I received this email from a a woman named Liane Allen, telling me that Guam actually has the power to start impeachment proceedings against President Bush. The email has gotten me very excited and actually helped push my work in a different direction.
She probably didn't know when she wrote this to me, that she had touched upon what is the repressed fantasy of nearly everyone in the colonies. As she wrote, "This is one of those rare instances when a Territory can have an actual influence on the US Congress."
Life in the Guam is all about narrating yourself a place in a world that you are basically supposed to accept. You are given limits, clear limits, and your job as a good colonial citizen is to create a beautiful tapestry of colonial life (which paints a beautiful patriotic and devotional portrait of the colonizer) that does not in anyway threaten these limits. In other words, that does not threaten the US military and national interests in Guam.
So, take Chamorro language, it can be officialized (be made Lieutenant Governor Vernacular to Governor English), it can be taught in schools, it can be discussed in frightened tones over its tragic yet inevitable demise and it can also be discussed as something which must be preserved, which must be recorded, remembered and prepared for a place in the Museum of Languages America tolerates so long as they are not Sovereign. Chamorro language is a beautiful part of this narration so long as it is not dominant, not hegemonic, does not threaten the monopoly of communication and articulation that English seems to have. Furthermore, it should not used in front of people who do not understand, since that would be inhospitable and as we should all know, the only thing that makes the Chamorro valuable to the global economy and the United States military is their pathological hospitality (mili-tourism).
(another example of this just occured to me. Although it is common in most universities in the United States, that when you are hired, you swear that you will not in anyway attempt to overthrow the Government of the United States, this hinila', esta na chi-na, this limit, takes on a fairly different meaning when it is found in employment contracts at the University of Guam.)
Chamorro language is naturally linked to Chamorros themselves, in that their survival will depend upon assertions of clear sovereignty. Do not reduce sovereignty in the previous sentence of any following to simple nationalism and independence. Both of these things can come about in Guam without disruption, without a radical cut taking place across political meaning in Guam, but then these things are precisely what sovereignty must be for it to mean anything. This shouldn't be reduced to mere violence either, such as a violent revolt, that was why my emphasis was on political meaning, which could be defined in a number of different ways, common sense, naturalness, the ideological tendencies and tendencies of material flow in a society. Sovereignty is an assertion, an expression, an articulation which can shift these movements, it make a cut across meaning, rattling things up, and reconfigure society.
If Guam was to bring about an impeachment resolution for President Cooked Fanihi, it would represent such a cut. It would not just reconfigure Guam, disrupt the patriotic naturalness and American daily devotionalism of life there, but also disrupt the relationship between it and the United States proper. It would represent an act of reversing the colonial gaze. As I will be presenting in a paper next week in San Francisco, Guam is an embodiment of a particular Emperial/Imperial fantasy, and this act of attempted impeachment would be a clear reversal of the way Guam is generally fantasized, if thought about at all, as a eager and overjoyed recepticle of military increases.
That is why, the prospect of Guam actually doing this is so incredibly exciting. It would represent an impossible moment, an occurence, which clearly could not ever happen, and therefore is always edging towards us on the horizon, threatening to transform all. It is these moments that I am interested in making happen. (I should note here that this is different then the Derridean avenir, in which the act must always pretty much be deferred, for fear that this act will revoke the possibility of that democracy, that justice which is always out there looming towards us. Those moments are out there, and they are always on their way, but the persistent deferment of them, the relegation of them to another order of being, will prevent them from ever "arriving." The key difference I guess here would be not just "impossible responsibility" in the sense of keeping conditions right for that moment's arrival, but taking on the responsibility for that responsibility.)
Here's the email from Liane, share it with anyone who you might think is interested, I'll be passing it around soon to people on Guam to see what they think. I know personally, I would love to push for this, but I'm sure that a number of activists on Guam might see it as counterproductive, that in the eyes of most Chamorros and others on Guam, it would be rocking the boat too much.
Hekkua' dei, lao ta li'e siempre:
March 21, 2006
I am writing to you because of your intriguing blog. I'm basically trying to find anyone from Guam who may be able to help me persue an impeachment project.
Back in February, a former US Attorney realized that it's possible to bring articles of impeachment to the floor of the US House by having them transmitted to the House by a state legislature, according to US House rule 603.
I'm now working with an informal group that's trying to get impeachment articles into and through the legislature here in Vermont, others are doing the same in other states. While looking up something else in Rule 603 today I noticed that a US territory's legislature can also transmit articles of impeachment.
We are not limited to state legislatures. As far as I am aware, no one is working with any of the territories on trying to get a grassroots impeachment movement going. So, I figured I'd give it a try.
Here's a Do-it-yourself impeachment guide I wrote a few weeks back:
It will only take one state or territory to bring the articles to the floor of the US House. They may go nowhere from there, but will at least be read into the Congressional Record, and are likely to have some impact on how/where troops get deployed subsequently.
This is one of those rare instances when a Territory can have an actual influence on the US Congress. I'm hoping you might be willing to help me gather folks in Guam who may be able to take on the do-it-yourself impeachment process.
In a worst-case scenario, the more people we have doing this work on the ground in their own states/territories, the more the folks who want to continue the folly of Iraq (or worse bring it to Iran) will have to pause before they act.