Seven years ago this March a lawyer in this office was arrested for uttering the word “why.”
He had just returned from court, then walked a block to join the rest of the staff, gathered on a street corner supporting several dozen people sitting in our small burg’s main street, protesting George II’s lighting the fuse on Operation Iraqi Fiefdom. Shortly before his arrival, state agents had announced that those on the sidewalks needed to leave. Unbeknownst to us then, even officers in our little town had received the memo: the new tactic was to dissolve such assemblies by first dispersing and, if necessary, arresting the observers, rather than the observed.
The lawyer had not been present for that announcement. When he reached the corner, and asked us what was going on, before we could reply a gendarme brusquely informed him that he needed to leave the sidewalk. He then asked, as would any reasonable American, “why?” His arms were immediately pulled behind his back, he was cuffed, arrested, and frog-marched to a waiting bus.
I recall this event often. For the word “why” is the one word that those who promote and pursue war never want uttered. Because following that word to its inevitable conclusion always exposes the Potemkin facade erected to excuse senseless slaughter.