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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Next On The Kelly File: Aung San Suu Kyi Is No Saint, Either

Indeed, Gandhi was a weirdo, MLK fucked around, and even Good People have their blinders.

I'd submit that it's a deliberate ploy to set up strawmen saints so when their inevitable flaws are inevitably exposed, their movements can inevitably be dismissed.

ntodd

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June 14, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Who Tore Down The Wall?

Indeed, Reagan said lots of things.  But it takes the People to do the heavy lifting.  It weren't Ronnie's Mighty Cock what won the Cold War...

ntodd

PS--To be more specific, Nonviolent People actually do the heavy lifting.

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June 12, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Outside Agitators Suck

Yup, elites manipulate people into hating people trying to change things to help people.

ntodd

* Twelfth Blegiversary Fundraiser: Donate today, or we'll do something very, very bad! *

June 12, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

"I don't know if I want a Quaker doing my fighting for me."

Since we're watching Band of Brothers, and I've already posted a clip, I might as well note (again) that in the miniseries' first installment, Sgt Guarnere says of then-Lt Winters:

I like Winters, he's a good man. But when the bullets start flying, I don't know if I want a Quaker doing my fighting for me.

For this day, I would've used this clip of an ambush in Episode 2 when Wild Bill refuses to wait for Winters' command then denigrates him as a Quaker sotto voce, but embedding was once again disabled.  I also wanted to use this funny clip when Winters disabuses his NCO of the faulty impression, but alas...no embedding.  And I'm too lazy to rip the scenes myself right now.

Anyway, we Friends generally don't want anybody to be fighting for us, either, but a significant number also have been known to join in brawls when they seem particularly just.  Goes to show you never can tell...

ntodd

June 6, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Why Quakers Are Practitioners Of Nonviolence


A QuakerSpeak from last year that seems apt on this day (via Anthony).

ntodd

PS--I hate the term 'pacifist'.

June 6, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0)

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Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Helpful Response To Baltimore

My favorite:

Collect them all!

ntodd

May 5, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, May 02, 2015

Reading The Riot Act

Here are a few items about Bal'mer that haters of justice will refuse to read but still desperately try to rebut:

  • Alternet - The protests are only mysteries to American policymakers and members of the public who live in a state of denial.
  • Salon - We don’t live in an ideal world where oppressors calmly hear out people they oppress before the sh*t hits the fan.
  • Slate - The rioting in Baltimore wasn’t hooliganism. It was a protest against the depredations of the ghetto economy.

OMG, WHAT WE WILL TELL THE CVS' INSURERS' CHILDREN?!  AND HOW DARE THAT BLACKETYBLACK LADY MARRIED TO A HUGE BLACKETYBLACK MAN WHO REFUSES TO CONDEMN ALL THIS PROPERTY DEATH PROSECUTE THOSE BRAVE COPS FOR KILLING A BLACKETYBLACK MAN WITH A LONG BLACKETYBLACK RAP SHEET?!?!?!  AND DID YOU NOTICE THAT SOME OF THE UNFAIRLY MALIGNED HEROES WERE BLACKETYBLACK?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

QED

ntodd

May 2, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Long Live The King

Sadly, yes:

There is a ritual that accompanies these moments of protest by black Americans, and the wholly predictable urban unrest that follows the repeated killings of unarmed black people by police.

The high priests of public opinion take to the TV, radio and Internet and summon the memory of Brother Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to condemn black folks who are “rioting,” for the latter are violating the sacred covenant of “nonviolence” that King, as one of America’s greatest leaders and martyrs, supposedly died for.

The man and woman on the street participate in this act of American civil religion as well. They mutter some basic understanding of Dr. King’s dream, spittle an accompanying phrase about the civil rights movement, as they shake their heads in consternation at the violent protests in Baltimore and elsewhere.

The high priests of public opinion on the dais, and those who sit in the pews of Dr. King and the civil rights movement as civil religion, are engaged in futile acts of conjuring. They are trying to channel a weak and flattened memory of a man, one that has been reduced to selling fast food in January and February, made into an onerous statue at Washington’s mall, and reduced to a paragraph that is ripped from a towering speech.

