You are hereActivism
Set to coincide with Inauguration Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the third anniversary of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling, join the Arc of Justice rally and parade against the wars, occupations, loss of civil liberties, overwhelming corporate and big money power over our lives, environmental degradation, and many other important issues mostly abused, ignored, or minimized by recent administrations and Congress. March to create real change and to renew our drive to build a strong, cohesive peace and to build lasting justice and civil rights movements.
The event will begin at Meridian Hill Park (Malcolm X Park) with a rally at 9 am. At 10 am we will proceed down 16th Street NW to K Street NW where we will disband, some to continue to the Inauguration area, the parade route, or back to the rally site.
We are inviting people and organizations working on issues around: 1) human rights (here and abroad); 2) truth justice, and accountability; 3) military might, preemptive wars, and empire building; 4) the power of the corporations and the super wealthy; and 5) the degradation of our environment.
UNAC ENDORSES NEW ANTI-DRONE NETWORK AND APRIL DAYS OF ACTION
Thirty representatives from many groups involved in anti-drone actions, met in New York on December 15, 2012 and established a coordinating body to be known as the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (NSDSW).
The group endorsed this draft statement of purpose:
“Horrified by the facts of the era of drone warfare and surveillance technology, we declare our commitment to establishing an ongoing network of groups and organizations. The Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare seeks to initiate and coordinate events and actions that will raise a united and spirited voice for justice and peace, and to stop weaponized drones and related technology applications. These activities are aimed at highlighting the illegality, immorality, and unconstitutional nature of using drones to spy on and/or kill human beings.”
Anti-drone website: Droneswatch.org. For more information and resources, and to join the Network, contact Nick Mottern - firstname.lastname@example.org.
The group supported the following actions:
Inauguration – January 21 – Arc of Justice planning march and rally. A number of groups are planning nonviolent resistance actions. There will be a drone walk using a drone replica.
April Days of Action – In response to call for anti-drone action focused on drone manufacturing on April 4-7 by San Diego group, coordinated days of action were proposed. Groups are encouraged to select one or more of the days to organize drone-related activities. National coordinators are listed below.
April 4-7 – Drone Manufacturing. Actions around the country directed at drone manufacturing facilities in region and calling for an end to manufacturing weaponized and surveillance drones. Coordinator: Joe Scarry – email@example.com.
April 16-18 – Drone Research/Training. Actions/teach-ins, etc. at colleges & universities that do drone research or pilot training. Demand an end to research and training related to drone warfare. Coordinator: Marge Van Cleef – firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 27-28 – Drone Bases. Organize protests at bases in region. Hancock Reaper drone base protest organizers calling for large demonstrations there. Coordinator: Dave Soumis – email@example.com.
C. Drone Warfare War Crimes Tribunal – Explore holding tribunal in September, possibly with victims testifying.
D. Forums/workshops on impact of US intervention/drone attacks in other countries. Organize tours of U.S.-based speakers or people from countries under attack who can analyze and report on internal politics and social movements in countries like Pakistan & Afghanistan and other countries under attack.
IDLE NO MORE GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION IN SUPPORT OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, JANUARY 11
Idle No More Movement Stages Blockades, Protests in Canada as Hunger-Striking Chief to Meet PM
Canada’s Idle No More movement expanded to the U.S. border on Saturday with a series of blockades and actions. Police closed the International Bridge connecting Ontario with Michigan after hundreds of protesters marched from the United States to the Canadian side. Sit-ins and protests were also held at bridges, roads, rail lines and other border crossings across Canada. The actions came one day after Chief Theresa Spence announced she would join a meeting between Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and First Nations leaders. Spence has been on hunger strike since December 11, demanding a meeting with Harper, an action that has helped spur the Idle No More movement’s broader call for political transformation, indigenous rights and environmental justice. Idle No More organizers have called for a global day of action on January 11th — the same day that Spence is slated to meet with Harper, and the one-month anniversary of her hunger strike.
