Friday, December 17, 2010

Real Men Make Peace

Mounted police running away from CODEPINK activists in DC! at... on Twitpic
Mounted police flee?
CODEPINK in DC today at the mass mobilization of Vets against... on Twitpic

Sadly, I could not be in Wash DC with the hundreds who were arrested in front of the White House yesterday, or at the solidarity rallies in Bangor, San Francisco, etc. "Veterans for Peace have been asking for a meeting with this president (Obama) on behalf of the majority for years...We can't get a meeting ... we're going to go to jail...the people who have not been charged with any crimes are in jail, and the criminals are roaming free," said an anonymous participant interviewed in front of the White House.

WE NEED A PEACE PRESIDENT and REAL MEN MAKE PEACE were messages brought by Codepink women to the rally. Jodie and Medea were among those arrested for failing to disperse, after the crowd threw postcards over the White House fence in a symbolic yet very real attempt to bring the voice of the majority of Americans to the seat of power.

I was consoled by being able to hear an excellent update on NATO-focused organizing in Europe on a conference call yesterday of the UFPJ Afghanistan working group . Elsa Rassbach is an activist and journalist in Germany who reported on the recent counter-NATO Summit Conference in Lisbon Nov. 19-21, where she represented Codepink. She also told us about the Peace Yes, NATO No demonstration in Lisbon Nov. 20, with approximately 30,000 marching "including more than 100 organizations such as trade unions, retirees, and academics."

One of the things she said last night on the call stayed with me: "If you look at a map, NATO is where the white people live. NATO is made up of what were the colonizing nations."

As NATO continues to arm itself for global domination, the regional designation of North Atlantic will probably be lost to history; later generations (if there are such) will remember it as the military arm of the multinational corporations that grew like cancer under state-subsidized capitalism.

Germany's participation in the occupation of Afghanistan has grown increasingly unpopular with its own people, and the role of Bundeswehr officer George Klein in calling down an airstrike that killed 142 people in Kunduz continues to be a cause célèbre in Germany. Elsa noted news that mandatory national service in the military or an alternative has just been abolished, replaced by a U.S. style system of "volunteer" soldiers. Germany's Bundeswehr
"recently began a rather massive and costly U.S.-style recruitment effort in the schools and job centers as well as via advertising. The German peace movement is countering an
anti-recruitment campaign, with participation of teacher unions, called "School Holiday for the Bundeswehr" that  opposes access of the military recruiters to the schools."
 Sound familiar?

This news made me think of our friend Arne who helped found our local Waterville Area Bridges for Peace & Justice group and was a German father of young children. Occasionally on local access t.v. you will still see him in a discussion about militarization of public schools in Maine, holding aloft a copy of Time for Kids with a cover glorifying combat troops, saying his son had received this material from his third grade teacher in Waterville. Arne and his wife decided to move back to Germany, because he said Germans would never dream of allowing military recruiters to use public school space and time.

I wonder how they will choose to educate their children now.

I wish my teachers' union here in the U.S. was willing to stand up for the right of students not to be preyed on by NATO in the lunchroom.

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