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On Sunday, Aug. 21, I had the privilege of speaking via conference call with several young people from the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers. It was the occasion of what they have termed the "Global Day of Listening," during which the kids spoke with supporters and sympathizers all over the world for approximately 5 and a half hours.
Joan Wile, founder of Grandmothers Against the War, and author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press, '08), as well as an award-winning ASCAP lyricist and composer, recently launched "Daily Doggerel Re Current Events" online. Joan is writing a short poem (observing the mandatory 140-character cap) every day on Facebook and Twitter about current events as they unfold. "It's a good mental exercise to write a poem within those constraints...maybe it will help stave off Alzheimer's," the 79-year-old songwriter said. "At least I'm not posting sleazy photos of myself."
Here are the first six:
JoanWile - Thursday, June 2
PALIN, A TWIT/BACHMAN, A DUNCE/AN EMPTY SUIT, MITT/ALL BRAINLESS RUNTS/WHAT A BUNCH OF CRETINS/KEEP EXPOSIN' THEM IN YOUR TWEETIN'S.
JoanWile - Friday, June 3
JOBLESSNESS RISING/BENEFITS DIPPING/COMPANIES DOWNSIZING/ ECONOMY'S SLIPPING/BOEHNER IS CLUELESS/WE'LL ALL WIND UP SHOELESS
It was a well-used music room in a slightly beat-up ancient school in Brooklyn. Approximately 20 kids piled in. They appeared to be all Latino and African-American. They were seniors about to graduate. We were told by their teacher, Stephen, that every single one was going on to college, some with full scholarships.
We were invited guests for a special occasion on June 2 -- Carol Huston, an active member of the Granny Peace Brigade; Alicia Godsberg, currently Executive Director of Peace Action New York State; Hugh Bruce, a Vietnam veteran member of Veterans for Peace, and me, founder of Grandmothers Against the War.
BROOKLYN HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS RALLY AGAINST THE AFGHAN WAR -- PROVE THERE CAN BE A YOUTH PEACE MOVEMENT
The day was downcast, but the wonderful high school seniors from Brooklyn Collaborative School standing in the rain on Fifth Avenue were not. You could say they were upcast. They were living proof that daring and principled teachers could raise their students' consciousness about the material and political costs of our current wars and integrate them into the anti-war movement.
It was the morning of May 18. About 8 or 9 kids, all Latino and African American, had joined the Grandmothers Against the War weekly vigil at Rockefeller Plaza. Their Social Economics teacher, Stephen Simons, thought it would make a good field trip to supplement their class discussions regarding the question: was the Iraq war a just one?
SURPRISE!! THERE IS, TOO, AN ANTI-WAR MOVEMENT! IT'S JUST THAT THE TEA PARTY GETS ALL THE MEDIA COVERAGE
You'd think there is a huge Tea Party group in the U.S. and virtually no opposition. But, that is strictly a myth created and perpetuated by the media. To the contrary, there is an alive and well anti-war movement composed of people from all over the country. One wonders why the media seems so intent on promoting the Tea Party and ignoring the probably larger but less visible peace movement.
THREE MEMBERS OF THE GRANNY PEACE BRIGADE GIVEN FIRST CLARA LEMLICH AWARD IN HONOR OF 100TH ANNIVERSARY OF TRIANGLE FIRE
As part of the week-long commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirt Factory fire of March 25, 2011, the first Clara Lemlich Award was presented to thirty older women on March 21 in a ceremony at the Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation. Three of the recipients are members of the legendary anti-war group, the Granny Peace Brigade. The Award was given "in celebration of unsung activists."
The members of the Granny Peace Brigade receiving the Award were Marie Runyon, 96; Lillian Pollak, 95, and Joan Wile, 79. Another Granny Peace Brigader, actress-activist Vinie Burrows, presented the Awards.