Just back from washing and vacuuming the car. Trying to figure out how we cram clothes, camping gear, photo equipment, food, two people and the dog in my little Prius for a 6 month to 1 year road trip… Searching for Occupy. I commented to my partner in this venture, Denise Valdez, that at least when we were occupying in D.C., we had tents. Suddenly, the memory of those frozen, leaky tents translates into plush, cushy, comfy luxury. We don’t know where we’ll be sleeping from night to night… What if one of us gets sick… How do we avoid corporate food stops... What if we get arrested and they take the video equipment that has been depleting my bank account...What if… what if … what if what the media implies is truer than we believe and we can’t find Occupy?
***we are in the midst of cleaning up our email lists - unsubscribe info at bottom***
WAT 2013 – “HUNGERING FOR JUSTICE”
DAY 1 – JANUARY 6th
January 11, 2013 marks the eleventh anniversary of the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the seventh anniversary of Witness Against Torture’s January 11 presence in D.C., and our fifth liquids fast. Here we are again, pilgrims from across the country, gathering in D.C. Though it is not to pay homage to the nation’s capital that we come, but to honor a common cause, a divine mandate in fact, “love one another.” Even enemies, even strangers, undoubtedly those unjustly detained.
First Trinity has once again graciously allowed us their space and at a modest rate, though we are still looking to raise funds to cover the cost of rent, as well as liquid sustenance of juice and tea. The fast began this afternoon after a farewell-to-eating feast of pizza. Though it is a somber cause for which we gather, the atmosphere was paradoxically celebratory as many friends who haven’t seen each other for months, or even since last year, are reunited. As this struggle continues, we find joy in community. And it is a community that is continually growing. “We are a large circle,” Matt D. said at our first meeting of fasters, “but our circle is larger than faces you see.” We know many of you across the country (and farther) are joining us, and very much feel your presence here.
These updates are a way of welcoming those of you who are with us, though not among us, into the circle. We will include reflections from fasters present and apart, reports on actions and events, and links to relevant articles. In addition to these updates we intend to connect with those who are interested via “fasters phone calls,” stay tuned for the call-in number!
By Debra Sweet, Director World Can't Wait
Greetings to all of you on the new year.
In spite of the news I'm conveying today on continued crimes of the U.S. I am hopeful. I'm not hoping that, despite all the evidence to the contrary, those who run this government will somehow decide to do the right thing. My hope is based on knowing the tens of thousands of people like you on this list, on knowing the courageous, bright people who are acting to stop these crimes, and most of all, on knowing it does not have to be this way. And we are the ones to change it.
The public "controversy" whipped up by release of the new torture movie Zero Dark Thirty is actually a re-hash of an argument that had largely been put to bed, that torture works to extract reliable intelligence from suspected terrorists (and even if it did, would that make the practice morally acceptable?) But torture IS effective in getting subjects to say what you want them to say, to fabricate rationale for government venture, such as the ultimate war crime of aggression on sovereign nations that pose no imminent threat.
Film director Kathryn Bigelow's reputation alone promises to draw a sizable audience; her pornographic depictions of CIA brutality may provide the titillation for many additional viewers, including the video game junkies that play Medal of Honor Warfighter. But this may very well not be the blockbuster that the film industry anticipates. Indeed, critical reviews of the movie, and the history of its making, may prove to be its undoing. Hollywood's hard sell might not be able to overcome revulsion to this kind of "entertainment."
I refuse to buy the lie that the Central Intelligence Agency has ever been a force for good, that extra-legal assassination is ever justified, that American lives are worth more than others. So no, I will not be screening this dangerous piece of CIA-friendly propaganda. I will however be outside theaters to protest this movie, of course, but also use this opportunity to promote the truth about the crimes of our government. I encourage readers to do the same. World Can't Wait will be out in orange jumpsuits to represent the Guantanamo prisoners that Obama has failed to release, flyering (download here), holding signs and banners, and loudly proclaiming that NO! Torture is always illegal, immoral, and unacceptable.
