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Nonviolent Resistance


WAAAHHHH…but we don’t wanna get arrested!!

By Mike Ferner
 
As the macho, gun-toting, testosterone-addled cowboys who took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon call it quits, their pitiful whine can be heard all the way to Florida: “Waaahhh…but we don’t wannna get arrested…”
 
So much for the rugged-individualists and badass proponents of personal responsibility.
 
Let’s see what happens as their armed insurrection winds down.  How will the system treat the militant bullyboys? 
 
Will they get pepper-sprayed in the face as did the college students peacefully sitting in a driveway at UC Davis during Occupy protests, or shot in the head with a police projectile as did Veterans For Peace member Scott Olson in Oakland?
 
Will they get two months in jail like Ed Kinane for stepping across a line at the School of the Americas; or six months in jail like grandmother Mary Anne Grady, for taking pictures of demonstrators outside the Reaper drone base in upstate NY; or a $20,000 fine like Kathy Kelly’s peace group, for taking medicine to people in Iraq before the U.S. military invaded their country in 2003; or 10 years in prison for speaking out against the madness of World War One, like Gene Debs;
 
Will they be clubbed in the head, set on by German shepherds, slammed up against light poles by fire hoses like the kids demonstrating for civil rights in Alabama, or killed by vigilante executioners and buried in a dike for registering voters?
 
If they go to jail, will they conduct a peaceful hunger strike and endure force-feeding like Alice Paul and Rose Winslow did for demanding women get the right to vote?
 
If they are arrested, chances are very good that nothing like the above will happen to any of the massively-armed, good ‘ol boys in Oregon who would be the first to tell you they were only making a statement of conscience against government gone amuck.
 
But when the students at UC Davis, or Kathy Kelly, or Ed Kinane, or Gene Debs, or the civil rights protesters, or the suffragists, all unarmed and committed to nonviolence, conducted their protests they did so with the understanding they may well suffer serious bodily harm and at the very least be arrested and sentenced. 
 
They treated the police, the prosecutors and the judges with utmost respect.  They did not plead to lesser charges but underwent trials in hopes of educating more people about the evils against which they fought. 
 
So let’s see how the Rambo wannabes of Eastern Oregon handle themselves.  Seems they could use a few lessons in toughness from nonviolent peace and justice activists.   
 
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Mike Ferner served as a hospital corpsman during the Viet Nam war.  In 2006 he participated in a five-week, water-only fast with Kathy Kelly and Ed Kinane to protest the war in Iraq and was also convicted of two felonies for painting “Troops Out Now” on a highway overpass, which cost him two months house arrest and $5,000.

Bloodless Occupation

By Tom H. Hastings

Video footage of the Oregon State Police shooting of armed occupier LaVoy Finicum following a vehicular chase is so very sad to watch. Finicum may have been quite stupid in his belief that American public lands should belong to private ranchers, but he did not deserve to die. Sadly, he arranged for his own death.

Finicum, the spokesperson for the armed militia which took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on 2 January 2016, was quite open—he carried a gun at all times and was ready to use it. He reached for it, apparently, and was shot dead. Geez.

Like Finicum, I’ve opposed US policy enough to risk arrest, to occupy federal facilities, and to stand up to federal law enforcement. Unlike him, I’ve actually done it numerous times and never been shot. I’ve always been nonviolent and, to be frank, my method makes victory possible and, in some cases, achieved. Finicum apparently thought that a gun makes you safer. It is the opposite.

I helped occupy Oregon Senator Ron Wyden’s office twice—once when he was thinking about how he might vote on the 2002 Senate bill to grant George W. Bush essentially illimitable powers to invade and wage war on Iraq or anyone else. Wyden ended up voting our way. We were nonviolent and courteous.

I helped occupy his office again in 2006 to convince him to speak out against the war in Iraq. We were quite friendly, actually, with Homeland Security, who arrested us. Wyden did as we asked—he posted on his website (finally!) that he opposed the ongoing war and he even rose on the United States of America Senate floor to call for an end to that occupation. As usual, we carried no guns and in fact met with the staff ahead of time to explain nonviolence.

I’ve done other nonviolent occupations over the decades—even a one-man occupation of the Soviet embassy in nonviolent resistance to their weaponry. I’ve never even had a weapon pulled on me, let alone being shot, and every single public policy ask I’ve made has ultimately been granted.

It is so sad to see Muslim extremists reverting to 12th century brutality and American “patriots” regressing to 19th century behavior. LaVoy Finicum didn’t have to die; he needed to learn about nonviolence.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and is Founding Director of PeaceVoice

Being Where I Really Need to Be

By Joy First

Friday January 8 marked another day of flying to Washington, DC for a week of activism – again.  I was feeling sad leaving my family for a week and not looking forward to what I knew I was going to have to do in speaking out against the crimes of our government.

While in DC I stayed with my dear friend Malachy and his family and that is always a comfort to be in their home.  Each day was filled with activist work.  On Saturday we vigiled against drones at the CIA and I had the opportunity to share what we are doing at Volk Field in Wisconsin where we have been holding monthly vigils against drones for over four years, along with occasional nonviolent direct actions risking arrest.  On Sunday we met with a doctor who is the head of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the DC area.  He would like to engage more doctors from that organization in civil resistance.  He thinks it is a critical time for more people to take to the streets and work for peace and justice. 

On Monday we went to the White House where our friends from Witness Against Torture were holding their annual vigil marking 14 years since the first men were imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo.  It was a moving vigil as about 20 activists in orange jumpsuits and black hoods walked into the picture postcard area in front of the White House.  As the police began pushing the rest of us back to the sidewalk in Lafayette Park I resisted and held my ground as long as possible.  For over an hour, our voices were raised together as we sang:

We hear a beautiful sound

It is the breaking of chains

We see a path of hope

We have found the way

 

Let them go home

Let them go home

Let them go home

Let them go today

Eventually those who had been standing in the picture postcard area joined us and we gathered in a circle in the street again and ended the vigil.  A number of men have recently been released from Guantanamo after 14 years of false imprisonment and torture, but Obama could have released them when he became president seven years ago, cutting in half their time there. 

As we stayed busy for several days, Tuesday January 12 was weighing heavily on my mind and I was anxiously waiting for that day when the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance (NCNR) was planning a nonviolent direct action.  On January 12, the day Obama was going to give us his State of the Union address we were going to deliver a petition to the U.S. Capitol on the “Real State of the Union” outlining what was really going on, along with ideas for solutions.  We also had a list of war crimes that had been committed by our government that we wanted to share. 

I woke up early on Tuesday morning.  Malachy and I had a big breakfast knowing we may not eat again for a long time.  We took the Metro to town and as we walked by the Capitol we scoped it out, paying attention to where we might want to go to deliver the petition, and noticing the police – how many there were and where they were.  We met up with Max and Janice and the four of us looked at the situation to get a better sense of how the action could unfold.

We gathered together at 11:00 am at a church near the Capitol.  It always feels so good to great my old friends and comrades in the struggle.  I have been risking arrest with many of them for over ten years now.

I was helping David Barrows stretch out his banner “The Real State of the Union” on wooden poles when Malachy came over and told us that he just heard that Tim Chadwick had died.  Tim had been a regular at NCNR actions for many years, but I had not seen him for a couple of years.  I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear this news.  Tim was an amazing activist and never gave up on trying to change the world, and we all knew that we had to continue with our action for the day in his honor.

The group who was going to risk arrest met together in a corner of the church hall to do final planning for the action.  We decided we would attempt to deliver the petition to Joe Biden, president of the Senate, as well as vice-president of Obama’s administration.  After the planning meeting, we all gathered together for an open mic where we were inspired hearing about what others were doing and sharing stories of past actions.

At 1:30 pm we left the church and gathered on the street corner near the Supreme Court and across the street from the Capitol.  We were planning to set up on the sidewalk directly in front of the Supreme Court, but the police there would not allow us to set up the model drones and so we moved to the corner with our drones – another infringement on our First Amendment rights. 

We had a rally with a number of speakers talking about the issues of war, poverty, racism, and climate crisis that brought us together that day.  Though we sent out a press release, the only media attention we got was from the foreign press, with just one local independent media person.  It is a real failing on the part of our mainstream media that they do not provide coverage showing dissent, with people talking about these important issues. 

At about 2:30, after each person risking arrest was able to share why they were engaging in nonviolent civil resistance, we walked toward the Capitol with petition in hand.  There was a long roadway leading from the sidewalk to the Capitol and we thought we might be stopped, but we were able to get to the steps of the Capitol before an officer stopped us and told us we could not go any further. 

