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The Revolution That’s Not Being Televised

8:21 am in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Tim DeChristopher at a podium

Newly freed climate-justice activist Tim DeChristopher adds to a groundswell in the environmental movement.

Hundreds gathered in Dallas to reject the Bush Lie Bury, and three went to jail.  I flew from Dallas to Syracuse, where hundreds protested Obama’s drone-murder program, and 32 went to jail and are still there (and will stay until trial unless bail can be raised) — some of them risk major jail time because they violated a protective order that the commander of a U.S. military base gained to protect himself from nonviolent peace activists.  Another drone protester in Missouri, Brian Terrell, is just finishing a six-month sentence.  Climate activist Tim DeChristopher just got out.  The people locked in Guantanamo are refusing to eat, and groups around the world are making plans to fast with them.  The people of Vieques are rallying on May 1st to demand that the U.S. military truly depart their island.  Big plans are being made to rally for Bradley Manning on June 1st.  This week I’m heading to the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee’s meeting in North Carolina, after which — just over in Tennessee — three courageous activists go on trial, facing major time in prison, for having entered and protested a nuclear weapons facility.

The revolution will not be televised.

Oak Ridge, Tenn., was created during World War II as a secret city (actually two, it was segregated by race) for producing nuclear weapons.  Nuclear weapons have a history that marches hand-in-hand with U.S. human experimentation programs.  I just had a chance to read Susan Griffin’s A Chorus of Stones, and she recounts a nuclear test in 1957, when the U.S. government was still marching Marines to various distances from nuclear explosions in Nevada to find out what would become of them.  Marines with their eyes closed saw the bones in their hands.  They died of leukemia years later, but not before speaking about what else they saw: 10 or 12 people in a stockade formed by chain link fence and barbed wire, their faces and hands deformed, their hair falling out, their skin peeling off. Or this: men on the ground in agony, the smell of burning flesh, blood running from mouth, ears, and nose, a man trying to tear away wires that had been attached to his head.

In the late 1960s, Oak Ridge Associated Universities did radiation experiments on cancer patients, children of military personnel.  NASA provided the funding, wanting to know how much radiation would produce nausea, in preparation for sending astronauts to the moon.  And, boy, having sent astronauts to the moon has sure allowed us to take care of poverty and illness and environmental destruction.  I don’t know how we’d survive at all if we hadn’t killed those children to send astronauts to the moon.

On July 28, 2012, Michael R. Walli (63), Megan Rice (82), and Greg Boertje-Obed (57) entered the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge undetected.  You can’t walk down the street without being filmed, but these three senior citizens were able to walk at night right up to a nuclear weapons facility.  They hung up banners that read “Transform Now Plowshares” and “Swords into Plowshares Spears into Pruning Hooks–Isaiah.”  They strung up red crime tape.  They hammered on the cornerstone of the newly built Highly-Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF), splashed human blood and left four spray-painted tags on the recent construction which read: “Woe to the empire of blood,” “The fruit of justice is peace,” “Work for peace not for war,” and “Plowshares please Isaiah.”  When finally confronted by guards, they offered the guards bread and roses.  They sang while forced to kneel for a long period of time.

“We come to the Y-12 facility because our very humanity rejects the designs of nuclearism, empire and war,” the activists said in a statement.  “Our faith in love and nonviolence encourages us to believe that our activity here is necessary; that we come to invite transformation, undo the past and present work of Y-12; disarm and end any further efforts to increase the Y-12 capacity for an economy and social structure based upon war-making and empire-building.”

Vigils and other events are planned in Knoxville as the trial begins.

While the revolution is not televised, there is a calendar of events: http://warisacrime.org/content/upcoming-events

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Doing Time for Peace

10:18 pm in Uncategorized by David Swanson

Hundreds of Americans, young and old, are regularly going to prison, sometimes for months or years or decades, for nonviolently resisting U.S. militarism.

the cover shows hands bound in ribbon, one flashing a peace sign

Doing Time For Peace

They block ports, ships, submarines, trains full of weapons, trucks full of weapons, and gates to military bases.  They take hammers to weapons of mass destruction, cause millions of dollars worth of damage, hang up banners, and wait to be arrested.  They cause weapons systems to be canceled, facilities to be closed, and Pentagon policies to be changed.  They educate and inspire greater resistance.

The people who do this take great risks.  U.S. courts are extremely unpredictable, and the same action can easily result in no jail time or years behind bars.  Many of these people have families, and the separation is usually painful.  But many say they could not do this without their families or without their close-knit communities of like-thinking resisters.  A support network of several people is generally needed for each resister.

More often than not, a great sacrifice is made with no apparent success in terms of governmental behavior, either immediately or even after a lengthy passage of time.

Police are becoming more violent.  Sentences are growing longer, and prisons are becoming more awful.

Increasingly, the corporate media ignores such actions, dramatically reducing the educational and inspirational benefits.  When Steve Downs was arrested for wearing a “give peace a chance” t-shirt in a shopping mall, a reporter called up a local peace group and tried to get them to admit they’d prompted Downs’ action.  When they said they’d never heard of him, the reporter replied, “Oh, then it’s a legitimate story!”  “In other words,” says Downs, “if a group protests in support of their constitutional rights, it’s not a legitimate story.  If one hapless individual blunders into an arrest, then it is!”

And yet, people who devote themselves to nonviolently resisting war can know that they are part of a movement that does result in improved policies.  And they can know that if more people joined them their chances of success would increase without limit.  That is to say, if enough people joined in, complete success would be guaranteed.  That is to say, peace on earth.

Rosalie Riegle has just published a wonderful collection called Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community in which she transcribes her interviews of 68 peace resisters, friends, and family members — selected from 173 whom Riegle interviewed between 2004 and 2007.  The book is not in the least polemical, more sociological.  The speakers struggle with their memories and goals, and with questions about whether what they do is worth it.

The question of whether a sacrifice has been worth the effort often remains an open question for a very long time.  This book collects heroic, inspiring, and eye-opening actions and presents them with undeniable honesty and humility.  Imagine if millions of people were to read this book.  Suddenly countless actions done quietly or with little notice would be having a whole new kind of impact, and actions engaged in decades back would be revived — perhaps in a more illuminating manner than before, as a result of the insights gained by the participants.

One resister quoted in Doing Time for Peace, Kathleen Rumpf, recalled an action she was part of in 1983:

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