GEORGE LAKEY – Thirty-five years after his death, the man who mentored Martin Luther King Jr. still has much to teach movements about harnessing the power of ‘people in motion.’
NORMAN SOLOMON – Nuclear weapons are at the pinnacle of what Martin Luther King Jr. called â€œthe madness of militarism.â€ If youâ€™d rather not think about them, thatâ€™s understandable. But such a coping strategy has limited value. And those who are making vast profits from preparations for global annihilation are further empowered by our avoidance.
JEANNE THEOHARIS – The way we talk about Rosa Parks covers up uncomfortable truths about American racism.
GERRY CONDON – As a veteran concerned about issues of war and peace, I am happy to celebrate the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the important new international peace initiative. The â€œNuclear Ban Treaty,â€ as it is also known, was approved 122-1 by the UN General Assembly in July 2017, a clear expression of the will of the worldâ€™s people. On October 24, 2020, Honduras became the 50th nation to ratify the TPNW, triggering a 90-day period before it goes into force, on January 22.
EMMA JORDAN-SIMPSON – We must face the truth: This is America, and this is who we will always be until we can tell ourselves the truth about the lies we keep alive.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The evident defeat of Donald Trump would not have been possible without the grassroots activism and hard work of countless progressives. Now, on vital issues — climate, healthcare, income inequality, militarism, the prison-industrial complex, corporate power and so much more — itâ€™s time to engage with the battle that must happen inside the Democratic Party.
MEDEA BENJAMIN and ZOLTAN GROSSMAN – If we find indiscriminate state violence in our streets appalling, we should feel similarly about state violence abroad, and call for divesting from both police and the Pentagon, and reinvesting those taxpayer dollars to rebuild communities at home and abroad.
ANDREW BACEVICH – The nationâ€™s current preoccupation with race, as honorable and necessary as it may be, falls well short of adequately responding to the situation confronting Americans as they enter the third decade of the twenty-first century. Racism is a massive problem, but hardly our only one. Indeed, as Martin Luther King sought to remind us many years ago, there are at least two others of comparable magnitude.
BRIAN TERRELL – â€œI am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values,â€ said Dr. King. 52 years later, our very existence as a species is at risk and the radical revolution of values that he preached is our best hope.
GEORGE LAKEY – The trouble with pragmatism these days is that our country is becoming less predictable by the minute. What is going on among the 40 percent of the electorate that didnâ€™t bother to vote in 2016â€™s general election? How about the new voters whoâ€™ve become naturalized citizens in the meantime, or the many whoâ€™ve turned 18? How much will the Russians skew the results?
WIM LAVEN – The Trump administration’s proposed budget is alarming in what it presents as the actual priorities of the White House. Among many other disastrous priorities, Trumpâ€™s budget for 2021 includes funding â€œfor the orderly closure of the [National Endowment for the Humanities].â€
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – One thing that becomes clear to me when I wander into the world, and the minds, of geopolitical professionals â€” government people â€” is how limited and linear their thinking seems to be.
LESLIE D. GREGORY and TOM H. HASTINGS – We can regain our global image as champion of human rights, which is currently undone. We can be the leader in environmental protection, which Trump is wrecking. And we may even catch up to the rest of the tech-advanced world in universal health care if we choose to drop the politics of division and start the politics of unity.
MIKE YARROW – True “nonviolence” is an affirmative presence of an alternative force for change, which Gandhi called, â€œa force more powerful.â€ Martin Luther King Jr.â€™s statement is, â€œ. . . true nonviolence is more than the absence of violence. It is the persistent and determined application of peaceable power to offenses against the community.â€
ALLEGRA HARPOOTLIAN – What if thereâ€™s an antiwar movement growing right under our noses and we just havenâ€™t noticed? What if we donâ€™t see it, in part, because it doesnâ€™t look like any antiwar movement weâ€™ve even imagined?
NORMAN SOLOMON – Bernie Sanders wrapped up a weekend campaign swing through California with a Sunday afternoon speech to 16,000 of us a few miles from the Golden Gate Bridge. News coverage seemed unlikely to convey much about the event. The multiracial crowd reflected the latest polling that shows great diversity of support for Bernie, contrary to corporate media spin. High energy for basic social change was in the air.
MARYKNOLL OFFICE FOR GLOBAL CONCERNS – January 18, 2019â€”On the occasion of Martin Luther King Day on January 21, eleven national and international Catholic justice and peace organizations delivered a joint statement to Congress today, entitled â€œFacing the Crisis: A Catholic Offer of Wisdom and Courage to Congressâ€ which calls on Members to courageously take the first steps to end the political polarization that the group says is eroding democracy in the United States.
