Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Eyes Wide Open

Eyes Wide Open is coming to Asheville, NC this upcoming weekend. I have wanted to bring this exhibit to our town for over a year and a half. I worked on this exhibit up in DC during the week of the inauguration in January 2004.

The purpose of the exhibit is to open people's eyes to the reality of war and the human cost of war. More information can be found at the American Friends Service Committee website.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Grace Lee Peace Award

Last night, I received the Grace Lee Peace Award. Now, first off, it is not often that you hear of someone receiving an award for peace. Lots of awards and promotions and metals given out for war, but usually not for peace. So, I feel this was sweet for them to think of me. The other person they honored was Bob Smith, who speaks at some of our rallies, runs the local Community Action Board and happens to go to my church, or 'meeting for worship' as we call it. Better known as the Asheville Friends Meeting.

It was Buzz Lee who called me to tell me that I had won this award and he also told me that the award was named after his mother, Grace Lee. Grace was a life-long activist for peace and social justice issues, and Buzz, her son, is an activist also. He is also an active member of the local Democrat Party, and he lives in a retirement home lately. Buzz is a sweet guy, and I first got to know him when he sent in a donation and a letter to the WNC Peace Coalition because of an editorial I wrote. That was a few years back.

Anyway, I knew this Peace Award was part of a program called the Davidson Roundtable, which is a lecture series on social justice issues. I never seem to have time to attend these free lectures, but they often have very interesting speakers, and the main speaker is followed by a roundtable discussion with some individuals who are active in the issues being address. Last night they had Hodding Carter III as the main speaker, and I did not know who he was so I looked him up on google, and found out he was a journalist, as was his father, in the deep south during the civil rights era. He also worked as an assistant secretary of state for the Carter administration (no relation) and is currently a professor at UNC-CH.

I found his speech very interesting. He described how his positions on civil rights issues evolved, along with various other issues that he faced in his life. One of these was the issue of violence via guns, or the threat of such violence. His family had guns during the time they had problems with their white neighbors over civil rights issues, and they believed and the community believed that they would use them if they felt a need. One night they sat up all night expecting trouble, but none came. The next night, they were so exhausted they all went to sleep, and that night someone burned a cross on their yard. Hodding said that the family is very grateful today that they were all asleep, because if they were awake, they would have shot at them. Turns out it was a pack of kids, acting out their parent's hatred. Hodding went on to say how he had a gun on him every day for five years, and never took it out of his holster, until 1964. One day that year, he took it off and got rid of all the guns in the family. He did it because he brother had died from a gun accident.

So, he felt the guns kept him and his family safe, until his brother died. One is left to wonder how they would have fared without any guns at all during those years. Would they have been subjected to violence? Would his brother still be alive? The answer to the last one is "most likely".

I found all their discussion very interesting, but before they spoke, I was given the Grace Lee Peace Award. Buzz introduced me by saying that I am an audiologist and that whenever there is a rally or event in Asheville concerning peace or social justice issues, I am always there and nearly always one of the organizers. I spent a few minutes speaking on EYES WIDE OPEN, an exhibit that is coming to Asheville next weekend that I am very involved with currently. I spoke on the WNC Peace Coalition and I spoke on the fact that war does not work and that we need to abolish war altogether.

Sure enough, one of the later speakers had to mention that sometimes "we have to fight". Well, if we "have to fight" how come we never seem to get to the point where the problems are solved and we don't have to fight? One of the main reasons I feel we have to stop war is because if we continue on this path, one day we may find ourselves in a nuclear war. And that would be suicide for most of the planet. I also feel war is a horrible thing to have happen to your home and community.

Anyway, I did not know it until last night, but the Grace Lee Peace Award came with a check. I was thinking it would be $50 or so, and that I would donate it to the Peace Coalition. Well, turns out they gave me a check for considerably more than that, and a W-9 form to go with it. So I will put it in the bank until I figure out how much taxes on it I have to pay. And I have a certificate which I will frame. Here's my ideas for how to obtain a Peace Award:

1. Show Up
2. Do the work
3. Get Lucky!

Really, I have never understood why some good things get attention and rewarded while other things are just ignored, and how some people get recognized and others don't. I guess all you can really do is what you think is a good use of your time overall, and try to better the world. I am very honored to be given an award for peace! And I hope what I do does help promote peace in the world.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Article on "Who Is A Terrorist?"

Who Is A Terrorist?

The scenes from Gaza are heartbreaking. Heartbreaking? That's not for certain. The sight of the Aben family from Beit Lahiya mourning its 12-year-old daughter Hadil last week did not stir any particular shock in Israel. Nor did anyone take to the streets and protest over the sight of her wounded mother and little brother lying in shock on the floor of their shanty in Gaza. On the day Hadil Aben was killed, Yedioth Aharonoth carried a story about Nelly, the dog from Kibbutz Zikim that died of heart failure from the booming noise of the Israeli artillery firing into Gaza.

