Saturday, September 15, 2018

55 years ago today

From Souther Poverty Law Center:

Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were getting ready for church in the basement ladies’ lounge when the bomb exploded.

They were killed instantly. 

Addie Mae, 14, and Denise, 11, had been planning to sing in the choir; Carole, 14, and Cynthia, 14, were going to serve as ushers. 

Klansmen robbed them of much more than the events of that Youth Sunday when they set dynamite under the steps of Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church, a hub for civil rights activism. When it went off at 10:21 a.m., taking the lives of those four little girls and injuring 20 other people, the bomb shook the entire country and brought national attention to the deadly fight for civil rights being waged in Alabama. 

Today is the 55th anniversary of that terrible bombing, and the words that Eugene Patterson, then editor of the Atlanta Constitution, wrote the day after it happened could almost apply to the circumstances we find ourselves in today.

He wrote:

A Negro mother wept in the street Sunday morning in front of a Baptist Church in Birmingham. In her hand she held a shoe, one shoe, from the foot of her dead child. We hold that shoe with her.

Every one of us in the white South holds that small shoe in his hand.

It is too late to blame the sick criminals who handled the dynamite. The FBI and the police can deal with that kind. The charge against them is simple. They killed four children.

Only we can trace the truth, Southerner - you and I. We broke those children’s bodies.

We watched the stage set without staying it. We listened to the prologue unbestirred. We saw the curtain opening with disinterest. We have heard the play.

We - who go on electing politicians who heat the kettles of hate.

We - who raise no hand to silence the mean and little men who have their nigger jokes.

We - who stand aside in imagined rectitude and let the mad dogs that run in every society slide their leashes from our hand, and spring.

We - the heirs of a proud South, who protest its worth and demand it recognition - we are the ones who have ducked the difficult, skirted the uncomfortable, caviled at the challenge, resented the necessary, rationalized the unacceptable, and created the day surely when these children would die.

First published in the Atlanta Constitution on September 16, 1963, then read aloud that night on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite, the column was part of a surge of support for federal civil rights legislation and a campaign for voting rights that followed the tragedy at the 16th Street Baptist Church. You can read the rest of it here

Today, the names of those four little girls are etched into the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, along with the names of three dozen other martyrs of the movement, a permanent reminder of their sacrifice. 

For all of us in the South — and around the rest of the country — the march continues. 

The Editors

Anniversary of the bombing in Birmingham

Addie Mae Collins Cynthia Westley Carole Robertson Carol Denise McNair

Today is the anniversary of their murders down in Birmingham. May they rest in peace.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Swanson on Upcoming Congress Members

Three Antiwar Congress Members
By David Swanson

Rashida Tlaib has nothing about war or peace on her website. And she’s going to be elected to the seat held by Congressman John Conyers, famous for giving speeches for things like impeaching George W. Bush while telling reporters and colleagues that impeaching Bush needed to be avoided. So, take statements for what they’re worth (very little until followed by action). But action rarely follows silence, and Tlaib just said this:

“I don’t support military operations. If you go to the Department of Defense website, every day, Monday through Friday, there is an area called ‘contracts.’ Go there. You want to pay for college? Medicare for All? Pay to take care of Americans dying from famine to basic human rights abuses? Look at those contracts. I’m floored at how much money [they’re spending].”

When asked “Do you want to divert the DOD budget into social services?” Tlaib replied:

“Yes. We can build safer and more vibrant communities. I am tired of the earmarks for corporations. They aren’t going to Americans. They’re going to private companies. Not only have we made prisons into private corporations, wars are a for-profit industry. The [DoD is] a cesspool for corporations to make money.”

Those in the pay or hoping to be in the pay of the war profiteers don’t talk like this. This is socialism with seriousness, not the nonsense shell game where you claim you’ll provide decent services but refuse to mention the place where all the money is. (I’m looking at you, Senator Sanders.)

Congress members do not talk like Rashida Tlaib, or Ilhan Omar, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Omar’s predecessor never talked this way. Even John Conyers never talked this way, with or without meaning it. Yet these three are very likely to be in Congress, and if they at all act on their professed positions, we need to demand that their colleagues join them.

To some extent, not entirely but to some small extent, I suspect that the blowback when these candidates say something honest or humane about Palestine is and will continue to be opposition to their entire antiwar position. Opposing Israeli wars is taboo in the United States, but so is opposing U.S. wars and U.S. preparations for more wars.

That position needs to be made acceptable. So, when three candidates for Congress who’ve won their primaries and are virtually guaranteed to join Congress speak up for peace, we need to celebrate it, make it more than just acceptable, make it enviable by other seekers of power.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Veterans for Peace Award

2018 Peace Prize Awarded to David Swanson

At the Veterans For Peace Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, on August 26, 2018, the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation awarded its 2018 Peace Prize to David Swanson, director of World BEYOND War.

Michael Knox, Chair of the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation, remarked:

“We have a culture of war in the U.S. Americans who oppose a war are often labeled traitors, unpatriotic, un-American, and antimilitary. As you know, to work for peace you must be brave and make great personal sacrifices.

“As a movement to change our war culture, the U.S. Peace Memorial Foundation recognizes and honors courageous Americans who stand for peace by publishing the US Peace Registry, planning for the US Peace Memorial as a national monument in Washington, D.C., and awarding an annual Peace Prize.

“Previous Peace Prize recipients over the past ten years are the honorable Ann Wright, Veterans for Peace, Kathy Kelly, CODEPINK, Chelsea Manning, Medea Benjamin, Noam Chomsky, Dennis Kucinich, and Cindy Sheehan.

“I am very pleased to announce that our 2018 Peace Prize is awarded to the honorable David Swanson – For his inspiring antiwar leadership, writings, strategies, and organizations which help to create a culture of peace.

“Thank you David for dedicating your life to ending wars. You are one of the most prolific writers, speakers, activists, and organizers for peace.  The breadth of your work is staggering. You have enlightened us with books that are in the forefront of modern antiwar thought; and with speeches, debates, conferences, blogs, billboards, radio shows, online courses, videos, websites, and more innovative ideas than we can name.  We want you to know that your efforts are greatly appreciated here and around the world.”

The above came in an email from World Beyond War.