ANOOP MIRPURI – The problems of police violence and mass incarceration are about much more than criminal justice. For this reason, efforts to resolve the current crisis solely at the level of criminal justice are more likely to wind up justifying police violence than ending it. For those who benefit from the way society is currently organized, peace and quiet for some may be more important than peace and justice for everyone. But if weâ€™re really interested in justice, we have to listen to the people our society dismisses as â€œcriminalsâ€ and the millions more vulnerable to being criminalized. We have to acknowledge that police violence isnâ€™t the cause of injustice; itâ€™s the outcome of injustice. Justice canâ€™t be achieved simply by reforming the police. It can be achieved only through the long-term effort of transforming a society that produces such extreme inequalities that the police are seen as necessary.
TOM H. HASTINGS – What will greatly increase the chances for a movement victory? A seriously researched and developed strategic plan.
KAZU HAGA – We find ourselves in an urgent moment in history. From climate change to the Trump agenda, we do not have the luxury to wait until tomorrow. We need a movement today. So maybe trying to make the moral argument is not the most strategic thing. But King taught us that it is never the wrong time to do the right thing. And so, I believe the time is right to make the argument that violence itself is our biggest enemy.
CAM FENTON – As climate activists prepare to stop a tar sands pipeline in British Columbia, history offers an important lesson on fighting a restrained and measured opponent.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Movie critics are already hailing â€œThe Post,â€ directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep as Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham. Millions of people will see the film in early winter. But the real-life political story of Graham and her newspaper is not a narrative thatâ€™s headed to the multiplexes.
NORMAN SOLOMON – More than a decade and a half ago, your eloquent words and courageous vote set a high bar as you stood up against a war frenzy on the House floor. Three days after 9/11, you implemented the kind of brave wisdom that we desperately need in a world beset by the massive violence of warfare and the overarching dangers of nuclear holocaust. Since then, like many other people opposed to perpetual war, Iâ€™ve deeply appreciated your leadership in advocating for diplomacy instead of reckless confrontation in international relations. Year after year, following your lone vote against a blank check for war on Sept. 14, 2001, youâ€™ve been a steadfast voice for the necessity of diplomatic initiatives. Until now.
REV. JOHN DEAR – While the media and the nation sit transfixed over the Trump scandals and attacks on democracy, those of us who work for justice and peace know that we have to keep working, resisting, and mobilizing people across the country if we are going to have the social, economic and political transformation we need for our survival.
REBECCA SOLNIT – I began talking about hope in 2003, in the bleak days after the war in Iraq was launched. Fourteen years later, I use the term hope because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of pessimism, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both. Optimism assumes that all will go well without our effort; pessimism assumes itâ€™s all irredeemable; both let us stay home and do nothing. Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we donâ€™t actually know what will happen, but know we may be able write it ourselves.
DAVID SWANSON – In my view, not only was Thomas Jefferson right to list all of King Georgeâ€™s wrongs, not only was Martin Luther King Jr. right to propose taking on militarism, racism, and extreme materialism all together, but the way to an effective movement â€” not just a larger movement, but a coherent movement with a vision for a better future â€” is to go multi-issue, big-tent, cross-border, and otherwise â€œintersectional.â€
NORMAN SOLOMON – While Bernie Sanders was doing a brilliant job of ripping into the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the livestreamed launch of the Our Revolution organization on Wednesday night, CNN was airing a phone interview with Hillary Clinton and MSNBC was interviewing Donald Trumpâ€™s campaign manager. That sums up the contrast between the enduring value of the Bernie campaign and the corporate mediaâ€™s fixation on the political establishment. Fortunately, Our Revolution wonâ€™t depend on mainline media. That said, the groupâ€™s debut foreshadowed not only great potential but also real pitfalls.
WINSLOW MYERS – Martin Luther King Jr., in his famous Riverside Church speech of 1967, â€œBeyond Vietnam,â€ cataloged the ingredients of the toxic brew we must acknowledge and eliminate if we really hope to make America great: rampant racism, materialism, and militarism.
WINSLOW MYERS – Trump and Sanders in their stark difference both from each other and from establishment candidates exemplify our national duality: fear-mongering and oversimplification from Trump, idealism and authenticity from Sanders. Every four years we have a fresh chance to look both for the real America and for the best possible America. Fifty-seven years ago, King pointed the way.
JOHN DEAR – If Carbondale, Illinois can seek to become a nonviolent city, any city can seek to become a nonviolent city. This is an idea whose time has come. This is an organizing strategy that should be tried around the nation and the world. The only way it can happen is through bottom-up, grassroots organizing, that reaches out to include everyone in the community, and eventually becomes widely accepted, even by the government, media, and police.
