rn:Posters (& thoughts) for peace


Jan Slakov

NOTE from Jan: my comments further on.

Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 09:14:50 -0400
From: Randy Schutt <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Posters for Peace

Here are some suggestions for statements of peace:

Civilized people bring perpetrators of terror to justice through a 
court of law. They don't bomb civilians.

Barbarians bomb civilians (and aspirin factories). [ <-- this is a 
reference to the chemical factory in Sudan that the US bombed several 
years ago saying that it produced chemical weapons and was funded by 
bin Laden, but was actually just a pharmaceutical factory producing 
one-third of the medicines in Sudan]

Cowards kill civilians.

An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Death spiral -- rage, terrorism, retaliation, war. There are better ways.

This is not a battle between us and them. It is battle between 
barbarism and civilization, between talking and killing, between 
lynch mobs and law, between truth and propaganda, between compassion 
and hatred, between blind rage and goodwill. Which side do we choose?

Randy Schutt
The Vernal Project
Working to increase the skills and support of progressive activists
Dear RN list,

Once again, we go through a time of war. I remember how I felt in 1991, on
the eve of the Gulf War. Fear for sure. Disgust, but still some hope. 

But this time, I feel more hope, less fear. And yet, probably, from a
rational point of view, there is more to fear now.

The big difference is that I think I'm changing, so that fear plays a less
important role in my life.

At times I have felt isolated because I didn't know how to communicate what
I knew to others around me. I have felt it some this time too. I know enough
now that I would not be at all surprised to learn one day that some people
at very high eschelons in the US regime were involved somehow in this
attack. And I know I'm not going to convince some people of this.

But I also know that anyone of good will can see the truth in those poster
ideas that Randy is sharing (above). And so, I do not feel so isolated this

Prompted and encouraged by local activist friends who are acting as kind of
"spiritual guides" to me through these days, I wrote the following
letter-to-the-editor. I copy it for you because I hope it will inspire you
to find ways to communicate this sense as well.

IF we succeed in preventing a retaliatory war, we will have cause for
celebration, but we must not expect things to be easy. The path of violence
is easy, but it is a dead end. The path of nonviolence is not so easy but it
is an open road. Let's go there, eh?

all the best, Jan
PS As further help along the road, I am also copying below a dialogue on
Terrorism & Mass Murderers from Randy Schutt.
to the Halifax Chronicle-Herald <•••@••.•••>

Dear Editor,

I read Peter McKenna's op-ed (Bombing for martyrdom: no defence, no
justification - Sept. 14) with interest.

I've been part of the peace movement for most of my life because I felt
convinced early on that true security does not come from weapons but from
building trust and understanding and justice.

I cannot agree with with the headline for, while there is no sure-fire
defence against this type of violence, there are still things we can do as
part of our "defence".

Believe it or not, I really feel that what hundreds of Atlantic Canadians
did, in opening their hearts and their homes to stranded passengers, is part
of the new type of "defence" we are to build up in this decade for the
Culture of Peace and Non-violence (as declared by the UN). 

We must work to globalize love and understanding, instead of greed and

Sincerely, Jan Slakov, Box 35, Weymouth, NS B0W 3T0 (837-4980)
Date: Sun, 16 Sep 2001 09:13:44 -0400
From: Randy Schutt <•••@••.•••>
Subject: Terrorists and Mass Murderers

I am very concerned about the militarism that is sweeping our 
country. Sorry for sending so many things to you, but I feel 
compelled to do something.

A few day ago, I exchanged emails with a friend. I thought you might 
find this dialog interesting:

He wrote saying:
"I said to [my wife] that if only our foreign policy were improved we 
wouldn't have people wanting to attack us. She replied something like 
"Don't be such a knee jerk liberal. Even if our foreign policy was 
revamped and 50% of it was dramatically improved, there would still 
be crazy extremists who would hate and attack the US." There is some 
truth to what she says. It says something about how we leftists will 
sometimes bend over backwards to find fault with our government, when 
there actually exists a very real and greater problem with our 
government's adversaries (in this case they are mass murderers). And, 
in another sense it is true because nothing but a nearly complete 
abandonment of capitalism would remove the economic threat we pose to 
the third world, so merely improving our foreign policy wouldn't 
really go far enough to placate those who are angry with the US, as 
leaders of the capitalist world."

I wrote this note back:

I agree with [your wife] that improving our foreign policy by 50% 
would not end the hatred. But I still think it would be a major, 
worthwhile step. And I think changing it by 100% would be a whole lot 
better and could actually eliminate hatred, except perhaps by a few 
lone crazies like Ted Kycyncizki (sp?). When looking at this 
terrorist attack, I think it is important to note these things:

(1) It is important to realize that the terrorists chose targets that 
appear to be very specific. They seem to have chosen the heart of 
capital and military power. They killed many people, but they didn't 
seem to be aiming to kill a whole lot of people -- for that, a 
stadium filled with 100,000 spectators or the water supply of a major 
city would have been a better target. The headlines would make you 
believe that "American is Under Attack", but it looks to me like 
symbols of oppressive economic and military power and the elite were 
attacked, not the American people.

