Friday, November 30, 2007

Veterans against the War

Mary Scully, a local activist and member of the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, gave a great talk at a meeting last month where veterans of the Iraq war and military families spoke about why they want the end to war. I asked Mary for a copy of the speech because I thought it was awesome. Here are some excerpts:

Of the many important participants in the antiwar movement---students, churches, women, Civil Rights groups, unions---there is one constituency with a towering moral authority no one disputes, and that is the veterans and active duty Gis. Their opposition to war cuts, like nothing else can, through the patriotic jingoism, racism and lies that justify war. That’s why the proponents of war are so relentless in trying to create antipathy between veterans and the antiwar movement. Everyone’s heard the story about Vietnam vets being met at airports by taunting and spitting protestors? This ugliest of slanders is intended to alienate people from the antiwar movement, in particular to isolate and demoralize veterans with misgivings or opposition to the war. It gives them no place to go for support.

In the early antiwar movement there was some confusion and discussion about the value of reaching out to veterans and Gis—but no one ever saw them as the enemies of peace; some doubted they could overcome the military brainwashing or stand up to the harassment they would certainly receive. That confusion decisively ended when hundreds and eventually thousands of vets and Gis began organizing against the war and made their opposition public with newspapers, petitions, and demonstrations and they approached the antiwar movement for collaboration and support.

Without the support of a mass civilian antiwar movement they were subject to intimidation, court martial, prison time, and often charges of mutiny or desertion in time of war, which carry a maximum penalty of death. You may not know that all of this was true in the first Iraq war in the early 90s. Black and Latino soldiers played a major part in this resistance because they were so outraged at the racism of the war against the Arab peoples.

As a result of our collaboration defense campaigns were waged and demonstrations held to keep Gis from being prosecuted and jailed. We marched with veterans reaching out to soldiers and to support those victimized for exercising their legal right to oppose the war.

The respect we have for these brothers and sisters in the antiwar movement is signified by the fact that even today all marches are led off by contingents of veteran’s and Gis because they are a direct rebuke to the demagogues calling racist wars a fight for freedom and democracy. Thousands have been inspired and persuaded to oppose the war by their public speeches and protests

Many of the veterans who have been involved in this work for now more than 40 years are here tonight. They’re probably too modest to stand up and identify themselves but I think we should tip our hats to them and express our respect and gratitude for the remarkable contributions they have made to advancing civil liberties, the causes of peace and antiracism, and to making this a suitable world for human beings to live and love in.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Help select the word of the year

Go to the Merriam-Webster site to help select the "Word of the Year". Here's the gems you get to vote on:

vanity sizing

I went for blamestorm, since it's a word I might actually use some day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Book

I haven't blogged about this yet, but today seems like a good time. I took the day off from work to travel to the town where my mother lives. We participated in a book release party for the book that she researched and wrote and that I typeset and illustrated. The book is about our ancestors and the decisions they made as they moved from New England to the midwest in the 1800s. This book is based on letters and diaries that my mother discovered in the attic of the home where we both grew up. The letters describe the "frontier" experience for white settlers in the U.S.

My mother's academic specialty is the migration of people. What is it that motivates people to move from one part of the world to another? What decisions do they make in that process? Is the move gradual or sudden? What political, geographic and societal forces are most influential in those decisions?

What we discovered in this process is that, not surprisingly, the settlement of the "western" territories did not follow the plotlines we learned in school. Our ancestors bought midwestern land in the early 1800s but did not move there until years later. They hired other, less affluent, people to clear the land and establish the agriculture that became the basis of future wealth for our family. The family that cleared the land, built the barn, established the livestock and produced the crops was not our own. Once all the hard work was finished, my ancestors moved in and reaped the profits. The family that did the work is not longer mentioned. That's colonialism 101.

The release party was held at the retirement village in which my mother currently resides. 40 people attended, most of whom were residents of the building or friends of my mother.

This book is important because it dispels some myths and clarifies some truths. Colonialism is a messy, complicated affair. Families are affected in unpredictable ways by capitalism's need to expand and consolidate territory. The ground troops of colonialism are privileged in many ways, but they are subject also to unforgiving circumstances. Colonialism is bloody and messy and difficult. Even the so-called beneficiaries of capitalism often get a raw deal.

