Blogs

Feb
17

Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters

Tag: Peace and War, Race Relations

Those of us who consider it disgraceful to have a giant statue of Robert E. Lee on his horse in a park in the middle of Charlottesville, and another of Stonewall Jackson for that matter, should try to understand those who think removing one of these statues is an outrage.

I don't claim to understand them, and certainly don't suggest they all think alike. But there are certain recurring themes if you listen to or read the words of those who think Lee should stay. They're worth listening to. They're human. They mean well. They're not crazy.

First, let's set aside the arguments we're not trying to understand.

Some of the arguments being passed around are not central to this attempt at understanding the other side. For example, the argument that moving the statue costs money, is not what I'm interested in here. I don't think cost concerns are driving most of the support for the statue. If we all agreed that removing the statue was important, we would find the money. Simply donating the statue to a museum or to some city where Lee actually lived would quite possibly produce a new owner willing to pay for the transport. Heck, donate it to the Trump Winery and they'd probably pick it up by next Thursday.[1]

True, if the statue is simply moved to a different Charlottesville park, Charlottesville will have to pay, and that money could have gone to creating a new park with monuments to peace and civil rights, etc. Perhaps there are  people for whom this really is the central argument. Perhaps they are also consistent in their frugality and put up the same struggle against billion dollar highways and trillion dollar militaries. Perhaps the announcements of how much good could be done for the poor with the money that could be spent to move a statue are being made by some people with a history of caring about the poor. We'll save trying to understand them for another time.

Also tangential here is the argument that removing a statue erases history. Surely few of these history fanatics protested when the U.S. military tore down the statue of Saddam Hussein. Wasn't he part of Iraqi history? Hadn't the CIA meant well and gone to great efforts in helping to put him in power? Hadn't a company in Virginia provided him with important materials for making chemical weapons? Good or bad, history shouldn't be torn down and erased!

Actually, nobody's saying that. Nobody's valuing any and all history. Few are admitting that ugly parts of history are history at all. People are valuing a particular bit of history. The question is: why? Surely history supporters don't believe that the 99.9% of Charlottesville history not represented in monumental statuary has been erased. Why must this bit of history be monumental?

There may be those whose historical concern is simply for the past 90 years or so of the statue being there in the park. Its existence there is the history they are concerned about, perhaps. Perhaps they don't want it changed simply because that's the way it's been. I have some sympathy for that perspective, but it has to be applied selectively. Should we keep a half-built frame of a hotel on the downtown mall because my kids have never known anything else? Was history destroyed by creating the downtown mall in the first place? What I'm interested in trying to understand is not why people want nothing to change. Nobody wants nothing to change. Rather, I want to understand why they don't want this particular thing to change.

Feb
16

Can the Climate Survive Adherence to War and Partisanship?

Tag: Environment

For the past decade, the standard procedure for big coalition rallies and marches in Washington D.C. has been to gather together organizations representing labor, the environment, women's rights, anti-racism, anti-bigotry of all sorts, and a wide array of liberal causes, including demands to fund this, that, and the other, and to halt the concentration of wealth.

At that point, some of us in the peace movement will generally begin lobbying the PEP (progressive except for peace) organizers to notice that the military is swallowing up enough money every month to fund all their wishes 100 times over for a year, that the biggest destroyer of the natural environment is the military, that war fuels and is fueled by racism while stripping our rights and militarizing our police and creating refugees.

When we give up on trying to explain the relevance of our society's biggest project to the work of reforming our society, we generally point out that peace is popular, that it adds a mere 5 characters to a thousand-word laundry list of causes, and that we can mobilize peace groups to take part if peace is included.

Feb
15

Which Washington Crimes Matter Most?

Tag: Elections, Peace and War, Political Ideas

Michael Flynn participated in mass murder and destruction in Afghanistan and Iraq, advocated for torture, and manufactured false cases for war against Iran. He and anyone who appointed him to office and kept him there should be removed from and disqualified for public service. (Though I still appreciate his blurting out the obvious regarding the counterproductive results of drone murders.)

Many would say that prosecuting Al Capone for tax fraud was a good move if he couldn't be prosecuted for murder. But what if Al Capone had been funding an orphanage on the side, and the state had prosecuted him for that? Or what if the state hadn't prosecuted him, but a rival gang had taken him out? Are all take-downs of major criminals good ones? Do they all deter the right activities by up-and-coming criminals?

Michael Flynn was not removed by public demand, by representative action in Congress, by public impeachment proceedings, or by criminal prosecution (though that may follow). He was removed by an unaccountable gang of spies and killers, and for the offense of seeking friendlier relations with the world's other major nuclear-armed government.

