Journal of daily reflections on the progress of my home-based agriculture experiments, mixed with observations about life, peace, justice, faith, family, community and friends.
Medea Benjamin of Code Pink
speaking out at President Obama’s
speech on Foreign Policy.
In last night’s posting See, Say & Do there was a little quiz of distinguishing the pictures of destruction of homes by Mother Nature with the killer tornado in Oklahoma and the destruction of homes by US Commander-In-Chief with Killer Drones in Yemen and Pakistan. The answer, my friend, is below. I was going to do another quiz with pictures of children killed by tornado and by drones but I noticed that the pictures of children killed by tornado where of them alive and well where the pictures of children killed by US drones were of them bloodied and dead.
Today listening to Public Radio while driving I heard some commentator criticize and insult the woman, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink who interrupted President Obama’s speech on Foreign Policy. Actually I thought the commentator’s critical remarks were out of place. What can a citizen who loves their country deeply do about the terrible tragedy of Guantanamo Bay and Killer Drone strikes on suspected terrorist and innocent people? Are we to sign another petition or write the President? Medea Benjamin has written a book about “Drone Warfare, Killing by Remote Control” and knows the only way to be heard is by doing what she did, speak out during the speech.
Today I read her side of the story on “Why I Spoke Out at Obama’s Foreign Policy Speech.” Yes some would call her actions ‘rude’ but she would say President Obama’s policies, not those speaking out against them, are rude. Here is the text of her article.
Having worked for years on the issues of drones and Guantanamo, I was delighted to get a pass (the source will remain anonymous) to attend President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University. I had read many press reports anticipating what the President might say. There was much talk about major policy shifts that would include transparency with the public, new guidelines for the use of drones, taking lethal drones out of the purview of the CIA, and in the case of Guantanamo, invoking the “waiver system” to begin the transfer of prisoners already cleared for release.
Sitting at the back of the auditorium, I hung on every word the President said. I kept waiting to hear an announcement about changes that would represent a significant shift in policy. Unfortunately, I heard nice words, not the resetting of failed policies.
Instead of announcing the transfer of drone strikes from the CIA to the exclusive domain of the military, Obama never even mentioned the CIA—much less acknowledge the killing spree that the CIA has been carrying out in Pakistan during his administration. While there were predictions that he would declare an end to signature strikes, strikes based merely on suspicious behavior that have been responsible for so many civilian casualties, no such announcement was made.
“Speaking out isn’t rude… Terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude.”
The bulk of the president’s speech was devoted to justifying drone strikes. I was shocked when the President claimed that his administration did everything it could to capture suspects instead of killing them. That is just not true. Obama’s reliance on drones is precisely because he did not want to be bothered with capturing suspects and bringing them to trial. Take the case of 16-year-old Pakistani Tariz Aziz, who could have been picked up while attending a conference at a major hotel in the capital, Islamabad, but was instead killed by a drone strike, with his 12-year-old cousin, two days later. Or the drone strike that 23-year-old Yemini Farea al-Muslimi talked about when he testified in Congress. He said the man targeted in his village of Wessab was a man who everyone knew, who met regularly with government officials and who could have easily been brought in for questioning.
When the President was coming to the end of this speech, he started talking about Guantanamo. As he has done in the past, he stated his desire to close the prison, but blamed Congress. That’s when I felt compelled to speak out. With the men in Guantanamo on hunger strike, being brutally forced fed and bereft of all hope, I couldn’t let the President continue to act as if he were some helpless official at the mercy of Congress.
“Excuse me, Mr. President,” I said, “but you’re the Commander-in-Chief. You could close Guantanamo tomorrow and release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release.” We went on to have quite an exchange.
While I have received a deluge of support, there are others, including journalists, who have called me “rude.” But terrorizing villages with Hellfire missiles that vaporize innocent people is rude. Violating the sovereignty of nations like Pakistan is rude. Keeping 86 prisoners in Guantanamo long after they have been cleared for release is rude. Shoving feeding tubes down prisoners’ throats instead of giving them justice is certainly rude.
At one point during his speech, President Obama said that the deaths of innocent people from the drone attacks will haunt him as long as he lives. But he is still unwilling to acknowledge those deaths, apologize to the families, or compensate them. In Afghanistan, the US military has a policy of compensating the families of victims who they killed or wounded by mistake. It is not always done, and many families refuse to take the money, but at least it represents some accounting for taking the lives of innocent people. Why can’t the President set up a similar policy when drone strikes are used in countries with which we are not at war?
There are many things the President could and should have said, but he didn’t. So it is up to us to speak out.
See where homes of destruction are below.
See the full list of articles in the Diary of a Worm.
First they ignore you
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”
“Everyone in the world knows that Jesus and His teachings were nonviolent except Christians.” M. Gandhi
A Biography of Dorthy Day by Jim Forest
Letter from Dorthy Day prime directive of Gospel
In general, in the first flush of Lent, the struggle is undertaken bravely. What if during the long weeks the fervor lessens and the work of accumulating graces was continued with many lapses, but by effort of will. That time when will has to be brought into play is perhaps the most important of all, despite failures and the total lack of a sense of accomplishment, of growth. Fervor comes again with Holy Week, joy comes on the day of resurrection, with all nature singing exultantly God’s praises.
To keep united to God through the suffering Humanity of His son—that is the aim of Lent. — Dorothy Day from her column “Day After Day”, The Catholic Worker, April 1935
People Need to be Distrubed.
