American Friends Service Committee
Patrica Watson, Editor
Sara Burke, Assistant Editor
Pat Farren, Founding Editor
2161 Massachusetts Ave.
Peacework has been published monthly since 1972, intended to serve as a source of dependable information to those who strive for peace and justice and are committed to furthering the nonviolent social change necessary to achieve them. Rooted in Quaker values and informed by AFSC experience and initiatives, Peacework offers a forum for organizers, fostering coalition-building and teaching the methods and strategies that work in the global and local community. Peacework seeks to serve as an incubator for social transformation, introducing a younger generation to a deeper analysis of problems and issues, reminding and re-inspiring long-term activists, encouraging the generations to listen to each other, and creating space for the voices of the disenfranchised.
Views expressed are those of the authors, not necessarily of the AFSC.
From the editor's desk
February, the dismal month. C. S. Lewis in the Chronicles of Narnia describes a land where it is "always winter and never Christmas." That about sums it up. Nevertheless, there's work to be done.
For starters, reclaiming the intent of the Constitution. Attorney Margaret Burnham spells out how the Supreme Court has grotesquely hijacked the 14th Amendment's promise of equal rights under law. And Susan Starr, revisiting Selma, Alabama 45 years after her father marched there in solidarity with brave black citizens insisting on what was theirs by right, shows us that in the year 2001 some of the same threats remain and the same struggles have to be replayed.
It is not going to be easy. Our self-appointed president wants to surround himself with a cabinet of war-makers who have strong preferences, each of them, for the overdog. Of a number of troubling appointments, John Swomley fleshes out two resumes that he finds particularly worrisome.
The subtext, until this country faces and comes to terms with its dilemma, is race. So in the dreary month--no accident someone chose February, not July, to be "Black History Month"--we offer you some refection: reviews by Erin Miller and Andrew Millington which explore race in our consciousness and culture, a reminder of the facts about a man to whom the 42nd President of the United States did not grant clemency, and a reading for voices on the nature of white privilege.
There's not such a disconnect as might appear between all of these articles and what comes next--nuclear weapons. Martin Luther King, now safely pigeon-holed by some in a safe, I-have-a-dream box, understood very well the connection between civil and economic rights at home and war-making abroad. It was when he began to spell out the connection and preach about it that he finally came to be seen as too dangerous to live. Thus peace activists across the nation, from the UN steps to the Pacific, choose to honor his birthday by marches and vigils against nuclear weapons and the cruel effects of war and sanctions. We describe two such actions which happened in our neighborhood, both of them focused on depleted uranium. Carol Dwyer describes a snowy MLK Day in Concord, Massachusetts, and columnist Linda Weltner remembers a summer pilgrimage on the anniversaries of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. DU has suddenly made its way onto the front pages of the nation's consciousness, now that soldiers are getting sick. One wonders where our concern, indeed our humanity, has been these several years while our nation has been engaging in radioactive war in the Persian Gulf and the Balkans and what kind of racism and xenophobia permit us to worry about the health of soldiers but not the health of children in far away lands.
Ah! the Balkans. Our two essayists spell out the follies and failures of western policy-makers intent only on their own "self-interest," while US-made DU penetrators litter the landscape in Bosnia and Kosovo. So much for peace-keeping.
A status report on rights, economic and human, in Palestine, oddly enough brings this issue of Peacework full circle. It's time to look squarely at the underlying racism that would support one people's right to return to what is for them a holy homeland, but remain indifferent to the longing of another people for the same right to return. No accident at all that the other people in question here, the Palestinians, are darker skinned, Muslim, "different."
We tucked a little note from our friend Hattie Nestel in an odd corner of this Peacework. She's an intrepid marcher for peace and justice, and an incorrigible repeat offender. We sometimes wonder if she feels more at home in jail than out (shades of Thoreau). Perhaps her optimism may encourage some of the rest of us to make a modest stab at civil disobedience. We are mindful that the cost for some is heavy. For instance, Phil Berrigan and Susan Crane, of the Prince of Peace Plowshares who protested at the Bath Iron Works two years ago, are just out of prison and may well face onerous parole conditions.
James Carroll, in a Boston Globe column that appeared on the Feast of the Epiphany--that's 12th Night, the last day of Christmas--talked about the bold protest of the Electoral College vote by the Senate Black Caucus. We remembered his closing sentence while we were clutching a candle at yet another homeless vigil last night: "Those who sit atop the social and economic pyramid always speak of love, while those at the bottom always speak of justice."