You are hereNonviolent Resistance

Nonviolent Resistance


Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field

By Joy First  

Voices for Creative Nonviolence engaged with a number of Wisconsin peace groups to organize an 8-day 90-mile walk across southwest Wisconsin from August 18-25.  The purpose of the walk was to call attention and make connections between the militarized police violence at home and the military using violence abroad through drone warfare and by other means.  In both cases the victims are people of color, which forces us to reflect on the systemic racism of our society.

The walk began at the City/County/Jail complex in Madison on August 18.  Dane County has one of the highest rates of racial disparity of any county in the country on many issues, including when it comes to incarceration - hence starting the walk at the jail.  In fact, in order to make the prison population match the general population in Dane County, we would need to release 350 Black people.  This is horrific, especially when we understand that so many people of color are in jail for nonviolent crimes and crimes of poverty that could better be solved by more positive interventions.  It is up to all of us to stand up with our brothers and sisters and proclaim that “Black Lives Matter!”

Talk Nation Radio: Salt Rebellion in U.S. Colonies and Sailing Food from Maine to Boston

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-salt-rebellion-in-us-colonies-and-sailing-food-from-maine-to-boston

Why sail food from Maine to Boston, and what do salt and the British colonies in North America have in common with Gandhi's India?

Rivera Sun is the author of The Dandelion Insurrection, Billionaire Buddha, and Steam Drills, Treadmills, and Shooting Stars, the cohost of Occupy Radio, and the cofounder of the Love-In-Action Network. She tours nationally speaking and educating in nonviolent civil resistance. Her essays on social justice movements appear in Truthout and Popular Resistance. See http://riverasun.com

Marada Cook is a food entrepreneur who can be found at Crown O'Maine Organic Cooperative, Northern Girl, and Fiddler's Green Farm.

Read Rivera Sun's article "Maine Sail Freight Revives: A Salty History of Revolution, Independence."

Find the Maine Sail Freight at http://thegreenhorns.net

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

U.S. Bows Out After Plowshares Conviction is Vacated: Appeals Court Ill-Informed on Nuclear Overkill

By John LaForge

The 2012 Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear action made the “Fort Knox” of weapons-grade uranium look like “F Troop.” Three senior peace activists got through four chain-link fences and past multiple “lethal force” zones before stringing banners, spray-painting slogans and pouring blood on the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee – all without being noticed by guards.

The guard that finally spotted the three activists – Sr. Megan Rice, 85, of New York City, Greg Boertje-Obed, 60, of Duluth, and Michael Walli, 66, of Washington, D.C. – testified that he knew a peace protest when he saw one. He had watched a lot of them while on duty at Rocky Flats, the former plutonium warhead factory near Denver, Colorado. That’s why he shrugged off official protocol and didn’t draw his gun on Greg, Megan and Michael that night.

Redemption Remains

It is possible for people to behave well in a crisis. It is possible for people to maintain their dedication to good and kindness in the face of fear and horrific loss. The loved one of a murder victim can love and comfort the murderer. This fact is going to become ever more crucial to understand and demonstrate as the crises of a collapsing climate engulf us.

In 1943 six residents of Coventry, England, bombed by Germany, wrote a public letter condemning the bombing of German cities. Imagine if they — and what they asserted was the general view of their neighbors — had been listened to. We’ve had seven decades of endless revenge, including a particular new burst of it that began around September 12, 2001. But some have pushed back.

A new film called In Our Son’s Name provides a powerful example. Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, whose story the film tells, published a letter shortly after September 11, 2001, that read:

“Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our friends and neighbors, his loving colleagues at Cantor Fitzgerald/ESpeed, and all the grieving families that daily meet at the Pierre Hotel.

“We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet. We cannot pay attention to the daily flow of news about this disaster. But we read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands, dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son’s death. Not in our son’s name.

“Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times.”

That was their immediate response when it mattered, and of course it ought to have been heeded. Orlando Rodriguez taught a course on terrorism at Fordham University after the death of his son, trying to reach at least a small number of people drowning in the sea of patriotism and militarism.

Phyllis Rodriguez wanted to meet Aicha el-Wafi, the suffering mother of the indicted Zacarias Moussaoui; and when they met they helped each other through their grief. Phyllis comforted Aicha during her son’s trial, at which Orlando and a dozen others testified for the defense.

“Our son’s life is not worth more than her son’s life,” said Phyllis, articulating both an obvious truth and an idea that millions of people would find incomprehensible, due to the power of nationalism and hatred.

The Rodriguezes began speaking publicly. Phyllis and Aicha spoke at events together.

Zacarias Moussaoui was reportedly amazed that any American would speak up for him. If he were to meet with and get to know people like Orlando and Phyllis he might come to oppose the ideology he had embraced. But that might not happen any time soon. He’s locked away for life, and the judge reportedly told him as he left court that he would “die with a whimper” and “never get a chance to speak again.”

As a substitute for meeting with people responsible for their son’s death, the Rodriguezes met at Sing Sing prison with five men convicted of kidnapping and murder. The men expressed their desire to meet with their victims and apologize, something they are denied the right to do. They also expressed the need to tell their stories and have someone listen. Phyllis and Orlando understood this perfectly, going into the meeting with the belief that while they had had ample opportunity to tell their story, these men hadn’t.

Orlando said the meeting with prisoners helped release some of his anger. He began teaching in prison, wishing he could teach the people who killed his son, wishing he could teach them not to do it. Of course that’s not really possible, but we can collectively compel the U.S. government to end policies that “create further grievances against us.”

What if every dead child were, in some sense, our son or daughter? Can we allow ourselves to think like that? Can we understand the grief and pain? Can we respond collectively with the wisdom and magnanimity that we long to see and occasionally do see in individuals.

Here’s a way to start. Buy a giant popcorn to share and show In Our Son’s Name to everyone you can.

Only thing that we did right was the day we refused to fight

By CJ Hinke, WorldBeyondWar.org

Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.

The lines of resistance to war take many forms as these stories of resisters in prison in World Wars I (“the Great War”, “the war to end all wars”) and II (‘the good war”), the Cold War, the undeclared Korean “conflict”, the ‘Red Scare’ of the McCarthy period, the 1960s and, finally, the US war against Vietnam, demonstrate. There are as many reasons and methods to refuse war as there are refusers. The Department of Justice classified WWII resisters as religious, moral, economic, political, neurotic, naturalistic, professional pacifist, philosophical, sociological, internationalist, personal and Jehovah’s Witness.

Why are some awake and aware, why do some feel their conscience so strongly they cannot ignore it? As A.J. Muste proclaimed, “If I can’t love Hitler, I can’t love at all.” Why isn’t that spirit inside all of us? Most of us have unconsciously shut up the voice of our troublesome conscience to make our lives easier. I assure you, however, the world would be immeasurably better if we all learned to listen to even its faintest of stirrings.

The reason The Resistance was so effective against the draft is that meetings listened to everybody. This stratagem was learned in vivo from Quakers,  SNCC, and CNVA. The Resistance functioned because of its underlying commitment to principled consensus. Many of us—(does not play well with others)—went ahead to devise our own actions out of frustration with this long and often tedious performance. Sometimes others joined us seeing its value and sometimes they did not. If there were “leaders” of The Resistance, I never met any!

The Last Draft Dodger: We still won’t go!

By CJ Hinke
Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.

My father, Robert Hinke, was not political. Nor was he religious. Nevertheless, he was a complete pacifist.

When I was a very small boy, he took me to one of the many demonstrations opposing the death penalty for the accused atomic spies, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. He was passionate and outspoken his whole life against the death penalty, a mistake which could never be undone.

My father was of draft age when the US threw itself into World War II. If he knew about conscientious objectors, I never heard him say so. Nor did I ever see him vote.