Join us for the first of what we hope to be many protests in the Bay Area:
Friday, January 4th
AMC Bay Street 16 Theater
5614 Shellmound Street
11:00 AM to Noon and 6:00 - 7:00 PM
See you there. And plan one for your own neighborhood.
"Let them die and decrease the surplus population" – Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol Scrooge and Company torture health care The Berkeley Federalist Society has assigned Torture Memo author John Yoo (yes, the guy who defines severe pain amounting to torture as that occasioned by "serious physical injury, such as death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions") to make the case against what has come to be termed 'Obamacare', Thursday, January 10 at 12:40 pm, Boalt Hall room 105 on the eve of the 11 year anniversary of Guantanamo. Almost three years ago Truthout noted that while it may seem like a stretch to talk about health care and torture in the same breath, there is a direct link between the
We the people say NO to U.S. human rights violations in the name of unending “global war”
Join us on the 11th anniversary of Guantánamo prison to call on President Obama to keep his promise to shut it down, and for all branches of the U.S. government to uphold human rights.
• Close Guantánamo: all detained people must either be charged & fairly tried, or be released
• Resolve the cases of the publicly cleared detainees, including Shaker Aamer & Djamel Ameziane
• End indefinite detention & remove detention provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act
• End unlawful killings with drones and other weapons
• Ensure accountability for torture, unlawful killings & other abuses
JOIN THE MARCH IN WASHINGTON DC
• March from the Supreme Court via the Capitol to the White House
• Gather at noon on the steps of the Supreme Court
As the final scene of Thelma and Louise seems to be playing out on this last day of the year, it might be a good time to recall the dramatic end of that movie.
It's true that some think the fiscal cliff is real while others say it's just a mirage. Some in the U.S. want to just "keep goin'" as Thelma urges. But most of us probably don't see much of a choice -- it seems more like we are trapped in a car with its gas pedal stuck in the full speed ahead mode and someone has disabled the brakes. For even at this 11th hour, almost no one in the Punch and Judy Show in Washington is able to home in on, much less intelligently discuss, the real problem.
Please Print out this leaflet below and distribute where "Zero Dark" Thirty is playing in your neighborhood.
ZERO DARK THIRTY
What's wrong with the CIA's World View?
FBI Ignored Deadly Threat to Occupiers: US Intelligence Machine Instead Plotted with Bankers to Attack Protest Movement
By Dave Lindorff
New documents obtained from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security by the Partnership for Civil Justice and released this past week show that the FBI and other intelligence and law enforcement agencies began a campaign of monitoring, spying and disrupting the Occupy Movement at least two months before the first occupation actions began in late September 2011.
Let there be peace on earth, and let it include Afghanistan.
We cannot be for peace without being against war.
We cannot be satisfied with inner peace while wars are being waged with our money and in our names.
The largest of those wars remains Afghanistan. It is larger now than when Barack Obama first became president.
There is no strategic, legal, or -- above all -- moral justification for continuing this war for another year, or for another day.
Please take a moment to click here and tell our government that we want peace on earth.
Catch up on a forgotten war:
Nobel Laureate Mairead Maguire Goes to Afghanistan to Join Afghan Peace Volunteers' Demand for Cease Fire and Negotiation
Resolution passed by U.S. Senate:
"It is the sense of Congress that the President should, as previously announced by the President, continue to draw down United States troop levels at a steady pace through the end of 2014; and end all regular combat operations by United States troops by not later than December 31, 2014, and take all possible steps to end such operations at the earliest date consistent with a safe and orderly draw down of United States troops in Afghanistan."
Letter sent to President Obama by 94 Congress Members (PDF):
Dear President Obama:
Your military advisors will soon be providing you with a set of military options in Afghanistan. We are writing to urge you to pursue a strategy in Afghanistan that best serves the interests of the American people and our brave troops on the ground. That strategy is simple: an accelerated withdrawal to bring to an end the decade-long war as soon as can safely and responsibly be accomplished.