Feb
14

Love Beyond Flags: Nothing More Beautiful

Tag: Civil Rights, Peace and War

When Iran's democracy was overthrown by the CIA in 1953, many Iranians had what they still have: affection for the people of the United States, as distinct from the U.S. government.

If -- even with Michael Flynn out -- the U.S. government/military manages to stir up a war on Iran, and the Iranian government responds with less than perfect nonviolent wisdom, it will be the job of U.S. citizens to distinguish the wonderful Iranian people from their government.

This ought to help matters. Iranians, in response to Trump's travel ban, are abandoning the tradition of burning U.S. flags, choosing instead to thank all the U.S. people who have been protesting the Muslim Ban. This gratitude for protests is a good illustration of the importance of protesting injustice by the U.S. government, even when the protests don't immediately reverse the policies. It's important for the other 96% of humanity to know we disapprove.

The thank yous have become expressions of love in both directions, with the hashtag #LoveBeyondFlags.

Is this beautiful or what?

Feb
14

Talk Nation Radio: Is Amnesty International Promoting War in Syria?

Tag: Media, Peace and War, Talk Nation Radio

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-is-amnesty-international-promoting-war-in-syria

Rick Sterling is an independent investigative journalist who just wrote the article "Amnesty International Stokes Syrian War" for ConsortiumNews.com.

Find Sterling's article here:https://consortiumnews.com/2017/02/11/amnesty-international-stokes-syrian-war

Find the Amnesty International report here: http://www.amnestyusa.org/sites/default/files/human_slaughterhouse.pdf

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 athttp://TalkNationRadio.org

and athttps://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Feb
14

Racist Warmonger Plans Return to Charlottesville

Tag: Peace and War, Political Ideas, Race Relations

We chased this guy away once. And Robert E. Lee too.

He's coming back to Charlottesville to insist that we glorify racism and war.

Let's tell him we prefer love and peace.

February 21, 5:30 p.m., City Hall.

Sign up here and share widelyhttps://www.facebook.com/events/1903821353181998

Feb
12

Why won’t march to unite all movements include peace?

Tag: Peace and War
Will you stand for peace? Petition to the organizers of the April 29 People’s Climate March

Your website at PeoplesClimate.org proposes a march on Washington on April 29, 2017, to “unite all our movements” for “communities,” “climate,” “safety,” “health,” “the rights of people of color, workers, indigenous people, immigrants, women, LGBTQIA, young people, and more,” “jobs and livelihoods,” “civil rights and liberties,” “everything and everyone we love,” “families,” “air,” “water,” “land,” “clean energy jobs and climate justice,” to “reduce greenhouse gas and toxic pollution,” for “a transition to an equitable and sustainable New Energy and Economic Future,” “that every job pays a wage of at least $15 an hour, protects workers, and provides a good standard of living, pathways out of poverty, and a right to organize,” “massive investments in infrastructure systems from water, transportation, and solid waste to the electrical grid and safe, green building and increasing energy efficiency that will also create millions of jobs in the public and private sector,” . . . but not peace.

We wish to make you aware that approximately half of federal discretionary spending is going into wars and war preparation, and that this institution constitutes our single biggest destroyer of the environment. More on that here.

Will you please add “peace” to the list of things you are marching for?

If you will, it will become a list of things that WE are marching for, as we will join you.

Add your name to the above petition here.

Feb
11

Chasing a Northern Confederate Out of the South

Tag: Civil Rights, Culture and Society, Media, Peace and War

The Washington Post proclaims: "Protesters mob provocative Va. governor candidate as he defends Confederate statue." Six seconds of video of the incident involved is likely to show up eventually here or here.

I was there on Saturday shouting down the "provocative" celebrator of racism and war, together with my kids and some friends. The only hostility I saw came from supporters of keeping the giant statue of Robert E. Lee in the park here in Charlottesville.

Feb
09

Good Riddance to Robert E. Lee

Tag: Civil Rights, Peace and War

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the city of Charlottesville, Va., city council has voted to remove an imposing statue of Robert E. Lee (and the horse he never rode in on) from Lee Park, and to rename and redesign the park.

The statue of this non-Charlottesvillian had been put up in a whites-only park during the 1920s at the whim of an extremely wealthy and racist individual. So, for a representative government to vote, following a very public deliberative process with voluminous and diverse input from city residents is -- if nothing else -- a step toward democracy.

I think it's much more as well. There are two issues at stake here, neither of them dead issues from the past. One is race. The other is war.

World Beyond War

RootsAction.org

War Is A Crime

Talk Nation Radio

There Is No Way To Peace

Peace is the way.

This site is maintained by a union shop at MayFirst.org