Instead of expressions of sorrow at the death of children, the upper echelons of the defense establishment came out with a stream of strident statements. The defense minister said that the only thing to do was step up the pressure on the Palestinians. The deputy chief of staff spoke about a possible invasion of Gaza and the head of army operations added, "what we've seen so far are only the previews." The IDF announced it would further reduce the "safety range" that is designed to avoid shells hitting the civilian population.

The article I cited above is excellent at presenting the immorality of the Israeli’s government’s actions. Israel is dropping bombs on Gaza, while the Palestinians are firing rockets at Israel. The Palestinians have yet to kill anyone with the rockets, yet they are the ones labeled a “terrorist” – a name they lived up to the other day when one of them did a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

This Israeli author argues that the approach they should try (to quiet down the violence in Gaza) is to lift the embargo, restore aid, and help the Palestinian people. (It is likely that this would save them money also; however the arms manufacturers would lose money.) This is the exact opposite of what they are doing. In spite of the fact that Israel’s policy is not working, they continue to use their failed policies. And, as one can see, some Palestinians also apply their failed policies to achieve justice and freedom. They care enough to give their life in the process, and they are so desperate, or so ill, that that is all they have to give.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I think he is a HERO

Malcolm Kendall-Smith took a stand and refused to go back to Iraq. I think he is a TRUE HERO of this war, because he stood up for what was right and what was just. He is paying a price for that stand, but I hope he knows that there are many people who admire him and recognize that he is the one who is doing what is morally right.

A Letter from the Guardian (more at the link):

RAF Doctor's Duty and Conscience

When sentencing Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith to eight months in prison (RAF doctor sent to jail for refusing to serve in Iraq, April 14), judge advocate Jack Bayliss explained that the crime of aggression under international law "can only be committed by those responsible for the policy of a nation, at the top of government or the armed forces, and that responsibility for it does not trickle down to those at lower levels of the chain of command". The judge had also said: "Obedience of orders is at the heart of any disciplined force."

This judgment means that in any conflict - if instructed to murder, torture or maim - those of the lower orders cannot be held responsible for their leaders' commands. Those involved in conflicts from the second world war onwards, including Iraq, could claim that they were only carrying out orders. The hypocrisy of this stares you in the face. Flt Lt Kendall-Smith didn't have a chance of winning. I add my support to his stand. JR Faulkes London

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Don't Attack Iran!

Please go to and sign the petition telling the US government not to attack Iran. This is truly insane to do this, and I am afraid they just might try.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

What is takes for protests to really work....

Below is an article I took from Daily Kos. I agreee whole-heartedly: for a protest to work, it has to be serious, respectful, focused and large. I don’t see that happening with the anti-war movement, unfortunately. I have reprinted most of the article here.

Sometimes it ain't what you do, but the way that you do it, that matters. Some demonstrations have changed the world. But in my long and jaded experience some demonstrating is a waste of time. Some demonstrating is even counterproductive. What makes effective protest? I've been thinking about that since the big antiwar march in Washington last September. I started thinking about it more after Coretta Scott King died.

Rule #1. Be serious.

Study the great civil rights marches of the 1950s and 1960s. People in those marches looked as if they were assembled for a serious purpose. They wore serious clothes. They marched both joyously and solemnly. Most of all, they carried themselves with the dignity befitting a great and noble cause. And if they chanted or carried signs, the chants or signs didn't contain language you couldn't repeat to your grandmother. The antiwar protests I've attended in New York City, by contrast, were often more like moving carnivals than protests. Costumes, banners, and behavior on display were often juvenile and raunchy. Lots of people seemed to be there to get attention, and the message they conveyed was LOOK AT ME LOOK AT ME LOOK AT HOW CLEVER I AM, not NO IRAQ WAR. Really. And, please, nix the street theater. It isn't that I don't enjoy some of it -- I am fond of Billionaires for Bush -- and a display of flag-draped coffins moving down the street has real impact. But most of the time street theater is juvenile and tiresome and reminds me of bad summer camp skits. Except raunchier. Which takes me to --

Rule #2. Be unified of purpose.

One of my ongoing gripes about antiwar marches is the way some groups try to tack their own agenda, which many others in the demonstration may not share, onto marches. ANSWER is a repeat offender. Most of the marchers last September were in Washington for the sole purpose of protesting the war. But ANSWER hijacked CSPAN's attention and put on a display so moonbatty it made The Daily Show. Message control is essential. During the Vietnam era, I witnessed many an antiwar protest get hijacked by a few assholes who waved North Vietnamese flags and spouted anti-American messages, which is not exactly the way to win hearts and minds --

Rule #3 -- Good protesting is good PR.