After 10 years and almost $600 billion spent, over 2,000 American lives lost, and 18,000 wounded - it is time to accelerate the transition to full Afghan control. While NATO and Afghan National Security Forces have made considerable strides, no military strategy exists and morale has been undermined by the proliferation of “Green on Blue” attacks. Sixty coalition soldiers have been killed this year alone by their Afghan allies. To quote a former Commandant of the Marine Corps, “When our friends turn out to be our enemy, it is time to pull the plug.”
This is one issue that overwhelmingly unifies Americans: the desire to bring the war in Afghanistan to an accelerated close. Polls show over two-thirds of Americans, on a bipartisan basis, believe it is past time to end our combat role and bring the troops home.
We write to request that you respond to the consensus amongst military experts, diplomats, and the American people. It is time to announce an accelerated transition of security responsibility to the Afghan government and to bring our troops home as soon as can be safely and responsibly accomplished.
Al Qaeda’s presence has been greatly diminished and Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to the United States. There can be no military solution in Afghanistan. It is past time for the United States to allow the Afghanistan government to assume responsibility for its own security.
While many of us would prefer an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan starting today, there is broad recognition that the primary objectives have been completed. We also would like to remind you that any long term security agreement committing U.S. troops to the defense of Afghanistan must have congressional approval to be binding. In addition, we would like to request a meeting to discuss these issues directly with you and your staff.
We look forward to working with you.
Where the U.S. public is:
Unsure % % % 10/4-7/12
60 5 4/4-15/12
60 8 3/7-11/12
57 7 1/11-16/12
56 6 6/15-19/11
Unsure % % % ALL
"Do you favor or oppose the war in Afghanistan?"
Favor Oppose Unsure Refused % % % %
27 66 6 1
"Do you approve or disapprove of the U.S. withdrawing military troops in Afghanistan?"
Approve Disapprove Unsure % % %
78 16 6
Unsure % % % 4/5-8/12
Reasons for the U.S. military to stay in Afghanistan for two more years, and for 10 more years beyond that:
Rosalie Riegle, author of the new book on nonviolent resistance to war, Doing Time for Peace, will be in Charlottesville, Va., on January 24, 2013, to speak and sign copies of the book at Random Row Books on West Main Street at 6 p.m.
Joining her will be Sue and Bill Frankel-Streit, who are among the many resisters featured in the book.
ENDORSED BY Veterans For Peace, and the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice.
Daily Kos sent an email on December 6 promoting a strategy to eliminate the "Bush" tax cuts on the wealthy:
Protest Drone Murders at CIA Headquarters (and fake polio vaccinations, and giving Iran bomb plans, and general unbelievable stupidity and sadism)
STOP CIA KILLER DRONES & TORTURE!
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12, 2013
900 block of Dolley Madison Blvd., Langley, Virginia
The CIA has been found guilty by the European Court of torture, abuse, & secretly imprisoning. US Military & CIA drones have maimed & killed thousands of people in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, & Afghanistan. This year alone there have been over 333 + strikes in Afghanistan. Almost 60 Guantanamo prisoners have been cleared for release but still remain captives of the US indefinitely. Stand with us opposing CIA & US Military drones used in extrajudicial killings and US/CIA secret rendition, indefinite detention, all torture, to oppose & close the Guantanamo prison camp.
Torture & US killer drone strikes are illegal, immoral, and must stop now!