If the legacy of the real Dr. King — his radical politics, vision and challenging words and deeds for an America sick with white supremacy, class inequality, warmongering and hatred for the poor — was properly channeled, it would deafen the chattering classes and broad swaths of the American public.

Been seeing this from the angry right and tut-tutting left.  Good thing I have a post in my back pocket to throw out there every time I confront ignorance...

ntodd

April 30, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Occupied Territory

To smash something is the ghetto's chronic need.

 - Notes of a Native Son

James Baldwin writing in 1966 of Harlem (and Chicago, Detroit, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ferguson, Baltimore...):

[T]he police are simply the hired enemies of this population. They are present to keep the Negro in his place and to protect white business interests, and they have no other function. They are, moreover—even in a country which makes the very grave error of equating ignorance with simplicity—quite stunningly ignorant; and, since they know that they are hated, they are always afraid. One cannot possibly arrive at a more surefire formula for cruelty.

This is why those pious calls to “respect the law,” always to be heard from prominent citizens each time the ghetto explodes, are so obscene. The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer. To respect the law, in the context in which the American Negro finds himself, is simply to surrender his self-respect.

What year is this?

ntodd

April 29, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It's Like Nobody Ever Listens

 I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension."

 - Dr King


What's that you say?  There was yet another isolated instance of a black person being executed without due process?  People taking to the streets again, with some untidiness occurring?

Well then, we should judge them, remind them that it's their fault, and move on in the smug knowledge that the system works for us because we're so righteous.  And don't forget that we're totes committed to their passivity...er, non-violence!

[Y]eah, NV methods might be the "best" to achieve justice in Ferguson and elsewhere (both from a moral and practical perspective), but that's easy for me to say from my privileged position.  I was raised in the Quaker tradition more or less, spent decades learning about NV movements and how to apply NV tactics in a variety of circumstances, and of course benefit from the current power structures rather than being oppressed by them, so don't really know what it's like to suffer from repeated injustices.
...
[V]iolence is a natural, human response to negative exogenous developments so engaging in NV can be rather hard, which is why it's a tool of the strong and really has to be learned and practiced.  Yes, even Gandhi and King couldn't get everybody to adopt their philosophy, despite all the charisma they brought to bear--both also understood the reasons for violence by the oppressed, and sought to not only educate but foster the conditions where more people could join them.

So the folks in Ferg...uh, Bal'mer should stop with all the property damage and looting that impede social progress!

Property damage and murder have also been significant tools used by whites in denying black social progress.  Property damage and looting have also been significant tools in white political progress.  Property damage and looting have also been significat tools for communicating by the unheard.

It's easy for white dudes--and safe black scolds like Bill Cosby who yell at black kids to pull up their pants as though that's what is wrong with America and if only their pants weren't riding low they'd all have good jobs and political empowerment and never get shot by white dudes--to say rioting is bad and reinforces black stereotypes.  It's easy for white dudes to say that when white dudes who riot are never representative of their demographic and white dudes who kill always have a good reason because of those rioting black thugs and demons and animals.  It's easy for white dudes to say we should trust the system when it consistently and persistently disenfranchises and disrespects and disregards and dispossesses and disillusions black Americans.

It's easy for white dudes to not listen because they're always so busy lecturing.  So it becomes easy for other Americans to use the few tools they have available, when white dudes only want them to be impotent.

I mean, how stupid is it for people to destroy their own neighborhoods?

 It’s bred out of a larger sense of hopelessness, despair, and isolation from mainstream education and economic opportunities. Add to that an overall lack of respectful treatment in the criminal justice system, and not being offered the same economic, housing, and employment opportunities, and the ingredients are all there for a rebellion whenever an incident takes place. And when you’re angry, you’re going to take it out on the closet thing to you, in this case your neighborhood, probably most which you don‘t own anyway.

That's just silly.  This nation was founded on absolutely peaceful protest, and it really behooves today's thugs to sit in silent reflection upon that point.  Right, Martin?

[A] riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened...It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.

Sorry, I didn't quite catch that?

 "If the soul is left in darkness, sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin but he who causes the darkness."