He was a football player at Rutgers. When he was called for a draft physical, he goaded another player to break his nose by insulting his mother. When the draft authorities told him he was still able to fight, he goaded the same football player to bust him in the nose again. He failed the second physical—a deviated septum meant a soldier who could not wear a gas mask.

I come from the ‘duck and cover’ generation. We were taught in school that to hide under our desks and cover our heads would save us from the bomb!

I was not a particularly rebellious boy. Pledging allegiance to the flag is still the reason I determine right from left. But, on joining the Cub Scouts, appearing at assembly to take the pledge, I knew I could not wear a uniform and follow orders; I threw down my pin in disgust and stalked off the stage.

I was 13 in 1963, when the National Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy marched through my hometown of Nutley, New Jersey, led by pædiatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock (1903-1998). I read SANE’s leaflet about mutually-assured destruction.

Without a moment’s hesitation, I joined SANE’s march to the United Nations in support of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This was my first arrest for civil disobedience. In New York City’s Tombs, I met my first transsexuals and learned to play blackjack using tobacco for currency.

From this point, I read everything I could find about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and nuclear weapons testing. I began to study Japanese language the next year in order to get closer to this issue and the terrible crime which America had perpetrated on the Japanese and the world.

Family friends introduced me to Friends’ silent meeting for worship and their peace testimony, seeing the Light in every person. Quakers are a traditional peace church but my attender friends were not religious, nor was I. It did not take a great deal of reflection by age 14 to decide I would not register for the Vietnam draft.

Simply put, conscription feeds the war machine. If you don’t believe in war, you must refuse the draft.

It was about this time I began to refuse to pay war taxes from my part-time job. These acts led logically to becoming a vegetarian: If I will not kill, why should I pay anyone to do my killing for me. I didn’t know any vegetarians; I actually had never heard of any but it was a question of making nonviolence work for me. I’m still a vegetarian today.

I began to devote all my free time to the pacifist groups at 5 Beekman Street in lower Manhattan. I started out in the Student Peace Union national office and was mentored by the dean of American pacifists, A.J. Muste. I put my efforts into the War Resisters League and the Committee for Nonviolent Action, often working on their newsletters and helping with mailings.

This period saw much draft card burning as political protest. Draft card burnings and returnings had taken place since the beginnings of the ‘peacetime’ SSA in 1948 but destruction of draft cards was not made illegal until a special act of Congress was passed in 1965. Among the first to burn, in 1965, was my friend, Catholic Worker David Miller, at New York’s Whitehall Street Induction Center. 30,000 draft refusals in July 1966 rose to 46,000 by October.

A small group of us, including Dr. Spock, was arrested that day for chaining shut the doors of the center. I was, however, determined I would never have a draft card to burn. I did, however, get to enjoy this singular act of rebellion when one of my draft counselees gifted me with his own! This action was followed by the Fifth Avenue Peace Parade Committee, chaired by Norma Becker, which I helped organize in March 26, 1966 with Sybil Claiborne of the Greenwich Village Peace Center.

We brainstormed into being a new group of draft-age young men, The Resistance. I worked full-time for The Resistance and was eventually chosen the liaison with the many disparate groups forming the Mobe in planning the Spring Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam on April 15, 1967.

That fall, our  pacifist coalition marched across the border to Montréal where the 1967 world’s fair, Expo ’67, was being held in the capital of French Canada. The U.S. had commissioned  a giant geodesic dome designed by futurist architect Buckminster Fuller for its national pavilion. We wore t-shirts painted with antiwar slogans under our street clothes into the fair and stepped off the escalators to climb into its structure. We were arrested by ladder and removed, and held the night before being released without charge from the 1908 Prison de Bordeaux. Of course, we made international news. Welcome to Canada!

The Resistance was the yeast that grew the Mobe; we raised the bread to make it happen. The Spring Mobe evolved into the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, chaired by Dave Dellinger, which spearheaded the 100,000-strong Confront the Warmakers march on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967.

682 of us were arrested at the Pentagon, the largest civil disobedience arrest in American history. (Yes, some people put flowers into the barrels of the rifles of the National Guardsmen keeping us at bay and some soldiers joined us—I saw it!)

The Mobe was composed of many traditional lefties but also much of the ’New Left’, like Students for a Democratic Society and other stakeholders against the war such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the Black Panthers, the Congress of Racial Equality, the Industrial Workers of the World, and the Yippies.

As a movement representative, I attended the first national convention of the Wobblies and the first American Communist convention since McCarthy’s Red scare. I saw my job as holding the movement coalition to nonviolence. Violence was the self-defeating tactic of big government.

I was doing a great deal of counseling of draft-age young men for The Resistance. Many of my pacifist pals were going to prison, sentenced to three to five years under the Selective Service Act. I could honestly not expect less. My father was not happy about this probability but never tried to dissuade me, either. I started to draft counsel in Canada, so-called draft ‘dodgers’ and military deserters as well, and he was delighted when I fell for a Canadian Quaker girl while editing Daniel Finnerty and Charles Funnell’s Exiled: Handbook for the Draft-Age Emigrant for the Philadelphia Resistance in 1967.

On May 6, 1968, five days after my 18th birthday, we held a demonstration in front of the Federal Building in Newark, New Jersey, where physicals and inductions were scheduled. However, that day more than 1,500 people, entertained by the Bread and Puppet Theater and General Hershey Bar, (parodying Selective Service director, Gen. Lewis B. Hershey), showed up to celebrate my refusal to register. There were no inductions or physicals that day. The Feds were spooked and turned away all draftee appointments.

More than 2,000 of my supporters signed a statement declaring they had counseled, aided and abetted me to refuse the draft, an act carrying the same legal penalties of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. We turned ourselves in to the Federal Marshal in Newark who simply refused to arrest me. And I’d packed a toothbrush!

The word ‘evader’ has an ignoble ring to it, as if one were a coward. We need to change the perspective because the only thing resisters are evading is injustice. COs also get called, pejoratively, ’shirkers’ or ’slackers’. The only thing we shirk is shrugging off the chains of militarism.

I had already planned to move to Canada. However, I had a few more things to do to end the war.

My summer of 1968 was spent at the Polaris Action Farm of the New England Committee for Nonviolent Action, centered around a 1750 farmhouse in rural Voluntown, Connecticut. During this summer, a paramilitary right-wing group calling themselves the Minutemen were plotting to attack the CNVA farm and murder all the pacifists. The police knew about the plot but did not inform us because they thought (rightly) that we would warn the Minutemen.

The five right-wingers arrived in the dead of an August night and set up an automatic weapon on a tripod in the field. At that point, the Connecticut State Police ambushed the Minutemen into a firefight. One of the rounds blew a hole into the hip of one of our residents, Roberta Trask; she needed extensive surgery and rehabilitation. For some years, I wrote to one of the Minutemen in prison. New England CNVA lives on as the Voluntown Peace Trust.

My summer of 1969 was spent working with Arlo Tatum, George Willoughby, Bent Andressen and others at the Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors in Philadelphia, counseling draft-age men and editing the 11th edition of CCCO’s Handbook for Conscientious Objectors. I was fortunate to live with veteran peace activists Wally and Juanita Nelson. I have never met more positive committed activists nor anyone more in love.; they celebrated life in every way possible.

New England CNVA chose me as their representative to the Japan Socialist Party’s annual Conference Against A and H Bombs in 1969 due to my research on the atomic bombings and Japanese language skills. I was one of eight international delegates and certainly the youngest.

Nothing could have prepared me for Hiroshima at 8:15 am on August 6th at the epicenter of “Little Boy”’s atomic blast; there is no greater call to peace. Working with the World Friendship Center founded in 1965 by Barbara Reynolds, I spent much of my time in both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Hospitals where people are still dying from nearly 70-year old radiation illnesses.

