Whistleblowers in Solidarity
From REV BILLY
It was a three day gathering, February 17, 18, 19th at the International Hotel at UC Berkeley. It left me dazed and elated. After the Whistleblowers – the things we’ll do inside banks has just escalated to the surreal heights. There’s no turning back now!
The Whistleblower’s Conference was organized by the Fresh Juice Party. This was the group that interrupted Barack Obama’s fundraising dinner last year. A number of the President’s many-bucks-per-chew friends stood up unexpectedly and sang directly at him a song with lyrics that repeatedly rhymed with “Bradley Manning.”
The Whistleblowers gathering had a certain feeling from the start. The circles of people presided over by for Defense Dept. and CIA whistleblowers like Col. Ann Wright and Daniel Elsberg and Ray McGovern – seemed to be sitting inside history. By “inside” history I mean for the first time in decades history felt sensible – able to be sensed. Old warriors who had blown the whistle on government lies were sitting in folding chairs talking with Occupy youth with pup tents on hotel’s lawn.
The heightened quality in the way participants spoke had to do with the general emergency of world CO2 emissions rising every week. That was the climate of the conference. The specific scandal was saber rattling over Iran, a script so identical to Iraq, to the bombing of Gaza to Afghanistan, and then before that the whole infinite regression of invasions, from Panama to Trinidad to Chile to Viet Nam… And although the USA’s rhetoric with Iran is the same wearying seen-this-before threat, at Whistleblowers there was an upbeat feeling of we’ll-stop-it-this-time. There was opportunity in the air at this event. Time and again the conferees acted like they could reach out and turn history with their hands.
I watched the weekend unfold from inside the Earthalujah pulpit. I was not quite IN it. I appreciated what was happening but I was so exhausted by the Fear of Banking. We had already pierced the gravitational field of UBS in Zurich in the costumes of abominable snowpersons; we became our naked selves in the Barcelona Deutshbank.
By the time I flew here from Spain the problem was not just jet lag. On opening night I walked up before an audience recovering from the grainy wiki-leaks footage from surveillance cameras mounted on army copters. Do you remember the surveillance tape of the killing of the Iraqi family in the van? At the Whistleblowers it was screened the size of a regular movie theater… We watched the Iraqi father coming to the aid of a man bleeding in the street. Leaving his two daughters in the van, he carried the victim in his arms, opening the door while comforting the girls. Then we heard the helicopter pilot matter-factly in pentagon-speak ask for the right to murder everyone there. What happened next? Some of us stared in disbelief, some of us covered our eyes.
This cast a pall on the room and it had to. I entered our cloud of guilt, shared murders suddenly revealed. Now what we do with our taxes and passive politics – was there before us. Our foreign policy was no longer a policy, no longer a tendency or “value,” – it was killing this family.
I couldn’t speak, just stood there on one of those old-fashioned high school-like stages, the audience below in the dark. I heard, timidly at first, “Stop Shopping! …Stop Bombing! ….Earthalujah!” — the shake-and-bake church language from each of our invented theologies. I finally laughed, thanks to my performance partner, our favorite sapphic rasta church pianist – Katrina Lewis. I don’t know what I preached. I leaped and sang and I remember the recurring image of the sermon: slyly orgasmic supermodels prancing up the runway 3,000 times a day straight into our third eye… that was the comi-tragic reprise. The domestic side of the violence in Iraq. The deadening of us consumers here stateside. We pay our taxes listlessly and release the wars into the distance.
Looking back on the three days, this was a good and unexpected – and tough – experience in my life. I know a doorway is opening for all of us. Mohamed Bouazizi and Bradley Manning are the gatekeepers of our imaginations right now. The creativity of the arts is now applied to a wall of war that I know we must graffiti on, pass through, dig under, climb over and tear down. In the conference, I saw former CIA spies telling associates of the Yes Men and Code Pink that they knew some great prank could stop the invasion of Iran. Amazing.
That wall of war is still a rock-solid monolith. Call it a bank. Call it the pillared and monolithic front of a bank. The policies of that bank dictate that CO2 emissions will rise; that the secret wars and giant storms will rise from the fossil fuel investments that are its policy. And so really the wall is changing itself into an invisible gas to out-smart us. Would Mohamed and Bradley know what we should do now? We’re looking desperately at this seamless gleaming wall before us…
Earlier in the tour, in Barcelona, we had Catalans at our back. We entered a Deutschbank weeping. We rehearsed it together, “performance grieving,” we called it. We cried operatically, at the climate-killing finances of this rogue institution. We dropped to our knees as Savitri D walked toward the hapless bank officials stark naked. A mother breaking through the wall of banker’s middle class manners, the politeness of the murderers’ management. They couldn’t move. The Barcelona police, the sons of real fascists, were paralyzed. The sobbing raged, the crowd disrobed, the cameras whirred and shutters clicked.
The droughts and fires and floods and storms are making loans to us. The collapsing system is giving us fortunes. We enter the Deutschbank with a new kind of wealth. We now know that an ordinary citizen standing in a lobby can wiki-leak everything out of their vast infantry of pixelated codes. We receive the formula on how to take back the value hidden there from a mother turned stripper turned amateur goddess. She walks through us. “Blow your whistle with so much grief, the whistling wind of the killer storms will blast the doors off the secret vaults.”