Over a million American commuters were elated to discover that while they slept, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had ended and the troops were on their way home.
There was more good news. The corporate behemoth, Exxon Mobile had passed into public ownership. Evangelicals were opening the doors of their mega churches to Iraqi refugees. And progress was being made towards reversing global warming and resolving the economy’s woes.
However, upon closer scrutiny, some conspicuous details surface. Readers notice that the paper is dated July 4, 2009 and the motto is “all the news we hope to print”. The euphoria fades but the dream takes root.
It turns out that hundreds of independent writers, artists, and activists have been collaborating on this massive project for 6 months. The people behind the undertaking represent a diverse range of groups, including The Yes Men, the Anti-Advertising Agency, CODEPINK, United for Peace and Justice, Not An Alternative, May First/People Link, Improv Everywhere, Evil Twin, and Cultures of Resistance.
The special 14 page edition was distributed gratis In NY, LA, Chicago, SF, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC by thousands of volunteers.
"The idea behind it was to get people to exercise their imaginations. We have just elected a new president, and we have for the first time in eight years a chance to see real change happen,” spokesperson Wilfred Sassoon explained.
"It's all about how at this point, we need to push harder than ever,"
said contributer Bertha Suttner."We've got to make
sure Obama and all the other Democrats do what we elected them to do.
After eight, or maybe twenty-eight years of hell, we need to start
In addition to arousing our visionary instincts, this endeavor clearly has another target. It is a searing indictment of main stream media’s complicity in crafting a cynical paradigm of our world. The editorial page articulates an apology for the paper’s “botched reporting” of the run-up to the Iraq invasion and features a column in which Thomas Friedman renounces his journalistic career and promises never to write for any newspaper again.
There is a long and time honored tradition for this kind of grand scale theatrical inspiration. Here’s a toast to those who have led before. Humanitarian, songwriter, antiwar activist Phil Ochs was the creative force behind spontaneous protests against the Vietnam occupation. Marches snaked across the streets of America declaring the war was over. A sea of placards heralded, "Thank you President Johnson" "Johnson, our Peace President"
And Phil sang his prescient anthem: The War is Over.
So do your duty, boys, and join with pride
Serve your country in her suicide
Find a flag so you can wave goodbye
But just before the end even treason might be worth a try
This country is too young to die.
I declare the war is over
It's over, it's over.
If you didn’t receive your complimentary copy, you can read the special edition of the New York Times on line here and let yourself dream again.