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Jewish World Review March 4, 2003 / 30 Adar I, 5762

Mark Goldblatt

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Human Shield: Everything you'd expect and more | Granted, there is a certain entertainment value in the merry band of "human shields" now scurrying around the Iraqi countryside, trying to deter the United States from bombing strategic targets by parking directly in the line of fire — it is, after all, the ultimate Jackass stunt. Saying that, however, it's still worth knowing a little something about their leader, a former Marine and Gulf War Veteran named Ken Nichols O'Keefe.

In his website's mission statement, which reads like a first draft the Unabomber might have written and discarded as too delusional, O'Keefe declares, "I have announced plans to bring serious charges against the United States. . . . You and your government are vile disgusting killers and people like myself have been and will continue to be attacked because we refuse to acquiesce or participate in your wretched policies."

Like many paranoids, O'Keefe — who has the word "ex-patriot" etched into his right hand and who claims "Hawaii" as "the nation of my allegiance" — is afflicted by an overriding sense of his own significance: "Your 'intelligence services,' primarily the FBI, have for years had every incentive to monitor me. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the FBI does have quite a lengthy file on me. . . . I am what you call an 'enemy of the state,' and indeed, I am an enemy of any state that puts power and greed above all else, even human life. Naturally, it was merely a matter of time before I would become a political target."

Despite such persecution, O'Keefe won't be discouraged, for his mission is, in a larger sense, messianic: "Fight I will, and my greatest weapon? The Truth. Indeed it is the truth that has set me free, and I will till my death and beyond continue to help free others."

And what is O'Keefe's Truth? "What I am ultimately stating . . . is already known to thinking people (not 'educated') around the world, and the people on the receiving end of your bombs or economic oppression are difficult to brainwash, so it is that these people know the truth I speak. Aside from the comparatively wealthy Western societies of America and Western Europe, whose populations (to a great degree) have been lulled into a morally comatose state of existence, the United States is regarded as a hypocritical rouge nation that is tolerated only out of fear of reprisal. A rouge that is completely out of control. Drunk on its own Power. A rouge that seriously threatens to destroy all life as we know it through its global rape of the natural world and sheer insanity in developing weapons of mass destruction."

America . . . the nation that gave us the nightmare of Maybelline!

All right, one last quote from the site: "Dear Ken, I'm very impressed to find out about what you are doing, and would like to express my strongest support and encouragement for these brave actions." — Noam Chomsky, January 5, 2003.

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JWR contributor Mark Goldblatt teaches at SUNY's Fashion Institute of Technology. His new novel is Africa Speaks. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Mark Goldblatt