“When it is said that we disturb people too much by the words pacifism and anarchism, I can only think that people need to be disturbed, that their consciences need to be aroused, that they do indeed need to look into their work, and study new techniques of love and poverty and suffering for each other. Of course the remedies are drastic, but then too the evil is a terrible one and we are all involved, we are all guilty, and most certainly we are all going to suffer. The fact that we have “the faith,” that we go to the sacraments, is not enough. ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me’ with napalm, nerve gas, our hydrogen bomb, our ‘new look’.” (“Are The Leaders Insane?” By Dorothy Day, The Catholic Worker, April 1954, 1, 6.}
“Paper work, cleaning the house, dealing with the innumerable visitors who come all through the day, answering the phone, keeping patience and acting intelligently, which is to find some meaning in all that happens — these things, too, are the works of peace, and often seem like a very little way.”
— Dorothy Day, On Pilgrimage, December 1965
If you want to study modern history
If you want to study the social and political history of modern nations, study hell.-- Thomas Merton New Seeds of Contemplation, ch 17
worshiping the false self in place of God
“After all, what is your personal identity? It is what you really are, your real self. None of us is what he thinks he is, or what other people think he is, still less what his passport says he is… And it is fortunate for most of us that we are mistaken. We do not generally know what is good for us. That is because, in St. Bernard’s language, our true personality has been concealed under the ‘disguise’ of a false self, the ego, whom we tend to worship in place of God.” —Thomas Merton, The Waters of Siloe
Harcourt & Brace, 1949, p. 349
silence between words
“For language to have meaning, there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him. For the mercy of God is not heard in words unless it is heard, both before and after the words are spoken, in silence,”
—Thomas Merton, “Philosophy of Silence,” in Disputed Questions
(NY: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1960), p. 181
[W]alking down a street, sweeping a floor, washing dishes, hoeing beans, reading a book, taking a stroll in the woods-all can be enriched with contemplation and with the obscure sense of the presence of God. — Thomas Merton, The Inner Experience: Notes on Contemplation, William H. Shannon, editor, HarperSanFrancisco, 2003; p 66
Poor in the Military
“Perhaps a more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. And so we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. And so we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.” Martin Luther King Jr., Beyond Vietnam — A Time to Break Silence
Delivered 4 April 1967, Riverside Church, New York City
Worth Dying for
“If you haven’t found something worth dying for, you aren’t fit to be living.” - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Fear Each Other
“We often hate each other because we fear each other; we fear each other because we don’t know each other; we don’t know each other because we can not communicate; we can not communicate because we are separated.”
Priority of Conscience
“And it is my conscience that compels me to say publicly that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is agrave injustice against women, against our Church and against our God who calls both men and women to the priesthood.” Fr. Roy Bourgeois in his letter to Maryknoll why he could not recant his belief and public statements that support the ordination of women.
“Over the pope … there still stands one’s own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary, even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority.” Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI,in his 1968 commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s document, Gaudium et Spes.
Nonviolence or Militarism
Breaking the Silence
Military Spending Voting Records of Rep. Paul Ryan [R]and Rep.Gwen Moore [D] of Wisconsin from 2005 – 20012.
Since visiting Guatemala in 2006 and doing my pictorial essay Buried in Guatemala I have had a keen interest in political history of Guatemala. This is an excellent article of what is happening today in Guatemala.
by Lauren Carasik ZNET
Thirty years ago, a “scorched earth” counterinsurgency strategy in the Quiche region of Guatemala left 1,771 Maya Ixil dead, tens of thousands displaced, and ruptured the social fabric of the community. This ruthless campaign of state repression was carried out by General Jose Efrain Rios Montt during the darkest chapter of the 36-year conflict, in which 200,000 Guatemalans died, the vast majority of whom were indigenous Mayans, and another 50,000 disappeared. Today, despite a pervasive culture of impunity in Guatemala and a veil of silence still surrounding those years, Rios Montt and Jose Mauricio Rodriguez Sanchez, his chief intelligence officer, are being prosecuted in Guatemala for genocide and other crimes against humanity, a day many never thought would come.
The selection of intrepid Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz in 2010 ushered in a new era in Guatemala’s struggle against impunity. Long accused of atrocities, Rios Montt enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a member of Congress for 20 years, but was charged shortly after his departure from office in 2012. His prosecution sets a historic precedent for the people of Guatemala and the global community, representing the first time a head of state stands trial in a national court for the crime of genocide.
At the front of the cavernous courtroom, three judges sit closely together, occasionally huddled in conference, along a substantial wooden bench that stretched the length of the courtroom. On the wall above hangs the Guatemalan coat of arms: crossed rifles to signify defence of territory, swords emblematic of honour, and the date of Guatemalan independence from Spain etched across a scroll upon which a quetzal is perched, all against a backdrop of bay leaf branches symbolising victory. These lofty symbols however are imbued with a more ambiguous meaning to the vast majority of Guatemalans.
“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.”
— Barbara Tuchman
“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid. When faith is completely replaced by creed, worship by discipline, love by habit; when the crisis of today is ignored because of the splendor of the past; when faith becomes an heirloom rather than a living fountain; when religion speaks only in the name of authority rather than with the voice of compassion—its message becomes meaningless.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism
“This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good … for nothing can so make a person an imitator of Christ as caring for neighbors.” —John Chrysostom (ca. 347–407)
“The really critical thing isn’t who’s sitting in he White House, but who is sitting in the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories. Who is protesting, who is occupying offices and demonstrating ? - those are the things that determine what happens….” Howard Zinn
“The poor tell us who we are,
The prophets tell us who we could be,
So we hide the poor,
And kill the prophets.”
Jokes and Editorial Cartoons
Restoring the Senses, Gardening and Orthodox Easter