FOR News September 2001
P.O. Box 268
Join Oct. 1 Vigil for Life for Michael Tisius
Attend Next MADP Meeting Set for Nov. 10
Join in the Following Steps for Peace...
Write to a Mid-Missouri Prisoner of Conscience
Thoughts on the the WTC attack and its aftermath
ARE YOU CONSCIENTIOUSLY OPPOSED TO WAR?
Peace Activist/Veteran to Speak in Columbia
Tune in, Chip in to Community Radio, KOPN-FM
Missouri River Clean-Up Oct. 6
WOMEN IN BLACK VIGIL AGAINST VIOLENCE & WAR
WOMEN IN BLACK: An International Movement of Women for Peace
WOMEN IN BLACK: A WORLD-WIDE MOVEMENT
There's no doubt Michael Tisius on June 22 last year, fatally shot Jason Acton and Leon Egley, who were working as guards at the Randolph County Jail in Huntsville. It was part of Tisius's bungled effort, along with Tracie Bulington to free her boyfriend, Roy Vance who are was incarcerated at the antiquated jail. We with the FOR, condemn Tisius's violent actions and extend our heartfelt sympathy to the mourning families of the two men.
Additionally though, we believe a second, equally reprehensible moral crime is being planned. On Aug. 4, a jury recommended Tisius be sentenced to death.
We urge, citizens concerned with this first local stage in the state-killing process, join us in a Vigil for Life, from 12 Noon to 1:00 pm, Monday, Oct. 1 in front of the Boone County courthouse in Columbia. Join us in fasting that day if you can and please wear black as a sign of respect and mourning for all those affected by this cycle of violence: the Acton, Egley and possibly the Tisius families.
Also join in a peaceful presence in the courtroom of Judge Frank Conley at 1:30 p.m. when he's set to announce his formal sentencing, that is whether he will affirm the jury's recommendation (Conley has previously sentenced more than a half dozen men to death.)
We would also encourage people to write to Judge Conley (c/o Boone County Courthouse, Walnut St., Columbia MO 65201. Urge him to halt this vengeful practice. You may also want to remind him that from all indications, Tisius and Bulington initially intended only to use the pistol to compel the jailors to free Vance, then lock up the guards and leave the area. Other mitigating factors also worth considering: Tisius was raised without a father present; was assaulted several times a week by a larger and older stepbrother until his adolescence; had no prior history of violence and in fact was entrusted with caring for neighbor's children.
None of this pardons his shooting the two men, but would suggest a sentence of life in prison (the only other choice Conley has with the first degree murder conviction) would be an extremely severe sentence, coming short of continuing the state role as an active agent for death. For more information, contact Jeff Stack (449-4585).Back to top
Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty will have its next quarterly meeting from 10:00 a.m.- 2:00 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10 in the Missouri Catholic Conference office at 600 Clark Lane in Jefferson City.
Among the agenda items: an update on the status of individuals living under a death sentence and most in imminent danger of execution; legislation consideration for the 2002 session; longterm strategizing; and whatever folks want to bring to the table. (For folks traveling from the north, take Hwy 63 South exiting at Clark Lane, then turning into the parking lot of the first building visible on the right, west side of the road). For a ride from Columbia call Jeff (449-4585).
As reported in the past FOR News, Steve Jacobs recently began a year-long prison sentence (a atrocious penalty for peace-making) for his nonviolent protests at the U.S. Army's School of the Americas in Ft. Benning. Again, it's one of the prime sites where our government teaches repressive and violent tactics to Latin American soldiers to use when they return to their homelands. For more info on the SOA (including nonviolent action planned in November), log onto www.soaw.org or call Lana Jacobs (573-875-7874) to join mid-Missourians intending to travel there at that time. If you'd like to correspond with her lesser half (although still a fairly delightful and committed gent) write: Steve Jacobs 88110-020, Federal Prison Camp, P.O. Box 1000; Leavenworth KS 66048.Back to top
Like millions of human beings worldwide, my heart ached as I watched the horror unfold Sept. 11. The Mid-Missouri FOR condemns the violent actions that have led to the deaths and injuries of several thousand people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and on four hijacked planes. We mourn with those, likely, millions of people who lost loved ones in these diabolical catastrophes. Along with the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, "We express profound admiration and gratitude for the many people, professional and volunteer [including scores from Missouri], who continue to work tirelessly in rescue and recovery efforts and in caring for survivors." Such horrific occurrences thankfully often does seem to draw out the best in people. And the worst: revenge, retaliation, often hidden beind a shield of so-called "justice, " perhaps like "Operation Infinite Justice," the tentative arrogant codename for any U.S. retaliatory strikes. There is no justification for the terrorism of that dark Tuesday. It's understandable to be enraged.
However, there's no moral basis for the impending global violence threatened by the Bush-Cheney administration and Congress. "From this day forward," Pres. Bush warned in his Thursday (9/21/01) address to Conress, "any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.. .Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists."(Friends of mine who are war veterans note that those leaders clamoring the loudest for war are typically those individuals who have evaded its deadly and terrifying grip, like our current and previous president.) Bush further contended "al Qaeda," a group with "thousands of terrorists (operating) in more than 60 countries," is the group responsible for the attacks. Pentagon sources, according to CNN (9/21/01), report that "a second deployment order is in the works" thus pushing to more than 100 the number of fighter jets and support aircraft which would be deployed to "forward (military) bases" in the Persian Gulf and other undisclosed regions. Bush presented a scenario beneficial only for military contractors and undertakers, a global war waged for years.
John Schuder, co-founder in 1961 of the Mid-MO FOR, implores: "Before we buy into the hype for retaliation against those responsible for the World Trade Center and other tragedies, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether such a response is likely to yield the kind of world we want for ourselves and for our children."
It is critical to publicly gather now to help quiet the drumbeat for war. We find it heartening as well that more than 100 demonstrations for peace with justice-not revenge, took place across the United States on Thursday alone, according to National Public Radio (9/21/01).
Pres. Bush suggested in his Thursday address that U.S. citizens are justifiably asking, "'Why do they (the terrorists) hate us?'" It's a good question to consider.
His answer was patriotic but short-sighted: envy and disdain due to "our democraticallyelected government" (although ironically, a legitimate debate continues about Bush's own ascension to power) and various "freedoms" which curiously he other administration officials and Congress are preparing to impinge in the name of security. The answers to the question are far more complicated and painful than he suggests.
As I viewed the reports of the attacks on network TV two simultaneous currents of thought coursed through me,. Profound sadness (anger too) overwhelmed me as I began vaguely realizing the massive scope of human suffering. There was a second current also, perhaps akin to that felt by school kids who view from a distance a bully routinely assaulting smaller kids. Our country, I lamented, was beginning to reap what we have sown globally. Again, there's no justification for life violently taken anywhere, regardless of a person's race, nationality, etc. Such violence is a sacrilege upon all of humanity.
Larry Mosqueda, a professsor at Evergreen State College in Washington, eloquently noted his extreme horror at the recent attacks but with additional perspective (see FOR website for his full comments). "I had not been that shocked and horrified since January 16, 1991, when then-Pres. George Bush, Sr. attacked Baghdad, and the rest of Iraq and began killing 200,000 people during that 'war' (slaughter)."
He noted many other U.S. wars and covert operations in the past several decades in which he was similarly shocked and horrified, among them: the U.S.-sponsored 1954 coup of a democratically-elected government in Guatemala (120,000 people killed); U.S.-sponsored 1965 coup in Indonesia (800,000 killed); U.S.-sponsored contra war during the 1980's against Nicaragua (30,000 killed. And among the policy's chief architects was John Negroponte, former U.S. ambassador to Honduras-- our nation's new U.S. ambassador to the UN); U.S. sponsored coup from 1952-79 in Iran (70,000 killed) and the U.S. brutalization on Indochina, from 1954-75 which included carpet-bombing, napalming and the covert assassination "Phoenix Program" (4,000,000 killed).
"A conservative number for those who have been killed by U.S. terror and military action since (after) World War II is 8,000,000 people," he sadly estimates. (The primary motivation for most of these atrocities, regrettably has been the enrichment of U.S. and/or multi-national corporate wealth).
Mosqueda recalled the realization in 1967 of Martin Luther King, Jr.: "My government is the world's leading purveyor of violence." It remains true. Our nation is also the world's top weapons' exporter.
Estimates of the dead in the terrorist attacks earlier this month may reach 10,000. It's a somber and horrendous figure to consider. Yet a casualty total pale as a cadaver in comparison to the peoples we have killed, trained and/or paid others to kill (the vast majority of whom were also innocent civilians).
Pres. Bush told Congress and the world, "We have seen their kind before. They (the terrorists) are the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century." If in fact "they" are led by Osama Bin Laden as is contended, these ideologues were indeed even led down the path by the United States. Laden (as well Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein, Panamanian dictator Manuel Norriega and countless other thugs) was employed by the CIA to assist, in this case, with defeating the Soviets in Afghanistan.
These words are not meant to diminish the recent loss of life on our soil, but to help explain why domestically the blood was shed. Pres. Bush correctly noted that the United States has "known wars, but for the past 136 years they have been wars on foreign soil" with the exception of Pearl Harbor. Our general society, with the exception of U.S. military personnel, have not known the ugly and bloody reality of war. On Sept. 11, the reality of what peoples around the world contend with on a regular basis, exploded from our TV sets into our largely, previously-insulated homes. We routinely and appropriately urge other nations to respond with calm in the face of their civil wars and unrest (U.S. sponsored and otherwise).
In 1999, I visited Iraq as a journalist to view firsthand the human dimensions of the U.S.-led UN economic sanctions against the country. UN officials estimate more than 1,000,000 Iraqis, most of them children, have died as a direct result of the sanctions (which have blocked food, medicine and supplies to purify drinking water. All of the nation's major purification plants, along with other "non-military" targets like schools, hospitals and electricity-generation plants were destroyed in the 1991 "Allied" bombardment). Every two months about the same number of children die in Iraq (and have for years now) as perished in the day of hell on U.S. soil.
While in Iraq, I toured three hospitals and saw dozens of child dying. I am a parent of three children. But can I even vaguely understand the profound pain those Iraqi mothers and fathers experience? They watch their sons and daughters dying slow and withering deaths. It's easy to see how parents and others, after seeing so many innocents perish-- could desperately embrace revenge.
Yet remarkably, all but one of the hundreds of Iraqis I met, did not condemn me as a U.S. citizen. They did condemn my government's policies as genocide. I can only wish that our U.S. leaders can single out those relatively few individuals responsible, and not justify waging war against entire nations.
I've drawn compassionate inspiration from some individuals whose lives have been most tragically devastated by the attacks. Phyllis and Orlando Rodriguez, for example, wrote in a recent NY Times: "Our son Greg is among the many missing from the World Trade Center attack. Since we first heard the news, we have shared moments of grief, comfort, hope, despair, fond memories with his wife, the two families, our friends and neighbors, [and] his loving colleagues...We see our hurt and anger reflected among everybody we meet...
"We read enough of the news to sense that our government is heading in the direction of violent revenge, with the prospect of sons, daughters, parents, friends in distant lands dying, suffering, and nursing further grievances against us. It is not the way to go. It will not avenge our son's death. Not in our son's name. Our son died a victim of an inhuman ideology. Our actions should not serve the same purpose. Let us grieve. Let us reflect and pray. Let us think about a rational response that brings real peace and justice to our world. But let us not as a nation add to the inhumanity of our times. (A similar letter was sent to Pres. Bush.)
How we respond tells more about the maturity and evolution of our nation and ourselves, than it does about the violent extremists. Do we violently retaliate against a myriad of the world's peoples as Bush preaches and Congress largely cheerleads-- or, hopefully, through peaceful means, do we with international assistance, track down the perpetrators of the attacks, and with a heightened awareness of the collective pain a nation feels with horrific violence, consider how our foreign policy breeds terrorism?
The FOR further, as you might suspect, opposes the consideration of the death penalty for those who may ultimately be convicted of these horrific crimes. Violence only begets violence and this case, execution would inappropriately elevate the fanatics to martyrdom status, likely inspiring others to follow in their hateful, bloody footsteps-likely once more upon U.S. soil.
The national FOR cogently recognizes in a statement issued later in the day of the attacks: "With shocking suddenness we find ourselves in the position of so many in the world who live in fear and senseless violence. We are humbled by our vulnerability.Vengeance and retaliation cannot be the answer…For they simply increase the spiral of violence and perpetuate and deepen the culture of violence…Can we use this as a moment of truth?
"Will we examine U.S. policies that rely on overwhelming military power and weaponry rather than excelling in the skills of peace-making and the building of civil society...Will we seek to overcome evil with good? This is not a time for panic, suspicion and hate. It is a time to draw upon the deep resources of faith and to examine our lives in the light of the oneness of the human (global) family and the divine spirit that animates us all."
-- Jeff Stack
The Columbia Friends Meeting (Quakers) and the Mid-Mo Fellowship of Reconciliation offer free military/draft counseling.