Outside the U.S. military base in Naha, Okinawa, I gave a speech in Japanese. Then I turned around the speakers to blast the giant U.S. base with instructions for deserters.

In September 1969, I found myself living in Canada. My gainful employment was working with the massive collection of archived papers of British pacifist vegetarian philosopher Bertrand Russell at McMaster University. Russell was of enormous support to conscientious objectors as were Henri Barbusse, Albert Einstein, and H.G. Wells.

I was greatly supported by Toronto Quaker pacifists, Jack and Nancy Pocock who opened their Yorkville home and hearts to many draft exiles, later Vietnamese boat people and again for Latin American refugees.

My experience as a draft counselor led me to work with Mark Satin of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme to edit and revise the fourth edition of his Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada,  published in 1970. The book’s publisher, House of Anansi Press, began my association with the alternative education of Rochdale College in Toronto, where I became both resident and part of the administration.

My gainful employment at the time was for Toronto’s prestigious Addiction Research Foundation, walking distance from The Rock, from one drugstore to another! I ferried drug samples from Rochdale dealers to ARF’s doctors for testing, protecting the safety of the youth community. Eventually I migrated from ARF to the province’s Whitby Psychiatric Hospital where I hosted radical British psychiatrists, R.D. Laing and David Cooper. We disabled the electroshock machines there and took a lot of psychedelics.

It was during this period that I was most active in a sort of latter-day underground railroad which arranged transportation to Canada and Sweden for American military deserters and draft resisters already charged.

I have to mention that life in the supercharged peace movement was a hard act to follow. But nonviolent activism requires constant reinvention. Specific noncoöperation has an expiry date and then one must move on to new issues, new tactics. Unlike many of my activist contemporaries who remained in the U.S., moving to Canada was, for me, like Lowell Naeve in these pages, a refreshing reset which enabled me to remain true to my conscience and ethical values but still remain on the cutting edge of critical thinking and analysis.

It would be remiss of me not to credit wide use of LSD among young people for encouraging draft resistance. It’s pretty hard to be one with everything when harming anyone is just like killing yourself. I hope the spiritual self-exploration made possible by psychedelics comes back to us. We need it…

Over the intervening decades, I have honed and sharpened what nonviolent direct action means to me. My definition has broadened considerably. I now fully embrace the concept of economic sabotage and destruction of the machinery of evil. I no longer think an activist needs to do so openly and thus be sacrificed. Better to do so secretly and live to plant another monkeywrench where it will do the most good at stopping violence.

Draft “exile” may have altered my circumstances but not my life. In Canada, I never failed to inform the FBI of my changes of address. However, after I was indicted in 1970, they didn’t notify me. I was aware of my illegal status when traveling to the US but I was not burdened with it.

In the autumn of 1976, I rented a retreat cottage in the bucolic farmland of Point Roberts, Washington. Point Roberts is American solely because of its location below the 49th parallel. It can only be reached via American waters or by road…through Canada.

The American war had been over for more than a year. However, one dark December evening, a knock on the door announced, US Marshals, local police and sheriff’s deputies. When I told them I was Canadian and would simply get out of their car when we reached the border, they advised me to dress warmly.

Shackled and handcuffed, they rowed me in a tiny aluminum boat to a 70-foot Coast Guard cutter with a crew of 15 men. When these boys, all younger than I, asked what I had done, they were amazed; to a man, they thought the draft was over. It was thus I arrived at Whatcom County Jail. In order to confuse my supporters who were gathering around the jail, they moved me incommunicado to King County Jail in Seattle. I fasted until the new President was inaugurated.

I had just become the last American arrested for the Vietnam draft, and the first pardoned.

Jimmy Carter was elected President in November of 1976. The day after he took office, January 21, 1977, Carter’s first official act as President was Proclamation 4483 which pardoned unconditionally all those accused of draft law violations from 1964 to 1973. Including me—I walked! A huge celebration of supporters was held at the Capitol Hill Methodist Church.

Due to my central position in the American peace movement, I started these interviews in 1966 when I was 16 years old. I fully expected to go to prison for the draft and I wanted to be forearmed. I soon saw that these interviews would be of the same inspiration and encouragement to other draft resisters as they were to me.

Moreover, my friendship with these fearless activists convinced me that conscience led to commitment, commitment to defiance, defiance to refusal, and refusal to noncoöperation. Radical pacifists seasoned me from a principled teenager into a lifelong radical.

I decided to make this body of work into a book to share. Pacifist friend, poet Barbara Deming, was published by Richard Grossman in New York. With her introduction, Dick agreed to publish this book. Dick gave me a $3000 advance and let us live in his Lower East Side apartment for a month. However, I was in process of moving to Canada, the manuscript was lost, and I ran away with Grossman’s money. (Sorry, Dick!) My sister only recently rediscovered it in my boxes of family archives, after more than 40 years.

Sometimes I feel like the Forrest Gump of the modern pacifist movement. I met everybody, I demonstrated everywhere, I got arrested frequently. I have been privileged to have been made family to three generations of well-known refuseniks. Today I do my best to impart those teachings of conscience to my students.

I wanted to know if these writings were purely of historical interest or if they had relevance to today’s antiwar activists. In working again with these interviews, I find that these refusers sowed the seeds of my lifetime philosophy of anarchism, socialism, and pacifism, justice equality, civil liberties. They are no less moving now to me as an old man as they were when I was a teenager. These peace activists still teach us all the true meaning of courage.

I agonized over the title for this book in 1966. I used Thoreau’s quote and called the manuscript, “In Quiet Desperation…”. I think now, however, that title was a product of its time, when young men felt a little desperate about going to prison—jail was a last choice. I don’t believe that anymore. I think nonviolent civil disobedience in the 21st century should be our first choice…if we are committed to genuine and meaningful change. And CD needs to have a sense of humor! Better still, don’t get caught and live to act another day. That is revolutionary nonviolence…

Voting with my feet by no means dampened my personal activism. I was arrested with 1,500 others at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in 1983; Quakers were my “affinity group” (sheesh!); we locked arms and ran as fast and as far as we could get over the fence, making Wackenhut goons play whack-a-mole chasing us among the cacti with SUVs. When asked by state police, I gave my name as “Martin Luther King”.

I hand-built a cabin in Clayoquot Sound off the west coast of Vancouver Island in 1975. First Nations people have lived here for 10,000 years. They arrived with the cedars as the last ice age receded. From 1984 to 1987, I defended the 1,500-year old Pacific temperate rainforest, first at Meares Island, my front-yard view.

My strategy was taken from native loggers. I supported driving big spikes into the most valuable trees to make them worthless to an industry producing toilet paper and copy paper. In all, 12½  square miles of proposed logging were spiked on Meares Island, more than 23,000 old-growth trees. I followed this up with contributions on tree-spiking to the Earth First! book, Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by EF! co-founder Dave Foreman.

Sulphur Passage on the Clayoquot mainland of Vancouver Island was also threatened by old-growth clearcut logging. My daughter and I pitched a tiny puptent in the logging road to stop its progress. Who speaks for the trees, so far up the evolutionary ladder from ourselves? After being arrested by helicopter, I acted in my own defense in B.C. Supreme Court and served 37 days for civil contempt in provincial prisons.

The largest Antipodean corporado, controlling 20¢ of every New Zealand dollar, was behind the clearcutting on the westcoast. I traveled to New Zealand with a group of Clayoquot Sound natives to make our voice heard at the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. We also managed to shut down the loggers’ company tower and send its robber baron to flight.

I was again arrested at Oakland, California for blocking munitions trains to the Concord Naval Weapons Station in 1987. A small group of us covered the tracks with tenting. Inside the tent, we’d brought heavy tools and were busy removing the rails.

