Tuesday, June 27, 2006

 

On Propriety, Power, and Social Protest

The following is from a message I sent recently in response to a dispute over the appropriateness of politely leafleting at an upcoming cultural event:
P., E., and F. have all invoked propriety. Now, I care about kindness, generosity, treating people respectfully--when they deserve it--and I care about thinking and acting strategically and tactically but I don't give a rat's patootey about propriety, etiquette, civility, etc. at least not in the way it is typically used to disempower and silence people. I've been thinking about this subject for some time and I want to share below some quotes on the matter (all emphasis added).
The high degree of self-consciously controlled behaviour that comprised Victorian etiquette was a strategem of power through inclusion and exclusion.
--Linda Young. Middle-Class Culture in the Nineteenth Century: America, Australia and Britain. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003) p. 84. From the chapter titled "The Civilizing Process: the Morphology of Gentility" and the section titled "The well-mannered society."
Many nineteenth-century middle-class people found such a demanding level of restraint was impossible. Anger was the topic most addressed by the advisory literature, which recommended avoiding contentious topics as the safest technique to avoid argument. This may have been viable advice within social situations where people gathered to perform the genteel rituals of their status. In everyday life with its complement of frustrations caused by circumstances beyond the individual's control, the need to express anger could find a domestic outlet in rage towards inferiors such as servants, children or women.
--Young. p. 118. From the chapter titled "Under Control: the Genteel Body." Elsewhere Young describes how middle-class people were, overwhelmingly, the main consumers of the "advisory literature."
Etiquette was a dynamic, evolving, yet prescriptive, discourse manipulated by the fluent to identify their like and exclude outsiders.
--Young. p. 124. From the chapter titled "Best Behaviour: Public Relationships."
Etiquette derived from the courtly practice of seventeenth-century France, where the Bourbon kings controlled the nobility with a centripetal network of highly ritualized ceremonies in which the monarch's favour transferred power to successful subordinates.
--Young. p. 127.

The three excerpts below are from the article "Tyranny of the Few" by Dr. Doug Magann. Magann was the superintendent of the Mobile (AL) County Public School System until he was fired for seriously trying to change the abysmal school system and challenging the power elite that made the school system rotten and kept it that way. The first part of the article, especially, is well worth reading for Magann's insights on education, power, and wealth. Again all emphasis is mine. Read the full article here.
One would think that the School Board would be taking whatever actions needed to attain reasonably adequate and equitable funding for the schools (including, but not limited to, educating the general public about how things really work and how to change the rules). One would also think that the Teacher Union might be involved in such an endeavor, but both have been acculturated into the beggar mentality.

No one wants to offend the rulers. Never mind that the people cannot help themselves or that, given the existing rules, the Legislators are the only ones in a position to help the children. If they become offended, there will be retribution. This is the plantation, and such retribution could, and probably would, affect certain offending individuals personally.

What should we call the invocation of politeness, gentility, and civility as weapons to obscure the truth and effectively preclude the victims from influencing their destinies or those of their children? When people have been taught to accept the premise that open confrontation with authority figures is 'rude' and to be avoided at all cost, regardless of the circumstances or how they are being treated, it is more than sufficient to establish bondage to those that make the rules. And how should we describe those in the community who see these things, recognize them for what they are, and turn away in self-serving complacency?


See also: When Dialogue is NOT our Hope

Last revised: 10/31/2006

Monday, June 26, 2006

 

The Green Party and the One-State Solution

From section I.D.2. of the platform of the Green Party of the United States:
k. We know that significant international opinion is committed to a two-state solution. Yet, we recognize that the two-state solution may be increasingly unrealistic in the face of economic and social conditions in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we would consider support for a U.S. foreign policy that promotes serious reconsideration of the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.

l. We recognize that such a state might take many forms, such as what might emerge from careful consideration of the Swiss model. The eventual model that is chosen must be decided by the peoples themselves. We realize the enormous hostilities that now exist between the two peoples, but history tells us that these are not insurmountable among peace-seeking people.

 

Concerning the Peace Tax Fund Bill

Here's an edited version of something I wrote to a Green Party list a couple of days ago:
I first looked into the Peace Tax Fund (PTF) legislation several years ago. While I believe the people working for the PTF have the best of motives nevertheless I think the effort is fatally misguided. The proposed legislation (currently H.R. 2631--the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act) might make individual taxpayers feel better but it would not divert one cent from the military budget until a highly unlikely, critical mass of the taxpayers participated in the PTF. The text of a previous version (H.R. 1186) of the bill claimed that two committees/studies determined that the bill, if passed, would INCREASE total federal revenues, presumably, because war tax resisters would begin paying their taxes. In Sec. 2, Para. 6 of the current bill, it says, "The Joint Committee on Taxation has certified that a tax trust fund, providing for conscientious objector taxpayers to pay their full taxes for non-military purposes, would increase Federal revenues." Until the large, critical mass is reached H.R. 2631 creates nothing but a shell game, at best. A higher proportion of tax revenues from non-PTF participants would simply be diverted to military spending to make up any loss.

