War & Peace: A Prelude

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

cross-posted from ProgressiveBlue.com

(and no, not about the book though I am thinking of rereading it.)

eve wall (2)Beginning in September, look for the launch of a new weekly column at Progressive Blue called “War & Peace.”

When I first thought about coming back with a regular column, I realized there are so many issues I care about, want to write about, that it was hard to narrow it down.  While my personal passions are human rights and civil rights, international development and education, these aren’t always what get me revved up.  So how to pull together all the many different topics I want to write about into a focused, coherent vein?  War and Peace.

Some things fit neatly into the War theme: they are destructive, negative, usually deliberate and always get my blood boiling.  Others fit into the Peace theme: positive, compassionate, progressive, and always get me to smile even in difficult subjects.

I’m still figuring out exactly which day of the week I’ll publish “War & Peace”, probably Tuesdays — do feel free to chime in.  And let me know what areas you’re interested in exploring: I have a list but it’s definitely not exhaustive so pile on.

Our society values war more, speaks in war analogies more, spends WAY more on war than peace, and writes history from the perspective of wars.  We have the war on drugs, the Iraq war (well, some call it that–I see it as just Bush’s war game of convenience and revenge), the war on young black men, the war on women, the war on labor, …  Maybe everyone doesn’t call each of these “the war on…” but I do.  The language, the techniques, the results are all the same and all as destructive to me.

Army War College at Fort McNairWe have a National War College, but no national school teaching peace or conflict resolution.  We teach our children to “fight fair” but do we also teach them that they might not have to “fight” at all?  (Ah, this is on the list by they way; peer conflict resolution in schools.)

Some say conflict is natural; actually I say conflict is natural.  It is hard sometimes to find that other element within ourselves that may naturally strive for peace.  So, that’s what I’d like to do.  I expect I’ll succeed sometimes and fail others to find an alternative path through the many many violences endemic in human society.  Far greater minds than I have tried.  Still I hope you will join me to explore the possibilities, at times just to examine the realities that are unnamed wars.  For in naming them for what they are, perhaps we can begin to unravel the natural tendency toward war and find that other natural yearning for peace.

Here’s a peek at our new column.  I’ll start with a really easy one. D


Hate Speech – the war on words

There are so many different examples of hate speech in our country these days, that we are at risk of becoming inured to its dangers.  Sometimes hate speech is clear, easy to recognize: “You fucking n—-r”.  Not very ambiguous.  We don’t need to see who said it or who it was said to.  This is hateful under any circumstances.  But what of something that seems so ludicrous that most of us react by laughing:  “Obama is a racist.”  Most of us would hear that statement, and shake our head at the most.

Just because the words are ridiculous doesn’t make them any less hateful.In this case, they were used to express hate, to raise the national hate-level, to dig into the fears of people watching their majority status naturally decline.  At least that’s what I heard when Glenn Beck said:

“This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people … this guy is, I believe, a racist.”

Ludicrous? yes.  Ridiculous? yes.  Hateful? Yes!

Beck’s statement made people angry — from the left and the right.  Saying that on national television seemed to give license and expression to the fears, the anxieties, and quite frankly, the right-wing-nuttery of a lot of people.  On the left, the usual expressions of disgust, rage that this kind of vicious speech continues to spew from our public airwaves.  And then Color of Change decided to do something constructive, to take a path of peace rather than matching the anger with anger.

First, who is Color of Change?  This is an organization for this time in our country’s history.  In their own words,

ColorOfChange.org exists to strengthen Black America’s political voice. Our goal is to empower our members-Black Americans and our allies-to make government more responsive to the concerns of Black Americans and to bring about positive political and social change for everyone.

We were heart-broken and outraged by the catastrophe that followed Hurricane Katrina. And we were devastated to realize that no African-American organization or coalition had the capacity to respond on the necessary scale.

Hurricane Katrina made it clear that our lack of a political voice has life-and-death consequences.  With no one to speak for them, hundreds of thousands of people-largely Black, poor, and elderly-were left behind to die.  But it wasn’t just Black folks.  Poor, sick, and elderly people of every color were abandoned too.  We are not alone, and when we work to protect Black lives and interests, we do the same for all who have been left behind in political silence.

ColorOfChange.org is comprised of Black folks from every economic class, as well as those of every color who seek to help our voices be heard.  Our members are united behind a simple, powerful pledge: we will do all we can to make sure all Americans are represented, served, and protected-regardless of race or class.

The original founders are James Rucker, formerly of MoveOn.org, and Van Jones.  Gabriel Rey-Goodlatte joined them shortly after.  They’ve added other staff, but this is a very lean group making a very big difference and using today’s technologies to do it.  From protecting the social safety net in 2005 to  extending unemployment benefits for Gulf Coast workers in 2006 to joining in the campaign to make Bush II keep his promises regarding Darfur in 2007, Color of Change has demonstrated time and time again that when people of all colors join together, “when we come together and speak with one voice, we cannot be ignored.”

And with the current effort to demonstrate that Glen Beck’s hateful words should AND DO have consequences, Color of Change has proven their worth many times over.  CoC used on-line petitions to gather thousands of signatures to deliver to the companies advertising on Fox during Beck’s show, to demonstrate the power of numbers and the depth of sentiment.  In about a month, the results are clear:  continue to advertise (support) Glen Beck and we will turn away from your products, your services, and the world will know why.  Few corporations want their products affected by such sentiments (though some have needed more encouragement to do the right thing than others).

So, with the help of a cadre of members and supporters from across the country working the phones (yay! our own poligirl), email blasts to members and supporters, help from other groups, the trickle of advertisers leaving Beck’s show has built to a veritable flood.  The tally Monday evening stands at 36.  The list is amazing:

The new companies distancing themselves from Beck include Airware Inc. (makers of Brez anti-snoring aids), Ancestry.com, AT&T, Blaine Labs Inc., Campbell Soup Company, Clorox, Ditech, The Elations Company, Experian (creator of FreeCreditReport.com), Farmers Insurance Group, Johnson & Johnson (makers of Tylenol), Lowe’s, NutriSystem, Sprint, The UPS Store and Verizon Wireless.

And those are just the most recent.  Still to go, Red Lobster and Vonage. (hint hint)

You can read more about the Color of Change successful and peaceful campaign to end advertising support of Beck’s hateful words at James Rucker’s post at Jack & Jill Politics.

Great news – yet another major company has acted in response to our campaign calling on Glenn Beck’s advertisers to stop supporting his show. GEICO told us that they will no longer run ads during Beck’s show.

This comes on the heels of news last week that four other advertisers – Lawyers.com, Progressive Insurance, Procter & Gamble, and SC Johnson – also distanced themselves from Beck. None of this would have been possible without the thousands of people – more than 75,000, now – who have taken action and signed our petition to Glenn Beck’s advertisers. …


I truly believe that in a world filled with war and hate, there are opportunities to counter those negatives with peaceful and considered action.  And I also believe what Margaret Mead said,

A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

We can choose to focus on the War or we can choose to follow the path of Peace.  We can choose.  Even in the face of hate.

“Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind… War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

— John F. Kennedy