We told him we wanted to deliver a petition to Biden, as well as a list of war crimes, and he said we couldn’t, but that he would escort us to the grassy area where we could protest.  We told him that we were not there to protest, but rather we were citizens who were attempting to deliver a petition to our government for a redress of grievances, a First Amendment right.  By this time, some members of our group were on the steps holding a banner saying, “Stop the War Machine: Export Peace”.  The officer said they needed to come down off the steps, and at that point the rest of us walked up the steps and stopped short of a chain blocking us from going further with a sign that said there was no access to the public past that point.

Art Laffin, who was there with others in solidarity, led the group in singing “We shall not be moved” and as we sang an officer gave us three warnings that we needed to get off the steps.  As we held our ground they started handcuffing those on the steps and told the others that they had to leave if they didn’t want to be arrested.

It was probably less than 15 minutes between the time we arrived at the steps of the Capitol and the arrests began.  I expect they wanted to clean up quickly before people started arriving for the president’s version of the state of the union.

The 13 arrested included Eve Tetaz, Alice Sutter, Janice Sevre-Duszynska, Joy First, Trudy Silver, Linda LeTendre, Joan Nicholson, Carol Gay, Max Obuszewski, Malachy Kilbride, Martin Gugino, Phil Runkel, and Brian Terrell.  In addition, there were others who were important in making this action happen including our jail support David, Don, and Paki.

We were taken in vans to the Capitol police station where we were processed and released with a court date of February 3.  When we compared citations after the action some read we were charged with blocking, other citations noted the charge was incommoding and obstructing.

I will be surprised if the government goes through with prosecuting us.  It seems the government is dismissing a lot of cases against activists over the last few years.  In this case, we were exercising our First Amendment rights, simply and peacefully attempting to deliver a petition to our government.  We did block or obstruct anyone.  We were standing against a chain, we did not cross, that had a sign reading the public did not have access past that point.  What did we do wrong?  Why were we arrested? 

The charges may be dismissed, but it would be better if we went to trial and could bring these issues into the courtroom.  If we continue to be arrested and then the charges are dropped before trial, it appears that the government is using that as a way to block our access and not allowing our grievances to be heard.

As we have noted in many actions over the last several years, the government is becoming less and less accessible to the citizens.  If you are part of a wealthy corporation or have a lot of money, you will have the ear of those in power in DC.  But the rest of us do not have a way to access our government about our concerns.   We have written letters that have not been answered.  We follow up with visits to the White House, Congress, the Pentagon, the Department of Justice etc. and we are refused a meeting with anyone in a policy-making position.  My friend Linda said that as the crimes of the government become greater and greater, accessibility to the government becomes less and less.

I do not take action because I want to be arrested, though I know I put myself at risk for being arrested for the actions I take.  I am engaging in nonviolent civil resistance and I am acting in resistance to the crimes of the government.  I am not the one who is breaking the law, but we have many in our government, including Obama, who should be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

These actions are not something I relish doing, but I feel a deep spiritual calling to do this work for my grandchildren and all the children of the world.  I am not suffering by the minor inconvenience of being arrested, but there is much grave suffering by children, mothers, and fathers, sisters and brothers both here at home and around the world because of the illegal policies of our government.  And so, when I do an action like this I know I am exactly where I need to be and speaking out exactly as I need to be speaking.  There is no place else in the world I needed to be at that moment, but on the steps of the Capitol trying to deliver a petition of our grievances. 

There are so many grave ills facing the world - war, poverty, racism, climate crisis, and systemic violence to name a few.  Please consider taking to the streets.  We need more people in the streets engaging in nonviolent civil resistance.  That is the only way we will bring about real and lasting change.  We will not survive unless we do.  It is up to we, the people to demand change.

Video of the January 12 action

https://archive.org/details/RealStateOfTheUnionCD1122016540p

Found Guilty for Trying to Uphold the Law and Morality at Drone Base

By Bonnie Block

Joy First is the usual reporter on the trials of Wisconsin Coalition to Ground the Drones activists  but she is in Washington, D.C. for the NCNR action on “The Real State of the Union. So I’ll report on my bench trial on January 8th.    

My statement to the court is below.  After I read the first paragraph the District Attorney objected but Judge Curran did not honor his objection and let me read the statement without interruption which is progress because in the past we have often been interrupted when trying to make our case. 