The policy-makers of the white society have caused the darkness. It was they who created the frustrating slums. They perpetuate unemployment and poverty and oppression. Perhaps it is incontestable and deplorable that Negroes have committed crimes, but these are essentially derivative crimes. They are born of the greater crimes of the white society.

When asking Negroes to abide by the law let us also declare that the white man does not abide by the law. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments. He flagrantly violates building codes and housing regulations. His police forces are the ultimate mockery of law. He violates laws on equal employment and education. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society. Negroes live in them, but they do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. And so let us say forthrightly that, if the total slum violations of law by the white man over the years are calculated and compared with the lawbreaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would handily be the white man...

Nah, that can't be right.  The police are merely acting in the only possible manner in the face of thoughtless brutes.

Whew.  Now I feel better.  And I'm sure I'll never have to admonish people to resist properly ever again...

ntodd

April 28, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Glorious Revolution

I really need to develop this further, but after the latest killer police incident wherein protesters are a lynch mob, I couldn't help but think of Pauline Maier:

The fundamental values of the Radical Whigs were realized most fully in a well-ordered free society, such that obedience to the law was stressed as much or more than occasional resistance to it. Moreover, while eighteenth-century Whig writers stood ready to challenge anyone who denied the people’s right of revolution, they still sought to limit and even defer violence by a series of pre- conditions that were ever more carefully defined between Milton and mid-eighteenth-century writers like Hutcheson.

Naturally, the Real Whigs’ justification of resistance could reinforce the colonists’ tendency to condone uprisings where authorities were unresponsive to public needs. In fact, how- ever, the Whigs’ contrary emphasis on order and restraint counteracted any tendency toward a too-ready resort to force. In this way, Whiggism tempered the use of violence in the colonies, particularly during the eleven years before inde- pendence. The need to reconcile the impulse toward resistance with the injunction to restraint became, in fact, one of the central intellectual and practical problems of the American revolutionary movement.

It's that tension between following the law and resisting it that is rattling around in my head.  Gandhi addressed it, too:

For the most part we obey such laws out of fear of the penalty for their breach, and this holds good particularly in respect of such laws as do not involve a moral principle. For instance, an honest, respectable man will not suddenly take to stealing, whether there is a law against stealing or not, but this very man will not feel any remorse for failure to observe the rule about carrying head-lights on bicycles after dark.

Indeed it is doubtful whether he would even accept advice kindly about being more careful in this respect. But he would observe any obligatory rule of this kind, if only to escape the inconvenience of facing a prosecution for a breach of the rule. Such compliance is not, however, the willing and spontaneous obedience that is required of a Satyagrahi.

Satyagrahi obeys the laws of society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so. It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just and which are injust and iniquitous. Only then does the right accrue to him of the civil disobedience of certain laws in well-defined circumstances.

So what an interesting question: how can the cops judge if they don't scrupulously follow the law; how can the protesters scrupulously follow the law when pretty much everything they do is criminalized?

And how can Tea Partiers call for rebellion against Obama?

As I said, I have to work on this.  Not even quite sure of my thesis.  But there's a tension I've gotta explore--not that I haven't before, but need to more in the current historical context.

ntodd

April 23, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Tuesday, April 07, 2015

"What will he be depriving us of, two rupees of salt tax?"

The threatened has after all happened. I congratulate the Government on having commenced arrests in right earnest of salt tax resisters...

 - MK Gandhi, Young India (April 7, 1930)


The Salt March culminated in Gandhi's defiant making of salt, symbolically freeing India from British restrictions on its un-taxed manufacture, which placed a repressive burden upon her poorest people.  He famously declared on April 6, 1930:

With this, I am shaking the foundations of the British Empire.

Authorities of the Raj wasted little time rounding up Indians following the example at Dandi:

The reports received so far indicate that the magic wave of mass civil disobedience in Gujarat has had its effect on the Government. The Government has lost no time in arresting the leaders of this movement but I understand that it must have paid similar attention to the leaders in other provinces as well.

This is something we can congratulate ourselves on. It would have been surprising if the Government had allowed the satyagrahis to act as they pleased. It would have been considered barbaric if it had attacked the life and property of the satyagrahis without any previous inquiry. One cannot object to trial and conviction according to established procedure.

