Running as a Green Party member against seven-term incumbent US Representative Mike Castle (R-Delaware), Michael Berg faces a scant prospect of winning the November election. Then again, Berg, whose son, Nicholas, was beheaded in Iraq in May 2004, says his real purpose in getting into the race is to spread an anti-war message.
DIFFICULT LOSS: Berg.
While he endorses environmental responsibility, universal health-care, and other elements of the Green platform, “I have to admit I never would have been a politician if not for the war, and I’m not a politician,” he said a phone interview last week. Furthermore, if Castle were to renounce the war, “I would gladly bow out,” Berg says.
Delaware Democrats asked him to run against Castle, a self-described moderate who, he says, almost always votes with Bush, but he chose to run as a Green since Democrats weren’t willing to abide his anti-war message. As it stands, although he gets some attention in larger papers, the media in Delaware tend to ignore him, Berg says.
Berg is slated to take part in a July 10 peace demonstration with relatives of military members in Wickford Village, at Brown and Main streets, from 6-8 pm. He is also scheduled to speak in Providence (Mi Sueno, 1070 Broad St.) at 6:30 pm on July 11 to support the Green Party member Steven Kelly of Saunderstown’s US Senate campaign.
The longtime peace activist, a high school teacher and Philadelphia native, says he intensified these activities during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, despite reprimands at his school. According to his campaign Web site (www.bergforcongress.us), the American military and the FBI illegally detained his son, who was on a peace mission, in Iraq for 13 days. By the time when Nicholas Berg was released, Iraqis were outraged by the revelations about American abuses of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
Berg says he blames the US government, as well as his son’s killers, for Nick’s death. The reports about Abu Ghraib, he says, “certainly changed the nature of the war. It wasn’t that unsafe for him to be there before that revelation.” Nick, he says, had tickets for a return flight on March 30 to be in the wedding party of one of his best friends, but was not released from a US military prison until early April.
The peace activist predicts that the Bush administration will go down as “the worst chapter in the history of the United States. I don’t see how any thing can be worse than this.” He questions how Bush, a Christian, reconciles the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq — Berg says 150,000 people have died — with the teachings of his religion. People have too easily accepted the president’s description of the war as a battle between good and evil, he says, “rather than searching your own heart and your own values.”
Now, though, “I think the handwriting is on the wall,” and he believes Republicans will need to back away from supporting the war unless they want to suffer a domestic political defeat. “The time has come for peace,” Berg says. “Politically, the time has come, and I think people are beginning to see that.”