Letter to America
Eve Ensler, USA
July 1, 2005
I am longing to reach you—crossing this river of indifference and
consumption and denial. I am trying to find you, reaching out through
the desperate limitations of words and descriptions, swimming through
the rhetoric of terror and God.
I need you to wake up. The house is on fire and you are still
sleeping, lulled by the intoxication of smoke and mirrors. I need you
to wake up and I know that shaking you, scaring you will only make you
cling to your sleep and sleep more.
How then do I tell you what's going on? How do I tell you about the
one hundred thousand dead Iraqi people that you and I are responsible
for murdering.(1) Each one of them valued their life, longed for their
morning, cherished their first cup of milk or coffee or tea. In what
way shall I deliver what I learned? The substance identical to illegal
napalm that melted tender five year old skin; the cluster bombs that
have left their murderous and disguised offspring, throngs of
bomblets set to explode, scattered on the Iraqi earth; the depleted
uraninum from the Bunker Busters we dropped that now lives in lungs
and livers and soil.(2)
How do I tell you about the strategic planning of such atrocities in
the boardrooms, the backrooms, the back seats of limos, the organized
take over and looting of Iraq right out from under the terrorized,
hungry, thirsty Iraqi people.(3) How do I get you to listen to the
stories of our solidiers who are trying to kill themselves now,
longing to escape the madness of murdering and maiming for no
Please don't go back to sleep. I know how hard it is to hear of the
massive black holes, called prisons we have dug to hold thousands
without charging them, without trials or the torture, the meanness,
the cruelty we are inflicting upon them.(5)
America, those who now control our country have changed and ended law.
I do not believe you are so calloused or selfish that you do not
care. Your sleep is induced. You are distracted and derailed. The
corporations have concocted and perfected these sleeping potions for
years, developing ingredients to make you despise every bit of
yourself, to feel ugly and fat and stupid and poor and not enough. And
so you spend your time and every bit of the money you do not have
buying products that will make you better, skinnier, lighter, whiter,
tighter. And as you consume and consume, the corporations consume you.
They take your money and your time and your voice and your instincts
and your outrage and your sorrow and your anger and your grief. They
consume your courage and leave fear in its place. They devour your
conscience and your memory and your compassion.
And how do I speak when they are sure to tie my tongue? When they will
say I do not love my country or support the troops or honor the dead
or believe in their God? How do I break through your sealed wrapping,
your self-obsession, your TVheadphonedDVDcell pod?
America I am getting desperate and I know this will not get me
published or heard. Those who control the information will say I'm
extreme, that I've gone mad. But I have heard the cries of childen in
the exploding houses of Falluja.(6) I have seen the agonized faces of
the sleepless Iraqi women who still clutch the outline of their
charred dead babies in their arms. I have watched as we as a nation
grow more isolated, despised and alone.
America, there is not much time left. The fire is spreading, consuming
the world. We are the arsonsists. We will need each other to find our
way out out through the lies and haze. It will take our greatest
imagination, courage and skill to subdue these flames.
1. Iraq death toll soared "post war" -
BBC news, Friday, October 29, 2004.
100,000 Iraqis dead (Lancet survey)
2. Andrew Buncombe, US admits to use of napalm -
The Independent, August 10, 2003.
Simon Helweg-Larsen, Irregular Weapons Used Against Iraq -
Global Policy Forum, April 7, 2003.
WHO studies depleted uranium in Iraq -
BBC news, August 23, 2001.
3. Rumsfeld, Amnesty trade barbs over prisoner abuse -
World Tribunal on Iraq, June 1, 2005.
4. Greg Zoroya, Army probes soldier suicides -
USA Today, October 23, 2003.
Military Families Against the war -
Military Families Speak Out.
5. Rumsfeld, Amnesty trade barbs over prisoner abuse -
World Tribunal on Iraq, June 1, 2005.
Physicians for Human Rights, Systematic Use of Psychological Torture by US Forces -
World Tribunal on Iraq, May 1, 2005.
6. Jonathan Steele and Dahr Jamail, This Is Our Guernica -
The Guardian, May 27, 2005.
Eve Ensler recently participated in The World Tribunal on Iraq in
Istanbul where she served with thirteen others from around the world on a jury
chaired by Arundhati Roy. The Tribunal consisted of three days of hearings
investigating various issues related to the war on Iraq, such as the legality of the war, the role of the United Nations, war crimes and the role of the media, as
well as the destruction of cultural sites and the environment. The session
in Istanbul was the culminating session of commissions of inquiry and hearings
held around the world over the past two years.
From Women in Black.