JOINING US JANUARY 12: WITNESS AGAINST TORTURE
Supported by Pax Christi Metro DC, Northern Virginians for Peace & Justice, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker of DC, Code Pink, Nova Catholic Community, Peace & International Outreach Committee of Langley Hill Friends, Washington Peace Center, & Peace Action Montgomery County, MD
For more information contact Jack McHale: 703-772-0635
When CODEPINK, MoveOn and representatives of other organizations marched into Senator Harry Reid’s DC office on Tuesday, December 18, they wanted a simple answer to a simple question: Does the Senator support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips, such as the legislation proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein and supported by President Obama and Vice President Biden? It would seem like a no-brainer for the Senate Majority Leader to fall in line with the leadership of his party in backing a modest bill that would ban the sale of weapons that are only good for mass murder. Unfortunately, Reid’s senior policy advisor Kasey Gillette was unable to give an answer.
While there is a lot of talk in Democratic circles about Republicans standing in the way of sensible gun laws, a hidden secret is that the Democratic Senator leader from Nevada, who is key to getting gun control legislation passed in this country, has been as pro-gun as most Republicans.
Will Obama cave? How deeply will Obama cave? Why did Obama cave again? Were you hoping Obama would change his caving ways? President Barack Obama, one begins to understand, must be our spelunker in chief.
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Qatari poet Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami’s crime consisted of reciting a poem extolling the courage and values of the popular uprisings in Tunisia. For that he's been sentenced to life in prison.
We have the opportunity to join with a remarkable list of prominent poets from around the world in urging the court in Qatar to reconsider.
Rather than making itself an instrument for cracking down on dissent, we believe that the Court should uphold Mohamed Ibn Al Ajami’s right to free speech. The poem he recited called for an end to intolerable conditions, a demand that for the past two years has been aired by millions throughout North Africa and the Arab world.
In this spirit, we poets and non-poets who perceive the need for worldwide change at the social, political and ecological level, call on the Court to review the appeal, stop siding with repression and lend its ear to the movements that have sprung up all over the world for dignity, social justice and freedom, virtues that poets all over the world are endeavoring to voice and deliver using the beauty and power of poetry.
Please sign the petition and share it with like-minded friends.
Michael Rothenberg, Terri Carrion cofounders 100 Thousand Poets for Change
Michael McClure, Poet/ Playwright, USA
Sam Hamill, Poets Against War, USA
Sarah Browning, Split This Rock, USA
PEN American Center
Abraham Entin-Move To Amend Sonoma County, founder
Susan Lamont-Peace & Justice Center of Sonoma County, coordinator
Philip Levine, United States Poet Laureate (2011-2012)
Ron Silliman, Poet/Silliman's Blog
Alice Walker, USA
Pina Piccolo, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna
Roberto Malini, Genoa, Italy
Naomi Shihab Nye, USA
Sergio Rotino, Italy
Adam Vaccaro, Milanocosa, Italy
Steed Gamero, Peru/Italy
Rebeca Covaciu, Italy
Alessandro Brusa, Italy
Shailja Patel, USA/Kenya
El Habib Louai, Morocco
Natalia Molebatsi, Azania
raphael d’abdon, Azania/Italy
Jack Hirschman, San Francisco, USA
Agneta Falk-Hirschman, San Francisco, USA
Gabor Gyukics, Budapest, Hungary
Karam Youssef, Cairo, Egypt
Kristaq Shabani, President of the I.A.P.W.A "Pegasi" Albania
Robert Priest, Toronto, Canada
Eliot Katz, Hoboken, New York, USA
Lance Henson, Cheyenne/USA
Ipat Ciuraro, Italy
Fabio Petronelli, Italy
Alexéi Tellerías Díaz, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Betty Esperanza, Montreal, Canada
Alfredo Gonzalez-Baranquilla, Colombia
Nana Nestoros,Volos, Greece
Mariposa de la Rocio, Montevideo, Uruguay
Chapal Saha-Bogra, Bangladesh
Bart Plantenga, The Netherlands
Elliis Ebakor, Nigeria
Pilar Rodríguez Aranda, Mexico City, Mexico
Dean Johnson, Birkenhead, United Kingdom Songwriter/Playwright
Karim Metref, Italy
Antar Mohamed Marincola, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna, Italy
Mohamed Malih, Italy
Gassid Babilonia, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna, Italy
Paul Polansky, Serbia
Ed Warner-Poesia, Italy
Marina Mazzolani, 100 Thousand Poets for Change-Bologna, Italy
Patricia Quezada, 100 Thousand Poets for Change- Bologna, Italy
Andrea Garbin, poesiadalsottosuolo, Italy
Chris Abani, USA
Martín Espada, USA
Teresa Mei Chuc, USA
Marcia Lynx Qualey, Cairo, Egypt
Khaled Mattawa, poet USA/Libya
Fady Joudah, USA
Glenys Robinson, UK/Italy
Mitko Gogov, Strumica, Macedonia
Dennis Formento, New Orleans, LA, USA
Carolyn Forché, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA
Patricia Smith, USA
President Barak Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
Thank you for expressing your grief over the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Your eloquence touched me and, I am sure, most Americans as we try to come to terms with this latest tragedy. I was particularly struck by your mention of how you and Michelle will hug your daughters more closely, and tell them you love them. It is obvious that you feel deeply the senseless killing of these children and school staff. You spoke as a man and as the president of a nation in shock.