Upon moving to Thailand, secret, extensive, irrational censorship was impacting my academic research and hobbling the ability of my students to produce internationally-competitive papers. I started Freedom Against Censorship Thailand (FACT) with a petition to the National Human Rights Commission. No one was publicly talking about Thai censorship where, to date, government has blocked more than a million webpages. FACT turned knowledgeable conversations about censorship from taboo to trendy. Censorship remains a hot-button issue here.

FACT posted leaked government blocklists as some of the first documents on WikiLeaks in 2006. Early in 2007, Julian Assange invited me to serve on WikiLeaks’ international advisory board, a position I still hold.

Currently, I am a founder of the Nonviolent Conflict Workshop in Bangkok. We hope to secure recognition for conscientious objection under Thailand’s military draft with the long-range goal of ending conscription entirely.

I wish especially to acknowledge with the deepest gratitude and fondness the pacifist luminaries who mentored me at 5 Beekman Street: A.J. Muste (1885-1967); Dave Dellinger (1915-2004) (Liberation); Karl Bissinger (1914-2008), Grace Paley (1922-2007), Igal Roodenko (1917-1991), Ralph DiGia (1914-2008), Jim Peck (1914-1993), David McReynolds (War Resisters League); Bradford Lyttle, Peter Kiger, Marty Jezer (1940-2005), Maris Cakars (1942-1992) & Susan Kent, Barbara Deming (1917-1984), Keith & Judy Lampe, Paul Johnson, Eric Weinberger (1932-2006), Allan Solomonow (Committee for Nonviolent Action, New York Workshop in Nonviolence and WIN Magazine); Joe Kearns (Student Peace Union). In our wider pacifist circle, Max & Maxine Hoffer (Montclair Friends Meeting); Marjorie & Bob Swann, Neil Haworth (New England Committee for Nonviolent Action); Wally (1909-2002) & Juanita Nelson, Ernest (1912-1997) & Marion (1912-1996) Bromley, (Peacemakers); Arlo Tatum, George Willoughby (1914-2010), Bent Andresen, Lawrence Scott (Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors). These brave pacifists remain my resistance family. They were gentle and forceful in making a better world for everyone. They gave me the best peace education a ‘Murrican boy could have. It’s lasted to this day.

It would be remiss of me not to include my wider peace movement influences and inspirations: Radical pro bono movement lawyers, (and often mine): Bill Kunstler (1919-1995), Gerry Lefcourt, Len Weinglass (1933-2011), and Lenny Boudin (1912-1989). They were often cited for contempt in our defense. Timothy Leary (1920-1996); Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997); A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami (1896-1977) (Krishna Consciousness); Michael Francis Itkin (1936-1989) (Gay Bishop); Paul Krassner (The Realist); Stokely Carmichael (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee); Gary Rader (1944-1973) (Chicago Area Draft Resisters); Peace Pilgrim (1908-1981); Mario Savio (1942-1996); Jim Forest (Catholic Peace Fellowship); Aryeh Neier (New York Civil Liberties Union); Abie Nathan (1927-2008) (Voice of Peace); Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) (Yippie!); Bob Fass (WBAI); Dee Jacobsen (Students for a Democratic Society); and Walter Dorwin Teague III (U.S. Committee to Support the National Liberation Front of Vietnam). The antinuclear activists: Grey Nun Dr. Rosalie Bertell; Australian physician Dr. Helen Caldicott; Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli, Gregory Boertje-Obed (Transform Now Plowshares); Catholic Worker Sisters Rosemary Lynch and Klaryta Antoszewska (Nevada Desert Experience). And our philosophers: Richard Gregg (1885-1974), Gene Keyes, George Lakey, Gene Sharp, Paul Goodman (1911-1972), Howard Zinn (1922-2010), Dwight Macdonald (1906-1982), Noam Chomsky.

Military Conscription Worldwide

By CJ Hinke
Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.

Incredibly, in the 21st-century, roughly half of the world’s nation-states practice military conscription. According to Wikipedia, the countries on this list may still be enforcing military conscription.

In all cases, registration is required but military service may not be; this practice would certainly yield a number of draft refusers. In some cases, other forms of national service are compulsory which also generate principled refusal.

Starred * countries list provisions for alternative service or conscientious objection which exemption would also result in absolutist refusers; in some cases, the right to conscientious objection is constitutional. Failure by governments to provision conscientious objection or alternative service contravenes United Nation conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 18) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18), to which almost all these nation-states are party.

Desertion: A Long, Proud History

It’s not a job, it’s an adventure, or
wearing your own clothes is the new camo
By CJ Hinke
Excerpted from Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison by CJ Hinke, forthcoming from Trine-Day in 2016.

There are as many reasons to desert military service as there are deserters. All countries’ militaries like to snatch young men when they are uneducated, inexperienced, and unemployed. It takes a soldier far greater courage to throw down his weapon than to kill a stranger.

There are deserters in every country that has an armed forces. Armies demand blind obedience and human beings crave liberty.

Why do men desert? Certainly not from cowardice. It takes far more courage to break from the pack and its reliance upon rabid nationalism. 36% of men facing battle for the first time were more afraid of being labeled a coward than of being wounded or killed.

Peace Lessons

I just read what may be the best introduction to peace studies I’ve ever seen. It’s called Peace Lessons, and is a new book by Timothy Braatz. It’s not too fast or too slow, neither obscure nor boring. It does not drive the reader away from activism toward meditation and “inner peace,” but begins with and maintains a focus on activism and effective strategy for revolutionary change in the world on the scale that is needed. As you may be gathering, I’ve read some similar books about which I had major complaints.

No doubt there are many more, similar books I haven’t read, and no doubt most of them cover the basic concepts of direct, structural, and cultural violence and nonviolence. No doubt many of them review the 20th century history of nonviolent overthrows of dictators. No doubt the U.S. civil rights movement is a common theme, especially among U.S. authors. Braatz’s book covers this and other familiar territory so well I was never tempted to set it down. He gives some of the best answers available to the usual questions from the dominant war-based culture, as well: “Would you shoot a crazed gunman to save your grandma?” “What about Hitler?”

Braatz introduces basic concepts with crystal clarity, and then proceeds to illuminate them with a discussion of the battle of Little Bighorn from a peace perspective. The book is worth acquiring for this alone, or for the similarly insightful discussion of John Brown’s use of nonviolent strategies in combination with his use of violence. Brown established a constructive project, a cooperative interracial non-patriarchal community. Brown had concluded that only the death of white men could awaken Northerners to the evil of slavery, prior to his failure to flee Harper’s Ferry. Read Braatz on Brown’s Quaker roots before assuming you understand his complexity.

Enbridge Stuffs Provision into Wisconsin Budget to Expedite Controversial Piece of "Keystone XL Clone"

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On Thursday, July 3 on the eve of a long Fourth of July holiday weekend, Canadian pipeline company giant Enbridge landed a sweetheart deal: a provision in the 2015 Wisconsin Budget that will serve to expedite permitting for its controversial proposed Line 61 tar sands pipeline expansion project.

Historic Peace Ship Is Re-Launched

By Arnold Oliver

Along the rugged coast of northern California’s Humboldt County, maritime history is being made. June 20th marked the launch ceremony of the rebuilt sailing ketch, the Golden Rule, after four years of hard work by a restoration team led by Veterans for Peace. As we shall see, the Golden Rule is no ordinary sailboat.

If you are old enough, you may recall that in the 1950’s, the U.S. military used the Marshall Islands as the primary site for its atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. As is now known, those huge nuclear detonations in the Western Pacific were wreaking havoc on the environment and human health. In fact, with each monstrous explosion, readily detectable clouds of radioactive fallout wafted around the planet, and contamination began to turn up in cows’ and mothers’ milk. Increasingly, skepticism grew about government assurances that there was no danger.

