This fall in New York City, FOR will hold our first Peace Banquet and Boat Cruise on Sunday, October 11th from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. This special "Peace on the River" celebratory event and fundraiser will be held in the glass-enclosed "Bateaux New York," which will cruise on the scenic Hudson River with views of Ellis Island, Liberty Island, and downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Can we imagine a white male nominee to the Supreme Court being asked how his race or gender clouds his judgment or gives him unfair bias in applying and upholding the rule of law? The degree to which this scenario is outrageous, funny, or unthinkable is the degree to which those identities are the invisibilized norm, the standard against which all else is measured as being “too much”, “too little”, “too strange”, “biased”, “other”. I love the insight of writer Adrienne Rich, “In a patriarchal society, ”˜objectivity’ is the name we give to male subjectivity.” This applies as well to race and ethnicity in the United States, where whiteness is rarely named, let alone scrutinized as a historically constructed identity that grants unearned power and privilege. Yet in the public scrutiny of Sotomayor, it is made glaringly evident that whiteness = objectivity, impartiality, neutrality. What is implied screams loudly.
During the past few weeks the political tensions around Israel & Palestine have increased dramatically in the United States. Following President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo, strong supporters of Israel lambasted the president for challenging the growth of settlements in the West Bank and for not condemning Palestinian aggression more pointedly. (The Netanyahu government has likewise become more vocal about taking matters into its own hands when necessary — especially vis-a-vis Iran.) Peace activists who tried to bring humanitarian supplies by boat to end the blockade of Gaza were stopped at sea by Israeli armed forces and imprisoned. After several unsuccessful attempts to do so, other peace activists managed to travel by land to Gaza through Egypt, provoking the ire of Israel and its supporters.
This morning, award-winning independent journalist Amy Goodman interviewed FOR's John Lindsay-Poland, co-director of our Latin America & the Caribbean program, live on "Democracy Now!" If you missed the live program, you can still listen and/or watch the program on the internet "on demand" at www.democracynow.org — the nine-minute interview appears in the last quarter-hour of the program.
Here's the "teaser" that the DN! producers have placed on their website to promote the segment:
Stupid is as stupid does. It’s a cliché. Calibrate? I prefer the bluntness of the truth.
The fact and act of the arrest of Henry Louis Gates, Jr. in his own home by a police force presumably sensitive to the issues of race and power is worthy of continuing reflection and commentary. There may not be much to learn that’s new, but there is a good deal to be reminded of about the way racial stereotypes and triggers produce regrettable outcomes. Outcomes that reflect on-going prejudice and inequality; fear and ignorance in some white Americans and a tragic anger in some black Americans.
I've written previously on this site, and elsewhere, of my feelings that JFK and the Unspeakable was the most important book of 2008. Written by Jim Douglass, a long-time Catholic Worker anti-war and disarmament activist who along with his wife Shelley have been leaders in the Fellowship of Reconciliation for many years, the book is not only a look back at the amazing period of John F. Kennedy's transformation from a Cold War politician to an advocate for peace — it offers a framework for viewing the dangers and hopes we might foresee during the Obama years.
As Congress prepares to consider more Iran sanctions, it should also consider that confrontational U.S. policies have come nowhere close to changing Iran's behavior in the last 30 years. On the other hand, in reaction to a contested election, the Iranians have formed an unprecedented home-grown movement for political expression through their own resources, their own desire for democratic progress, and their own sacrifices.
No coercive American government policy — be it threat of force or punitive sanctions or negative broadcast propaganda — is responsible for the wave of mass public protest that has taken Tehran by storm and split its political and religious establishments over the last month.
In the minds of many of us in the West, the Korean War concluded decades ago — indeed, before I was even born. But that is not factually the case, as a permanent peace treaty was never signed by the United States to officially end the conflict. In recent months, despite the heightened rhetoric about North Korea's nuclear capabilities and bellicose attitude toward international agencies (including the United Nations), Korean and Korean-American activists have increased efforts to press for such a treaty.
Earlier this week, I shared words written by Mairead Corrigan Maguire while in prison in Israel. Now I just received a postcard from a friend in Sweden, Martin Smedjeback, who had just been released after four months in prison.
Martin and I met two years ago when he traveled through the United States, learning about civil disobedience tactics and various forms of spiritually-centered peace activism here — we attended the first U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta together (mark your calendars: the dates for the second U.S. Social Forum have just been announced: July 22-26, 2010 in Detroit, under the banner of "Another World Is Possible; Another U.S. Is Necessary!").
July 16, 2009: Oakland, CA: In a stunning development, the United States is negotiating for the use of five military facilities in Colombia in an agreement whose objectives include “filling the gaps left by the eventual cutting of [military] aid in Plan Colombia,” according to sources in Washington and Bogotá cited by an explosive article published in this week’s Cambio magazine.
The five bases, which replace a U.S. base in Manta, Ecuador, closing in September, would expand the U.S. military mission to include counter-narcotic operations, involvement in Colombia’s counterinsurgency war, and combating “other international crimes,” according to Colombia’s Foreign Minister.