While listening to your remarks, I could not help thinking about Tuesday mornings at the White House when you meet with your staff to discuss who to add to your list of people to be assassinated by US airborne drones. I could not help thinking of those men and women, and sometimes children, who are caught up in your policy of killing people you perceive as enemies of this country. I wonder if you think of them with children or parents they hug. I want to believe you think killing these people will protect people in this country. If you do, you are wrong.
Just as I cannot imagine the pain and anger of those parents whose children were killed at Sandy Hook, so too I cannot fathom the reaction of the loved ones of those killed by the drones you let loose in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the Philippines. I suspect that they react in ways very similar to the people in Newton, Connecticut. Many of them probably want to avenge the deaths. Who else will die in the US and abroad as a reaction to the assassinations you have warranted?
You clearly, and rightly, feel for the lost lives in Newton; those children were cut off before their precious lives could be fully lived. Do not the people you intend to kill, and the people who happen to be near them and die, also have precious lives? Do you have a hierarchy of precious lives; are there those whose lives are somehow less precious and not worthy of your human feeling? Might that kind of hierarchy also exist for those you target? If so, how do you propose to end this cycle of death?
Vermont Action for Peace
Producer & Host - Gathering Peace
WGDR 91.1 FM WGDH 91.7 FM
By Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War
"Today is not the day for a debate on gun control."
-- Presidential Spokesman Jay Carney
Note to Jay Carney: "If not now, when?"
Twenty children, ages 5 to 10, are mercilessly gunned down in the protected sanctuary of their Connecticut schoolroom and this does not call for a public debate? Is the US Gun Lobby really so powerful that the White House spokesperson feels his first duty is to call for a ban on public debate -- instead of a ban on the very weapons that created this tragedy?
In DC during the inauguration, join us to say no to the wars which continue under Obama, and are increasingly being fought using drone!!
For eleven years now, hundreds of men have languished at Guantanamo prison.
Join us to demand its immediate closure NOW!
by Debra Sweet, Director of World Can't Wait. I imagine that if Mitt Romney would have won, this e-mail would be very different. In fact, while the crimes being committed would likely be the same, millions of people would be starting to act in opposition once more.
We could imagine the street protest, and people knocking on our office door, calling in, sending in donations, and e-mailing asking what they could do to stop Romney's targeted assassinations, killing and maiming children using drones, indefinite detention here and abroad, or his criminalizing whistle blowers and activists. Instead there is a new wind of passivity, a cold chill in the air. We know many good people who care about what is happening here and around the world. Many of them still feel the "worse" option was prevented and we need to get back to business as usual.
