The Man From the North: The War On Terror is a Typo by Rivera Sun

Death from Above / Drones

Image by AK Rockefeller via Flickr

The Essays of The Man From the North by Rivera Sun
Writer, Dandelion Salad
November 17, 2013

The Man From the North is a fictional writer in Rivera Sun’s novel, The Dandelion Insurrection. The novel takes place in the near future, in “a time that looms around the corner of today”, when a rising police state controlled by the corporate-political elite have plunged the nation into the grip of a hidden dictatorship. In spite of severe surveillance and repression, the Man From the North’s banned articles circulate through the American populace, reporting on resistance and fomenting nonviolent revolution. This article is one of a series written by The Man From the North, which are not included in the novel, but can be read here.

In the political arena of double-speak, outright lies, serpents’ tongues, appalling misnomers, and sins of omission, time alone stands up to champion truth. Time will tell, they say … so listen close to this report:

“The War On Terror” is a typo.

“The War Of Terror” is what they mean.

Paint the White House black with shame, or red with the murdered blood of innocents. Paint it silver for the lying tongues that sent the War of Terror around the world. Paint it dull gray for the drones that kill civilians by remote control, or ash-gray for the million civilians who died in Iraq and Afghanistan alone. Dump sack clothes over the silk suits in Congress. For shame, America! For shame!

Let every citizen know: they did this in our name.

Time tells every truth but the silence of complicity. History won’t remember sentiments never spoken; it will forget idle comments and half-hearted complaints. Only action is remembered. Opposition is the only option for those who object to murderers and crooks. In silence, your name is lumped with all the others in a package of our politicians. The nation’s powerful don America’s mask and flash the identification of the United States. In your name, they wage illegal, unjust, unnecessary wars. In the name of your security and prosperity, they drum up sales for the military-industrial complex. Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Iran, and Syria: door-to-door, they knock with their deathly wares. Sometimes they make a sale; sometimes they have to wait. It’s a regular circuit for America the Salesman, the Capitalist with Guns.

Back at home, he kisses babies, cuts the roast, regales the family with stories from the road … how he helped a customer ‘get rid’ of vermin; how he fixes women’s ‘plumbing’ and eats their pies for payment; how he teaches kids to shoot a gun – just like his little Johnny.

One day, he calls back home … little Johnny’s all grown up. Time to join the family business … so Johnny got his gun and proudly joined his Pop, enlisted, drafted, and put to work for America the Salesman, the Capitalist with Guns. Strong-armed, well-built, ready to help, Johnny looked around for the goods his Pop delivered: democracy, equality, prosperity, justice, security, safety, and freedom.

“Never mind those,” his old man said. “Just remember the sales pitch, The War On Terror Must Be Fought!”

“But Pop,” young Johnny said as he was reading up one night, “that’s not what it says. There’s a typo. Look here, the plan was for The War Of Terror!”

“Never mind that, son,” his old man said. “We can’t sell that. It’s the War On Terror, now … just you remember that!”

Johnny remembered alright. He remembered the terror in the children’s eyes, the terror on the women’s faces, the terror as he pulled the trigger, the terror of the fleeing villagers, the terror of the drones, the bombs, the kicking in of doors, the terrible disfiguring as white phosphorus fell on people, the terrifying insanity of the orders from his Pop, the senselessness, the outright lies, the burnt-out towns, the desperate men-turned-terrorists to stop America the Salesman, the hatred in their eyes, the guilt in Johnny’s chest, the despair that ate his heart – the lies from his Pop! – the gun in his hand, the barrel on his head, the trigger being pulled.

Here lies Johnny, son of America, killed by … the coroner pauses in his report. Terrorists didn’t kill him. He didn’t die in combat. Can’t report another soldier suicide, not with the rates skyrocketing like they are. Cause of death? Lies, the coroner snorts bitterly, but you can’t write that.

Cause of Death, Unknown.

Paint the White House black with shame; drape it deep in mourning. Stamp a drone across our flag of freedom. Replace the stars with surveillance eyes … but leave the stripes of red. Let them bleed across the white. Let the people weep to see the truth. The War On Terror was packaged up and sold, and only time will tell the truth of typos unless we confront our politicians’ lies.