Then, in 1958, the Golden Rule arrived on the scene. The Hugh Angelman-designed 30-foot ketch was purchased by a group of activists who soon set out on a voyage of nonviolent protest toward the Marshalls. Their plan, which was well publicized, was to sail into the target zone and sacrifice both boat and crew if need be to bring a halt to the tests.

Veterans Urge Drone Operators to Refuse Orders to Fly

Letter Reinforces Call Made in National TV Ad Campaign

Hastings on Hudson, NY – An increasing number of United States military veterans are counseling United States military drone operators to refuse to fly drone surveillance/attack missions – the veterans are even helping sponsor prime time television commercials urging drone operators to "refuse to fly."

In a letter released today by KnowDrones.com, 44 former members of the US Air Force, Army, Navy and Marines whose ranks range from private to colonel and whose military service spans 60 years, “urge United States drone pilots, sensor operators and support teams to refuse to play any role in drone surveillance/ assassination missions.  These missions profoundly violate domestic and international laws intended to protect individuals’ rights to life, privacy and due process.”

Courage: Caitlyn Jenner vs. Chelsea Manning

                There has been much talk of late about the courage of Caitlyn Jenner. A recent Vanity Fair cover showed the transformation of former 65-year-old Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn, an attractive woman who appears to be in her thirties.

                But let us look for a moment at the definition of courage. Merriam-Webster defines it thusly: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”

A Call for Conscientious Objection


By Dieter Duhm

You have no enemies. People of another faith, another culture or another color are not your enemies. There is no reason to fight against them.

Soldat_KatzeThose who send you to war do not do so for your interest, but for their own. They do it for their profit, their power, their advantage and their luxury. 
hy do you fight for them? Do you gain from their profit? Do you share in their power? Do you share in their luxury?
And against whom do you fight? Did your so-called enemies do something to you? Cassius Clay refused to fight in Vietnam. He said the Vietnamese did not do anything to him.
And you, GIs: Did the Iraqis do something to you? O
r you, young Russians: Did the Chechenyans do something to you? And if yes, do you know what kind of cruelties your government committed against them? 
Or you, young Israelis: Did the Palestinians do something to you? And if yes, do you know what your government did to them? Who fabricated the injustice you are about to fight against? Do you know what powers you serve when you drive with tanks through conquered areas?

Who, for heaven’s sake, fabricated the injustice for whose pretended abatement youth are sent to war? Your governments, your own legislators, the rulers of your own country fabricated it.
It is fabricated by corporate groups and banks, the arms industry and militaries which you serve and whose war commands you obey. Do you want to support their world?
If you do not want to serve their world then ignore war service. Ignore it with such insistence and power that they stop recruiting. “Imagine war was declared and nobody showed up” (Bertolt Brecht). No one on Earth has the right to force another person to go to war.
If they want to draft you into war service, turn the tables. Write to them and tell them where and when and in which socks, underwear and shirts they must report in. Tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they must go to war themselves from now on if they want to fulfill their objectives. Use your connections, your media sources, the power of your youth, and your power to turn the tables. If they want war they must get into tanks and dugouts themselves, they must drive through mine fields and they can get cut by shrapnel themselves.

There would no longer be war on Earth if those who fabricate these wars had to fight the battles themselves, and if they had to experience in their own body what it means to be mutilated or burnt, to starve, to freeze to death or to faint from pain.
War is the opposite of all human rights. Those who lead war are always wrong. War is an active cause of endless disease: crushed and burned children, bodies torn to pieces, destroyed village communities, lost relatives, lost friends or lovers, hunger, cold, pain and escape, cruelty against the civilian population – this is what war is.

Nobody is allowed to go to war. There is a higher law beyond the laws of rulers: “Thou shalt not kill.” It is the moral duty of all courageous people to refuse war service. Do it in large numbers, and do it until nobody wants to go to war anymore. It is an honor to refuse war service. Live this honor until everyone recognizes it.

A soldier’s uniform is the fool’s dress of slaves. Command and obedience is the logic of a culture that is afraid of freedom.
Those who agree to war, even if it is only to obligatory military service, are themselves guilty of complicity. To obey military service goes against all ethics. As long as we are human beings we must put all our effort into stopping this madness. We will not have a humane world as long as military duty is accepted as societal duty.

The enemies are always the others. But think about it: If you were on the “other” side, you yourself would be the enemy. These roles are exchangeable.

“We refuse to be enemies.” The tears shed by a Palestinian mother for her dead child are the same as the tears of an Israeli mother whose child is killed in a suicide bombing.

The warrior of the new era is a warrior of peace.
One has to have the courage to protect life and to become soft inside if our co-creatures are treated with harshness. Train your body, strengthen your heart and stabilize your mind to achieve the soft power which prevails against all resistance. It is the soft power which overcomes all harshness. You all come from the love between a man and a woman. So love, worship and foster love!

“Make love, not war.” This was a profound sentence from American conscientious objectors at the time of the Vietnam War. May this sentence move in all young hearts. And may we all find the intelligence and the will to follow it forever.

In the name of love,
In the name of the protection of all creatures,
In the name of the warmth of all that has skin and fur,
Venceremos.
Please support: “We are Israeli reservists. We refuse to serve.”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/07/23/we-are-israeli-reservists-we-refuse-to-serve/

Peace Lessons: How to Reduce Violence

If you are interested in learning more about the meaning of, and the relationships among, direct, structural and cultural violence and how one peace studies scholar suggests we use the integrative power of nonviolence to address violence constructively, then I suggest you read the new book by historian, playwright and novelist Professor Timothy Braatz called Peace Lessons.

Dimock, PA Lawsuit Trial-Bound as Study Links Fracking to Water Contamination in Neighboring County

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has confirmed what many fracking critics have argued for years: hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can contaminate groundwater. 

The Prison Gates Swing Open for Peace Activists

Kathy Kelly is just out of prison, where she'd been sent for nonviolently opposing drone murders.

An appeals court has just overturned convictions for Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Gregory Boertje-Obed, imprisoned for entering and protesting a nuclear weapons site at Oak Ridge, Tenn., three years ago. Resentencing on lesser charges, and quite possibly immediate release, is expected.

Amazingly, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that the government failed to prove that the activists intended to "injure the national defense." (Maybe Venezuela, accused by President Obama of being a threat to the same, should appeal to the Sixth Circuit!)

The U.S. government has just dropped charges against eight members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance who nonviolently protested the U.S. military's environmental destruction with a march from the EPA to the Pentagon this past Earth Day.

"It can only be speculated why the charges were dismissed," said NCNR. "The eight activists were charged with 'Failure to Comply With a Lawful Order' and were scheduled to appear for trial on June 4 at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA. The group was well prepared to challenge the charge and to speak some truth to power in the courtroom. Perhaps the U.S. attorney recognized that the defendants at the Pentagon were simply exercising their constitutionally-protected right to speak out against our government's wrong-headed policies. Or possibly he agreed with the defendants' messages."

In recent months there have been absurd indictments and sentences. But there have also been surprising acquittals and the dismissal of charges.

Freedom isn't free, it's won by continued protests of wars.

Now to free all the other prisoners!

John Kiriakou, just out of prison, writes about his experience here.

22 Arrested at U.S. Mission to UN Calling For Nuclear Abolition

By Art Laffin
 
On April 28, as the United Nations sponsored Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference was beginning its second day, 22 peacemakers from around the U.S. were arrested in a "Shadows and Ashes" nonviolent blockade at the U.S. Mission to the UN in New York City, calling on the U.S. to abolish its nuclear arsenal and on all other nuclear weapons states to do the same. Two main entrances to the U.S. Mission were blocked before arrests were made. We sang, and held a large banner reading: "Shadows and Ashes--All That Remain," as well as other disarmament signs. After being placed under arrest, we were taken to the 17th Precinct where we were processed and charged with "failure to obey a lawful order" and "blocking pedestrian traffic." We were all released and given a summons to return to court on June 24, the feast of St. John the Baptist.
 