I know they're called "protests," but your central purpose is to win support for your cause. You want people looking on to be favorably impressed. You want them to think, wow, I like these people. They're not crazy. They're not scary. I think I will take them seriously. That means you should try not to be visibly angry, because angry people are scary. Anger is not good PR. Grossing people out is not good PR. Yelling at people that they're stupid for not agreeing with you is not good PR. Screaming the F word at television camera crews is not good PR.

Rule #4 -- Size matters.

Size of crowds, that is. Remember that one of your purposes is to show off how many people came together for the cause. But most people will only see your protest in photographs and news videos. The number of people who marched for immigration reform over the past few days was stunning. It's the biggest reason the marches got news coverage. A sub-rule -- IMO, an occasional REALLY BIG demonstration that gets a lot of media attention is way better than a steady drizzle of little demonstrations that become just so much background noise..

Rule #5 -- Be sure your opposition is uglier/more hateful/snottier than you are.

In the 1950s and 1960s white television viewers were shocked and ashamed to see the civil rights marchers -- who were behaving nicely and wearing suits, remember -- jeered at by hateful racists. And when those redneck Southern sheriffs turned fire hoses and attack dogs on the marchers, it pretty much doomed Jim Crow to the dustbin of history. I think Cindy Sheehan's encampment in Crawford last August, although a relatively small group, was successful because of the contrast between Sheehan and the Snot-in-Chief cruising by in his motorcade without so much as a how d'you do. Truly, if Bush had invited the Sheehan crew over for lemonade and a handshake, the show would've been over. But he didn't. At the same time, if Sheehan's crew had yelled obscenities or thrown rocks at Bush's motorcade, it would have helped Bush's approval ratings considerably. But they didn't. This takes us back to rules #1 and #2. You don't win support by being assholes. You win support by showing the world that your opponents are assholes.

Rules #6 -- Demonstrations are not enough.

It's essential to be able to work with people in positions of power to advance your agenda. And if there aren't enough people in power to advance your agenda, then get some. Frankly, I think some lefties are caught up in the romance of being oppressed and powerless and can't see beyond that. Remember, speaking truth to power is just the first step. The goal is to get power for yourself. Fortunately, the netroots revolution is showing us the way to do just that.

Other observations:
I don't know how to persuade people who march against the war to let go of self-indulgence and exhibitionism and get serious. I once posted the opinion that I am weary of the "old fringe that's stuck in a 1970s time warp of identity politics and street theater projects and handing out fliers for the next cause du jour rally," and boy, did I get slammed for that. Clearly, I had just slaughtered a whole herd of sacred cows. Imagine whistling "We Shall Overcome" at a Klan meeting.

This blog post ended with:
I also believe the antiwar movement today is floundering because of lack of cohesive leadership. The dignified presence of Martin Luther King guided the great civil rights protests and made them exemplary. Judging by some demonstrations I've seen, the antiwar movement is being guided by Sideshow Bob.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Death of a General

I saw this report on CBS news on Sunday night. It was very disturbing, for many different reasons. I am going to present some of the "facts" of the case, as stated by Mr. Welshofer, and my interpretation of those "facts". Mr. Welshofer is in the US military, but he does not deserve any title that was given to him, so I will not use them.

Mr. Welshofer says: "And you just tell yourself, you know what? This has got to stop. You have to protect these guys."

He's not talking about Iraqis here, he's talking about injured US soldiers. Of course, the US soldiers would not be injured if they WERE IN THE USA, would they?

The story goes on: "The way to protect them, according to the military, was by finding Saddam Hussein — who was then still at large — and by cracking the insurgency. One day, the key to the solution appeared on Welshofer’s doorstep: an Iraqi major general with close links to Saddam. His name was Abid Hamed Mowhoush. Welshofer says he thought Mowhoush might know where Saddam was hiding and also help him understand how the insurgency was organized and financed."

At this point in time, we all know that Saddam was not behind the insurgency at all. He's been in prison for over two years and the insurgency rages on. This story fails to mention why this Iraqi Major General showed up at Mr. Welshofer's door. The General was there because they had abducted his sons. He was turning himself in - to get his sons free. Keep in mind here that Mr. Welshofer wanted to get INFORMATION from the General.

Mr. Welshofer wasn't getting any information out of this General, so he started hitting him. "I put him on his knees and I used the facial slap," recalls Welshofer. (I think he is lying. I think he started right off with this type of physical abuse, and quickly moved into torture.)

