OUR BLOOD AND TREASURE: BURN THREE THOUSAND DOLLAR BILLS: A Performance Art Piece/Media Event to Protest the War in Iraq

This is a proposal for a demonstration, not yet an action.

Step One: 3,292 (or more) people are enlisted to contribute one dollar each. (As of this writing, 3,292 Americans have been killed in Iraq.)

Step two: Publicize the event. Alert the media. Hire a professional.

Step Three: With each dollar representing "our blood and treasure" spent on the Iraq war, the participants will then burn their dollar bills.

I hear a voice in the back complain that burning money is shameful, with so many worthy things one could do with three thousand charitable dollars...

Yes. I agree. The waste is exactly the point we are trying to make.

It's just a little bit of guerilla theater, but I believe Americans can visualize 3,292 dollars burning much more concretely than they can grasp the reality of 3,292 dead soldiers, whose bodies and flag draped coffins are hidden from public view. Obstensibly they are hidden to protect the grieving families, but it seems more likely that the Administration doesn't want us to smell the blood, so as not to unsettle the herd.

The lives in Afghanistan-- 377 so far-- are being spent heroically. There the soldiers have placed their bodies between the war's desolation and our beloved homes. The war in Iraq, however, is counterproductive by any definition. Instead of eradicating terrorism, the invasion of Iraq has created more terrorists, and provided them with live-ammo training and combat experience. Instead of taking away the terrorists' safe harbor, we have only improved the breed.

This protest may be something that our physician friends, or some fiscally responsible anarchist, would undertake-- doctors have a bit more political autonomy than do lawyers, teachers and hourly wage earners.Title 18, Part I, Chapter 17, § 333 of the United States Code, states: “Whoever mutilates, cuts, defaces, disfigures, or perforates, or unites or cements together, or does any other thing to any bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt issued by any national banking association, or Federal Reserve bank, or the Federal Reserve System, with intent to render such bank bill, draft, note, or other evidence of debt unfit to be reissued, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.” The stalwarts at Google answers believe "intent" is key here to any legal concerns: "... it seems unlikely that a prosecution would be possible if the primary purpose of the destruction of the currency was a speech act (e.g, protesting government action by publicly burning currency)." Such laws are enforced by the Secret Service, which is under the direction of the Treasury department, not Justice.

Let others add rhetoric to this burning if they wish, but I think the simplest image would be the most powerful. I've tried different catch phrases to explain this bizarre activity, but the best might be a simple galvanized bucket for the ashes, labeled


Anonymous said...

Excellent notion. I'm in. So that's now two. It would be a pleasure to go to jail for such a reason. The Rev. Howard Moody, who performed many courageous acts of civil disobedience throughout the '60s and '70s on behalf of civil rights and against the Vietnam War was, in fact, jailed when his church in New York exhibited artworks depicting or containing the American flag. That's how the small minds work. --Pat

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

I seem to remember lots of tempests in media teapots over the proper use of the flag in clothing (something about the seat of Abby Hoffman's Yippie jeans-- now THERE'S an image for the horror writers). Then the makers of tschotckes and kitsch clothing started cranking out everything from bikinis to my Uncle Murle's locomotive engineer's hat with an American flag pattern.

Fans of the movie THEY LIVE might be more likely to protest the burning of paper money than the Treasury Department. There the bills all carried a hidden message: THIS IS YOUR GOD.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure it's an older bumper sticker but I laughed today at it.
"In Texas there is a village missing an idiot."
Count me for $1.00// tell me where to send.
Dee Ann