JOIN THE END THE WAR PROTEST IN NEW YORK CITY MARCH 19 IN COMMEMORATION OF ATTACK ON IRAQ 8 YEARS AGO
by Joan Wile, author,
"Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies
and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)
It's encouraging to see the people uprisings abroad and in our own country. The Egypt revolt really sparked something, and, on its revolutionary heels, the workers of Wisconsin came to life and fought Gov. Walker's efforts to strip them of their rights. People in other states being subjected to the same onslaught rose into action, also. It seems as if we might be on the cusp of meaningful fightback in the U.S. against the new robber barons who don't give a damn about you and me but are only interested in swelling their over-bloated portfolios to even greater obscene proportions.
by Joan Wile, Founder, Grandmothers Against the War
and author, "Grandmothers Against the War:
Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)
The massive protest in Wisconsin got me thinking. Why can't we do the same to end the war in Afghanistan and the occupation of Iraq? There are millions of people in the U.S. who urgently want these wasteful, tragic and unjustified conflicts concluded immediately and all troops and armaments brought home. Imagine how quickly we could begin to fill our desperate domestic needs -- schools could be built; affordable or free health care could be made available to all citizens; people could be put back to work; highways and bridges could be repaired, and hundreds of other economic-induced problems could be solved.
by Joan Wile, author,
"Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press)
There we were, last Wednesday as usual, our little straggly group of elderly grandmothers and supporters standing on Fifth Avenue in front of Rockefeller Center chanting, "BRING THEM BACK...FROM AFGHANISTAN AND IRAQ! STOP THE KILLING NOW!" We were into our eighth year of our Grandmothers Against the War weekly late-afternoon one-hour vigil begun on Jan. 14, 2004, and held continuously until now without hardly a single break, no matter what the elements threw at us. On this particular Wednesday, we were down to only seven protesters, a disappointing decrease from our usual approximately 15. Of course, the weather had something to do with the meager turnout -- New York City was still recovering from the multiple onslaughts of snow crippling people's ability to get around.
Approximately 75 people braved the freezing temperatures on the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 16 to rally against the war in Afghanistan. They gathered on Military Island, the small traffic island housing the Times Square recruiting station (now laughably tagged the Army Career Center) as a sympathy rally for the one held in D.C. earlier that day at the White House, during which 135 people were arrested.
In Times Square, 11 stalwarts blocked a stretch of Broadway for about 10 minutes before they were handcuffed and hauled off by the New York City police to a nearby jail.
The Big Apple event was populated by many Veterans for Peace and lots of peace grannies from the Granny Peace Brigade, the Raging Grannies and
Grandmothers Against the War. Two of the grandmothers were in their 90's but stood for more than an hour in the cold throughout the action. There was a contingent of Catholic Workers, War Resister Leaguers, the Green Party, and other anti-war groups, also.
"PLEASE STOP YOUR NIGHT RAIDS," PLEAD AFGHAN PEACE YOUNGSTERS TO OBAMA, CLINTON, PETRAEUS, OTHER WORLD LEADERS
by Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press, 'May '08)
Representatives of the National Gray Panthers went to Capitol Hill in November to present their position regarding Social Security. They spoke with members of the Deficit Commission and presented their counter proposals against anticipated recommendations by the Commission to cut Social Security benefits.
Susan Murany, Executive Director of the national Gray Panthers, told the Commission: "For 75 years, Social Security has remained a promise of economic protection and stability for the Americans who have paid into this program. As we now celebrate three-quarters of a century of accomplishments for this program, we must also do our part to ensure that Social Security is not weakened by those who wish to balance bailouts on the backs of Americans."
Glenn Beck recently attacked the National Gray Panthers in his Fox TV broadcast Sept. 28, implying they, along with other organizations supporting the One Nation Working Together March in Washington DC on Oct. 2, were "dangerous revolutionaries, communists, and socialists." The evidence he offered for this off-the-wall and completely false characterization of the Panthers was the their slogan, "People Over Profits." He sneeringly repeated it twice as if it were an evil phrase akin to someone saying, for instance, "Let's invade Canada."
by Joan Wile, founder, Grandmothers Against the War and Founding Member of the Granny Peace Brigade
author, "Grandmothers Against the War:
Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace" (Citadel Press, 2008)
When I was 72 years old, I felt like 100. Now that I am 79, I feel like 35 (well, most of the time). What caused this turnaround? The scuttling of an arthritic old left hip and its replacement with one made of cobalt chrome and polyethelene.
by Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace' (Citadel Press 2008)
President Obama often expressed during his campaign that if he became President he wanted we, the people, to let him know when we thought he needed a reality check. Accordingly, New York City's Granny Peace Brigade has been out on the City's streets lately conducting a survey of citizens as to how they want their tax dollars spent. I think their results would surprise him and would perhaps motivate Mr. Obama to make some serious adjustments to the federal budget.
