Thursday, July 13, 2006

Justice Locally and Globally

10th day of the Troops Home Now Fast

Elizabeth, a CODEPINK faster came from Phoenix to join the peace vigil that occurs every Wednesday morning at the Speedway Recruitment center. When the peace folks started their vigil years ago, they experienced little conflict until the owner of the property where the recruitment center is located, started complaining. He didn’t want pro- peace protesters to park in the parking lot of his strip mall. He didn’t even want them to prop their peace sign on the bushes next to the sidewalk.

A year ago, the Raging Grannies of Tucson were arrested after they attempted to sign up at the recruitment center to go to Iraq and help rebuild the city using love and peace principles. Their arrest made national news. After that, right-wing pro-war protesters started showing up with their American Flags and huge signs saying things like “Support the Troops.” Several of the pro-war people were from military families. We found out that several of the pro-war protesters had sons who were killed in Iraq.

It was clear to us that these pro-war folks were somehow invested in the war and wanted to hold onto the illusion that the war was a noble cause. The pro-war folks started harassing and assaulting the pro-peace people eventually driving them to the opposite side of the street.

Wayne was assaulted by folks when we drove on a side street near the right-wingers. He was using a video tape to record the protesters when the right-wingers approached our car and demanded we turn off the video camera. When it kept rolling, a man came up to the car and with his sign on a stick hit Wayne who was in car. His blow hit Wayne's hand. Luckily, it wasn’t hurt. When we got over to the pro-peace side of the street, we called the police.

After 45 minutes, the police arrived. An over weight officer’s first question to me was, “Are you with the peace organization?” Then he asked me if I knew I wasn’t allowed to park in the strip mall. Since I drove through the mall, he said he could arrest me for trespassing since the owner didn’t want any pro-peace person to set foot on his property. So, you can guess, the police did nothing to the assaulter even after he viewed our tape of the attack.

Back to today:

After telling us a passionate story about convincing a young person not to sign up for the war in Iraq, Elizabeth said that we really need to talk to the opposition to try to teach them of the folly of the war. We crossed the street together to see what the other side was like. Immediately we were in hostile fire being shoot with insults and name calling at us for wearing pink and holding a sign that said Troops Home Fast. So, after a few photographs, we cross back over the street to friendly faces.

I wonder if these two camps/ two sides of the streets represent the polarization that is happening in the United States? Can’t we even talk to each other? Has communication broken down so much that all we can do is wave flags to each other, shouting at each other, “I’m the real patriotic one!”

On the way to the protest this morning I listened to the radio. I heard someone say that everything has changed except our way of thinking. He was paraphrasing the Albert Einstein quote. He said that technology, science, reproduction, woman’s position in society, child rearing, communication technologies have changed, but we still think in terms of war as a solution to conflict.

There is something else that hasn’t change, the housing hierarchy and property, the have and the have nots and the mass poverty it creates. So everything has not changed. Maybe we need to look at those things that haven’t changed to understand what keeps this militaristic mentality in place. Einstein’s quote is, “The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking --- the solution to his problem lies in the heart of mankind.”

After the Bomb was dropped, Einstein became an advocate of peace through creating a supra-national organization. He wanted the world to see the danger of nationalism and realized that atomic power needed to be managed by a world government. Bombs in the hands of nation states, isn’t a good idea. Howard Zinn’s 4th of July blog said the same thing, “we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed. Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?”

Zinn goes on to say that “we need to assert our allegiance to the human race, and not to any one nation.” If the peace movement could only follow this allegiance and give up wanting to be patriotic, I think we would have better understand of each other. We need to move toward global understanding and global institutions that can fairly manage our 21st Century global warming reality.

So how do we reach this new state of politics? The United States is a rogue nation in the community of nation states because it broke the United Nations charter that it agreed to after WWII. The U.N. charter stated that without permission of the U.N. Security Council no nation can use armed forces against another sovereign nation expect in self-defense. In the case of Iraq, the Security Council sent in weapons inspectors to find the weapons of mass destruction before they would give the OK for the US to invade. Thus, the United States broke international law—the U.N. Charter-- and is guilty of the supreme crime against humanity.

Benjamin Ferencz, a former chief prosecutor of the Nuremberg Trials successfully convicted 22 Nazi officers. Ferencz, now 87, believes that humanity isn’t yet "civilized enough to prevent this type of illegal behavior." He said that while he believes the United States is guilty of war crimes, "the international community is not sufficiently organized to prosecute such a case. … There is no court at the moment that is competent to try that crime."

So our heroic question is to find a way to manifest the global consciousness and the organization it needs to bring justice locally and globally.


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