(2) When we think about mass murderers, the US government is way out 
ahead of any of the suicide bombers. In World War II, copying the 
tactics of the the Nazis is terrorizing London, the US military 
fire-bombed Dresden and Tokyo (acts designed to terrorize the 
civilian population) and dropped nuclear bombs on Japan (again mostly 
to terrorize). Through much of the 20th century, the US government 
supported military juntas in Central America (mostly to protect US 
banana corporations like Dole). In the 1960s, the US government 
supported the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba. The US also dropped 
millions of tons of napalm on Vietnam (and Cambodia), killing large 
numbers of civilians (and the Pentagon papers revealed that this was 
to protect "our" interests in oil, tin, and rubber). In the 1970s, 
the US supported the Chilean coup which killed several thousand 
civilians. In the 1980s, the US supported, trained, and armed the 
Contras in Central America who killed 30,000 people. The US also 
supported Indonesia and supplied it with weapons when it invaded East 
Timor and killed one third of the civilian population there. In the 
1990s, the US led attacks on Iraq and Yugoslavia that resulted in 
killing tens of thousands of civilians. As Christopher Hitchens new 
book points out, Henry Kissinger is a major war criminal for his role 
in many of these activities, but he is celebrated in this country, 
not indicted or jailed.

Suicide bombers have killed relatively few people in comparison. 
Their acts are certainly terrifying, but the actual danger they 
represent is pretty small. Even if the attack on Tuesday killed 
10,000 people, it is still a *relatively* small number compared to 
the Vietnam war or the massacre in East Timor.

(3) Many of the "crazy extremists" that we decry in this country were 
actually trained and supported by the US. Osama bin Laden and many of 
his associates were supported by the US to battle the Soviets (see 
this article in the New Yorker 
and this one in MSNBC: <http://www.msnbc.com/news/190144.asp>). Many 
of the Contras were trained at the School of the Americas. Dictators 
Noriega in Panama, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and Papa Doc and Baby Doc 
Duvalier in Haiti were US allies for many years (as were dictators in 
many other countries). Even Adolf Hitler was supported by Henry Ford 
and many other US industrialists because he attacked Jews and 

It is true that if we only improved our foreign policy by 50%, it 
probably wouldn't end the hatred. Our foreign policy would actually 
have to change dramatically -- focused completely on supporting 
democracy (not dictators) and supporting common people and labor 
unions (not exploitive corporations). We would need to stop 
intervening militarily all around the world -- either not intervene 
at all or only intervene with a nonviolent army bent on disarming and 
reconciling people. We would need to support democracy, equality, and 
protection of the environment and stop supporting unfettered 
extraction of minerals and oil, exploitation of labor, and corrupt 
dictatorships. This would be a major reversal. And yes, we would 
probably have to give up capitalism. Just as our forebears had to 
give up slavery because it was inhumane, we will have to find a new 
economic and political system that doesn't rely on oppression, 
exploitation, and selling weapons all around the world.

And even if we made all these changes immediately it would take 
decades for the hatred to subside -- hatred that has built up over a 
long time. People who have been tortured, had their relatives raped, 
their friends killed, and their houses bombed, stay angry for a long, 
long time. It takes quite a lot to get someone to be a suicide bomber 
-- they have to have been hurt pretty badly and not have much hope 
for change. And folks that have been hurt that badly do not heal 
easily. So it will be a long difficult transition.

And, of course, this is not to say that the US government and 
corporations are only bad and other groups around the world are good. 
There is lots of evil to go around and lots of good in this country. 
I am very proud of the traditions of democracy, compassion, and 
fairness that most Americans hold and many have bravely fought for. 
(But I wish that the US government and corporations would actually 
act according to those ideals.) Corporations produce many useful 
things. And I certainly don't think the Taliban leaders or Saddam 
Hussein are good. But of course their evil acts do not justify the 
evil of the US government and corporations, just as the evil acts of 
the US government and corporations do not justify the terrorist 
attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

This is the thinking that I went through that convinced me that we 
need deep, fundamental social change in this country, that it has to 
be done in a nonviolent, democratic way, and that it has to lead to a 
nonviolent, democratic, and compassionate society -- a tall order, 
but absolutely essential. That is why I wrote my book -- to try to 
figure out how to do that.

Randy Schutt
The Vernal Project
Working to increase the skills and support of progressive activists