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Saturday, December 08, 2007
Drinking the John Lennon Kool-Aid ... It's Easy If You Try
"You may say that I'm a dreamer / But I'm not the only one" - John Lennon (Imagine)
There is no doubt that America is a country completely out of balance. It's been tottering and tipping, first like a toddler and then like a drunk, but now it's ready to fall over and we can't be sure we'll be able to get it upright again.
Recently, sophomore Skylar Stains decided to hold Peace Shirt Thursdays at the school. Skylar and her friend, Lauren Lorraine, started wearing peace shirts and soon recruited more friends to wear them. Now, the "Peace Shirt Coalition" as they call themselves, has close to 30 students from all grades.
"We've worn handmade peace shirts every Thursday since the first week of school, without fail," Skylar said.
But what started out as a light-hearted gesture soon started to be taken out of context.
Students started approaching the group members, yelling obscene things at them, said Lauren.
"People just turned on us like that," she said. "At least 10 boys stood up and yelled things at me at once, and we couldn't even walk through the halls without a harsh comment being made."
The heckling began early in the school year, according to group members. They said they were putting small posters promoting peace on friends' lockers with their permission.
They thought it was OK, because the cheerleaders and football players had signs on theirs. Eventually, though, group members said they were told by the school's administration they could no longer hang up the posters.
"People tore them down and drew swastikas and 'white power' stuff on them," Lauren said.
Skylar had similar things written on her posters.
"Someone taped an 'I Love Bush' sign over my 'Wage Peace' sign," she said. "So I tore it down, threw it away, and the whole commons starting booing. I walk by later and find that someone has completely tore my sign down and placed an 'I Love America, Because America Loves War' sign up."6
The issue isn't that "peace" is unpopular at these high schools: there is no substance to what is being presented here as "peace." It's mere imagewage-peace signs, headbands, handmade peace shirts, perhaps those ubiquitous fingers in a V-sign. And the opposite is the hand-painted Swastika, White-Power graffiti, voiced obscenities, Confederate shirts, and perhaps the single-finger insult. It's likely that these students can't give an account of what their respective "signs" actually signify for them. Two sophomores said that the Confederate shirts they wore in opposition to the peace students merely "express support for the troops in Iraq."
The peace movement can succeed only by applying people pressure against the pillars of the war policypublic opinion, military recruitment and an ample war budgetthrough marching, confronting military recruiters and civil disobedience. The pillars have been eroding since 2004. The tactics that are most likely to accelerate the process are greater efforts at persuading the ambivalent voters.7
What we need is not more parading, more wage-peace posters, more V-signs, more flowers. Imagine there's no heaven if you want to. What we need is a movement to provide real instruction in peaceful alternatives to conflict. A world that knows only war, shock-and-awe responses to aggression, belligerent forms of the haka, torture as a normal form of persuasion, and commercial trading of military armaments is a world thoroughly ill-equipped to walk its citizens down any other path. This is why Stanley Hauerwas could say, "I'm a pacifist because I'm a violent son of a bitch." Because Hauerwas understood the easy response of violence in himself, and therefore in others, he could appreciate the several alternatives to violence.8 But these alternatives are not captured well (as if they ever were) in the image of hippie fashions.9 In fact, the image is a stumbling block to the real task of the pacifist's ambition: to behave in such a way as to find and be a substitute for violence. Surely this means teaching others how diplomacy and nonviolent conflict abatement can be effective alternatives to all forms of war. As Christians, we can learn at least this much from our Lord.
1. "Military training program for teens expands in US,"AFP/Rawstory.com, November 25, 2007.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Annals of Stupid Liars
I think we were all surprised that the US President would actually utter this in his Press Conference on Monday:
Q Mr President, thank you. I'd like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in '03 had already come to light to this administration. So can't you be accused of hyping this threat? And don't you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?
THE PRESIDENT: David, I don't want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it's not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it's real, then what does it mean? And it wasn't until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.
Wait a minutehe learned about the contents of the NIE last week? Where has he been? If he'd been paying attention to rumors on the Internets, or tried looking for information on the Google, he wouldn't seem so clueless.
Hersh: Look, it's a lose-lose for them. Either he did know what was going on at the highest levelsthe fight I'm talking about began last year. I was writing about something in November and also you mentioned earlier. They were aware of a big dispute inside the community that is between the White House and the community about this. Now, maybe he didn't know what was going on at the Vice Presidential level about something that serious. If so, I mean, we pay him to know these things and not to make statements based on information that turns out not to be accurate, or else he is misrepresenting what he knows. I don't think there is any question this is going to pose a serious credibility problem. I assume people are going to be asking more and more questions about what did he know, when....
I think this may be a case of making the informal fallacy called false disjunction. In this case, it shouldn't be "either the president is incompetent or he is lying," because then we don't get to appreciate the truth.posted by Merle Harton Jr. | 1:50 PM |