Commander, HHC USAG
Attn. PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave. Bldg. 417
JBN-HH VA 22211
By Ed Fisher
Inspired by comments of Dennis Kucinich posted here at warisacrime.org
If you're like me, there are some things you would like to abolish. My list includes war, weapons, fossil fuel use, plutocracy, corporate personhood, health insurance corporations, poverty wages, poverty, homelessness, factory farming, prisons, the drug war, the death penalty, nuclear energy, the U.S. Senate, the electoral college, gerrymandering, electronic voting machines, murder, rape, child abuse, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and the Washington Post. I could go on. I bet you can think of at least one institution you believe we'd be better off without.
All of us, then, can almost certainly learn a thing or two from the men and women in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in England who abolished first the slave trade and then slavery within the British empire. I highly recommend watching a film about them called "Amazing Grace." If you like it, you'll love a book called "Bury the Chains."
You'll discover that this was in many ways the original activist movement. It created activist committees, with chapters, newsletters, posters, speaking tours, book tours, petitioning, boycotts of products, theatrical props, and investigative journalism -- pioneering all of these now familiar tactics. It achieved great success without voting, as only a tiny fraction of the population could vote. That, in itself, should be a lesson to those who believe elections are the only tool available.
The abolition movement had stamina. Looking back, its gains appear stunningly swift. At the end of the 1700s the world was dominated by slavery. Slavery was the norm. Before the end of the 1800s it had been outlawed almost everywhere. Yet, those who worked night and day against the current of their times to create the abolition movement faced endless defeats. Many of the hardest working activists didn't live to see the final success. And yet they kept working. That too may be a lesson for us.
A war between England and France halted progress, and could have stopped it cold. But the war ended, and the movement was revived -- in large part with a new cast of characters, a younger generation of radicals. Freezing all forward momentum for wars has been the rule over the ages. It's a hard lesson for us to face, as we've now accepted that we live in an era of permanent war. The difficult truth may be that we must escape that era if we are to make headway on numerous fronts.
When the abolition movement sprang into being in England, it was a moral movement demanding rights -- but, unlike most movements we've seen -- demanding rights for other people. The Britons were not demanding their own freedom. In fact, they were willing to make sacrifices, to risk a reduction in their own prosperity, and to boycott the use of slave-grown sugar. This is a useful fact in an age when we are often told that people can only care about themselves. Never mind the dead Afghans and Pakistanis, we're advised, just make sure that Americans know the financial cost of the wars. Perhaps that advice can be questioned after all.
However, Adam Hochschild, the author of "Bury the Chains," believes that Britons were able to appreciate the evil of the slave trade because of their own experience with the practice of naval impressment. That is to say, because they themselves lived in fear of being kidnapped and enslaved by the British Navy and forced to sail naval vessels around the world, and in fear of their loved ones meeting that fate, they were able to imagine the misery of Africans living in fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery in the West Indies.
Where might this insight lead us? Americans do face random senseless gun violence. Can we appreciate the evil of a drone buzzing over a village and then blowing up a family because we know that our shopping mall or school could soon be the scene of mass murder? Americans have also been taught to fear foreign terrorism. Can we appreciate the need to stop funding foreign terrorism in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan, foreign terrorism carried out by the U.S. military?
We do have another tool available to us. We can make use of video, audio, and instantaneous reporting on the victims of war or other evils. Perhaps, understanding that morality can move people, we will figure out a better way to communicate what needs to be abolished. The original abolitionists did not have this ability.
The original abolitionists made great use of newspapers and books which -- unlike those in France and other nations that failed to develop a similar mass movement -- were completely uncensored. (We come back to the need to abolish our corporate media cartel.) The original abolitionists benefitted from the egalitarian organizing of the Quakers, at whose meeting any man or woman could speak -- although they were remarkably slow to make use of the voices of freed slaves who could have spoken of slavery first-hand, and who eventually did so to great effect.
The movement to abolish the slave trade was aimed at Parliament. It did not demand freedom or rights for blacks. It threatened the livelihood of ship captains but not of the wealthy whose investments were in the plantations across the sea. The movement persuaded MPs of just enough to pass the legislation desired -- and even less, as abolitionists slipped through Parliament a bill designed to damage the slave trade but not advertised that way or understood by its opponents until the vote had been taken.