CORNELL WEST – The future of American democracy depends on our response to the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. And that legacy is not just about defending civil rights; itâ€™s also about fighting to fix our rigged economy, which yields grotesque wealth inequality; our narcissistic culture, which unleashes obscene greed; our market-driven media, which thrives on xenophobic entertainment; and our militaristic prowess, which promotes hawkish policies around the world. The fundamental aim of black votersâ€”and any voters with a deep moral concern for our public interest and common goodâ€”should be to put a smile on Martinâ€™s face from the grave.
ERICA CHENOWITH and DR. MARIA J. STEPHAN – Since 2011, the world has been a deeply contentious place. Although armed insurgencies rage across the Middle East, the Sahel and Southern Asia, violent civil conflicts are no longer the primary way that people seek to redress their grievances. Instead, from Tunis to Tahrir Square, from Zuccotti Park to Ferguson, from Burkina Faso to Hong Kong, movements worldwide have drawn on the lessons of Gandhi, King and everyday activists at home and abroad to push for change.
PATRICK O’NEILL – In the wake of Pope Francis’s visit last month, controversy continues to swirl. Some Catholics wish the pope had focused primarily on what they feel is the most important issue for the Catholic church â€“ abortion. Others applaud him for covering a broad variety of global issues. The LGBT community is upset by his private meeting with Kim Davis. Conservatives are frustrated by the choice of a gay man for a lector at the mass at Madison Square Garden. But in one area, Catholics are united. Ever since Pope Francis mentioned two rarely heard of Catholic leaders along with Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Lincoln to Congress, Catholics have been intrigued by the social activists their own history seemed to forget.
FODAY JUSTICE DARBOE – In the wake of the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris and the double suicide bombing in Beirut on November 12th, many Muslims took to Twitter to loudly and unequivocally condemn the terrorists attacks with the hashtagsâ€” #NotInMyName, #MuslimsAreNotTerrorist, but is this enough to counter Islamic extremism? When will â€œmoderate Muslimsâ€ stand up and speak against the terror and mayhem committed in the name of Islam?
PETER BERGEL – Thanks to Foday Darboe for setting an example to those he calls â€œmoderate Muslims.â€ I will follow his lead to set an example for â€œpatriotic Americans.â€
DAVID SOLEIL – What if instead of living in reactive fear of death, that we engaged in the pro-active, life-affirming love of building a caring community?
REV. JOHN DEAR – Los Alamos sits above the second poorest county in the U.S. and is located in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the country. The land was originally stolen from indigenous peoples by the U.S. government. Radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory was routinely dumped into the canyons below and has poisoned the water, the land, the animals, and the indigenous people. Annually, Los Alamos Labs spends $2 billion for the sole purpose of preparing the weapons that have the potential to kill millions of people. Thatâ€™s why I call Los Alamos â€œthe worldâ€™s greatest terrorist training camp.â€
RICHARD LENNANE – At the closing session of the NPT review conference on 22 May, South Africa described the NPT regime as a form of “nuclear apartheid.” This certainly captures the idea of a privileged minority unjustly imposing its will on a disenfranchised majority. But in many ways, a better analogy is that of the struggle for civil rights in the United States in the 1950s and 60s.
WINSLOW MYERS – Escalating tensions in the Ukraine raise the concern that the â€œfirebreakâ€ between conventional and the tactical nuclear weapons potentially available to all parties in the conflict could be breached, with unforeseen consequences.
RALPH HUTCHINSON – [Editorâ€™s Note: In the wake of the sentencing of 3 nonviolent objectors at the Y12 bomb plant in Oak Ridge, TN to long prison terms, this author takes the judge to task for the advice he offered the defendants from the bench. He develops his challenge into an insightful explanation of the way nonviolent direct action works to effect social change.]
JOSE-ANTONIO OROSCO – Today, the annihilation of humanity looms again as a possibility because of climate change. In 1964, King could not have imagined the particular features of global environmental destruction that we now face. Yet, he had reflected carefully on the forms of action needed to avert mass extinction before, so his work can still be useful today in thinking about directions for the climate justice movement.
NORMAN SOLOMON – A simple twist of fate has set President Obamaâ€™s second Inaugural Address for January 21, the same day as the Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.
Obama made no mention of King during the Inauguration four years ago — but since then, in word and deed, the president has done much to distinguish himself from the man who said â€œI have a dream.â€
DAVID SWANSON – Fifty thousand members of RootsAction.org signed a petition at http://StarsEarnStripes.org protesting NBC’s war-is-fun “reality” show co-hosted by former general Wesley Clark. Activists in New York have held a weekly protest and delivered the petitions. The final protest is at 5 p.m. this evening (Sept. 3) on the north side of W. 49th St. between 5th and 6th Avenues in New York City.