Thursday, November 10, 2005

Indymedia focus on war and peace

Dwight Scarbrough, with his familiar sticker-covered truck, has quickly become perhaps Boise's most visible anti-war figure. An entomologist with the Forest Service by day, he spends what seems to be the rest of his time "waging peace" wherever and whenever anyone will listen to his stridently anti-war message.
Scarbrough has only been in Boise since 2003--arriving in town for a new job--but he's carved out a niche in that short time. Having been a member of Veterans for Peace (VFP) chapters in other areas of the country, when Scarbrough saw that Boise didn't have a chapter, he started one up. VFP Chapter 117 has been a recognized chapter since October of 2004 and not surprisingly, Scarbrough is its president.
Veterans for Peace is a national organization of combat and peacetime veterans, founded in 1985 and based in St. Louis, drawing on members' "personal experiences and perspectives gained as veterans to raise public awareness of the true costs and consequences of militarism and war and to seek peaceful, effective alternatives." VFP membership has grown nationwide in recent years and the groups numerous issues of involvement include putting an end to the war in Iraq, working for veterans' rights, ensuring civil liberties, countering military recruitment in schools, advocating for victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam, promoting reconciliation and friendship between the United States and both Vietnam and Korea, ending U.S. military shelling on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, sending delegations to Columbia to investigate human rights abuses and observing elections in Central American countries like Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Bush-antagonist and war mother Cindy Sheehan launched her effort at the 2005 VFP national conference and 50 members subsequently accompanied her to camp out in Crawford, Texas. In addition, VFP is an official Non-Governmental Organization represented at the United Nations.
The local chapter of VFP currently has about 20 official members and some 130 people on their mailing list. VFP Chapter 117's main focus, according to Scarbrough, is to educate the public about the cost of war, not just in "real terms"--monetary, as well as the wounded and dead--but in those costs people perhaps don't consider: returning vets, who are both physically and mentally damaged, and their coping families, friends and communities. "That's part of the hidden costs of war," says Scarbrough. "George W. won't help you with that--they don't give a hoot about that stuff. And that's true of most government."

The above is from Sara Beitia's "Waging Peace: Local vets want to 'stop the war machine'" (Boise Weekly). It's Thursday and we're doing indymedia roundup. These are items that members send in. (And I whittle down, as requested in the poll done by Gina and Krista for the gina & krista round-robin.) Kevin noted Beitia's article and he also notes Nicholas Collias' "Pre-Emptive Peace: Making the case for conscientious objection with no draft in sight" (Boise Weekly):