Prison and such other punishments are the ordeal through which a satyagrahi must pass. A satyagrahi can be said to have fulfilled his purpose only when he does not flinch, when he does not betray those whom he represents and when he is not scared by the arrest of his leader. The time has come when everyone will have to be both soldier and commander

But really, why go after the salt tax?

C. Rajagopalachari saw both the logic and the magic of his leader's decision. Speaking at Sholanur, C.R. said: “You may say, hello, this is a funny thing. All along he was telling [us] that if we made khaddar we will get swaraj, now he says we must make salt also...” And then at Tuticorin explained in detail why this “funny thing” was not funny at all. “Suppose,” C.R. said, “a people rise in revolt. They cannot attack the abstract constitution or lead an army against proclamations and statutes...Civil disobedience has to be directed against the salt tax or the land tax or some other particular point — not that that is our final end, but for the time being it is our aim, and we must shoot straight.”

Indeed, this provided a platform from which to escalate direct action:

The nonviolent raids on the salt works at Dharasana ... were deliberately planned by Gandhi with the knowledge that they would provoke extreme repression. He expected such repression to put the British Raj in a very bad light, strengthening the Indian position while weakening the British. Concerning this instance, J. C. Kumarappa has written: 'Dharasana raid was decided upon not to get salt, which was only the means. Our expectation was that the Government would open fire on unarmed crowds .... Our primary object was to show to the world at large the fangs and claws of the Government in all its ugliness and ferocity. In this we have succeeded beyond measure.'

It still took 17 years for Britain to recognize India's independence, but that's really a year shorter than the span between our Stamp Act Congress (1765) to the Treaty of Paris (1783).  Not bad for a bunch of half naked people armed with handfuls of mud.

ntodd

April 7, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Speaking Of Friendly Boycotts

American Friend Service Committee on something dear to my heart:

In the context of Israel and Palestine AFSC supports the the use of boycott and divestment campaigns targeting only companies that support the occupation, settlements, militarism, or any other violations of international humanitarian or human rights law. Our position does not call for a full boycott of Israel nor of companies because they are either Israeli or doing business in Israel.  Our actions also never focus on individuals.

Our support for the use of boycotts and divestments is contextualized by Quakers and AFSC's long support for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions as economic tactics that appeal to human conscience and change behavior. In the 1800s, Quakers helped lead the “Free Produce Movement,” a boycott of goods produced using slave labor. In recent times, AFSC has participated in boycott and divestment campaigns connected to the in the civil rights, anti-apartheid, farm worker, and prison rights struggles.

Since 1948 AFSC has worked with both Palestinians and Israelis to achieving a just and lasting peace and we remain committed to supporting nonviolent activism designed to achieve this end. Taking into account AFSC principles and history, AFSC supports all nonviolent efforts to realize peace and justice in Israel and Palestine including the strategic use of boycott, divestment, and sanctions tactics.

For some reason, lots of Soda Stream crap has been popping up in my feeds, so I felt compelled to remind people that they are very, very bad and should not be supported by all right thinking people.

ntodd

March 27, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana, Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Anti Dumb War

As I've said elsewhere, I wish:

“The world is starving for American leadership. But America has an anti-war president,” Boehner said during a press conference. “We have no strategy, overarching strategy to deal with the growing terrorist threat.”

“It’s not just ISIS or al Qaeda and all of their affiliates,” the speaker added. “We’ve got a serious problem facing the world, and America by and large is sitting on the sidelines.”

Never mind the troops remaining in Afghanistan, and hundreds of bases all over the world, and the drone strikes against targets in sovereign countries.  Never mind US operations against ISIS, and Obama's request to Congress for war powers (which makes this a puzzler since they usually get mad at him for doing stuff on his own).

No American president is anti-war.  None, ever.

ntodd

March 27, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Day Of Prayer And Fasting For Indiana

Bobby is a good friend and Friend, but I think misses the mark here:

I am not a fan of boycotts; they rarely work and harm innocent people who depend on the boycotted industry or place.

Part of the point is to harm people in a nonviolent, recoverable way so they see the impact of their (in)action in the face of grave injustice.  And boycotts enjoy a long, effective history.

