Friday, December 30, 2005

Indymedia roundup focus on the war

We’ve all heard the saying that those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. The Pentagon, the NSA and the FBI have recently been busted for spying on such pacifists groups as the Quakers, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Catholic Workers, Indianapolis Vegans, Greenpeace and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). Have the authorities learned nothing from their past mistakes? What a colossal waste of taxpayer money! Come on, what do they have to fear from Quakers?
From colonial times to the present, the US government has singled out pacifists as threats ... but why? I've asked my moderate friends why they think this has been so. They have not been able to come up with anything resembling a logical explanation, so I'll offer my own observations.

What two things do all these groups have in common? First off, they are all pacifist oriented. Second, to date, none of these groups have ever been accused of killing people or violating human rights (two claims the aforementioned authorities cannot make). Sure, some of the members of these groups have committed illegal acts. Oftentimes, these are pre-planned actions of non-violent, civil disobedience. Just this past November, forty or so anti-war pacifists crossed the gates into Fort Benning, to protest the infamous School of the Americas. Does that make them terrorists? That certainly does not fit my definition of terrorism. These activists are trying to stop killing in all forms.
Henry David Thoreau, Martin Luther King Junior and Rosa Parks (all pacifists or “near pacifists”) used the tool of non-violent, civil disobedience. These legendary figures have since been honored with accolades and honors by the same US Government that once imprisoned them. George W. Bush hailed Rosa Parks as a hero when she recently passed away. Did he see the hypocrisy of his praise? The non-violent acts of Thoreau, King and Parks were misunderstood in their own time. The non-violent acts of protest conducted by the groups who are currently on the watch list are misunderstood too.
Wouldn’t the government’s time be better spent monitoring groups who intend to kill people, especially Americans? To my knowledge, the groups the authorities are spying on advocate only advocate a change of policy. The President’s stated goal is to kill terrorists and/or break up their clandestine networks. Why then is it necessary to spend time monitoring American pacifists, instead of spending it watching jihadists?
Pacifists have been misunderstood by American authorities since colonial times. (Until very recently, I too misunderstood pacifism.) Quakers and Anabaptists of all stripes (Mennonites, Amish, Hutterites, and Brethern), because of their demonstrated faith, were exempted from military service, from the American Revolution forward. We know from James Madison’s notes that the Founding Fathers were sensitive to the issue of standing armies and conscientious objection (for religious reasons) during the Constitutional Convention. Since then, with the many wars the US has fought, the scope of conscientious objection has gradually been expanded to include non-believers.

The above, sent in by Molly, is from Joey King's "Why Do They Always Pick on Pacifists?" (Tennessee Indymedia). It was Thursday when I started on this (it's now after midnight). Thursdays we do indymedia roundup. Members who have been waiting, my apologies. Gina's plan was to pull together the various things she and Krista had ready for the round-robin and pull an all nighter because with Christmas shopping, she felt she'd let Krista take too much of the burden for the last two weeks. (Gina works in retails and has had long nights the last two weeks.) She called when I was pulling together this and the other entry from e-mails with a problem, her laptop shutdown and she lost everything she had saved as documents. She and Krista had done a roundtable Tuesday for this round-robin and I'd been the one in charge of taking the notes which I still had in rough form, so that's been recreated.
Member's contributions via e-mail, she still is able to run. But a number of additional pieces are lost. I gave her every bit of scrap odds & ends I had (including a thing I worked on last December but never felt was ready about Richie Pearl in high school and college -- yes, the dark prince, so look for that and think to yourself, "He was so 90210!" Truly. And that's not intended as a compliment.) Krista had shared their editorial with me already in an e-mail so Gina's got a copy of that now as well. But if something was planned and mentioned last round-robin that's not in this one, it will go in next week. She just didn't want to call Krista and wake her since she felt the burden fell mainly on Krista for the last two weeks. She's got an edition pulled together now on her pc and I think everyone will enjoy it. She also got ahold of Kat and Kat volunteered what was going to be her Friday post so there will be that as well. It should be a strong edition but there are at least three things mentioned last round-robin as "upcoming" for this edition that are lost on her now fried laptop, so expect those next Friday and not this one.

So that's the explanation for the delay in the indymedia posts as well as a heads up to the latest gina & krista round-robin. In this entry, we're focusing on the war. We've noted Joey King's article on pacifists and we'll also be noting recuriters, torture and the Christian Peacemakers Teams.

In recruiting news, Portland e-mails to note this from the news briefs at the Eugene Weekly News:

Military recruiters are preparing for their spring recruiting season with a $4 billion budget, and are expected to hit hard on local high school students."High school seniors, get ready," says Phil Weaver of Eugene PeaceWorks. "No plans after graduation? Worried about student aid for college? Needing to learn job skills? Wanting to travel? These are the hooks that will be used to entice you into serving in the military."Weaver says there are non-military options for all these concerns. "Before you enlist, get all the facts," he says.
PeaceWorks and Community Alliance of Lane County (CALC) are looking for veterans for "counter-counseling" through the Committee for Countering Military Recruitment. The committee will help young people who are considering military enlistment by examining enlistment contracts, promised positions and benefits, and the realities of combat and military life.
A training for counter-counselors is coming up Sunday, Jan. 8. For information, call 343-8548 ext. 1 or 485-1755 or visit

Whether or not the recruiters are able to sign up more people to send to Iraq, and the latest wave of Operation Happy Talk not withstanding, things aren't improving in Iraq. Ken notes Brian Conley's "Elections, Investigations, and Iraq’s Consitution Fail to Stop Torture" (Alive in Baghdad):

Despite these articles in the consitution, torture continues in Iraq. It also continues after an election with 69% turnout, which many Iraqis believed would cause these kinds of actions to end, and the Bush administration has predicted will help complete Iraq’s transition to democracy.
Just 4 days before Iraq's historic election and the next step in its transition to democracy, four more Sunnis were abducted by Iraqi police from the Abu Dasher district in Baghdad.
According to a source close to the situation, these men were found dead one day later in the condition seen here in photos from the source.
[Editor's note: Most of these photos are gruesome and quite disturbing, if you choose to view them, please consider yourself forewarned.]
Photos of Victims
Photos of previous victims:
Set 1Set 2
Due to the ongoing problems of torture in Iraq, the United States, despite its expressed desire to establish a democracy in Iraq, is currently in violation of Iraq’s new consitution.

Bonnie noted something that was in the public domain and, due to the topic, we're going to reprint in full. There's still no word on the fate of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and the mainstream media appears to be uninterested. Tom Fox is one of the four who was kidnapper and here's something that he wrote, "Why are We Here?" (DC Indymedia):

The following reflection was written by Tom Fox the day before he was abducted.
November 25th, 2005 -- The Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) Iraq team went through a discernment process, seeking to identify aspects of our work here in Iraq that are compelling enough to continue the project and comparing them with the costs (financial, psychological, physical) that are also aspects of the project. It was a healthy exercise, but it led me to a somewhat larger question: Why are we here?
If I understand the message of God, his response to that question is that we are to take part in the creation of the Peaceable Realm of God. Again, if I understand the message of God, how we take part in the creation of this realm is to love God with all our heart, our mind and our strength and to love our neighbors and enemies as we love God and ourselves. In its essential form, different aspects of love bring about the creation of the realm.I have read that the word in the Greek Bible that is translated as "love" in the word "agape". Again, I have read that this word is best expressed as a profound respect for all human beings simply for the fact that they are all God's children. I would state that idea in a somewhat different way, as "never thinking or doing anything that would dehumanize one of my fellow human beings."
As I survey the landscape here in Iraq, dehumanization seems to be the operative means of relating to each other. U.S. forces in their quest to hunt down and kill "terrorists" are as a result of this dehumanizing word, not only killing "terrorist", but also killing innocent Iraqis: men, women and children in the various towns and villages.
It seems as if the first step down the road to violence is taken when I dehumanize a person. That violence might stay within my thoughts or find its way into the outer world and become expressed verbally, psychologically, structurally or physically. As soon as I rob a fellow human being of his or her humanity by sticking a dehumanizing label on them, I begin the process that can have, as an end result, torture, injury and death."Why are we here?" We are here to root out all aspects of dehumanization that exists within us. We are here to stand with those being dehumanized by oppressors and stand firm against that dehumanization. We are here to stop people, including ourselves, from dehumanizing any of God's children, no matter how much they dehumanize their own souls.
Four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams were abducted this past Saturday, November 26 in Baghdad, Iraq. Join Arundhati Roy, Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Cindy Sheehan, Denis Halliday, Rashid Khalidi, and Many Others in Calling for the Urgent Release of Peace Activists Held in Iraq...
Tom Fox, age 54, is from Clearbrook, Virginia and is a dedicated father of two children. For the past two years, Mr. Fox has worked with CPT in partnership with Iraqi human rights organizations to promote peace. Mr. Fox has been faithful in the observance of Quaker practice for 22 years. While in Iraq, he sought a more complete understanding of Islamic cultural richness. He is committed to telling the truth to U.S. citizens about the horrors of war and its effects on ordinary Iraqi civilians and families as a result of U.S. policies and practices. Mr. Fox is an accomplished musician. He plays the bass clarinet and the recorder and he loves to cook. He has also worked as a professional grocer. Mr. Fox devotes much of his time to working with children. He has served as an adult leader of youth programs and worked at a Quaker camp for youth. He has facilitated young people's participation in opposing war and violence. Mr. Fox is a quiet and peaceful man, respectful of everyone, who believes that "there is that of God in every person" which is why work for peace is so important to him.
Christian Peacemaker Teams has been present in Iraq since October 2002, providing first-hand, independent reports from the region, working with detainees of both United States and Iraqi forces, and training others in non-violent intervention and human rights documentation. Christian Peacemaker Teams is a violence reduction program. Teams of trained peacemakers work in areas of lethal conflict around the world.

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