It's worth thinking about the military, especially recalling 18-year old men are required to register for the draft, which could become re-activated in the massive war scheme getting cooked up by Bush & Co.
For a counseling appointment, phone:
Lana Jacobs 443-0096
John Schuder 445-7569
Jeff Stack 449-4585
Charles Lietky, a Catholic priest and decorated war hero, turned anti-war activist will be in Columbia, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 25-26. Lietky, who has served time in Federal prison for his protests at the U.S. Army School of the Americas, will be speaking in Neff 204 (J-school) at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25 and at the Newman Center at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26.
He's a compelling voice for peace, so don't miss his talks. For more info, contact Peace Studies at 882-2079.Back to top
Mid-Missouri's community radio station, KOPN 89.5 FM, continues its fall pledge drive this week. KOPN is a unique, non-corporate source for news, information and a variety of music. KOPN for instance airs Democracy Now! every weekday morning at 8 a.m. and offers an excellent mix of local talk shows. Open access, community radio is a unique asset that we in mid-Missouri are most fortunate to have, and cannot afford to lose. KOPN is supported almost exclusively by listeners. We invite you to tune in and to consider supporting community radio by calling 874-5676.Back to top
On Saturday, Oct. 6 the Missouri River Communities Network is holding an ambitious cleanup on a 34-mile stretch of the Missouri River, from Hartsburg to Rocheport. The cleanup will be followed by a Trash Bash celebration in Easley. Volunteers are needed. Contact them at www.riverrelief.org or call 256-2602.Back to top
WOMEN IN BLACK
A spontaneous worldwide grassroots movement
Black is the color that we wear;
Black, the color that speaks our anger.
Silence is the language that we speak;
Silence, a language that voices our anguish.
Women in Black say no to all forms of violence.
**Come dressed in Black
**Signs Optional--Our Presence Bespeaks Our Position
**Men also Welcomed to Stand with Us
We will vigil Every Tuesday, 12 Noon-1 p.m. Speakers Circle, UMC Campus (S. 9th St. & Conley St.)======================================================================
The international movement of Women in Black began in Jerusalem in January 1988, one month after the first Palestinian intifada broke out, with a small group of Israeli women who carried out a simple form of protest: Once a week at the same hour and in the same location - a major traffi intersection - they donned black clothing and raised a black sign in the shape of a hand with white lettering that read "Stop the Occupation".
The idea spread quickly and spontaneously to other places in Israel. It was a simple form of protest that women could do easily. We didn't have to get to the big city, we could bring our children, there was no chanting or marching, and the medium was the message. Within months, vigils sprang up throughout Israel.
Several months after the first Women in Black vigil in Israel, "solidarity vigils" began in other countries: Initial reports came from the United States and Canada, and these later spread to Europe and Australia. Some vigils were primarily Jewish, while in other cities, the groups were mixed Jewish and Palestinian.
Around 1990, Women in Black vigils took off with a life of their own. They formed in many countries, and many of these had nothing to do with the Israeli occupation. **In Italy, Women in Black protest a range of issues, from the Israeli occupation to the violence of the Mafia and other organized crime. **In Germany, Women in Black have protested neo-Nazism, racism against migrant workers, and nuclear arms. **Women in Black in Belgrade and Zagreb set a profound example of interethnic cooperation that was an inspiration to their countrywomen and men. **In India, Women in Black hold vigils that call for an end to the ill treatment of women by religious fundamentalists. **Seattle Women in Black hold a vigil whenever a homeless person dies.
Women in Black has become a movement of women of conscience of all
denominations and nationalities who hold vigils to protest violence
in their part of the world:
**the arms industry
**violence against women
**violence in the neighborhoods, etc.
Each vigil is autonomous, setting its own policy and guidelines, though in all the vigils the women dress in black, symbolizing the tragedy of the victims of violence. What unites us all is our commitment to justice and a world free of violence.
In 1991, the movement of Women in Black in Israel won the Aachen Peace Prize and, in 1994, the peace award of the city of San Giovanni d'Asso in Italy. In 2001, the international movement of Women in Black was awarded the Millennium Peace Prize for Women, given by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.==========
Women in Black is a loose network of women world-wide committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to war and other forms of violence. It is not an organisation, but a means of mobilization and a formula for action.
Women in Black demonstrations ... are always women only, and usually take the form of women wearing black, standing in a public place in silent, non-violent vigils at regular times and intervals.
