Statement made in Federal Court
Protesting the war in Iraq
Christopher Haw
29 September, 2004


Out of respect for Justice, I appeal to have this case dismissed. For it was out of civil responsibility by which we blocked the entrance of the Federal Building. While our citation stated that we were "unreasonably obstructing an entrance" we must consider this offense from a standpoint of civil and democratic responsibility, with True Justice in mind.

I am not arguing that we did not obstruct the building. I am arguing that we did so for profoundly reasonable purposes that demanded action. As a person might run a red light in a rush to stop a larger crime, so must our Federal Government, in its aggression against Iraq, be stopped even at the cost of nonviolent violation of building codes. We did not choose any random building, but a building that is administratively linked to unjust behavior, a behavior that must be stopped. We did not go to a Philadelphia building because, as you may know, our City Council was also opposed to this war.

At this Federal building, the employees were among a body of those sustaining a preemptive and unilateral war that violates the American idea of democracy. Admittedly, our government abandoned democracy when the US said “the time for diplomacy is finished." While this war was being waged in the name of democracy, our leaders had no respect for international democracy, since the UN Security Council didn’t support this war.

By acting unilaterally and preemptively, our nation has sent a horrendous and dangerous message to the world, that attacking a nation - which did not provoke us - is acceptable. This choice has opened up our nation to even further critique and hatred by terrorist groups who hate not our freedoms but our violations of freedom. The UN Charter - which creates the Security Council and which grants the Council authority - requires the "Security Council to act in accordance with the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations" (Article 24). The UN Charter requires international disputes or situations that might lead to a breach of peace to be resolved by peaceful means (Article 1 and Chapter VI). In other words, a nation may not wage war based on the claim that it seeks to prevent war. A nation may use force unilaterally in self defense only "if an armed attack occurs" against it (Article 51).

Furthermore, Article VI of the US Constitution establishes that ratified treaties, such as the UN Charter, are the "supreme law of the land." The UN Charter has been ratified by the US, and the Congress may not take actions - including wars of aggression - in violation of the Charter. Wars of aggression, and even the making of the threat of a war of aggression, violate the international humanitarian law to which all nations are bound (International AN.S.W.E.R.: Fact Sheet).

To resist a government involved in such undemocratic violations is not, at its root, an act of civil disobedience but in fact an act of civil respect and responsibility. In blocking our Federal building with my body I have not abandoned my government but given it my ultimate vote and active participation. Voicing dissent and disagreement is embedded into the history and ideology of democracy and patriotism.

While war supporters may insist that Bush has reasons that we do not know (thus we must trust him), this is a tragic understanding of a just democracy. Wendell Berry writes, "I feel no hesitation in saying that, to the extent that a government is secret, it cannot be democratic or its people free…and Thomas Jefferson justified general education by the obligation of citizens to be critical of their government, ‘for nothing can keep it right but their own vigilant and distrustful superintendence.’ An inescapable requirement of true patriotism, love for one's land, is vigilant distrust of any determinative power, elected or un-elected, that may preside over it.”

Ignoring the massive calls for peace and the call of God to love our enemies, our leaders have prayed only for the success of their troops, arms, and policies and have thus made for themselves a state religion - exactly what they claim to fear in "fundamentalist" Islam (Berry 1991). Such a government must be put into check by those who govern it - the people under the authority of Justice. Indeed, concerning the war on Iraq, our Federal authority must arrest itself.

For these reasons having to do with the Ultimate Justice, which our courts are held to, I request the dismissal of our case.

Chris Haw