Where does honor lie?

“Peace restraining war” part of the Bolton War Memorial by Walter Marsden
Image by Gordon Lawson and in the public domain.

Today, Memorial Day 2015, I commemorate what the United States could have been and still could be.

The participation of colonists (invaders) from abroad in the near genocide of the native peoples did not make the United States great, let alone honorable.

The bloody subjugation of the Philippines into an American colony did not make the United States great, nor were the invaders honorable.

Were the Americans who fought in WWI and WWII and Korea and Vietnam and Afghanistan and Iraq and the countless other forgotten little wars that Americans fought in the last two centuries brave? I am sure many but not all of them were. Were they fighting for their country? Most of them probably thought they were doing so. Were they actually fighting on behalf of the military-industrial complex, the powerful elite intent on pursuing its own interests with little concern for the human costs? I believe so.

Is it appropriate to honor members of the military who killed others, including innocent civilians, because they were told to do so and trained to follow orders? I believe sympathy for them and their families is more appropriate; however, I am also moved by the words of Ambrose Bierce, who fought for the Union in the U.S. Civil War, and was distressed by the insistence of northerners and southerners in the post-war decades to have two separate memorial days, honoring only their own dead: “The wretch, whate’er his life and lot/ Who does not love the harmless dead/ With all his heart and all his head— / May God forgive him, I shall not.”

But, I ask you, when will we start honoring the conscientious objectors, the war resisters, the anti-nuke activists, and all those who embrace nonviolence? When will we create a national peace memorial and a Memorial Day transmuted into a day honoring the pursuit of peace, nonviolence, and human rights?

Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology

Posted in Champions of peace, Commemorating peace, Military-industrial complex, Nonviolence, Patriotism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What torments my soul

John Ball and his dog Darcy from the UK's International Search and Rescue team go to work in Chautara, Sindhupalchok District – north east of Kathmandu, Nepal.

John Ball and his dog Darcy from the UK’s International Search and Rescue team go to work in Chautara, Sindhupalchok District – north east of Kathmandu, Nepal.
Image by Jessica Lea/DFID

Most people in the U.S. have seen the spine-chilling stories on their TVS and have read about the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, killing more than 5000 people, and injuring thousands more.

It is a tragic story, like the recent tsunamis that also destroyed the lives of thousands of innocent people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The only bright spot in these tales of overwhelming natural disaster is the magnitude of the international relief effort.

While my heart and often my money go out to efforts to help survivors and rebuild areas hit by these unaccountable natural disasters, what keeps me awake at night is the deadliness of racism in my own country.

Protest at the Baltimore Police Department Western District building at N. Mount St. and Riggs Ave.<br>Photo by Veggies and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Protest at the Baltimore Police Department Western District building at N. Mount St. and Riggs Ave.
Image by Veggies and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

I believe there are people who would rather watch TV news stories about earthquakes and tsunamis than learn all they can about the over-incarceration, and human-rights defying use of prolonged solitary confinement of young black men in this country  and the ferocious murdering of young black men and women, many of whom are mentally ill, by police. They would rather watch coverage of tsunamis and earthquakes than delve into the reports on police in their country murdering and torturing people because of the color of their skin.

If anyone out there needs a powerful reminder of this nation’s relentless and often deadly racism, a powerful novel on the issue is Richard Power’s unrelenting novel, “The Time of our Singing” https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23007.The_Time_of_Our_Singing.

And in case you want to read about a few recent examples of police brutality and wonder why we don’t fight back against them with the same effort being expended in Nepal, read

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/27/1380630/-SC-police-officers-to-mentally-ill-woman-I-ll-let-you-go-if-you-let-me-Taser-you-in-the-forehead

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/04/24/1379943/-Arrested-for-sagging-pants-Ervin-Edwards-tasered-to-death-in-custody-Police-lie-in-report?detail=email

and the more familiar case of Freddie Gray: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/25/freddie-gray-death-triggers-frustration-baltimore-police

Posted in Human rights, Prisons, racism | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AMERICA’S MOST PERSISTENT ILLNESS: RACISM

By Guest Author Emmanuel Mbaezue

Statistics have that in the United States, the number of unarmed  black men and boys gunned down extra-judicially by white police officers since the killing of Michael Brown appears to be rising. Unfortunately for the future of the country, these human rights abuses do not just take America back to the shameful days of the Jim Crow Law, they also plunge the nation’s image into a downward spiral of distrust on the global scene.

Even some developing countries in the African, Asian and South American continents seem to enjoy better police-civilian relations than much of the US. The murderous disposition of some white police officers towards people of color in America is not only reminiscent of the dark days of apartheid South Africa, it also appears to be the new face of the Ku Klux Klan.

No great country ever escapes its past, although it can try to rectify its wrongs. The US continues to be plagued by racists moving blindly ahead in their murderous persecution of people of color. One of the most valuable truths that all Americans could learn is that the greatness of America cannot be measured in its military might, economic wealth, or scientific innovation.

True greatness can come only from respect and opportunities for the diverse peoples and cultures living here today—a respect that can enrich everyone far more than greed and prejudice. Borrowing the words of Yanni, the Jazz Man: “I am first a human being, then an Italian American, an Israeli American, a Chinese American, Iranian American, an African American…” 

Posted in culture of violence, Human rights, militarization, police violence, racism, slavery | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments