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Ivan Boothe's blog


5 reasons targeting "violence in the media" won't help heal our society

There exists in this country a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people.”

If you can believe it, that’s NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre, talking not of the gun industry but of the video game industry.

In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, many peace and justice advocates suggested reducing violent media as one solution to school shootings and gun violence. Last week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California announced that she may push for additional regulation of violent video games. Feinstein, a Democrat, joins members of both parties — including Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Diane Black (R. Tenn) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), who introduced a related bill in December — who are focusing on violent media as a catalyst for gun violence.

(Today, incidentally, a much more substantive action is taking place as part of an interfaith call-in day, of which FOR is a part.)

I’d like to suggest efforts focused solely on “violent media” are misguided, not only because they won’t work but because they help obscure both the structural power supporting gun violence and innovative movements already in place to end it.

Honoring active nonviolence, from the U.S. to the Middle East

This month marks the ten-year anniversary of the start of the U.S. war on Iraq, in which worldwide grassroots anti-war campaigns, while unsuccessful in preventing the war, were acknowledged as “the other world superpower.”

Tomorrow also marks the ten-year anniversary of the murder of Rachel Corrie, a U.S. civilian activist killed in Gaza, Palestine, protesting the demolition of homes by the Israeli military occupation. Rachel, who was participating with the International Solidarity Movement, was building on some of the nonviolent strategies developed in the First Intifada 25 years ago.

As we mark these events, let’s recommit our work in active nonviolence, taking both principled and strategic nonviolent direct action on behalf of justice and peace.

The Occupy movement: What democracy looks like

In my last post, I talked about how the “Occupy” movement originated, and its potential to provide a space for renewed social justice and community organizing. In this blog, I’ll take a look at how “Occupy” events are structured and organized, drawing on my involvement with Occupy Philadelphia. I’ll also highlight some of the constructive criticism surrounding Occupy Wall Street and similar events — in particular as it relates to anti-racism and racial justice.

I’ll also be including videos from Occupy Philly actions, as well as short videos of participants describing why they’re at Occupy Philly, using the “people’s mic” technique that I describe below.

If you’re involved in “Occupy” events in your community, please leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear about and promote any involvement by FOR members in these projects.

The Occupy movement: 'We are here. We have already won.'

I’m writing this from the grounds of Occupy Philadelphia, which has been in residence at Philly City Hall since last Thursday. It is in the spirit and model of the Occupy Wall Street event, and part of the unofficial network being called “Occupy Together.” More than 1,500 cities have some kind of groups organized, virtually all without organizational backing (more details about that below).

Are you involved in an “Occupy Together” event where you live? Do you have thoughts on Occupy Wall Street and similar events? Be sure to leave us a comment below, or contact us directly — we want to promote our members’ involvement!

And if you’re not involved and want to check it out, it’s likely there’s something happening near you — take a look at the directory!

Below, I’m going to outline a quick history and talk about the goals and achievements of these events as I’ve interpreted them, and highlight interfaith participation. In my next post, I’ll look at the process they use for organizing, and touch on their intersection with racial justice movements. I’ll also be interspersing the text with images from Occupy Philly.

ACT NOW: Another chance to save Troy Davis

Since we last posted about Georgia death row prisoner Troy Davis, more than 600,000 letters have been delivered to the Georgia pardon board asking for Troy’s execution to be stayed because of persistent doubts about his conviction. Thousands have rallied in major cities around the country, including 3,500 people in Atlanta on Friday.

While the Georgia pardon board could still prevent the execution, there is one other possibility: The Georgia county district attorney who asked for Troy’s execution could ask to take it back.

Please take action now and ask District Attorney Larry Chisholm to seek a withdrawal of Troy Davis’ death warrant.

Bradley Manning national call-in day today: Join 30,000 others in protesting inhumane treatment

The successful “people power” movement in Tunisia that took place last month was driven, in part, by documents about Tunisia’s political elite contained in the Wikileaks publications.

Bradley Manning, a U.S. citizen, is currently under punitive detainment and confinement by the Pentagon for his alleged participation in these leaks.

Please call the White House today on behalf of Bradley, until 5:00 PM Eastern time, at (202) 456-1414. Read detailed talking points.

Martin Luther King Jr. in His Own Words: Radical, Revolutionary, and Opposed to War

[Originally posted on the FOR blog last year, we’re republishing it today in honor of Martin Luther King Day. —eds.]

Some lesser-known quotes from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to combat the dominant “dreamer/reformer” idea that will be sold by the media tomorrow. King was nothing less than a radical revolutionary — which you know if you’ve read his most important speech (but if you don’t believe me, you can hear him say it himself).

It’s particularly important to remember his opposition to war and violence in light of recent attempts by the Pentagon to appropriate Dr. King’s words as a way to curry support for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Prisoners in Georgia undertake nonviolent strike for human rights

For the past five days, prisoners in Georgia have been engaged in the largest prison strike in U.S. history, crossing lines of race and cultural affiliation. Calling for basic human rights, humane living conditions, nutritious food, compensation for work and access to education, the prisoners’ tactics have been entirely nonviolent, and as of today, residents in four prisons continue to be on strike.

Prison activists are asking everyone to contact the Georgia state prisons to express your support for the striking prisoners, as wardens have already begun violent reprisals toward the inmates in retailiation for the strike. The more they hear the outside world is paying attention, the more likely they will be to be forced to treat the prisoners with human decency.