 
In participating in this nonviolent witness, organized by members of the War Resisters League, I've come full circle in my journey of peacemaking and nonviolent resistance. Thirty-seven years ago marked my first arrest at the same U.S. Mission during the First U.N. Special Session on Disarmament. Thirty-seven years later, I returned to the same site to call upon the U.S., the only country to have used the Bomb, to repent for the nuclear sin and to disarm.
 
While there have been reductions in the nuclear arsenal over the last thirty-seven years, nuclear weapons are still the centerpiece of the U.S. Empire's war machine. Talks continue. Non-aligned and non-nuclear nations and numerous NGO's plead with the nuclear powers to disarm, but to no avail! The nuclear danger remains ever-present. On January 22, 2015, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists turned the "Doomsday Clock" to three minutes before midnight. Kennette Benedict, executive director of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, explained: "Climate change and the danger of nuclear war pose an ever-growing threat to civilization and are bringing the world closer to doomsday...It is now three minutes to midnight...Today, unchecked climate change and a nuclear arms race resulting from modernization of huge arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity...And world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe.'"
 
In decrying the colossal nuclear violence that imperils all life and our sacred earth, I prayed during our witness for the countless victims of the Nuclear Age, now in its 70th year, and all victims of war--past and present. I thought about the immeasurable environmental destruction that has resulted from  decades of uranium mining, nuclear testing, and the production and maintenance of a lethal radioactive nuclear arsenal. I pondered the stark reality that, since 1940, some $9 trillion has been squandered to finance the U.S nuclear weapons program. And to make matters worse, the Obama Administration is proposing a projected $1 trillion over the next 30 years to modernize and upgrade the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal.  As the public treasury has, in effect, been looted to fund the Bomb and warmaking, a massive national debt has been incurred, vitally needed social programs have been defunded and a litany of human needs go unmet. These exorbitant nuclear expenditures have directly contributed to the dramatic social and economic upheaval in our society today.Thus we see blighted cities, rampant poverty, high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, inadequate health care, underfunded schools, and a mass incarceration system. 
 
While in police custody, I also remembered and prayed for Freddie Gray who died in such custody, as well as for the numerous Black citizens who have been killed by police across our land. I prayed for an end to police brutality against all people of color. In the name of God who calls us to love and not to kill, I pray for an end to all racial violence. I stand with all who are demanding accountability for those police officers responsible for killing Blacks and for an end to racial profiling. All Life is Sacred! No Life is Expendable! Black Lives Matter!
 
Yesterday afternoon, I had the great opportunity to be with some of the Hibakusha (A-Bomb survivors from Japan) as they gathered in front of the White House to collect signatures for a petition to abolish nuclear weapons. The Hibakusha have been relentless in their heroic efforts to appeal to the nuclear powers who have gathered for the NPT Review Conference at the UN, and in their travels to different places in the U.S., to plead for the total abolition of nuclear weapons. These courageous peacemakers are living reminders of the unspeakable horror of nuclear war. Their message is clear: "Humankind can't coexist with nuclear weapons." The voice of the Hibakusha must be heard and acted on by all people of goodwill. 
 
Dr. King declared that in the Nuclear Age the "choice today is no longer between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence." Now, more than ever, we need to heed Dr. King's clarion call for nonviolence, work to eradicate what he called "the triple evils of racism, poverty and militarism," and strive to create the Beloved Community and a disarmed world.
 
Those Arrested:
 
Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert, Art Laffin, Bill Ofenloch, Ed Hedemann, Jerry Goralnick, Jim Clune, Joan Pleune, John LaForge, Martha Hennessy, Ruth Benn, Trudy Silver, Vicki Rovere, Walter Goodman, David McReynolds, Sally Jones, Mike Levinson, Florindo Troncelliti, Helga Moor, Alice Sutter, Bud Courtneyand Tarak Kauff.
 


 

Anti-Nuke Demonstrators Planning Blockade of U.S. Mission

On Tuesday, April 28, members from several peace and anti-nuclear organizations, calling themselves Shadows and Ashes--Direct Action for Nuclear Disarmament will gather at 9:30 am near the United Nations for a legal vigil at the Isaiah Wall, First Avenue and 43rd Street, calling for the immediate elimination of all nuclear weapons world-wide.

Following a short theatre piece and reading of a few statements, several from that group will continue up First Avenue to 45th Street to participate in a nonviolent blockade of the United States Mission to the UN, in an effort to call attention to the U.S.’s role in unending the nuclear arms race, despite U.S. pledges to eliminate all nuclear weapons.

This demonstration was organized to coincide with the opening of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review conference, which will run from April 27 to May 22 at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The NPT is an international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology. Conferences to review the operation of the Treaty have been held at five-year intervals since the Treaty went into effect in 1970.

Since the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 -- killing more than 300,000 people -- world leaders have met 15 times over several decades to discuss nuclear disarmament. Yet more than 16,000 nuclear weapons still threaten the world.

In 2009 President Barack Obama pledged that the United States would seek the peace and security of a world free of nuclear weapons. Instead his administration has budgeted $350 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade and modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons program.

“The abolition of nuclear weapons will never happen if we just wait for the leaders who gather at the East River to do it,” explained Ruth Benn of War Resisters League, one of the demonstration organizers. “We need to make a more dramatic statement beyond marches, rallies, and petitions,” continued Benn, echoing Martin Luther King’s statement from Birmingham jail, “Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue.”

Florindo Troncelliti, a Peace Action organizer, said he planned to participate in the blockade so he can directly tell the United States “We began the nuclear arms race and, to our eternal shame, are the only country to have used them, so it’s time for we and other nuclear powers to just shut up and disarm.”

Shadows and Ashes is sponsored by War Resisters League, Brooklyn For Peace, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), Codepink, Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, Genesee Valley Citizens for Peace, Global Network against Nuclear Power and Weapons in Space, Granny Peace Brigade, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, Jonah House, Kairos Community, Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, Manhattan Green Party, Nodutol, North Manhattan Neighbors for Peace and Justice, Nuclear Peace Foundation, Nuclear Resister, NY Metro Raging Grannies, Pax Christi Metro New York, Peace Action (National), Peace Action Manhattan, Peace Action NYS, Peace Action of Staten Island, Roots Action, Shut Down Indian Point Now, United for Peace and Justice, US Peace Council, War Is a Crime, World Can’t Wait.

Talk Nation Radio: Sarah Thompson on Christian Peacemaker Teams

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-sarah-thompson-on-christian-peacemaker-teams/

Sarah Thompson is executive director of Christian Peacemaker Teams. She talks about their work. See http://cpt.org
See upcoming event in Detroit here: http://www.cpt.org/PeacemakerCongressDetroit

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or  LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Legacy of War

As the world continues to engage in various commemorations in relation to World War I, Australia approaches the centenary anniversary of a defining event in the nation’s history: ANZAC Day. On 25 April 1915, and for many days after, Australia suffered savage losses at Gallipoli in Turkey.

Sometimes when we reflect on war, we talk about sacrifice for a good cause. Other times, we talk about the cost, in lives or liberties lost. Occasionally, we talk about the horror. Sometimes we talk about the gains, nationally or internationally, for freedom and democracy. And rarely, we analyse the causes of war and lament that one day we might end it.

I Will No Longer Pay Taxes for War

By Matthew Hoh

If a thousand men were not to pay their tax bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.

This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.