Women in Black's history ... WIB vigils were started in Israel in 1988 by women protesting against Israel's Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, demanding peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Italian women supporters of the Israeli women took the idea back to Italy, where WIB mobilizations have occurred in many cities. Contact between Italian women and the Yugoslav women resulted in the theme being taken up there: Women in Black vigils have been held in Republic Square, Belgrade, opposing the Serbians regime's involvement in aggression.
A worldwide movement ... It is impossible to know how many women there are who identify with Women in Black, how many groups or mailing lists exist, or how many actions have been held. Certainly it has become a worldwide movement. Women in Black conferences and encounters have been held in Jerusalem in 1994, and in Novi Sad (Yugoslavia) each August since 1994. A WIB vigil was held in Beijing at the time of the 1995 UN Conference on Women. And there was an exhibition in 1996 in New York of photos of WIB actions around the world.
Women in Black in London ... is mainly a list of women ready to respond to the threat of war. Women in Black groups demonstrated in London in the 1980's in support of women's actions in Israel. Some of us were active in opposition to the Gulf War in 1991. And WIB vigils were held in 1993 and 1994 against the aggression in former Yugoslavia. In February 1998 we held vigils against the threat of renewal of the bombardment of Iraq.
Why women? Women-only peace activism does not suggest that women, any more than men, are 'natural born peacemakers'. But women have a particular experience of life, being disproportionately involved in caring work. Women are often at the receiving end of gendered violence in both peace and war, and women are the majority of refugees. A feminist view sees masculine cultures as specially prone to violence, and so feminist women tend to have a particular perspective on security and something unique to say about war.
In mixed actions of men and women, women's voices are often drowned out. When we act alone two things are different. First, women's voice is really heard and that's important even when we're saying the same things as male peace activists. Secondly, sometimes even peace demonstrations get violent, and as women alone we can choose forms of action we feel comfortable with - non-violent and expressive.
What can WIB achieve? Demonstrating together can give us a sense of solidarity and purpose as women. We can encourage and lend support to other women around the world who are often closer to the violence. And we can educate, inform and influence public opinion so try and make war an unthinkable option.
For More Information on Women in Black: www.igc.org/balkans/wib========
--Granny D (walking crusader for campaign-finance reform)
What we saw Tuesday morning, horrific as it was, was essentially the loss of several large buildings and thousands of their inhabitants. We risk the loss of whole cities --millions of people-- in today's charged international environment.
While the surgeons will cut, others will look to a deeper question: how can such cold-bloodedness arise in the hearts of our fellow men? As the nutritionist examines the lifestyle that may lead to disease, we begin to ask: What can we do in the future so that love and respect are nurtured in the place of hatred? Surely we cannot kill our way to love and respect, where our only true security resides.
The surgeon's will undoubtedly have their way for a time. The news shows --that incidentally are never interested in covering the reasons why so many people are angry at American policies-- are now full of swaggering militarists who are looking, please, for someone to kill for peace. They will have their way, for the emotions of our nation are running to red.
But those who seek true security must not stand aside in silence. Those who know that international justice is the only road to international peace must continue to speak their minds. It is not un-American to do so. It is, on the contrary, un-American to fall into a state of fascism, where our civil liberties are forsaken and the human needs of Americans and of people around the globe are forgotten.
"With shocking suddenness we find ourselves in the position of so many in the world who live in fear and senseless violence. We are humbled by our vulnerability. Can we learn from all those who have responded to such tragedies with nonviolence, perseverance, and noble purpose, such as the Women in Black, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Mothers of the Disappeared and the Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation? Vengeance and retaliation cannot be the answer to this situation. For they simply increase the spiral of violence and perpetuate and deepen the culture of violence. We must condemn and deplore the acts of those responsible for the bombings. But these persons should be brought to justice through legal means and the accepted standards of international law, not by the law of the jungle and collective punishment. Justice and peace are realized through just and peaceful means, for means and ends are inter-related. Will we respond to what has happened with suspicion of our neighbors because of their ethnicity, dress, religion, race or culture? Will we compound the tragedy by taking out our anger on others? Or can we use this as a moment of Truth? Will we examine U.S. policies that rely on overwhelming military power and weaponry rather than excelling in the skills of peacemaking and the building of civil society? Will we determine to carry out special acts of kindness by reaching across lines of difference with goodwill and compassion? Will we seek to overcome evil with good? This is not a time for panic, suspicion, and hate. It is a time to draw upon the deep resources of faith and to examine our lives in the light of the oneness of the human family and the divine spirit that animates us all.
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