Anyway, my buddy continues:

However, it would be very un-Quakerly to embarrass the good religious people of Indiana by giving them my gay business or my gay money, so I will not put them in the awkward position of having to accept it as long as this legalized gay-bashing is in place. I’m sure they will understand that I’m doing them a big favor.

It sort of reminds me of this scene from Gandhi.  Yes, I compared a blogger to the Mahatma.

ntodd

March 26, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Commonweal In Christ

It started in Ohio:

In 1894, Jacob S. Coxey, an owner of a sand quarry in Massillon, Ohio, faced difficult financial times as the Panic of 1893 gripped the United States. In protest of the federal government's failure to assist the American populace during this economic downturn, Coxey formed a protest march that became known as "Coxey's Army." The group left Massillon, numbering one hundred men, on Easter Sunday, with the intention of marching to Washington, DC, to demand that the United States government assist the American worker. As the group marched to Washington, hundreds more workers joined it along the route. Coxey claimed that his army would eventually number more than 100,000 men. By the time that the army reached Washington, it numbered only five hundred men.

Upon arriving in Washington, Coxey and his supporters demanded that the federal government immediately assist workers by hiring them to work on public projects such as roads and government buildings. The United States Congress and President Grover Cleveland refused.

The New York Times reported--in a tone one modern chronicler calls "bewildered amusement"--the day before departure:

IN DREAMS HE SEES AN ARMY.; Then Coxey Awakes and Sees Only Fifty Tramps.

MASSILLON, Ohio, March 24 -- Nearly 100 recruits for Coxey's Commonweal Army arrived to-day from different points. Most of them are tramps who camped in the woods surrounding the town during the night. A number of them slept in the lock-up, but were rehersed this morning. Among the arrivals is lass M. McCallum, who represents Mrs. Lease, and who asked permission to have her address the army at Pittsburg, which Coxey refused.
...
It is claimed by Marshal Browne that nearly fifty recruits have arrived in Massillon, but up to last night, none of them had been discovered, and reputable Massillonians asserted that the arrivals were all in the mind of the the “Seer and Prophet” as the Marshal styles himself.  The headquarters of the Commonweal consist of one unfurnished room in a new block in West Main Street, one small desk, which when new, cost $7.25, one small soft-coal stove, one nail keg, two chairs, and one saloon table, which has recently seen some service.  Here the mail is opened every morning, and plans for the great movement are talked over.

The Paper of Record didn't know quite what to make of all this, and it's not clear the particpants did either.  While there was a good bit of energy and a lot of common interest, there doesn't appear to have been a whole lot of cohesion in the so-called army.

For example, here's a story in the Times on April 14COMMONWEALERS NIGH UNTO RIOT.; Marshal Browne Bounced by Coxey's "Unknown" in Maryland.  And then when they arrived in DC on April 30th:

  • COXEY WILL DEFY THE LAW - WILL SPEAK AT THE CAPITOL EVEN IF FORBIDDEN. (April 30)
  • COXEY PLACED UNDER ARREST - The Leader of the Mob of Tramps...May Be Fined or Imprisoned Sixty Days. (May 2)
  • COXEY'S ARMY DWINDLING AWAY - According to the order issued yesterday by the District Commissioners, Gen. Coxley would have to remove his camp by Saturday morning...[he] explained that it would be impossible for him to get his men out on so short notice. (May 10)

None other than Jack London took part in the Western contingent:

A "stiff" is a tramp. It was once my fortune to travel a few weeks with a "push" that numbered two thousand. This was known as "Kelly's Army." Across the wild and woolly West, clear from California, General Kelly and his heroes had captured trains; but they fell down when they crossed the Missouri and went up against the effete East. The East hadn't the slightest intention of giving free transportation to two thousand hoboes. Kelly's Army lay helplessly for some time at Council Bluffs. The day I joined it, made desperate by delay, it marched out to capture a train.
...
Then some local genius solved the problem. We wouldn't walk. Very good. We should ride. From Des Moines to Keokuk on the Mississippi flowed the Des Moines River. This particular stretch of river was three hundred miles long. We could ride on it, said the local genius; and, once equipped with floating stock, we could ride on down the Mississippi to the Ohio, and thence up the Ohio, winding up with a short portage over the mountains to Washington.