Another serious criticism of PTF is that the law creating it would probably become another legal ax to wield against war tax resisters (although few of the legal defenses employed thus far have been very successful, in any event). By analogy, think of conscientious objectors (CO) to military conscription. In WWI (and probably other wars, too), some COs refused to do any alternative work that supported the war effort. They reasoned that their non-combat war work simply freed up someone else to perform the combat duty which they opposed and had been excused from. The CO laws were later used against these COs--the most 'conscientious' COs, in fact. They were sent to prison where they were often brutalized.

None of the advocates of the PTF I have corresponded with have ever addressed these concerns. Having said all that, I am humble enough to admit that my analysis and/or vision may be deficient and I would, however, support a well written Peace Tax Credit bill.
So, if passage of the Peace Tax Fund bill would--as it claims--increase federal revenues then why don't more members of Congress support it? My guess is that they don't want to give any credence to the notion that people have any right of conscience to decide individually how their taxes are spent. They may be afraid of the broader consequences of legislatively affirming "the religious freedom of taxpayers who are conscientiously opposed to participation in war ..." and they may also see the bill as a slippery slope opening the door to claims of conscience on subjects other than war.

Here are two other pieces I have written on war tax resistance:

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

 

Update on VFP Resolution on Palestine

This is an update to my post of Saturday, June 17, 2006: "Proposed Veterans for Peace Resolution on Justice and Peace in Palestine." The resolution language is unchanged from last week but below is some possible additional language being discussed 'off-blog':
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Board of Directors is directed to allocate adequate financial and staff resources to ensure meaningful implementation of this resolution, including working with other justice and peace organizations, such as Al-Awda—the Palestine Right to Return Coalition, to promote the boycott and divestment campaign called for by Palestinian civil society on July 9, 2005 and endorsed by VFP in convention that same year; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Executive Director shall: Provide a progress report on the implementation of this resolution in the November, 2006, and February and May, 2007, issues of the national newsletter; and, Shall within thirty days issue, for broad media distribution, a press release publicizing this resolution; and, Shall within fourteen days transmit copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, the President pro tem and the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, the Speaker and the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Veterans for Peace Co-sponsors (in alpha order; list in formation)
  1. Thomas F. Barton, editor, GI Special*; member, Military Project*
  2. o'Kelly McCluskey, disabled WWII vet; member VFP chapter 92*; Director, VusPAs*
Endorsements (in alpha order; list in formation)
  1. Hedy Epstein, St. Louis (Mo.) Women in Black*
  2. Tom Hayes, filmmaker, People and the Land
  3. Elaine Rumman, board member, Arab American Organization*
  4. Farouq Shafie, member, Palestine Aid Society of Ann Arbor*
  5. Rabia Shafie, cofounder, Palestine Aid Society of Ann Arbor*
*for identification purposes only

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

 

Firsthand Account of Presbyterian Vote

Forwarded to Dissident Veteran for Peace by Hedy Epstein (edited for spelling and format):
Mainstream media has been circulating articles falsely stating that the 217th Presbyterian Assembly has reversed or rescinded its decision for phased selective divestment. See [the] Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, and NYTimes.

As someone who has witnessed firsthand the ongoings and intrigues of the 217th Presbyterian Assembly (ends this morning 6.22.06), I must state that it is a big lie to state that divestment has been reversed or rescinded! Not in any sense of the word. the work of the Presbyterians' MRTI (Mission Responsibility through Investment) continues as prescribed in the 2004 Assembly. In fact, the current resolution AFFIRMS that. This was also stated in no uncertain terms in the adopted report, in the press conferences given by the Church Moderator, the Committee Moderator and the Stated Clerk after the vote.

Please help in stemming the tide of lies that pro-Israeli groups have been desperately trying to circulate even before the resolution was voted on. It is true that the Presbyterians were bullied into offering an apology to the so-called mainstream Jewish organizations; it is true that what they passed yesterday casts insults onto their own efforts and process in 2004; it is true that it carries serious contradictions for them (they passed a resolution for an unambiguous, fast-track divestment from Sudan), as well asfor their own church constitution (article 4 in the adopted report contradicts their belief that the Chuch has every right to critique sovereign states). BUT IT IS NOT TRUE THAT DIVESTMENT WAS EITHER REVERSED, REPLACED, RESCINDED, DILUTED, OR DELAYED.

