Archbishop Oscar Romero once stated,
“Christ invites us not to fear persecution.
Believe me, brothers and sisters,
Anyone committed to the poor
Must suffer the same fate as the poor.
And in El Salvador we know the fate of the poor:
To be taken away,
To be tortured,
To be jailed,
To be found dead.”
Shortly after pleading with President Jimmy Carter
To cut U.S. military aid to El Salvador
Romero himself was assassinated by a member of the Salvadoran military,
Who trained at the U.S. School of the Americas.
Romero was committed to the poor,
And suffered the same fate
As the butchered campesinos.
Years before he became a Yippie,
American activist Abbie Hoffman worked
In the civil rights movement in the U.S. south.
In his autobiography he wrote,
“In June, before the influx of students began
A field worker greatly admired by us named Michael Schwerner
A college student, Andrew Goodman, and
A local organizer, James Chaney
Drove out to a town called Philadelphia
In the northeast corner of the state
To investigate the burning of a church.
They did not return.
Their burned-out station wagon was discovered in a ditch.
A month later their bodies were found
In thirteen feet of newly poured concrete.
Before they had been shot
They had been whipped to death with chains.
Their crime probably was they had all been riding in the front seat.
In Mississippi, even in private cars,
The custom was for blacks to ride in the back.
And in Mississippi, the custom was the law.
While they were searching for the three,
Several unaccounted-for black bodies
Were found in the swamps and rivers.
Some had been burned,
Most black families I met in the South
Had a relative who had been murdered by white people.”
The three civil rights workers were committed
To the liberation of the blacks in the south
And suffered their same fate of disappearance, torture, and death.
Rachel Corrie was an American college student and activist
Who went to Gaza in 2003.
A member of the International Solidarity Movement,
She worked among the people in Rafah.
She wrote her family,
“Nothing could have prepared me
For the reality of the situation here.
You just can’t imagine it unless you see it.
And even then your experience is not at all the reality:
What with the difficulties the Israeli army would face
If they shot an unarmed US citizen.”
Rachel Corrie was murdered by an Israeli soldier
Who drove his bulldozer over her and back again,
As she was trying to protect a Palestinian pharmacist’s home
From being demolished.
Yesterday, at least ten international activists
With the Free Gaza Flotilla
Were murdered by Israel’s naval commandos
in international waters in the Mediterranean.
Like Rachel Corrie, these activists were committed to the Palestinian people.
For daring to stand up to and oppose
The criminal policies of Israel’s occupation of Palestine,
They met the same fate as the Palestinians–
Police officers, fisherman, farmers,
Children, grandparents, parents,
Journalists, teachers, activists–
Murdered by the Israeli occupation forces.
Another Free Gaza boat departed from Ireland
and is moving toward the Mediterranean.
The name of the boat is the Rachel Corrie.
Knowing what happened to their comrades,
Knowing what misery the Palestinians face hour after hour,
The activists on board are committed this week
To breaking the inhuman siege on the people of Gaza.