–Kevin Martin, Executive Director
In case you missed it, civil rights heroine Diane Nash, one of the relatively few women in leadership positions in the civil rights movement in the ’50s and ’60s (she was a key aide to Martin Luther King, Jr. and a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee or SNCC) boycotted the 50th anniversary commemorative march in Selma, Alabama last weekend, not wanting to march with George W. Bush. (She was at the event, but her conscience wouldn’t let her be seen marching with Bush).
Nash said, “”I think the Selma Movement was about nonviolence and peace and democracy and George Bush stands for just the opposite—for violence and war and stolen elections,” also noting that his administration conducted torture. “George Bush’s presence is an insult to me and to people who really do believe in nonviolence,” Nash continued, voicing concern that the nonviolent legacy of the Selma Movement would now be “confused.”
I love the following part of Nash’s interview the most:
“Back in the 1960’s we did not know if nonviolence would work,” Nash told NewsOne. “Now we know that it does.” Nash said that she thought the Selma March anniversary “should have been a celebration of nonviolence,” which she added, was “definitely one of the most significant social inventions of the 20th century.”
A longtime respected colleague of mine voiced some mixed emotions about Ms. Nash’s position, stating he understood her but also that we need to welcome former adversaries when they join us.
I agree, and that certainly is in the spirit of nonviolence, if the former adversary is in fact transforming into an ally and “joining” us. If I thought that were true in George W. Bush’s case, I’d welcome him to the side of peace, social and economic justice, civil rights and nonviolence, though I’d be highly skeptical and would demand some accountability or at least repentance from him for his egregious actions as president. I see no evidence Bush is anywhere close to such a transformation.
What Bush’s appearance at the Selma commemoration does show is hard-earned mainstream respect for the courageous civil rights heroines and heroes and the social progress they sweated, bled and died for. But that has nothing to do with war criminals like Bush. Sister Nash was right, but that’s not really the point. From her comments I think it’s pretty clear that on a gut level her conscience just wouldn’t let her be at the same event as Bush, so it was much more a personal than political statement.
And of course Barack Obama, aka President DroneStrike, is no advocate of nonviolence, Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding. We need to push him not just to conclude a peace deal with Iran, but also to end drone strikes and give up the madness of a new war in Iraq and Syria.
Thanks to Common Dreams and NewsOne for their reporting on Diane Nash’s powerful statement of conscience.
As you know, midterm elections are only 5 weeks away. And one of the unique aspects about Peace Action is that we use all the tools in the social tool box to create a better world. Our comprehensive electoral work includes registering voters, educating candidates and the electorate and endorsing and financing peace candidates.
Already this year, Peace Action and our PAC has made a difference by endorsing candidates, contributing to primary elections, briefing candidates and collecting candidate questionnaires.
Please give a contribution to Peace Action PAC now. Even $5 can make a difference. By law, $5,000 is the maximum you can give. You may consider a recurring gift so that our PAC is always prepared even for surprise special elections.
You may have heard that control of the Senate is up for grabs. Peace Action is non-partisan. For example, earlier this year we endorsed Walter Jones (R-NC) because of his tireless work to bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan and to cut the Pentagon budget. That said, it is clear that a Republican controlled Senate would not have passed the New START Treaty a few years ago and would not be good for Peace Action issues.
It is for that reason that we are supporting candidates in several close Senate races like Gary Peters in Michigan, Bruce Braley in Iowa and Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire.
Shortly, Peace Action will be deciding where to send organizers to help candidates in key races and where to focus our financial resources. Your contribution now will help us know what we can afford to do to make a more peaceful Congress.
As a reminder, Peace Action PAC has helped elect such peace leaders as:
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) — A leader in bringing the troops home from Afghanistan and ending the Iraq War
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) — Another leader in stopping endless wars and cutting the Pentagon budget
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) — Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus
Besides endorsing and giving money to candidates, we will be bird dogging candidates and distributing voter guides to help voters in their decisions.
In November, we expect a number of hot races in California, New Hampshire, Iowa, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to name a few states. Your support can make a difference. It’s not just electing Members of Congress that will vote the right way. That certainly helps. But the key is electing leaders on peace issues who will lead a number of lawmakers to vote the right way. Leaders who will do the hard, behind the scenes work on issues you and I care about that will make a lasting difference.
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Peace Action/Peace Action Education Fund 2013 Program, Policy,
Political and Organizing Accomplishments
-Stopped a U.S. attack on Syria! Peace Action played a key leadership role in convening an ad hoc coalition to activate groups on Syria starting in June, which was then quickly mobilized in late August/early September, along with our grassroots affiliate/chapter network, to successfully demand alternatives to a U.S. attack on Syria. (national office, affiliate network)
-Helped realize a modest cut in Pentagon budget (everybody!)
-Provided leadership in grassroots efforts at defense transition/economic conversion in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Ohio, Massachusetts and New Hampshire (national office, affiliates and chapters, national and grassroots allies)
-Coordinated/help lead two national days of action on cutting the Pentagon budget – Pull the Pork and Global Day of Action on Military Spending/Tax Day (national office and affiliate network, national, international and local allies)
-Effective advocacy of Diplomacy, Not War with Iran (so far!) (Affiliate network, national office, allies)
-Helped keep up the pressure to end the war in Afghanistan and for a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces and bases (everybody)
-Led coalition around pressing the U.S. to participate in multi-lateral nuclear disarmament forums – 24 organizations signed letter to White House, 25,000 signed petition, pulled together a new ad hoc coalition to continue to press for progress in multi-lateral arena (national office, PANYS, allies)
-Peace Voter/PAC – helped elect longtime ally Ed Markey to U.S. Senate seat from Massachusetts (Mass PA, national office)
-Launched a new “A Foreign Policy for All” campaign outlining a positive, proactive, more peaceful and sustainable U.S. foreign and military policy (national office)
-Had letters to the editor, news articles and op-eds published in the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Common Dreams, Foreign Policy in Focus, CounterPunch, Huffington Post plus many in local media (national and affiliates and chapters – CA, OR, IL, MD, NJ, NC, MA, NY, WI, NY, OH, MO, KS, NE, PA and more!), as well as international outlets and radio and television interviews. Most of these are posted on our website or Peace Blog.
Send President Obama and Congress a Message
On Election Day, we sent a message. Protect Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. End the wars and reinvest in our communities.
The wars and tax breaks for the rich and corporations got us into this mess. Move the money from wars and weapons to fund jobs and human services and make the rich pay their fair share of taxes.
Sign the Jobs not Wars Petition. http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA
One of the best ways to reduce the deficit is to put people back to work. It’s time to invest in our people and our communities to create stable jobs at living wages, rehabilitate our nation’s infrastructure and programs that serve the needs of people and communities, and develop a sustainable economy that protects the planet for future generations.
We want the war in Afghanistan to endand for substantial cuts to be made to runaway Pentagon spending.
Sign the Jobs not Wars Petition. http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA
Over 80 organizations are gathering signatures to remind Congress and the Obama administration we need to fundamentally change Federal budget priorities from wars and ever more deadly weapons to jobs and meeting the needs of our communities.
We will present the Jobs Not Wars Petition to Congress & President Obama around the time of the Inauguration.
Forward this email. Ask your friends and family to join you in signing the Jobs Not Wars Petition. Post this link http://bit.ly/jobs-not-wars-PA on your Facebook page and Tweet it to your social network. There is strength in numbers.
Don’t let our elected officials forget what we voted for. Time to change federal spending priorities from the “military industrial complex” to reinvest in our communities.
Humbly for peace,