-- Henry David Thoreau

This will be the first year I willfully and intentionally do not pay my full share of income tax. I certainly have no illusions that I am Henry David Thoreau -- frequent readers of mine will attest to that -- nor do I believe that withholding a portion of my federal income taxes will cause the American war machine to grind to a halt, or that the sufferings of millions in wars around the world, wars supported, directly and indirectly, by the U.S. government and U.S. industry, will be ended. However, no longer can I look past the reality that my annual voluntary forfeiture of money to my government pays for violence around the globe, at astounding levels, and I am not able to provide any more excuses or rationalizations that paying without protest, that being complicit in funding war without resistance, is not contradictory to my faith and to my conscience. Quite simply put, I can no longer ignore the basic, yet just, wisdom and truth found in the war tax resisters' dictum: "If you work for peace, stop paying for war."

2015-04-13-1428887253-7469666-StopPay4War_lg.jpg

I fought in our Global War on Terror with the marines, and I even worked as a modern day colonial administrator, at one time having $26 million in cash in two safes in my bedroom in Tikrit, Iraq. My participation in these wars has left me with moral injury, a condition that is, thankfully, becoming better understood in the veterans and medical communities. In 2009, while serving with the State Department in Afghanistan, I could no longer go along with the war, let alone its escalation, and I resigned in protest. For the last five and one half years I have worked as a peace advocate in various degrees and capacities. As I have progressed in my healing from the psychiatric wounds of war, I have continued on my own path of advocacy for peace. I relate this personal information to you, not to proselytize myself, but, rather, to illustrate that the decision to willfully resist taxes to oppose war is not one I have entered into lightly or one that comes as a singular event in my life, but one that is a culmination of my life's experiences.

As I have come to accept that I can no longer justify providing money to my government to pay for the bombs and bullets our forces use to kill millions abroad, or contribute to the funds that supply and resupply the arsenals of our allies, such as Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, as they kill others and repress their own people, my choice to willfully not pay taxes has crystallized. It has been aided, in great part, by the testimonies of those who have practiced war tax resistance, in some cases, for several decades, and who by their courage and dedication to laws of love and peace have risked the authority of the federal government to follow what is right. I am also indebted to peers like Rory Fanning and Logan Mehl-Laturi and old friends, like Count Leo Tolstoy, who, by articulating their convictions, have helped not just to educate me, but to embolden me.

I do not have a legal issue with taxation, and I have no interest in self-enrichment. I want to pay my fair share for the services our government provides, so utilizing the information provided by the War Resisters League, I will calculate the income tax I owe, as I have done in any previous year, and pay only the portions our federal government utilizes for services other than war. I will file my taxes and include a letter to the IRS explaining why I am not paying in full and why I will not pay in full. If they want the money for killing, then they will have to take that share.

As a recipient of Veterans Administration assistance, and as someone who thoroughly understands the need to heal the wounds of war, my contribution will include payment for veterans services. I will also pay for the debt owed to past wars, as that is something that cannot be undone. What I do not pay to the government for the functions of war I will redirect and donate to a five star-rated veterans charity.

I do all this with the complete understanding that our government will just allocate the amount I pay to war functions anyway, and that the small amount I am withholding will not cause Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to lay awake at night. However, it is an act I take pride in, as I can now rest my conscience knowing that I am no longer fully and voluntarily participating in wars that are not just immoral, but counter-productive. For how many more millions will we kill just to keep seeing terrorist groups metastasize and ensure kleptocracies remain in power? There is also some edification in putting some element of myself and my life, however small this really is, in the path of militarism and its counterparts: death, suffering and waste.

It is not very common for war tax resisters to have property seized by the IRS, and even more rare for someone to face jail time. The most common consequences that thousands of war tax resistors face each year are accrued penalties and interest, wage garnishment and property liens, plus lots of unfriendly letters. Everyone's case is different and, so, I wonder whether my VA disability pay will be docked or my utility of the GI Bill to pay for attendance at seminary or graduate school thwarted. If so, so be it, I'm done with taking part in war. I urge you to follow your conscience, listen to your heart, find strength in your faith and in humanity, as well as in the brave individuals who have journeyed before us, and join me in a peaceful revolution of conscience.

_____

War Tax Resistance predates Christianity and has, within our own American history, many chapters. I hope this essay makes a difference for someone in their own personal journey of peace advocacy, just as others who have made known their resistance have positively influenced me. The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is a great place for individuals who are struggling with issues of war, faith and conscience to turn to, as it has been a great source of support for me, both educationally and inspirationally. Additionally, you can add your voice of support for those who find their conscience violated by paying for war by supporting Representative John Lewis and asking him to re-introduce his Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act and by supporting the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund.

Disclosure Fail: Industry Reps Testifying for Denton, Texas Fracking Bill Left Ties Undisclosed

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

March 24 hearing prior to the passage of a controversial bill out of committee that preempts cities in Texas from regulating hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and gas obtained from shale basins, featured numerous witnesses who failed to disclose their industry ties, including some with ties to the Koch brothers

Vykom: Strategic Nonviolent Action Against Untouchability

Why does nonviolent action work? And how good was Mohandas K. Gandhi as a nonviolent strategist? If you want high quality evidence in your search for answers to these two questions then I encourage you to read Professor Mary E. King’s latest book on the struggle against untouchability, unapproachability and unseeability in the south Indian village of Vykom during the 1920s. See ‘Gandhian Nonviolent Struggle and Untouchability in South India: The 1924–25 Vykom Satyagraha and the Mechanisms of Change’.

Activists hold mock funeral for the Earth at Washington State nuclear submarine base

By Leonard Eiger
 
Activists from a local peace group blocked the main gate and staged a mock funeral at the Navy’s West Coast Trident nuclear submarine base in an act of civil resistance to nuclear weapons.

Over sixty people participated in Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr's life and legacy on Saturday, January 17, 2015. The event concluded with a vigil and nonviolent direct action at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington.

Under the theme “Building the World House,” the day focused on Dr. King’s commitment to nonviolence and his opposition to war and nuclear weapons. Dr. King's essay "The World House" may very well be the best summation of Dr. King's teachings.
 
While some participants maintained a peaceful vigil at the Main Gate to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor in Silverdale, Washington on Saturday afternoon, others dressed in black monk's robes carried a coffin containing a globe representing the earth to the side of the road. People walked up to the casket and placed flowers on it, and then another robed participant recited a eulogy, "Mourning the Death of the Earth after Nuclear Annihilation." A funeral dirge completed the ceremony.
 
When the ceremony was finished participants carried the casket onto the roadway, blocking traffic entering the base. Washington State Patrol officers ordered the resisters to move the coffin out of the roadway. They complied, and carried the coffin to the median where they were detained. All received citations for being in the roadway illegally, and then released.
 
Those cited were Mary Elder, Seattle, WA; Peter Gallagher, Seattle, WA; Raghav Kaushik, Kirkland, WA; Mona Lee, Seattle, WA; Bernie Meyer, Olympia, WA; Michael Siptroth, Belfair, WA; and Rick Turner, Seattle, Wa; 
 
Following the initial action more protesters entered the roadway and blocked traffic. Gilberto Perez, Bainbridge Island, WA carried a sign calling for no naval base on Jeju Island, Korea. Jonathan Landolfe, Tacoma, WA carried a sign saying "Sea Hawks, Not War Hawks." Bruce Gagnon, Bath, ME carried a sign saying "Human Needs, NOT WAR$". All were removed from the roadway by State Patrol and cited for being in the roadway illegally.
 
Gagnon, the Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, gave the keynote address earlier in the day at Ground Zero Center. Gagnon spoke of the unsustainability of the US Navy's shipbuilding budget, and how "entitlement" programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are being defunded in order to fund the newest ships that include a new fleet of ballistic missile submarines. The OHIO Class Replacement Program alone (12 new Trident submarines) will cost an estimated $100 billion. 
 