Carnival of Radical Action

Elle, Ph.D. and Vox ex Machina are hosting the next edition of the Carnival of Radical Action.

Here's the premise for #6:

Please get in your submissions for the Carnival of Radical Action.

...for the sixth edition of the Carnival of Radical Action, Vox and I want you to explore making radical history. How do we create and participate in radical history? And how do we chronicle it?

Some food for thought:
• How do radical activists incorporate history into their activism?
• What are the processes involved in forming radical, history-shaping movements in our day and age (i.e. how do we initiate, shape, translate into action our responses to injustice and violence against and within our communities)?
• How do we learn from the past and incorporate radical themes in our work?
Deadline for submissions is Thursday, November 29.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Moving ahead by light years

OK, I finally bought a new home computer. I've just gone from running a crippled old Imac running OS 8, to a fine and dandy new super powered Mac Pro. It's like going from riding a bicycled to warp drive. I am having me some real fun. And I can finally see other people's blogs in all their glory.

I r purring!

Friday, November 23, 2007

About that sound bite

In an opinion piece printed in yesterday's New York Times, this really jumped out at me:

That night, President Bush flew to the air base at Baghdad International Airport. We saw pictures of him later, serving Thanksgiving dinner to American soldiers, posing like a waiter with a great big Ali Sheesh on a tray. He never left the base. “You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq,” he told the troops, “so we don’t have to face them in our own country.” An Iraqi friend once told me it was that line about fighting in Iraq to make America safer that turned his adoration of Mr. Bush into hatred.

Well, duh!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Protesters arrested following parade

Boston Vets - Photo Hosted at Buzznet
Photo by Angela Rowlings

By Laurel J. Sweet | Monday, November 12, 2007 | | Local Coverage

Eighteen members of Veterans for Peace, an outspoken fraternity of former servicemen opposed to the Iraq War, were arrested by Boston police for disturbing the Veterans Day ceremony on City Hall plaza yesterday, after they lined up across the speakers’ platform with gagged mouths.

The group was made to bring up the rear of the annual parade - for which hundreds of patriots lined Boylston and Tremont streets - and were even placed behind the street sweepers.

“They do not want to adhere to our rules of conduct,” James Lawler, commander of the American Legion in Suffolk County, told the Herald, suggesting the protesters’ time would be better spent in Washington, D.C., fighting for benefits and better VA hospitals.

“This is not a political parade,” said Lawler, an Air Force veteran of the Korean War and former Boston police officer, “it’s to show our veterans respect. It kills me that we have service veterans coming back maimed, but all we can do is help them.”

Veterans for Peace member Winston Warfield, a veteran of the Vietnam War, acknowledged Lawler was right about his organization’s political motives, but said, “We’re all servicemen. Some of us have wounds to prove it.”

Both sides were met with applause, whether by tots in strollers waving flags, Marines calling out “Semper Fi!” or modern-day hippies chanting for peace.

Cynthia Johnson-Smith, on behalf of 9,000 members of the Massachusetts American Legion Auxiliary, said the turnout alone “means that we appreciate our freedom at the price these veterans have paid.”

Brookline native Sue Gracey, 73, who calls herself “a raging granny,” chose to march with the war protesters, but said she still supports the troops.

“Our country’s in trouble,” Gracey said. “I love the flag, but it needs to be shown with humility.”

Kristine Galeota knew her kids’ thoughts were on hot chocolate after the parade, but before they left the ceremony there was so much more she wanted them to drink in.

“With children, you never really celebrate the holiday the way that it’s supposed to be,” Galeota of Townsend said, her daughter, 8, and son, 10, at her side, their cheeks stung pink by the cold.

“Whether you agree with the war or not, you should still support the veterans,” she said. “There are opposing sides. You need to deal with it. It’s the United States of America.”

Article URL:

Check out the Veterans for Peace Take Action page for ideas about how to help

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Radio Flyer

A flyer to promote the radio programs of two local activists.

KFAI FLYER - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Holiday Vigil

Made another flyer. This one is for a holiday vigil against the war.

Holiday Vigil flyer against the war in Iraq - Photo Hosted at Buzznet

Friday, November 02, 2007

The History of LOLCats

by Historian Ben Burns - Watch more free videos