Volume 21, Number 3
Tiffany Ten eyck
Worst Places To Be Black
Mass Destruction U.
Global Recession I
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Voices for Creative Nonviolence
Over a year after Democrats won Congress on a still un-fulfilled anti-war pledge, Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence (VCNV) was one of the many anti-war groups still calling for a transformation of U.S. foreign policy. Buttressed by mass opposition to the war, the Chicago group went to Iowa for caucus week to launch a civil disobedience campaign called Seasons of Discontent: A Presidential Occupation Project (SoDA POP).
Throughout the primary season, the SoDA POP members will be in campaign offices making demands that no major candidate will likely agree to. In Des Moines, they asked candidates to support a complete withdrawal of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan within 100 days after they take office, as well as an end to military plans and sanctions on Iran and a commitment to fully fund the reconstruction of Iraq. They refused to leave offices until they received these assurances. Fifteen were arrested in Iowa, and in the process they revealed the discomfort, even among “anti-war” candidates, with the anti-war movement.
These acts of civil disobedience express hope and despair. The transgression rejects an unresponsive corporate “democracy,” but appeals to its leaders for support. Jeff Leys reconciles this tension: “We have to use every non-violent lever at our disposal. We need to do this extra-legal work as an extension of the necessary work of participation.” Leys spent the week in Des Moines campaign offices and at the precinct.
After arrests at Guliani headquarters, another wave of protests hit the Clinton campaign, which literally shut the door on debate. Four protesters risked arrest and tried to enter, but ended up protesting outside the locked office until it closed for the day. On New Year’s Eve, cameras crowded the doors of Huckabee headquarters where three more protestors inquired of the reverend: “Who would Jesus Bomb?”
For months members of the Chicago community have asked Senator Obama to take this risk, not just to end the war, but to change priorities. Says Kelly: “There’s such an opportunity for leadership among the Democrats to educate Americans about the consequences of this war and about what could be done with the money that would be voted to fund ongoing wars.” They met up again with the campaign in Des Moines to ask for Obama’s support. The response from the office of a candidate running on his anti-war credentials revealed not just hostility, but a coordinated attempt to marginalize the anti-war message.
About a dozen protesters entered, carrying banners and pictures of Iraqis they’d met in their travels. Obama’s people swiftly removed members of the press, claiming that space had to be made for visitors at the front entrance, which was then promptly locked. A sign was posted, directing visitors to the back entrance away from the protest.
With the red, white, and blue Obama “O” as his backdrop, John Tuzcu, a member of Des Moines Catholic Worker, read from the Illinois candidate’s plan to leave tens of thousands of troops in Iraq through his first term. The campaign staff quietly evacuated the main room in protest of the protesters. Brian Terrell, 51, read from MLK’s April 1967 speech on Vietnam; “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” Obama’s people whispered to each other, then had police usher the protest out the side door.
Kelly and others are giving equal scrutiny to the liberal field. Leys is concerned; “The biggest danger is that Democrats are normalizing the idea of partial withdrawal, and disarming the anti-war movement to the idea of residual troop levels.” The SoDA POP organizers are pushing for withdrawal, not just from Iraq, but also from a failed strategy that diverts public funds for a highly militarized global presence.
The VCNV project is about reclamation of the political process, and reclamation of funds better used for the common good. Leys sees the drain of the war effort on public services in Chicago: “The state government is on doomsday number three for mass transit funding. Fares might be doubled in the next few weeks, and the suburbs are already cutting their routes and services to the city.”
As the war brings its effects home, it has sparked a rise in civil resistance actions nationwide in the last year. Each arrest makes it clear that Americans don’t accept these realities willingly. Leys hopes that more voices will join to create a more forceful culture of protest: “We need to acknowledge that we haven’t done enough yet to build up anti-war sentiment in Congress.”
Robert Braam, one of the people arrested in Des Moines, called the discontented to action: “Only thing we did wrong? Stayed in the wilderness too long. Only thing we did right? The day we stood up to fight.”
Paul Abowd is a freelance writer who’s work has appeared in local Michigan University student newspapers and in Labor Notes.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; email@example.com; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; email@example.com; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: email@example.com; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.