Members of Ground Zero Center also participated in the Seattle MLK Rally & March on January 19th, carrying a full size inflatable replica of a Trident II D-5 thermonuclear armed missile. Accompanying the missile was a banner with a famous quote by Dr. King: "When scientific power outruns spiritual power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men." Participants handed out leaflets with facts on Trident.

The Trident nuclear weapons system was designed during the height of the Cold War and was predicated on the theory of Strategic Nuclear Deterrence, a doctrine that no longer applies long after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Continued deployment of Trident increases the risk of either accidental or intentional nuclear war, and building a new generation of ballistic missile submarines is increasing global proliferation of nuclear weapons at a time when the nuclear armed powers should be reducing reliance on nuclear weapons and making good faith efforts toward disarmament.
 
The Trident submarine base at Bangor, just 20 miles from Seattle, contains the largest concentration of operational nuclear weapons in the US arsenal. Each of the 8 Trident submarines at Bangor carries up to 24 Trident II (D-5) missiles, each capable of being armed with as many as 8 independently targetable thermonuclear warheads.  Each nuclear warhead has an explosive force of between 100 and 475 kilotons (up to 30 times the force of the Hiroshima bomb). It has been estimated that by the time the new generation of ballistic missile submarines are put into service, they will represent 70 percent of the nation's deployed nuclear warheads.

Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action holds three scheduled vigils and actions each year in resistance to Trident and in protest of U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The group is currently engaged in legal actions in Federal court to halt the Navy’s construction of a Second Explosives Handling Wharf at Bangor. Ground Zero is also working with other organizations to de-fund the Navy’s plans for the next generation ballistic missile submarine. 

For over thirty-seven years Ground Zero has engaged in education, training in nonviolence, community building, resistance against Trident and action toward a world without nuclear weapons.

Photos attached.  Photo Credit: L. Eiger, Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action (Note: High resolution images available)

Contact:  Leonard Eiger, Media and Outreach
               Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action
               www.gzcenter.org

Revealed: How Big Oil Got Expedited Permitting for Fracking on Public Lands Into the Defense Bill

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The U.S. Senate has voted 89-11 to approve the Defense Authorization Act of 2015, following the December 4 U.S. House of Representatives' 300-119 up-vote and now awaits President Barack Obama's signature.

 Photo Credit: C-SPAN Screenshot

The 1,648-page piece of pork barrel legislation contains a provision — among other controversial measures — to streamline permitting for hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on U.S. public lands overseen by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a unit of the U.S. Department of Interior.

Buried on page 2,179 of the bill as Section 3021 and subtitled "Bureau of Land Management Permit Processing," the bill's passage has won praise from both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) and comes on the heels of countries from around the world coming to a preliminary deal at the United Nations climate summit in Lima, Peru, to cap greenhouse gas emissions.

"We applaud the Senate...and are hopeful the president signs this measure in a timely fashion," said Dan Naatz, IPAA lobbyist and former congressional staffer, in a press release

Alluding to the bottoming out of the global price of oil, Naatz further stated, "In these uncertain times of price volatility, it’s encouraging for America’s job creators to have regulatory certainty through a streamlined permitting process.”

Streamlined permitting means faster turn-around times for the industry's application process to drill on public lands, bringing with it all of the air, groundwater and climate change issues that encompass the shale production process. 

At the bottom of the same press release, IPAA boasted of its ability to get the legislative proposal introduced initially by U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) as the BLM Permit Processing Improvement Act of 2014 after holding an "educational meeting" with Udall's staffers. Endorsed by some major U.S. environmental groups, Udall took more than $191,000 from the oil and gas industry during his successful 2014 re-election campaign.

IPAA's publicly admitted influence-peddling efforts are but the tip of the iceberg for how Big Oil managed to stuff expedited permitting for fracking on U.S. public lands into the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015.

Nonviolent Action: Minimizing the Risk of Violent Repression

In a recent article, full of insight, Professor Bill Quigley identified ten different illegal actions police often take ‘to prevent people from exercising their constitutional rights’ to take nonviolent action to address a grievance. He noted that these police tactics are commonly used by law enforcement agencies in big protests across the US. See ‘10 Illegal Police Actions to Watch for in Ferguson’.

Who Says Ferguson Can't End Well

Just as a police officer in a heightened state of panic surrounded by the comfort of impunity will shoot an innocent person, the Governor of Missouri has declared a state of emergency preemptively, thus justifying violence in response to something that hasn't happened. Bombing Iraq in response to nonexistent weapons and Libya in response to nonexistent threats worked out so well, we may as well try it domestically, the Governor is perhaps thinking. "There Is No Way That This Ends Well" is a headline I actually just read about Ferguson.

Well, why not? Who says it can't end well? The police may want continued impunity. The justice system may be rigged against any sort of reconciliation. The government may want -- or believe it rationally expects -- violence. But all of those parties are capable of changing their behavior, and the people of Ferguson are capable of determining their own actions rather than following a script placed before them.

We should understand that the violence in Ferguson is not new and is not limited to Ferguson. It did not begin with a particular shooting. It did not begin with any shooting. It began with a system of oppression that keeps people in misery amidst great wealth. Just as that injustice is inexcusable, so is any violence in response to it. But the outrage at an angry man knocking over a trashcan conspicuously exhibited by people who cheer for mass-murder in Iraq isn't well thought-through or helpful. And the disproportionate focus on such small-scale violence misses more than the larger picture. It also misses the courageous, disciplined, principled, and truly loving actions of those resisting injustice creatively and constructively. Such actions are not always successful and not always well-planned to the satisfaction of scholars. But they have long been far more common than is acknowledged on the television or in the history books.

Back in 1919 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, some 30,000 textile workers went on strike for decent pay. The mill owners and the police sought to provoke them, infiltrate them, intimidate them, and brutalize them. The workers held strong. The police set up machine guns along the streets, toying with the model of domestic war now exhibited in Ferguson. Organizer A.J. Muste spoke to the workers on the morning that the machine guns appeared:

"When I began my talk by saying that the machine guns were an insult and a provocation and that we could not take this attack lying down, the cheers shook the frame building. Then I told them, in line with the strike committee's decision, that to permit ourselves to be provoked into violence would mean defeating ourselves; that our real power was in our solidarity and in our capacity to endure suffering rather than give up the fight for the right to organize; that no one could 'weave wool with machine guns'; that cheerfulness was better for morale than bitterness and that therefore we would smile as we passed the machine guns and the police on the way from the hall to the picket lines around the mills. I told the spies, who were sure to be in the audience, to go and tell the police and the mill management that this was our policy. At this point the cheers broke out again, louder and longer, and the crowds left, laughing and singing."

And, they won. The powers that owned the mill and put the weapons of war on the streets of that town conceded defeat, and conceded it without the bitterness that would have come had the workers and their supporters somehow been able to defeat the machine guns with violence.

That type of incident is as common as water, but little recounted. It's what organizers in Ferguson are calling for right now, and they are being preemptively ignored by the media. But it doesn't come easy. And it doesn't come without solidarity. If the people of the United States and the world chip in to support the people of Ferguson in their struggle for full justice, if we nonviolently and smilingly take on the forces of militarism and racism everywhere at once, and in Missouri in particular, we need not defeat the police or the Governor. We need only defeat cruelty, bigotry, and brutality. And that we can do. And that would be ending well.

 

Speaking Events

2015

August 27, Chicago

September 22, DC

CHOOSE LANGUAGE

Support This Site

Donate.

Get free books and gear when you become a supporter.

 

Sponsors:

Speaking Truth to Empire

 

Financial supporters of this site can choose to be listed here.

Buy Books

Get Gear

The log-in box below is only for bloggers. Nobody else will be able to log in because we have not figured out how to stop voluminous spam ruining the site. If you would like us to have the resources to figure that out please donate. If you would like to receive occasional emails please sign up. If you would like to be a blogger here please send your resume.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.