success. Why? Because “Sunday’s coming!” Thank you very much.