Thursday, June 12, 2003

Much Sweeter

Last night, the United States Senate voted 97-1 in favor of S.1182 the Burma Freedom and Democracy Act, which would impose sanctions on Burma, including a ban on all U.S. imports from that country.

I caught the debate live through the C-Span website. (Isn't technology marvellous?) I particularly admired the tenacity of Senator Mitch McConnell who has pressed this cause for many years. I was moved by the passion of Senator John McCain who spoke of his admiration for Aung San Suu Kyi after meeting her in 1996 and the attack on her during his visit then.

Encouragement for me and others active in the Free Burma movement came when Senator Dianne Feinstein listed all the retailers that have in the past few years stopped buying apparel made in Burma. She listed Sak's Fifth Avenue, Wal-Mart, Macy's and Pottery Barn amongst others. All these companies made that decision in great part because of the letters, phone calls, media stories and demonstrations organized by the Free Burma Coalition. It's important to realize that direct citizen activism can often pave the way for Congressional action.

There was also a lesson here for a staunch progressive like myself. Honor and principle cross party and ideological lines.

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