The Man From the North: Story 1

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.

The story below is one of several written by the Man From the North. The article series is not included in the novel and was originally published on Dandelion Salad. We will feature a Man From the North story on a weekly basis through June 3, 2015. You can read the entire series at Dandelion Salad.

The War On Terror is a Typo

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 soldiers 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 SunRivera Sun sings the anthem of our times and rallies us to meet adversity with gusto. In addition to her most recent novel, Billionaire Buddha, 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. Learn more about Rivera and her work on her website.