NEW YORK CITY SUPER ELDERLY TAKE A LEAD IN PROTESTING AFGHAN AND IRAQ WARS: Hold NYC Supplment to One Nation March in DC Oct. 2
Just because one is 80, 90 or older, don't think for one moment one doesn't still retain the power to effectively protest the wrongs committed by our Government.
Many old people wished to go to Washington DC Saturday, October 2, to join the One Nation March to advocate an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but were too infirm or disabled to make the long, difficult trek. Did that stop them from participating in the day's protests? Not on your life.
In Manhattan, a group of very old residents of the Hallmark seniors apartment building in Battery Park City, average age 88, solved that dilemma by holding their own alternative demonstration. Approximately 75 people, many in wheelchairs and leaning on walkers and canes, circled a little park on North End Avenue for about an hour and a half carrying such signs as "How Is the War Economy Working for You?" and "Bring them Home from Afghanistan and Iraq," and occasionally breaking into chants of "Peace...NOW," and the like.
by Joan Wile, author, "Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up For Peace" (Citadel Press)
The Panthers are dedicated to creating a humane society where the needs of people are put over profit.
As the tax-cut debate rages through the Senate, the House, and among the prospective candidates for public office, the Gray Panthers are firmly committed to their stance that tax cuts for the wealthy must end.
Bucking the Tea Party and Right Winger presidential wannabes Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and other advocates for the super rich at the expense of all the rest of us, the Panthers have issued a proclamation outlining their proposals regarding tax cuts. Among their many resolutions is one demanding that the progressive taxation system practiced in many other developed democratic countries be adopted here.
Michael Moore just posted an article on various web sites, "NEVER FORGET: BAD WARS AREN'T POSSIBLE UNLESS GOOD PEOPLE BACK THEM" (commondreams.org/view/2010/09/16-0), in which he argues that the leading liberals of the time and the liberal media were largely responsible for the Iraq war by supporting rather than opposing it. Moore also details the public abuse and threats he took as a result of his principled anti-war stance. I felt moved to write a response.
Dear Michael Moore:
I recently posted a piece on WarIsaCrime, "A GRANDMOTHER WANTS TO KNOW," earlier published on my New York University grandson's and fellow students' blog, "Beer and Philosophy." Essentially, I asked why the U.S. youth of today were so apathetic about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and if they thought a draft would mobilize them to protest more actively as it did during the Vietnam war.
One of the students responded with what I consider a highly articulate and insightful commentary, and which I feel is valuable for the anti-war movement to read. With the writer's permission, I am reproducing it below:
A Young Person
Posted September 8, 2010 at 10:58 PM
Dear Ms. Wile,
Dear Grandson (a senior at New York University):
Those of us actively engaged in the anti-war movement have had a spectacular lack of success in bringing the current wars to an end. We can’t help feeling that if the youth of America were part of our movement, things would be vastly different. Unfortunately, we’ve seen little signs of student involvement or even, to be frank, concern. To us, it seems as if there is tremendous apathy among our youth as to caring about or even noticing that your peers (in age) are dying and suffering horrendous wounds every day in wars which we among the anti-war people deplore as unwise and unconscionable, as well as unproductive in terms of making the U.S. more secure.
Barry, things have run amok
Take the blinders off your eyes
Don't you see that we're stuck
in a lethal, tight'ning vise
You helped us hope once more
Got us wired and inspired
We thought there'd be no more war
Fear and despair were retired
But, things didn't change as expected
Where did the promises go?
Bad policies stayed uncorrected
Your "Yes" slowly transformed to "No"
Heading the list is Afghanistan
Yes, you mentioned that you would go there
But, being an intelligent man
we thought you would soon be aware
It's a useless, destructive dead end
A hopeless unsolvable quagmire
They will never give in, never bend
Please order our troops to cease fire
We're killing the innocent, killing our own
Much of the world thinks we're evil
Cancel the bomb, cancel the drone
Finally end this upheaval!
Put the billions to work here at home
for schools, for housing, for better health care
In Dallas, Chicago, San Diego and Nome