The draft? You can't be serious.
After all, didn't Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld say last year that "There isn't a chance in the world that the draft will be brought back?" Didn't President Bush agree during last year's second presidential debate, saying, "We're not going to have a draft so long as I'm president"? In recent years, mandatory military service has been eliminated in Spain and France, shot down again last year the U.S. Congress, and as recently as last week, proposed and shouted down in Canada. With polls showing Americans to be over 70 percent against the draft, bringing it back would seem to be political suicide.
Conscription's just a relic--an anachronism ... right? Husband and wife Jeff Harry and Bette Carlson aren't counting on it.
"I have no trust it wouldn't happen," says Harry. A school social worker for the last 25 years, Harry has been "disturbed" by the prevalence of military recruiters in schools, and the way they romanticize military service--especially in recent years. "The Iraq war has really brought it front and center," he explains.
Carlson agrees, but says war has been a concern for far longer than the current conflict. "When Jeff and I decided to have children, it was really important to make sure they at least had the opportunity to decide what they thought about war," she says.
Luckily for them, their eldest son, Capitol High senior Emil Harry, agrees with their views. He describes himself as a pacifist, saying, "Wars just serve to make the rich richer." After graduating, he's even looking into peace studies programs, along with political science and sociology. But just to make sure that his life matches his ideals, Emil and his parents have created a "conscientious objector portfolio."
As the draft has faded from public focus, so have the specifics of what, exactly, a conscientious objector is--and how difficult it can be to become one. Here's a recap: A soldier or draftee can apply for CO status if he has a moral, ethical or religious objection to either war or killing. This objection doesn't have to be religious, but it isn't supposed to be a whim of self-preservation, nor a political judgment. Most importantly, according the Selective Service System, "The man's lifestyle prior to making his claim must reflect his current claims." In lieu of combat, COs usually perform some sort of alternative service, often in military support, conservation or social service programs.
With the burden of proof squarely on the applicant, not surprisingly, CO applications aren't always approved by the overseeing draft board. Even approvals often take months or even years to come through. And while both Emil Harry and his parents are involved with a local Quaker church, Boise Valley Friends, they aren't relying on the 350-year history of Quaker peace activism in the United States to make Emil's case for him. So, inside Emil's portfolio, they put documentation of his participation in peace demonstrations; a letter to his principal saying he'd like to opt-out of recruitment activities; proof of his membership in groups like the Idaho Peace Coalition and a letter of support from Lou Landry, a family friend, fellow Quaker and former aspiring CO.
Landry applied for objector status in 1964, soon after his "conscience was awakened" in college. His budding scruples weren't proof enough for the draft board, however. Landry's application was denied, forcing him into either going to war or engaging in civil disobedience. He chose the latter, and was given three years of probation, which he spent working with the handicapped in New Mexico. Four decades later, he still works with disabled adults, and he looks back on his rebellion as "an eye-opening experience into what it was to take a stand." As such, he sees value in a draft as a way to force people to clarify their perspective on war.
"The military prey on the young, and offer bonuses for college, as a way to have the poor pay with their lives," he says. "I think that's immoral, and I think we should all take a stand. This should be a great occasion for young people to reflect deeply."

Lori e-mails to note awilliams' "Local Peace Activst Challenges Bush" (Richmond IMC):

Tidewater peace activist, Tom Palumbo, of Virginia Beach was given an admittance ticket to President Bush's recent speaking event at Chrysler Hall. Attired in khakis and a crispy Docker's sky blue button-down shirt with a jacket and his usual wire rims, he appeared appropriately collegiate. The pre-event anticipation on the balcony level was a surreal "fly on the wall" experience as he overheard a cozy fundamentalist group of CBN visitors who were so excited they "couldn't sleep or eat!!!" the night before. As a Veteran for Peace, Tom enthusiastically applauded as Bush spoke about the sacrifices made on behalf of the military. He stated he would have "given a standing ovation had Bush said he was bringing the troops home or funding more education".
Instead, Bush launched into the "war on terrorism" and after the second reference, Tom stood up and stated, "Mr. President, war IS terrorism! Torture IS terrorism! Do the right thing and RESIGN NOW!" as he opened his button-down shirt to reveal a"DUMP BUSH” tee shirt with "FIRE THE LIAR!" on the back. Tom was silenced through forcible removal by at least 3 members of the security personnel unit.
Later in the evening, a lovely child by the name of Bria, approached Tom and asked him, "Why did they take you out?" to which Tom replied, "because sometimes one person has to decide to speak out when other people can't…sort of like what Rosa Parks did…does that make sense?” Bria's animated response? A light went off---"ohhhhh, YES!"

Thinking of last week's World Can't Wait rallies, Shirley e-mailed to highlight Eve Ensler's "Fire His Ass" (The World Can't Wait):

Since GEORGE BUSH really got in power by corporate take over and not election. Since he has behaved like a CEO of a huge corporation called U.S.A. supporting profit in all cases over human interests, we should treat him the way they would treat him in any corporation and


When you start with a major surplus and end up with a huge huge deficit they


When you fail to move a company forward, they


When you are lazy and take vacations at a time of peril, they


When you don't prepare for terrible outcomes and then lose thousands of lives and insane amounts of money they


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