Des Moines took up a subscription. Public-spirited citizens contributed several thousand dollars. Lumber, rope, nails, and cotton for calking were bought in large quantities, and on the banks of the Des Moines was inaugurated a tremendous era of shipbuilding. Now the Des Moines is a picayune stream, unduly dignified by the appellation of "river." In our spacious western land it would be called a "creek." The oldest inhabitants shook their heads and said we couldn't make it, that there wasn't enough water to float us. Des Moines didn't care, so long as it got rid of us, and we were such well-fed optimists that we didn't care either.

Pay special attention to what happened when London and 9 others went Galt.  Anyway, being an angry, dispossesed tramp is a lot of work...

ntodd

March 25, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Forces More Powerful


Yesterday's post with Julian Bond made me think of the SNCC, Jim Lawson, and Diane Nash.  So here's an excerpt from A Force More Powerful.

ntodd

March 19, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Adams Would've Gotten Away With It, Too

If it hadn't been for those damned, meddling Quakers:

Logan watched closely as Adams responded to naval maneuvers by the French, who had been made uneasy by unresolved treaty obligations and a new U.S.-Britain pact. Soon, the president was securing increased funds for a U.S. Navy and recalling George Washington in preparation for a ground war.

Disturbed by raging anti-French sentiment in Congress, Logan decided to travel to France, hoping to test the waters for peace with the Directory (the post-Revolutionary council). Once there, he proceeded to do what Quakers do best: He listened. When he came home, he talked about what he had heard - and this perhaps is why historian Edward Channing said Logan did "materially" shift the tide of American public opinion from war to peace.

But while he was gone, Congress had passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which, among other things, made it a crime to criticize the president. And because so many members of Congress regarded Logan's freelance diplomacy as traitorous, the Logan Amendment was attached to the law.

Logan didn't return home empty-handed. He had secured the release of some captured U.S. sailors and carried a list of possible terms for peace negotiators. However, when he arrived in November 1798, he was immediately, if briefly, arrested. He was never prosecuted - not then and not even a few years later, when he tried to keep the peace with England before the War of 1812.

Via Noz.

ntodd

March 18, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Holding Juanita Nelson In The Light


Juanita Nelson on Democracy Now! discussing War Tax Resistance, Civil Rights & Simple Living.

Being absorbed in personal things this week, I failed to notice that Juanita (one of Gram's contemporaries) had died on Monday.  I met her in Deerfield at a WTR gathering several years back, and was very humbled by her life's example.  She blazed with a light that should provide a moral beacon for us all.

ntodd

March 14, 2015 in Conscience, Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Another March

On March 12, 1930, Mahatma Gandhi gave some parting remarks at Chandola lake to those who came to see his party off as they began the Salt March:

There were rumours of my arrest last night. God is great, mysterious indeed are His ways. I am here to say good-bye to you. But even if I were in prison, with your strength I could come back...

[B]e prepared to offer yourselves as civil resisters. Let there be no flinching. Your way at present, however, lies homeward; mine straight on to the sea-coast. You cannot accompany me at present, but you will have an opportunity to accompany me in a different sense later. . . .

The purpose of the March and this satyagraha was, in part, to break the British monopoly on salt manufacture through a form of economic non-cooperation (Method 90: Revenue Refusal).  By making their own salt, Indians would deny a small, symbolic amount of tax monies to the Raj in defiance of an unjust law that was part of the larger injustice of occupation.

By itself, that action wouldn't amount to much, so Gandhi had to generate what we'd call buzz today, hence the March.  It generated popular interest in every locality his party passed through, and the media propagated the message far and wide.

Before embarking on this first stage of the satyagraha, Gandhi wrote to the Viceroy, Lord Irwin on March 2:

I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might fairly be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks, often of the gravest character. Conversion of a nation that has consciously or unconsciously preyed I know that in embarking on non-violence I shall be running what might fairly be termed a mad risk. But the victories of truth have never been won without risks, often of the gravest character. Conversion of a nation that has consciously or unconsciously preyed. 
...
[I]f you cannot see your way to deal with these evils and my letter makes no appeal to your heart, on the 11th day of this month,1 I shall proceed with such co-workers of the Ashram as I can take, to disregard the provisions of the salt laws. I regard this tax to be the most iniquitous of all from the poor man’s standpoint. As the independence movement is essentially for the poorest in the land the beginning will be made with this evil. The wonder is that we have submitted to the cruel monopoly for so long.

