Christine Glaser remembers well George Bush's United Nations speech on September 12, 2002. It was her daughter's birthday. And even though she didn't see the president live, what he said fundamentally altered her life.
Glaser, whose first name is pronounced Christina, grew up in Germany, where she experienced terrorism first-hand in the 1970s. "People were blowing up department stores and abducting politicians and people that had high positions in industry," she says.
Her native country's experience with terrorism taught Glaser something about its strengths and weaknesses. Combating it requires intelligence, she says. Police work, not bombs, stopped the terrorists in Germany.
"Nobody would have thought about throwing bombs around Frankfort or whatever to take care of terrorists," she says with a nervous laugh.
Religious hate crimes have a small number of offenders when compared with individual racial attacks. But on average, these perpetrators affect three times as many victims in one action, demonstrating violent aggression against entire communities.
The FBI "Summary of Hate Crimes Statistics" reported 1,343 incidences of crimes nationwide against distinct religious faiths in 2003.
And in the early morning of July 9, the Islamic Center of Bloomington mosque and the local Muslim community became one of those statistics. Someone broke a downstairs kitchen window and threw a plastic bottle filled with accelerant inside to ignite a fire.
Although no one was injured and the damage was contained to some charred and melted material, the FBI is investigating the incident as an act of terrorism.
For much of the past two years, Rick McDowell has lived in Iraq under the military occupation of the United States armed forces. He has witnessed days of profound sorrow, hope, and anger. He has seen inspiring grassroots efforts to rebuild an Iraq struggling to come to terms with its past and the present reality of occupation.
Sharing his insights and amplifying the voices of Iraqi friends and colleagues, on Friday evening, June 24, Rick McDowell will speak about his experiences in Iraq, the human cost of war, and the need to end the U.S. military occupation of Iraq. McDowell's presentation will take place at 7:00 pm in Higgins Hall, in the lower level of St. Paul Catholic Center, located at 1413 E. 17th Street in Bloomington, Indiana.
McDowell is a Senior Fellow for Iraq Policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). He and his wife, Iraq Policy Senior Fellow, Mary Trotochaud, completed a two-year term as the American Friends Service Committee's (AFSC) Iraq Country Representatives in March 2005.
"It seems the world has just awoken to a stunning reality: The United States has achieved global hegemony. Now that the U.S. is in this position, we the people have an obligation to ensure that this power is not abused. When it is, we must talk about it, or democracy will perish,"
- Jim Vallette
Vallette is one of several experts from the War Resisters League's "Stop the Merchants of Death" speakers bureau who are speaking across the country. Traveling from his home in Maine, he has just completed a busy week, having participated in the CERES Renewable Energy conference in Boston on April 13-14 and the World Bank's spring meetings in Washington, D.C. on April 15-17.
After spending a couple days at the Institute for Policy Studies offices in D.C., Vallette will arrive in Bloomington on April 21 to give a free, multi-media presentation titled, 'The Oil / Weapons / Government Connection: War Profiteering and Indiana's Military-Industrial Complex." The presentation will be at 7 p.m. in the Monroe County Public Library Auditorium.
"Corporate power is in fact the heart and motor engine of empire today," progressive political analyst Michael Parenti said in the powerful summation of his Plowshares Lecture delivered March 19 at the 1st Annual Midwest Peace Summit, held on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis.
Parenti's devastating critique of U.S. imperialism was titled "Democracy vs. Empire" and detailed the brutality of U.S. global economic and military hegemony during the past century.
"United States foreign policy is not timid or confused or misguided," he said. "It is remarkably resourceful and effective."
Braving bitter cold to gather on the steps of Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis in protest of Bush administration policies is nothing new for Hoosier peacemakers. And
coronation inauguration day Thursday, Jan. 20, was no exception.
While George W. Bush was being sworn in under heavy security in Washington, D.C., 250 people huddled together in Indianapolis for a counter-inaugural to raise their voices in opposition to the war in Iraq. The icy wind that afternoon was an ominous harbinger of what the next four years mean for Americans truly dedicated to liberty, freedom and especially peace.
Keynote speaker Marine Corporal Andrew VanDenBergh, who received an honorable discharge last summer, added to the somber mood of the crowd as he spoke about his time in Iraq.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a strong voice for peace emerged from people who had lost loved ones in the tragedy. "Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War," was one of the slogans of the organization called September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows — known simply as Peaceful Tomorrows.
Peaceful Tomorrows mission is to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism by developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice. The organization promotes education on alternatives to war; offers individual and institutional support and fellowship to like-minded people and groups; calls attention to threats to civil liberties, human rights and other freedoms as a consequence of war; and encourages a multilateral, collaborative effort to bring those responsible for the 9/11 attacks to justice in accordance with the principles of international law.
Peaceful Tomorrows member Fran Day spent a couple of days talking to groups in Indiana last week. After speaking to members of the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center, Day reflected on her work as we drove to her next speaking engagement, arranged by the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition.
talking about nuclear war,
if they push that button, your ass got to go.
What you gonna do without your ass?
...If they push that button
you can kiss your ass good-bye.
Jazz legend Sun Ra wrote "Nuclear War" after the accident at Three Mile Island — upwind from his Philadelphia home — as he contemplated the unthinkable horror of nuclear annihilation.
His fear of planetary disaster was echoed Oct. 9 by one of the world's foremost advocates of nuclear disarmament, Dr. Helen Caldicott. "If the election goes the wrong way, I don't know if we're going to survive," she told a capacity crowd in Indianapolis at the Fourth Annual Earth Charter Community Summit.
Those of us in the peace movement know what it's like to have our patriotism called into question. Accused of moral and personal failings for anything less than full support for war, we are marginalized and criticized for our opinions and actions.
But it's hard to question the credibility of peacemakers who have served in the armed forces. After all, they know better than any political theorist or armchair patriot the true costs of war. Vietnam War veterans like Fredy Champagne take advantage of their experience. "We exploit our credibility because we're war vets and we've seen American imperialism with our own eyes, so we can stand up to the lies and bullshit of the military/industrial complex," he says.
Protesters from around the state rallied June 5 on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis to express dismay with the Bush administration's foreign policy and call for "Regime Change at Home."
Making my way to the rally, I was cornered by a fellow who insisted on expressing his ambivalence about the war in Iraq. "Honestly, I can't say how I feel about it," he said. "I'm from a military family," he said by way of explanation, "and we know the value of service."