In front of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center Banquet Hall - photo: Ted Majdosz
For nearly 30 years the Air Force Association (AFA) has been holding its annual "Arms Bazaar," with nearly 150 arms contractors in attendance this year. And each year peacemakers have been resisting this scandal. Up until recently this event was held at the Sheraton and then Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. For the last five years the event is now held at the new opulent Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, about a 45 minute drive south of Washington, D.C. Though its harder to get to, thirteen of us witnessed yet again last night in resistance to this idolatrous glorification of weapons and war profiteering.
We began our witness by going to the entrance of the Gaylord near where the AFA $330 per plate banquet was being held. Upon arriving we were stopped by Gaylord security who said we were on private property and must leave immediately. I reminded the head of security that this was not private property but, in fact, God's property. We remained there for over ten minutes as we decried this scandalous event, sang the "Vine and Fig Tree" song, and dialogued with security personnel. Police were called to the scene and we were ordered to leave, at which point, we left and processed to a nearby designated protest site, a site that was designated just for us five years ago. We then proceeded to hold a vigil which included: reading our leaflet (see below); reading an excerpt for Dr. King's Riverside Church speech about why he opposed the Vietnam War; reading accounts of drone bombing victim's and praying for the victims and their families and all who have resisted these new murderous weapons and official policy of assassination; Bob Cooke offering a powerful reflection (see below) about why people of faith must resist this Arms Bazaar; offering a prayer to exorcise the evil of militarism and convert our lives to God's command to love and a litany of repentance and conversion; and remembering those imprisoned for acts of conscience. We concluded the vigil with the lighting of candles and singing "This Little Light of Mine."
We live in a time where every person is a potential victim of violence, as evidenced by the recent horrific shootings at the D.C. Navy Yard. Violence, in all of its manifestations, will continue so long as individuals, and political, corporate and military powers reject God's command to love and not to kill, devalue life, worship at the altar of hate and greed, make, sell and use weapons, seek to dominate and control others, and continue to embrace the lie of redemptive violence. Let us not grow weary but continue to strive together to create the beloved community and a nonviolent world free of militarism, violence, racism and economic exploitation. We keep our eyes on the prize and hold on!
With gratitude, Art
Protest the AFA "Arms Bazaar!"
For the last three days the Air Force Association (AFA) has held its annaul Air & Space Conference and Technology Expo, what we call an "Arms Bazaar," at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The AFA has been hosting speakers and seminars that address how the U.S. can remain the preeminent military superpower on earth and in space. And some 150 arms contractors have been dispaying their latest weaponry and military technology. Tonight, the AFA is holding a $330 per plate banquet sponsored by Lockheed Martin. These arms contractors, like Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, are profiting from war and literally are making a killing! But that's not all. The Air Force and numerous arms dealers are committed to U.S. nuclear/military superiority and militarizing and controlling space.
The U.S. continues to be the #1 arms dealer in the world. Foreign military sales by the U.S. were expected to reach $60 billion in fiscal 2012 ending September 30, according to Richard Genaille, deputy director of the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which brokers such government-to-government deals. Worldwide weapons sales by the United States tripled in 2011, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. Total worldwide weapon sales in 2011 nearly doubled to $85.3 billion, making the U.S. responsible for more than three-quarters (77.7%) of all global sales. Egypt has been, and continues to be, a large recipient of U.S. military aid and weapons. In the wake of the recent coup and horrific violence carried out by the Egyptian military government, Egypt still stands to receive $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid and weapons.
Who will give voice to the victims who have suffered and died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere as a direct result of U.S. warmaking, and weapons, like the Drone ”Predator” and “Reaper” war planes, produced by the arms contractors participating in the “Arms Bazaar”? In the name of God who calls us to love and not to kill, it's time to end this Arms Bazaar! It's time to repent of U.S. war crimes and make reparations to all victims of U.S. warmaking. It's time to bring all the war money home, alleviate poverty, meet urgent human needs, and save our environment. It's time for the U.S. to stop threatening to attack Syria. It's time to end construction of a new U.S.-backed naval base on Jeju Island in S. Korea that will serve as a U.S. military outpost to threaten and contain China. It's time to stop producing and disarm and eliminate all weapons--from chemical and nuclear weapons to killer drones, end all U.S. military intervention, abolish war and practice nonviolence. it's time to say Yes to Life and a resounding No to the war profiteers.
For more info contact Dorothy Day Catholic Worker: 202-882-9649
Message for the Air Force Association Arms Bazaar (9-18-13)
by Bob Cooke
My name is Bob Cooke and I am with Pax Christi Metro DC- Baltimore.
Thank all of you for coming out here tonight as military leaders, military contractors and representatives of foreign counties again gather for the annual Air Force Arms Bazaar to show the world the new weapons of destruction we have developed and in order to sell them throughout the world. As we know, these new weapons will not make the world safer, as many in the banquet room will be saying. They will only increase the level of violence our world knows, since violence begets violence.
I also thank the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker for once again this year calling us out here. Even though our numbers are relatively small, our presence is very important. In the words of Daniel Berrigan, it is important that we “fracture the good order” of the Air Force Arms Bazaar Dinner, to the degree that we can, and witness to the fact that the selling of advanced arms around the world should not go on as “business as usual” without at least some outcry of protest from those who oppose violence, and especially from those who claim to follow the nonviolent Jesus, the Prince of Peace, such as Pax Christi members. We thank the DDCW for calling us out here each year to witness against this great evil.
While we are here tonight, let us also remember the thirteen victims of gun violence who died within a couple of miles from here on Monday at the Washington Navy Yard. Domestic violence and international violence, which is being advocated within the walls of the Gaylord National Convention Center this week, are closely aligned. Is it any wonder that in a world where the countries of the world, lead by the United States, advocates the use of military force as the main way to “RESOLVE” conflict, that many people in this country, lead by the NRA and gun manufacturers, have successfully stopped even the most basic, common sense steps to try to alleviate the level of domestic gun violence and oppose any attempts to make it harder for any U.S. citizen to buy and carry virtually any gun they so desire?
As a member of Pax Christi, I would also like to remind us all of the words of St. Paul, who saw the fight we are involved in as a spiritual one that must be won by changing the hearts, minds and spirits of people. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Ephesus: Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood; but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take the
whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Eph. 6:12,13).
Let us remember, as we are here tonight, that the “world rulers of this present darkness” can only be defeated by the power of love and non-violence, which have been shown to us in the lives of Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and many, many others, who have walked this earth before us and who are walking in our midst today, including those of us gathered here tonight.
Let us pray that some of those people sitting at this dinner tonight will have a change of heart, mind and spirit and realize the utter madness and futility of the “solution” they propose to make the world safe by killing our alleged “enemies”. Let us remember the words of Jesus, who called us to love our enemies. It is only through such love that people’s hearts, minds and spirits can be changed. So we pray for those in that dinner tonight, that one, or more, of them will realize the great evil they are partaking in and will one day join us on the outside calling for an end to the selling of these weapons of destruction.
Thank all of you for being witnesses to the power of love. Let us continue to work together with increasing vigor to help win this spiritual battle by using love’s weapon of nonviolence to defeat the evil powers of greed, militarism and domination.