It is, I know, open to you to frustrate my design by arresting me. I hope that there will be tens of thousands ready, in a disciplined manner, to take up the work after me, and, in the act of disobeying the Salt Act to lay themselves open to the penalties of a law that should never have disfigured the Statute-book.

It might seem odd at first blush to alert the authorities that you plan on breaking the law, but civil resistance is all about letting the people in power know what you're doing and why.  That way they can either amend their ways or be provoked into counterproductive actions that undermine their authority and give power to the resisters.

A few days before the March ended in Dandi, spoke at a prayer meeting:

Another piece of information that I have received is that the Government intends to use fire-engines to stop us. We have prepared ourselves for death from cannons and guns, compared to which this is nothing. Of course, even with jets of water, the Government can kill us through torture. It is certainly painful. However, you must bear in mind that not one of us will retreat. I do not think the Government will be so cruel, but we must be prepared.

The March arrived at Dandi on April 5:

That I have reached here is in no small measure due to the power of peace and non-violence: that power is universally felt. The Government may, if it wishes, congratulate itself on acting as it has done, for it could have arrested every one of us. In saying that it did not have the courage to arrest this army of peace, we praise it. It felt ashamed to arrest such an army. He is a civilized man who feels ashamed to do anything which his neighbours would disapprove. The Government deserves to be congratulated on not arresting us, even if it desisted only from fear of world opinion.

Tomorrow we shall break the salt tax law. Whether the Government will tolerate that is a different question. It may not tolerate it, but it deserves congratulations on the patience and forbearance it has displayed in regard to this party.

If the civil disobedience movement becomes widespread in the country and the Government tolerates it, the salt law may be taken as abolished. I have no doubt in my mind that the salt tax stood abolished the very moment that the decision to break the salt laws was reached and a few men took the pledge to carry on the movement even at the risk of their lives till swaraj was won.

If the Government tolerates the impending civil disobedience you may take it for certain that the Government, too, has resolved to abolish this tax sooner or later. If they arrest me or my companions tomorrow, I shall not be surprised, I shall certainly not be pained. It would be absurd to be pained if we get something that we have invited on ourselves.

Then on April 6 (as reported by The Bombay Chronicle):

When they made a beginning in the morning he had himself picked up more mud than salt, but after washing and cleaning he could get two tolas of pure quality which was sufficient for his day’s requirements. That was only a beginning but that signified great things.

In an interview, Gandhi suggested everybody ought to engage in this civil disobedience:

Now that a technical or ceremonial breach of the salt law has been committed, it is now open to anyone who would take the risk of prosecution under the salt law to manufacture salt wherever he wishes and wherever it is convenient.

My advice is that a worker should everywhere manufacture salt and where he knows how to prepare clean salt should make use of it and instruct villagers to do likewise, telling the villagers at the same time that he runs the risk of being prosecuted. In other words the villagers should be fully instructed as to the incidence of salt tax and the manner of breaking laws and regulations in connection with it, so as to have the salt tax repealed and it should be made absolutely clear to the villagers that this breach is to be open and in no way stealthy.

This condition being known they may manufacture salt or help themselves to salt manufactured by nature in creeks and pits near the seashore, to use it for themselves and for their cattle and to sell it to those who will buy it, it being well und- erstood that all such people are committing a breach of the salt law and therefore running the risk of prosecution or even without prosecution to be subjected by the so-called salt officers to harassment. Thus the war against salt tax should be continue...

Gandhi was not arrested yet.  That would happen a bit later when the satyagrahis escalated, announcing their nonviolent raid on the Dharasana saltworks.  But this was a real turning point in the struggle, massively mobilizing the Indian people while not alienating more moderate members of the Indian National Congress.

Sometimes big things start with a mere handful of mud...

ntodd

March 12, 2015 in Pax Americana | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack