From: Francis Feeley <Francis.Feeley@u-grenoble3.fr>
8 May 2002
My bedside reading last night included a copy of Aesop's Fables (written
some 2500 years ago). I opened the book to the following page...
"The Fisherman and Troubled Water"
A fisherman went to a river to fish, and when he had laid his
nets, he tied a stone to a long cord and beat the water on
both sides of the net to drive the fish into the meshes. One
of his neighbors who lived nearby saw him doing this and
became upset. Therefore, he went up to the fisherman and
reproached him for disturbing the water and makiing it so
muddy that it was unfit to drink.
"I'm sorry about this," said the fisherman, "but it is only
by troubling the waters that I can earn my living."
For a remarkably detailed analysis of "The Masters of War" in the 21st
Century readers are encouraged to visit the CIESIMSA web site
<www.u-grenoble3.fr/ciesimsa> and read Professor James Stevenson's series
of articles on the U.S. military-industrial complex today. [See Atelier
No. 2 on our web site.]
Recently our Grenoble Center for the Advanced Study of American
Institutions and Social Movements has been receiving much mail, and one
article sent to us from San Diego, California describes the grassroots
anti-war movement in one of the most militarized zones on our planet. We
thank Montgomery Reed Kroopkin of San Diego for sharing this information
Peace Keepers: Weekly downtown protests are just a portion of anti-war activists' efforts
by Mark Sauer
Staff Writer, San Diego Union/Tribune, April 22, 2002
Smiling and earnest as the Quaker
she is, Pam Barratt stood on a downtown street corner with a sign
protesting America's war on terrorism. Her sentiment was not universally embraced. "Why don't you
support our troops," one motorist hollered. "Hey, maybe we should bomb you, you stupid bitch,"
bellowed another, offering his middle finger as an exclamation point. Being a peace activist in San Diego, a city that boasts the largest concentration of active and retired military personnel in the nation, is not for the faint hearted. "I thought I might be protected by my appearance, being an old granny type," Barratt said with a wry smile.
"Actually, a lot of people honk and
wave, mostly women. But, yes, we take a lot of guff out here. We try not
to get angry back at them. "This is America, after all. We should be able
to present another point of view."
Many Americans reacted to the attacks of Sept. 11 with blood in their eyes and vengeance in their hearts.
But not everyone. The din of shrieking missiles, exploding dynamite and rumbling tanks from Afghanistan to the Middle East may drown out chants of "give peace a chance." But San Diego's feisty band of peace activists still strain to be heard with a passion and commitment echoing across decades. They turn out by the hundreds at
rallies protesting bloodshed between Israelis and Palestinians, the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, U.S. military aid to Colombia. And they show up by the handful at "consciousness raising" events focusing on world hunger, poverty, pollution, bio-engineering, globalization and other issues embraced by the left. More than 2,000 peaceniksperjorative. dictionary says 'usually a hostile term' turned up at Marston Middle School on a recent Friday evening to hear Michael Moore, the irreverent left-wing champion. A banner was placed onstage by Activist San Diego, a network of social-justice groups, read: "We Won't Shut Up!" Moore tossed some red meat see above to the overflow crowd of college professors, union leaders, Indian-rights advocates, old Vietnam War
protesters and fellow travelers see remarks about peaceniks above. this has a really slanted tone to me-eg when he condemned President Bush's press secretary, Ari Fleischer, for warning that in times like these
"people have to watch what they say and watch what they do." Moore had another idea. "Dissent. Speak your mind. Question authority," he urged. "What is more American than that?" Xenophobic flag-waving One of those applauding Moore's irreverence was Marjorie Cohn, a professor at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.
Asked her views on the Bush administration's
war on terrorism, Cohn referred to a recent essay of hers titled,
"The Patriotic Duty to Dissent." It begins with this quotation from
Hitler's henchman, Herman Goering: "It is always a simple matter to drag
the people along. All you have to do is to tell them they are being
attacked and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism. It
works the same in any country." San Diego peace activists fear that is
what's happening in post-9/11 America. "Many people oppose the direction
of the government's war on terror, which Vice President Dick Cheney
warns will last 50 years and extend to 50 or 60 countries," Cohn wrote.
