Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 9 No. 2 | Summer 1987 (Portland) /// Issue 34 of 41 /// Master# 34 of 73

impose sanctions upon human rights violators. But when I speak or work on behalf of Amnesty, I accept their terms. In the United States morality does just fine—a real morality—and if we have no capacity here to appeal to morality, then this country will suffer deeply before any change occurs.” I wanted to get back to her so-called naivete and her realization that an imperial presidency bolstered by CIA and NSC covert operations is deaf to the will of Congress and that, worse, Congress is deaf to the will of the American people. What is her perception of U.S. foreign policy now? “At one time a CBS poll indicated that 87 percent of the American people disapproved of American support of the Salvadoran government, and not only did this not affect American foreign policy decisions, but the aid to the Salvadoran army—I won't even say government, they’ re one and the same even now— increased exponentially. So that by now there’s been almost two billion dollars given in military and economic aid. “Yes,” I interjected, “ and with the Reagan contra campaign in Nicaragua, El Salvador, as an issue in the public mind, has vanished.” “ El Salvador has suffered the worst aerial bombardment in the history of the Western Hemisphere,” she added. “Specifically in 1982, ‘83 and ‘84, but it’s still going on. There are slightly fewer disappearances at the hands of death squads. There were 1,900 political murders last year and 1,700 of them were attributed to the Right, to the governmental forces— that’s from the office of the Archbishop.” I asked if she felt that the average Am e r ican had been p la ca te d by Duarte. . . . “Well, the problem with Duarte is that he has no power. The intentional perception is that things have calmed down. The ground of argument has shifted. Liberals who were once concerned about human rights violations in Salvador are now concerned about whether or not they should be giving money to the contras." I explained to Forche that during the last year my own naivete had brought me to complete bafflement by the editorial positions of periodicals such as the New York Review of Books, which, while exposing the contras to be murderous lack1don't haveany illusions aboutAmericanpowerstructures. 1stilladmire theAmerican people, especiallythosewho, despite thepropagandathat they'redelugedwith, still maintainaclear, fairvision." eys entirely created and financed by the CIA, simultaneously supported further contra aid. “All they did was come on line," Forche stated. “ If you know who they are—and having worked among them these last four years I know better who they are now—I’m not surprised at all by their editorial position. I would be surprised if the editorial position went the other way; that would be the shocking thing. | |T Tn t e r m s o f m Y o w n naivete, there t came a point when I realized that JL there was no connection between popular political will and the execution of fore ign policy. I became quite d is ­ couraged. I began to believe that those of us who had made the attempt to bring the case before the American people had failed utterly and completely. When I looked back at the ruins of my own personal life I became depressed—much against Monsenor Romero’s admonitions—and decided that I’d done the wrong thing, that there was something else I should have done that would have been more effective, that all these speeches and traveling were in vain. I began to think critically of myself, that perhaps it was all just grandstanding, that perhaps I even had allowed myself to evolve into a kind of performer, a caricature of myself, and I spent months trying to figure out what I should have done differently. I’m not sure that I know now, but people have told me that I shouldn’t view that period in that light. “Well now I don’t have any illusions about the American government or what its agenda is or who controls it. Finally I figured out the power of weapons manufacturers, who have risen to the top of our corporate hierarchy. It took me a long time, and I’m sure there was a lot of resistance in me—but I think I understand now what we are up against. I don’t have any illusions about American power structures. I still admire the American people, especially those who, despite those power structures, and despite the extent of the propaganda that they’ re deluged with, still maintain a clear, fair vision. “When you re-enter this country you re- ' enter a kind of fog. You’re not given very accurate news, certainly nothing indepth on a mass level. The propaganda is blatant and extensive, more so now than when I left in 1985.1admire Americans who can cut through that. South Africa’s mass media resembles America’s mass media. “ I don’t think that it’s easy to move Americans unless you can connect something directly to their own lives. I think the circle of empathy is quite restricted here. It’s quite difficult for people who live ‘normal’ lives to devote much of their energy to something that far away your problem is not your life as it is in American, hot that your hands, as you tell me, are tied to do something. It is that you were bom to an island of greed and grace where you have this sense of yourself as apart from others. It is not your right to feel powerless. Better people than you werepowerless, you have not returned to your country, but to a life you never left." -from “Return” from them. The question is what will hap- • pen when American workers realize that they are being asked to give their lives— to be conscripted, perhaps, to be killed in foreign interventions—in order to transfer their jobs elsewhere? When that connection is made we’ ll have a whole different political climate here. Everywhere I go in the United States now, people are talking about their own economic hardship in local terms. When I came to Oregon, for example, everyone is saying— ‘Well, in Oregon we have a very depressed economy’—but everywhere I go people say that. They say, the rest of the country is doing well, but we here in Texas, because of the oil situation—or, we here in Michigan because of the automobile industry. . . . What they don’t realize is that the hype that America is doing so well economically is just that. This administration has gutted the industrial base, ignored the maintenance of the physical plants of this country, and behaved in such an irresponsible way economically that I’m not surprised that big capital is moving against it. When the American people realize what’s happened to their country in the last ten years, I think that you’ re going to see massive political shifts, though I'm not sure in which direction. . . . ” The world Forche has encountered, the world in which 40,000 children die of dehydration each day, the world in which “There is nothing one man will not do to another” —as she put it in her poem “The Visitor’’—is a world that made her pose the question (in “ Selective Service” ): “ In what time do we live that it is too late/ to have children?” As a father of three, and finding Forche in the company of a toddling son, I felt the need to end our conversation on an optimistic note, believing that her decision to bring a child into this world struck a chord of love and defiance that forced her own question back on itself, a kind of bearing witness that might have found its source in the life of her old friend Monsenor Romero. “We wanted to have a baby,” Forche responded, “we did make a conscious decision to have him. Harry and I live similar lives, have similar experiences— and therefore similar feelings—and we both wanted to do this. We’re very happy that we have and we wish this baby a productive life. Now I have to go past that fear of bringing a child into the world. We decided to give him the chance of having whatever kind of life he can have for however long he can have it—and not make the decision for his little soul about it.” Writer Doug Marx lives in Portland. His last story for CSQ was on poet Czeslaw Milosz. Artist Stephen Leflar has been a regular contributor to CSQ for several years. He lives in Southwest Portland. f i l f N A H RESTAURANT Unique a n d Exotic Chinese cuisine specializing in spicy dishes from Hunan a n d Szechuan Provinces Moderately Priced. WATER BAGELS Same Authentic N. Y. Recipe Since 1908 Kosher Bagels, 10 Varieties Baked fresh through each day Cream cheese spreads 515 S.W. Broadway 2 2 4 - 8 0 6 3 Morgan s Alley Building Free parking after 6:00 p.m . 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