The movement was launched in 1787 and by 1807 had outlawed the slave trade. By August 1, 1838, all slaves in the British empire were free.
The slaves themselves heard of these efforts, of course, and their own struggles for freedom may have done more than anything else to win the day. The rebellions in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), Jamaica, and elsewhere had a significant impact on British thinking about slavery. In fact, the first generation of abolitionists, now aging, failed to keep pace with public sentiment. Their proposals for a slow and gradual end to slavery had to make way for the demand of immediate emancipation advanced by younger men and the now very active groups of women. And ultimately a reform bill had to be passed to somewhat democratize the government before the popular demand for slavery's abolition could be answered.
Activists were somewhat disappointed when Parliament chose to compensate slave owners for the liberation of their slaves. The slaves themselves were, of course, not compensated. They had little but hard times ahead.
But the compensation of slave owners offered a model that might have served the United States better than bloody civil war. During the American revolutionary war, the British had recruited slaves to fight on their side by promising them freedom. After the war, slave owners, including George Washington, demanded their slaves back. A British commander, General Sir Guy Carleton, refused. Thousands of freed slaves were transported from New York to Nova Scotia to avoid their re-enslavement. But Carleton did promise to compensate the slaves' owners, and Washington settled for that.
The original British abolitionists, including Thomas Clarkson, greatly influenced Americans like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick
Douglas Douglass. But few picked up on the idea of compensated emancipation, which had not originated with the abolitionists.
Elihu Burritt was an exception. From 1856 to 1860 he promoted a plan to prevent a U.S. civil war through compensated emancipation, or the purchase and liberation of slaves by the government, following the example that the English had set in the West Indies. Burritt traveled constantly, all over the country, speaking. He organized a mass convention that was held in Cleveland. He lined up prominent supporters. He edited newsletters. He behaved, in other words, like Clarkson and many an activist since.
And Burritt was right. Britain had freed its slaves without a civil war or a slave rebellion on the scale that was possible. Russia had freed its serfs without a war. Slave owners in the U.S. South would almost certainly have preferred a pile of money to five years of hell, the deaths of loved ones, the burning and destruction of their property, and the uncompensated emancipation that followed, not to mention the century and a half of bitter resentment that followed that. And not only the slave owners would have preferred the way of peace; it's not as if they did the killing and dying.
When a former slave found his voice in London, told his story in a best-selling book, filled debating halls, and became a leader in the movement to free all others, he was a man who had been a slave in my home state of Virginia. His name was Olaudah Equiano. He was one of, if not the first, black to speak publicly in Britain. He did as much to end the slave trade as anyone, and it might have gone on considerably longer without him.
I've never seen a monument or memorial in Virginia to Equiano. In contrast, just down the street from my house in Charlottesville is a tree called Tarleton's Oak. Next to it is a gas station by the same name. The tree is not old, having been planted to replace an enormous aging oak that I recall seeing. Under that one, supposedly, during the revolution, British troops camped. They were led by a young officer named Banastre Tarleton. He later got himself into Parliament, and there was no more obnoxious defender of the slave trade than he. Africans themselves, he maintained, did not object in the least to being enslaved. Tarleton lied at tremendous length without a hint of shame. His memory we mark, not Equiano's.
Erica Chenoweth is co-author with Maria J. Stephan of "Why Civil Resistance Works: The Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict." Their research finds that nonviolent action works against tyrannical rule with a higher success rate than violence and with longer-lasting results. Their book has received the 2013 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order, as well as the 2012 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award, which the American Political Science Association gives annually to the best book on government, politics, or international affairs published in the U.S. during the previous calendar year. Listeners to Talk Nation Radio can pick up the newly-released paperback at a 30% discount from http://www.cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-15682-0/why-civil-resistance-works by using the discount code WHYCHE. Learn more at http://ericachenoweth.com
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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