"Yet many fear they will be harassed for speaking out against the
government in this time of xenophobic
flag-waving." Fear of harassment doesn't deter the handful of peacemakers, many of them Quakers, who carry
their anti-war message to the downtown streets every Tuesday during the morning commute. When not in
San Diego protesting the war on terrorism, Pam Barratt and her husband, Ken, split their time between his native England and Bolivia, where they work on agricultural projects to help the people of South America's poorest
nation. The Barratts share the concern of many San Diego peace activists that the U.S. media generally
has tunnel vision regarding the war on terror and fails to present views from around the world. "The
media all seem to accept the government's view that there was only one response available to the
tragic events of 9/11 and that was to bomb Afghanistan," said Pam Barratt. The daughter of a cranberry grower
from rural Wisconsin, Barratt said she attended Catholic boarding school as a child and wound up rejecting "the dogma of the church" for the Quakers' more humanistic view. She and Ken, who met at a Quakers conference in Honduras 20 years ago, have dedicated their lives to finding peaceful solutions to conflict, mostly in the world's poorest countries. "In Britain, the opposition's side is truly shown. If (Prime Minister) Tony Blair is interviewed on radio, for example, he is pinned down and forced to answer tough questions. Here, it's so bland. Even opposition leaders in Congress are branded traitors for daring to suggest that we have a debate on the next phase of the war." San Diego peace activist Tanja Winter was reared in Europe and has spent more than 50 years protesting
war. She has embraced a wide range of social causes, from helping maquiladora workers and victims of the
Chernobyl nuclear accident, to conflict-resolution in state prisons and ending political strife in Nicaragua. As tragic as Sept. 11 was, it should have been characterized and prosecuted as a crime, not an
act of war, Winter said. "George Orwell in '1984' talked about perpetual war against a vague,
unidentifiable enemy, a war that continues to mobilize and blind the population. And here it is. "Without
good reason, the public here is extremely insecure, economically and physically; afraid of losing their
jobs, of losing everything. It's easy to manipulate people who are afraid." Numbers game It
is difficult to know how many "peace sympathizers" negative connotation there are in San Diego. Carol
Jahnkow, executive director of the local Peace Resource Center, said San Diego's 40 or so social-justice
organizations have about 800 dues-paying members. "But if you paid last year and haven't got around to it this year, we don't kick you off the list," she said. Martin Eder, director of Activist San Diego, estimated that those opposed to war and other violent responses to political failures number between 10 and 15 percent of the
population. "We're talking about perhaps a quarter-million potential constituents here," Eder said. "We
speak for the 80 percent of those people who would never consider marching in the street for a cause."
Jahnkow said she came from an apolitical family. But her father was a strong union man, and she
describes herself as "a child of the '60s. I came of age during the Vietnam war and threw myself into
anti-war work." "For me," she said, "it has to do with moral obligations. We all have to get up every day and
make our choices." Martin Eder grew up in Colombia and said he was a strong supporter of the U.S. war
effort in Vietnam as a South American teen-ager. "I went through a long, painful conversion. I once
thought the U.S. was the most democratic, peace-loving nation in the world. But then I saw the images
of carpet-bombing and came to believe that the U.S. was part of the problem, not the solution." A
longtime labor organizer, Eder has worked as a broadcast journalist in the United States and teaches
sociology and ethnic studies at several community colleges in San Diego. The "silent minority"
represented by social activists like Winter, Jahnkow and Ederthe way this sentence is structured, we're
saying these people are silent. they apparently are not may argue passionately against war at cocktail
parties and around the water cooler. But peace activists are frustrated by their public silence. "I think there
are a lot of people who prefer not to have a violent solution (to the terrorist attacks), but they're not
engaged," Jahnkow said. "Our work is educating the public about why they (those promoting terror) hate us.
It's a difficult job because Americans don't want to hear it." And why do they hate us? "As a nation,
we've dropped that question," said Becca Arnold, who teaches economics at a local community college
and carries anti-war signs downtown on Tuesday morings. "The United States has the wealth to really
make a difference in the world. If we'd spend a billion dollars a month on helping people instead
of attacking people, we could really change the planet. "No other nation in the history of the world
ever had an opportunity like this."
Patriotic tendencies One key thing
that distinguishes the peace movement, Tanja Winter said, is that
"we see ourselves as citizens of the world, not just as Americans. The old slogan think globally, act
locally is a cliché, but it's true." But what about patriotism?
Peace activists said they are dedicated
to making America and the world a better place. But the idea
that citizens of this country should blindly follow leaders into war without serious and vigorous debate rankles them. "Is it patriotic to support a president and administration who want to build an empire to which the rest of the world must be subservient?" asked Eder. "Is it patriotic to support a country that spends more on its military each year than the rest of the world combined?" Jahnkow said the word patriotism bothers her. It is
a loaded word that means a zealous, unquestioning love of country that Jahnkow finds dangerous. "It means different things to different people. I can't accept it," she said. "Look, I love this country. I have greatly benefited from the values of this country. I know how incredibly fortunate it was for us to have been born here in this time and place. "I want to share the good values of America with others. But I don't want to share them through the gun. We can all live a pretty good life if we learn to share."
Copyright 2002 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.