STATEMENT TO THE JUNEAU COUNTY COURT on January 8, 2016

I sit in this courtroom once again charged with trespass and the claim that trespass is purely a matter of “whether or not one entered or remained on the land of another” and that any justification for doing so is merely political and thus not relevant in a court of law.  Yet the bedrock foundation of the rule of law is due process. Thus I need a chance to speak of why my action on August 25, 2015 should not be viewed as trespass. There was no intent to harm anyone or damage anything which is what trespass laws exist to prevent. Rather it was an act of nonviolent civil resistance calling on Volk Field personnel to abide by the rule of law. Why do I say that?

Because:

Drone warfare is Illegal.  From all the reading and legal research that I’ve done I’m convinced the training of and use by operators of the RQ-7 Shadow 200 UAV’s at Volk Field is part of an illegal program.  I refer the Court to the 14-page Motion to Dismiss I filed in on April 18, 2014 prior to my first trial on an almost identical set of facts.  Obviously, I won’t repeat all of that but four things do need to be said.

First, targeted assassinations are murder because bombs from the sky provide absolutely no due process and murder is illegal in all 50 states. 

Second, The US has ratified the UN Charter which requires member states to settle disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against any other state.  The US claim that the right of self-defense allows it to engage in pre-emptive attacks is not valid.

Third, the UN General Assembly and its Human Rights Council both have declared drone warfare to be a war crime. This should come under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court but the US has not ratified the ICC precisely because it fears US officials being might be found guilty of just such crimes.

Fourth, drone warfare violates the provisions of Universal Declaration of Human Rights which sets the basic standards by which human beings should be treated.  Multiple international human rights organizations charge the US with violations of international humanitarian law.

Drone warfare is also immoral.I need not go into the moral arguments against drone warfare because this past Monday one of my co-defendants, Fr. Jim Murphy, eloquently set them out in this very courtroom prior to being sentenced to five days in jail.  I agree and affirm every word of his statement most especially that “we cannot remain silent without becoming complicit.” There is no justification for even one person much less thousands of people being killed, wounded or terrorized by US drones.  Data for each country in which drone strikes occur can be found at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism. 

Drone warfare is ineffective.  The recent release of “The Drone Papers” is just the most recent report showing remote-controlled wars are counter-productive.  A summary of this report published on October 23, 2015 at www.commondreams.com  states:  “Even a drone operator who defended this type of warfare… admitted that things have gotten worse on the ground: “The military has quadrupled drone strikes over the past seven years; and now instead if hiding in Waziristan, al-Qaida is flourishing all over the world.”

Not only that, but what goes around comes around.  The New York Times and other media outlets are reporting that US drone operators have the same or even higher rates of PTSD than military personnel who have been in combat.  And, God bless them, many are leaving military service because they can no longer stand the stress of participating in remote control killing.

Rights and Duty. Every citizen has not only the constitutional right, but I think a duty, to engage in nonviolent resistance when our government is in violation of the law. Crossing the line is one way of exercising our constitutional rights to free speech and petitioning a branch of the government for a redress of grievances over what is being done in our name and with our taxes.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “Where, after all, do universal rights begin?  In small places, close to home. (...) Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere.”

That’s why I keep coming to Volk Field and ending up in this Courtroom.  Wisconsin is our home and dismissal of this trespass charge could set a new precedent right here in this small place. We could honor universal human rights here. 

The myth that the use of force such as drone warfare will make us safe and the influence of the war profiteers producing drones and other weapons of war are both very strong.  But we could all, in our own way, be one of those tiny grains of sand that slows down the gears of the machinery of death.   We could help stop the drones originating from Volk Field rather than acquiescing in ratchetting up the level of violence and injustice because we’re “just following orders” or “we can’t make policy.”

Thus I continue to engage in nonviolent civil resistance to call on my government (and its military) to abide by the rule of law and that I believe fails to meet the elements or intent of the law of trespass.  Instead I ask—as do the children of Afghanistan—that we “Fly Kites, Not Drones.” 

- Bonnie Block

I was wearing one of the “Fly Kites Not Drones” T-shirts the WI Coalition has had printed so everyone in the courtroom saw our heartfelt desire--especially the Sheriff and one of his Deputies who had to identify me -- thus insuring they also saw the words on the shirt.

BUT as has happened previously each time one of us has gone to trial, the Judge did find me guilty of trespass under a County ordinance.  I said that as a matter of conscience I couldn’t pay the fine and would do the jail time or better yet community service.  (At my trial in 2015, the Judge said the County couldn’t afford to hire a supervisor for court-ordered community service and thus sentenced me to five days in the Juneau County Jail.)

This time I made came more prepared.  A local pastor, Rev. Terry McGinley, appeared on my behalf to say would supervise my community service at one of three non-profits in Mauston (the county seat) that he had already contacted. He also said he would report back to the Court upon the completion of the number of hours the Judge ordered and do this without charge to Juneau County. The Judge replied that he wasn’t able to make a decision “after just hearing about it three minutes ago.”

Apparently Judge Curran didn’t remember that we have been asking for the community service outcome for two years.  Or perhaps he was miffed that I was forcing the issue.  Anyhow, he sentenced me to pay the $232 fine and if it wasn’t paid in time Juneau County would attach my income tax refund and thus get the money --- regardless of my conscientious objection to paying a fine for an action taken in opposition to what I believe is a war crime! 

I plan to file a Motion for Reconsideration after Rev. McGinley has met with Judge Curran to see if there is still a way to work out doing community service in lieu of paying a fine.  So many human service programs have been cut because our elected officials doubled military spending since 9/11. Thus it seems only right to support a Food Pantry, an Aging and Disability Resource Center or a Habitat Restore instead. (These were the three agencies that told Rev. McGinley they would welcome court-ordered community service.)

Stay tuned.  Six more trials are scheduled later in January and in February.   

 

Obama's Oily Christmas Gift: Faster Pipeline Approvals

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Just over a week before the U.S. signed the Paris climate agreement at the conclusion of the COP21 United Nations summit, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law with a provision that expedites permitting of oil and gas pipelines in the United States.

My 2016 New Years Day: The Good, the Sad and the Ugly

By John Grant

 

Philadelphia -- A number of things converged to make my New Years special this year. Three of them were good, one was not so good -- in fact, it had the sense of a nasty omen for the future.

Where will that money go?: The Zuckerberg Family Donation and a Legacy of Control

By Alfredo Lopez

 

When I was very young, my parents used to tell me why having "lots of toys" wasn't a good idea. "The more you have, the more you want," they would say. I didn't have many toys -- we were poor -- so the idea of possessions feeding greed didn't make much sense to me then.

Warmongers & Peacemongers: Learning How Not to Rule the World

By John Grant

 

[Al Qaeda’s] strategic objective has always been ... the overthrow of the House of Saud. In pursuing that regional goal, however, it has been drawn into a worldwide conflict with American power.

Talk Nation Radio: Maria Santelli on Conscience and War

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-maria-santelli-on-conscience-and-war 

Maria Santelli is Executive Director of the Center on Conscience & War, a 75-year old organization founded to provide technical and community support to conscientious objectors to war. Based in Washington, D.C., Santelli has been working for peace and justice since 1996. She discusses conscientious objection and this week's attack on a hospital in Afghanistan.

See http://centeronconscience.org

Read her articles at http://www.truth-out.org/author/itemlist/user/51409

Total run time: 29:00

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

Download from LetsTryDemocracy or Archive.

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

Gandhi Jayanti, Gandhi's Dream

 

On behalf of those of us who struggle to honor Gandhi's legacy to the world, I would like to wish Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi 'happy birthday!' Gandhi was born on 2 October 1869 and had he defied both the assassin's bullet and the aging process, he would have been 146 years old this year.

Accommodating abuse: Critics of BlackLivesMatter# Practice Defiant Denial

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Over 1,500 miles separate Harris County, Texas and Harrison Township, New Jersey yet public officials in those two jurisdictions seemingly share a disdain for persons who protest against police abuse.

 

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.

Speaking Events

2016

 

March 24, Boone, NC.

 

March 25, Asheville, NC
Battery Park Apartments, 1 Battle Square, rooftop room, noon - 2 p.m.
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War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Published April 5, 2016
Tour begins here:

April 11, Washington, DC, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets.
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April 12, Baltimore, MD, 7:30 p.m. at Red Emma's.
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April 14, Bellingham, WA, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship.
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April 15, Seattle, WA
Town Hall Seattle
1119 Eighth Ave (8th and Seneca) 
Seattle, WA 98101
7:30pm
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April 16 Portland, OR

 

April 24, Oneonta, NY at Unitarian Universalist Society of Oneonta.
5:30 discussion with students.
7:00 talk and Q&A with everyone.
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May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
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May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
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May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
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May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
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May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event

 


June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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Other Events Here.

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