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Attack built on rage over corrupt system

In 1984, I worked for a law firm in Boston. We represented self-insured clients in Workers’ Compensation cases. I settled out one case for $10,000, which was within my authority and, in my opinion, a good deal for the client, Grossman’s Lumber.

I notified my client, but later received a letter from the home office denying the settlement. I wrote back explaining that I had reached a good-faith settlement with opposing counsel and the company should honor it. It was a matter of trust and credibility.

Shortly thereafter, I was fired. My supervising attorney told me that a Grossman’s honcho was affronted by my use of the term “good faith.” He said if I wasn’t fired, Grossman’s would take its business elsewhere. I came to learn, though, that Grossman’s had been bought out by Victor Posner, the reviled corporate raider. He was stripping the company of its assets and keeping the cash. Grossman’s later went into bankruptcy.

I came to learn as well that Posner and his ilk were buying and plundering other enterprises, especially in the Heartland, which we now identify — after the raiding and the plundering and the moving of businesses to China — as the Rust Belt. The evisceration of America’s manufacturing base destroyed lives and put America in the vulnerable position it is in today, dependent upon sources foreign; especially upon, yes, China.

As I listen to and read of the outrage over the attack on the Capitol, I think, where was the outrage when people like Posner were throwing people like me to the wolves? Answer, nowhere. We didn’t exist for the enlightened minds in Washington, the free traders, the neoliberals.

Now they wax indignant because the descendants of that ruined generation breached their sanctum sanctorum. CNN expressed appalled disbelief at the underdressed proletarians who walked unbidden into Statuary Hall and who gaped in awe at the opulence of the place. Many did nothing but look. They even stayed within the ropes. Some marauders.

But that wasn’t the point. They were deemed unworthy to tread the marble flooring before the sacred likenesses of Jefferson Davis, president of the confederated slave states, John C. Calhoun, racist hound dog, and, of course, the Gipper, President Ronald Reagan, the over-rated politician, the under-rated actor, who gave cover to those who turned the federal tax code into a weapon of class oppression.

Imagine living with a spouse who keeps talking about her former boyfriend. Now imagine she puts a life-sized statue of him in the hall. Message?

I wonder what people in Iraq think.

It was in this building in 2002 that Congress authorized the invasion of that country that had done nothing to us, that had been America’s cat’s paw in its eight-year war against Iran, which commenced in 1980, the year after the Islamic Revolution and the taking by the Islamic Republic of control of its oil industry. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, hated al-Qaida. The informed public knew this. People protested across America and Europe, but they authorized it anyway, those priests of the temple of democracy.

I wonder what people in Fallujah think.

Fallujah resisted the incursion and found itself twice engaged in sustained battles. In particular, the people of Fallujah were subjected to waves of ordnance containing depleted uranium. Depleted uranium is a byproduct of nuclear reactor fuel. “Depleted” does not radioactive free. It retains substantial radioactivity, potent enough to present an enduring environmental and health hazard. It is put into ordnance to pierce armor. The ordnance explodes and the uranium becomes radioactive dust. The dust gets into the air, the ground, the water. So much of this ordnance was used in Fallujah that people were advised to forego having babies, because so many were being born with thalidomide-level birth defects.

The attack on the Capitol was a disturbing thing. But the Capitol is not a hall of innocence. Query, is it even a hall of democracy?

Robert Byron is an attorney. He lives in Simsbury.



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