The General still wasn't giving him any information. (I wonder if Welshofer is intelligent enough to ponder the idea that maybe, just maybe, the General did not know where Saddam was hiding. I doubt it.) So, according to the CBS program, Welshofer got "creative". That is an interesting choice of words for Welshofer's behavior: it is not every day that we call killing other people "creative".

So, he beats the crap out of the General, breaking his ribs among other things, and then stuffs him inside a sleeping bag, ties a cord around him, and sits on him. And proceeds to hold his hand over his mouth from time to time. Of course, the sleeping bag is not see-through, so maybe he covered his nose with his hands and/or the sleeping bag. Apparently, this possibility does not cross Welshofer's puny brain. He claims he didn't cover the General's nose.

In spite of broken ribs (established on autopsy), someone sitting on him, and someone putting his hand over his "mouth" - somehow the General keeps talking. (This is, of course, a pile of stinking lies.) But the General does not say what Welshofer wants to hear. Welshofer gives up, and removes the bag from the General, and has this to say:

"The general had a smile on his face. An honest-to-God grin on his face. So I’m thinking he’s messing with me. So, I grabbed a little bit of water and sprinkled it on the general’s face, because he was not responding to any questions, any type of conversation at all. I saw that the water pooled in his mouth, and it was at that point that I realized there was a problem here. The general’s dead," Welshofer recalls.

First off, if he "grabbed a little bit of water and sprinkled it" there is no way he would see that water "pooled in his mouth" - so he is flat-out lying here. He dumped a bucket of water on the General, and because it was a significant amount, it pooled in his mouth. Then Welshofer figured out the General is dead. Welshofer is again lying here or he is dumber than dirt. Here's a clue, Mr. Welshofer: living people breathe, which makes their chest move. You will see that in EVERY living person on the planet, I guarantee you.

Then the lying and stupid Mr. Welshofer claims he didn't think he killed the guy!

The second autopsy said the General died "asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression". This autopsy also says " “Findings included rib fractures, numerous contusions (bruises), some of which were due to impacts with a blunt object(s).” The first autopsy was a sham.

But here's the part that shows that Welshofer is truly incapable of intelligent thought and totally deficient in moral development:

"Asked if he would do all this again, Welshofer says, "I helped save soldiers lives. I'm 100 percent convinced of that. If I had done anything less than what I did, if one soldier more had died because I had done anything different, I find that even more reprehensible — even more unacceptable."

How do you get information from a DEAD guy? How stupid is this man not to realize that murdering a surrendered Iraqi General would inspire more Iraqis to join the insurgency? What other choices do they have? If someone who is a General surrenders and cooperates with the American troops and then is brutally murdered, what chance does a regular person have? Why would ANYONE cooperate with such individuals acting like such evil immoral animals?

Not only did Welshofer's killing of the Iraqi General make sure they did not get any information from him, it also made sure that hundreds of Iraqi soldiers picked up arms against the US troops. He inspired them to kill Americans. Welshofer helped promote the violence in Iraq, and some American funerals are directly thanks to him, even if he is too stupid to realize it.

Now, I have no doubt that people in Welshofer's chain of command authorized these evil acts also, and they are probably as convinced as Welshofer is that acting like this is saving American lives. (They don't give a damn about saving Iraqi lives.)

They are evil, they are stupid, and they are a disgrace to the military, to all Americans and the entire human race.

They don't even deserve to consider themselves part of the human race. Mr. Welshofer and his commanders are lower than dirt.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Stopping war

I posted the comment below to Talking about Iraq blog

What happens to the people who say "no" to the corruption and don't play the game? They get sidelined or silenced, or in Iraq, probably killed.

I am wondering these days how we deal with people who believe in "power over" vs. "power shared".... how do we stop them if they think they can impose their agenda and their will on people, even by violence? How do we stop them?

In the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), the people who were behind this war on Iraq wrote how they want "global dominance" for the pursuit of American interests, using American's military might to achieve it. And the Americans voted them into office - and the Americans don't object to spend a huge amount of money on weapons. Even more surprising, the American people do not object to American companies selling arms all over the world. Even the military guys, who have got to know that those arms make their fighting wars more dangerous, don't object. So, we have the American military with more weapons than any reasonable useage would suggest, and American companies arming the rest of the world to an unbelievable degree. If the goal is the end of the world, then we are making the correct choices.

I would say that all wars about about power and greed, and it is nothing new to lie to a people about the reasons for war (that happens all the time) and the underlying reasons for starting up any war is to control the area and the resources.

And, I would say that responding to violence with violence does not work too well either..... it only leads to more violence.

How do we stop these people??

His answer was very simple, and probably correct: stop giving them money.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

What the FCNL wants

Friends Committee on National Legislation

We seek a world free of war and the threat of war
We seek a society with equity and justice for all
We seek a community where every person's potential may be fulfilled
We seek an earth restored.