Sunday, May 31, 2009

It Takes Courage to Resist, and Stop Pretending

Since there haven't been any updates to the We Do Not Consent blog in May I want to share two pieces I had published elsewhere this month, as well as ask for help with my new website. Below is an article from the latest Vets For Peace Chapter 56 newsletter, The Foghorn, describing a recent encounter with a US soldier refusing to return to duty in Iraq. Beneath that is a letter I wrote to the Eureka Times-Standard in response to an editorial that has since disappeared from its website. It doesn't come up via various cache searches either, which is very lame. This is why the GuvWurld News Archive exists, though unfortunately I didn't save this particular editorial. (On the plus side, last week contributing editor Jane Allen restored more than 1500 articles to the archive. These have been missing since last year's hosting migration and represent nearly 25% of the current site.)

But first, as mentioned here last month, I'm soon going to stop posting at WDNC. I have finished assembling my new free e-book, We Do Not Consent, Volume 2, containing 20 of the most essential WDNC blog posts. The release of the book will coincide with the launch of my new video blog, which needs help! Web design is not my greatest strength. My ideas for the new site go way past what you see here at WDNC, and need to support the seriousness of the Project-Based Format talk show proposal.

All of this is explained in great detail in an interview I recently did with Tom Pinto that will be published in the Steelhead Special in July. So while I've been traveling through most of this spring I've been pretty relaxed about moving this all forward. Now the new site has become somewhat of a bottleneck for a lot of the related projects and the Steelie's publication has begun to loom as a deadline. Please contact me if your web design skills can help take this all to the next level. Is it the least you can do?

* * *
Veterans For Peace Chapter 56
June 2009 Foghorn
Page 6

It Takes Courage To Resist
By Dave Berman

Everyone who attended the May 2009 meeting of VFP-56 will long remember the guest who joined us that night. "Hugh" (a pseudonym) was recently back from serving in Iraq. Clean cut and well dressed, when asked for his story, the soft spoken man told us he was 29 days AWOL and would technically be considered a deserter the following day.

Seemingly without hesitation or reservation, members offered safe crash space, camping gear, and a bucket we passed around that quickly filled up with money. It was a VFP-56 meeting, after all, so I would expect nothing less.

Hugh told us he was walking away from the military with two confirmed kills on his conscience, plus the memory of seeing the violent death of Alex, the buddy with whom he had enlisted. Hugh thoughtfully put himself in the shoes of Iraqis, pondering what we would be doing if a foreign force invaded and occupied our country. The war is illegal and based on lies, he said. Understanding the risks of both returning to Iraq and refusing to do so, Hugh said earlier that day he had attempted to go public with his story but the local TV station told him he was not a credible source (is that the pot calling the kettle black?).

Following the meeting I waited my turn to have a few words with Hugh. Handing him my business card, I offered to help him get his story out if he decided to continue trying to go public (he has not reached out to take me up on this offer, which still stands). On the back of the card I wrote, the website of a group dedicated to helping those who refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The seeds of Courage To Resist were first planted in the Bay Area in February 2003 when Marine L/Cpl Stephen Funk became the first military serviceperson to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq. By May 2005, CTR launched more formally and now operates as a 13 member collective with three paid staff, over 2000 donors, and services including "political, emotional, and material support to all military objectors critical of our government's current policies of empire."

In addition to supporting the well-known Lt. Ehren Watada, the CTR website also features profiles of Cliff Cornell, Robin Long and dozens of other people whose names and stories should be known throughout the broader peace movement. According to CTR:

"In the past few years, tens of thousands of service members have resisted illegal war and occupation in a number of different ways - by going AWOL, seeking conscientious objector status and/or a discharge, asserting the right to speak out against injustice from within the military, and for a relative few, publicly refusing to fight."

Tens of thousands. Let that sink in. 10,000 x ? We are always so much stronger than we realize. I'm reminded of the excellent documentary Sir! No Sir! Perhaps it is time for VFP-56 to sponsor another screening?

CTR Project Coordinator Sarah Lazare says their message for soldiers is "if you have the courage to resist, we have your back." Hugh heard the same from VFP-56, that he should regard us as family, and that if he is in our area he is welcome at our future monthly meetings.

# # #
Stop pretending
Letters to the Editor
Posted: 05/13/2009 01:15:31 AM PDT

I agree with the general sentiments of your April 26 editorial, "Better Together," saying that "together we all stand a better chance of getting through this penniless season than we do apart," and "money can never replace a community's soul."

Of course you are also correct that recent news has made it impossible not to notice the "economic meltdown," and that the "nation's headline writers" are "prone to hyperbole," while "understating the magnitude" of our current financial crisis.

What a rare and welcome treat to see you acknowledge that the media typically does not offer an accurate portrayal. This admission makes your opening paragraph seem downright silly -- nobody is looking to this or other newspapers for "leadership in how to navigate treacherous waters."

The public would be well served and content if we could merely rely on you for an accurate depiction of reality, one which recognizes the fiscal collapse has been (inevitably) coming and visible for years, far longer than "the past several weeks." With bankruptcies everywhere and newspapers disappearing, you stand little chance of survival by continuing to pretend things are mostly normal.

Dave Berman

# # #


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We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

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