Rivera Sun with her new book, Dandelion Insurrection

Image by Dariel Garner

Author/Actress Rivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to The Dandelion Insurrection, she is the author of nine plays, a book of poetry, and her debut novel, Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, which celebrates everyday heroes who meet the challenges of climate change with compassion, spirit, and strength. Website:

From the archives:

Empire Under Obama, Part 2: Barack Obama’s Global Terror Campaign by Andrew Gavin Marshall

The War on Terrorism … or whatever. by William Blum

“Astoundingly Disturbing”: Obama Administration Claims Power to Wage Endless War Across the Globe

The Man From the North: The Government Ain’t Your Daddy by Rivera Sun

8 thoughts on “The Man From the North: The War On Terror is a Typo by Rivera Sun

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  6. One of my heroes,Tangerine Bolen, wrote this inspirational piece this morning. Tangerine is a journalist working from the heart. She is one of the Freedom 7, which includes Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges, that is suing the US government to outlaw indefinite detention. As you will see here she is also a fiercely loving warrior of the spirit. Her post follows:

    I read this excerpt from Rivera Sun’s book The Dandelion Insurrection, this morning:

    “The War On Terror” is a typo. “The War Of Terror” is what they mean.
    “Paint the White House black with shame; drape it deep in mourning. Stamp a drone across our flag of freedom. Replace the stars with surveillance eyes . . . but leave the stripes of red. Let them bleed across the white. Let the people weep to see the truth. The War On Terror was packaged up and sold, and only time will tell the truth of typos unless we confront our politicians’ lies.” (Here is the link to the excerpt):

    I was inspired to respond to Rivera and the hero of her novel, and her partner Dariel asked that I share my response, so here it is:

    Thank you Rivera, for carrying the banner of this truth. For streaming, with your words, a light and clarity that cuts through the madness of our leaders’ chronic dissembling. These words are a flag at the vanguard of a battle for the resurrection of truth, for that truth is the guardian of life itself, and this, this is what we are all fighting for. There is a tension, in using terms of war, in using military terms – a sense of loss and power all at once in doing this. For this IS a battle for good, for rightness, for sanity, decency and for humanity itself. Facing the juggernaut of slow-crushing corporate tyranny, where a global force has arisen that effectively sublimates the humanity of so many elites, a force that is growing larger and more powerful and more deadly than any one person, nation or corporation, a force that has taken on a life of its own – facing this, some of us rise, some of us fall, so many are crushed and yet still, there are so many who take up the banner of truth to attempt to clear the skies and roll this juggernaut back. To clear fields, where truth lays, to resurrect it. To resurrect us.

    To embrace the use of military terms to describe what we are facing, and yet to do so while honoring a deeper tension, a far greater reality than humanity has ever collectively been able to embrace – the paradox of fighting for good when ultimately it must not be a fight at all – to be all this at once, to carry all of us, to carry everything, every part of humanity and our rising, our falling, our greatness, our darkness, our hope and loss all at once – and to know… To just know, what matters most. To thread our banners with the deepest truths. To ride forth with love, so much love, it is never containable! To love even the darkness, oh this, this is the hardest thing. To embrace ALL, while refusing to accept the shackles born of sickness. To hold all, while standing up to those who throw those shackles down upon us. To love all, fiercely, relentlessly, even while going to battle. To never, ever lose sight of the fields that need to be planted in the wake of bringing broken systems down.

    To never lose sight of us, of who we are meant to be here, and what we are meant to do. THIS is what we carry forth into the world. Hearts broken are hearts broken open. And when we are fully broken open we cannot help but know, fully know, what we here for, what we are called to do, and what humanity is truly capable of. Not this juggernaut darkness, but something far greater, something that takes far greater courage, the courage to just show up, unarmed, again and again and again, no matter what.

    Knowing that with the greatest courage we will remake this world with the deepest and the highest things that run through us – knowing that we can never, ever back down from what is asked of us. Yes. Some of us will do this. Some of us will keep riding, will keep weaving, will keep carrying that banner of truth. We will do it with love, and humility, and a fierce and open presence. And when we weaken, or waver, or fall, we must remember that others are always beside us, and that they will hold us up, or let us rest, while the banner is still held aloft, through storms, through the dawn, through the dark, and through a golden, streaming light that floods our world when we simply open our eyes wide enough. We hold this. We will hold us. We hold truth, up high. And truth will never truly fall, and neither will we, no matter our stories, no matter our loss. We are the living embodiment of everything, we are whole, we are great, we are beautiful, and we WILL, and we are, changing this world.”

    And from me Thank you to everyone that is helping to change the world…We are many.

  7. Wow this is heavy. Rivera is so into this character that it’s hard to believe she’s writing this, although I know she is. In my mind the Man from the North really seems like a guy, and someone who would be older, likely a veteran. I remember that in the book people at first had a hard time believing that the young small town newspaper writer Charlie Ryder was the Man from the North.

    • That’s quite a compliment, Rick. Writing from Charlie, The Man From The North’s, perspective is a fascinating and powerful process. It leads me to reflect on many aspects of gender, voice, and courage.

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