What is on the books now is essentially and exactly what was there in 2004. The pro-Israeli pressure before and during the Presbyterian General Assembly was directed at obtaining a change in perception in order to prevent similar actions from other churches and establishments. They realize, as we do, that the moral/ethical edge of divestment as a term is what really brought down South Africa's Apartheid and not the economic sanctions. So please do not fall into the trap of repeating what the mainstream media propagates; this would only discourage other churches and organizations from attempting divestment. Reporters attending the press conference after the GA vote were unambiguously and repeatedly informed about the true nature of the resolution. Yet we overheard some of them communicate false statements (outright lies) about the whole process over their cellphones as we stood there. Please refer people to the text of the document on the Church's website and to their published article. This is what's binding.

I have seen so many lies propagated over the last week. Please do not allow them to go any further. Although "divestment" has become the new four-letter-word, the Presbyterians are still committed.

Hazem Ziada,
Atlanta Palestine Solidarity

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Presbys Bow to Zionists ... or Did They?

Headline in the Chicago Tribune: "Presbyterians won't divest over firms' ties to Israel"

I am reminded of the words of William Sloane Coffin:
Q. What should churches be doing in the face of what’s going on in [the United States] right now?

A. I think the bright flames of Christianity are now down to smoldering embers, if not ashes, of feeling comfortable. The church is pretty much down to therapy and management. There’s really little prophetic fire. ... And the poor rabbis have a problem being critical of Israel ... If [American Jews] said to Bush, "We have to change," that would be it. But they’re not saying it audibly, and not in concert, that’s for sure.

The churches are a reflection of the truth of Plato’s statement, "What’s honored in the country will be cultivated there." ...

... we have mediocre politicians, and the clergy is pretty mediocre also. But what’s honored in a country will be cultivated there. The greatest recession in this country is not economic; it’s spiritual. And so the great biblical mandates of pursuing justice and seeking peace are shortchanged.
–Interview with Paul Raushenbush. "Advice to a Young Minister". Beliefnet.com. June, 2004.

But, then again, consider two excerpts from an article entitled "GA overwhelmingly approves Israel/Palestine recommendation" on the Presbyterian Church web site:
By a vote of 483 in favor, 28 opposed and 1 abstention today, the Assembly set as church policy that "financial investments of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), as they pertain to Israel, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and the West Bank, be invested in only peaceful pursuits." The recommendation was an alternate resolution to an overture that sought to repeal and rescind the actions of the 2004 General Assembly relating to "phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel."

... During a press conference following the vote, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, said today's action does not overturn the actions of the 216th General Assembly (2004), and newly elected moderator Joan Gray emphasized the church's longstanding focus on peacemaking. (emphasis added)
So, it appears, the Presbyterians have offered some conciliatory language but refused to adopt an "alternate resolution" repealing the 2004 divestment resolution. The Zionist spin machine may say otherwise but it seems the Presbyterians have resisted Zionist pressure and stood firm in the face of specious charges of anti-Semitism.

Related

"Open Letter to the Presbyterian Church" by Jews Against the Occupation at Electronic Intifada

Sunday, June 18, 2006

 

Comments Policy

This is the comments policy for the Dissident Veteran for Peace and the Zionists Out of the Peace Movement blogs. Comments will be posted at the sole discretion of the blog owner. Comments that are substantive and relevant to the post to which they are responding have a much greater likelihood of being approved. Comments that reveal personal details of the blog owner or other commentators or contain ad hominem attacks, name-calling, etc. probably will not be approved.

 

Virginia Tilley on "The One-State Solution"

I read Virginia Tilley's The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock (Univ. of Michigan Pr., 2005) before I started this blog and didn't take notes. So, rather than try to write a review from my faulty memory I provide interested readers with an excerpt below from a review by Professor Mahmoud N. Musa on the Association for One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel web site.
Few people are as qualified to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the author of this book. She is a professor of political science with a PhD from the university of Wisconsin with special emphasis on ethnic conflict. Further, Dr. Tilley has had twenty years direct experience with this conflict, including living there for two years. The book, is scholarly, well-documented, and illustrated with maps. It can serve as an excellent background for this conflict, and includes a discussion of the important international actors: the Zionist movement, the Arab States, the United States of America, Europe, and the United Nations.
Tilley wrote an essay entitled "The One-State Solution" for the London Review of Books in 2003. Here's an excerpt:
... the conditions for an independent Palestinian state have been killed off by the inexorable and irreversible advance of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an idea, and a possibility, whose time has passed, its death obscured (as was perhaps intended) by daily spectacle: the hoopla of a useless 'road map', the cycles of Israeli gunship assassinations and Palestinian suicide bombings, the dismal internal Palestinian power struggles, the house demolitions and death counts - all the visible expressions of a conflict which has always been over control of land.

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Saturday, June 17, 2006

 

Proposed Veterans for Peace Resolution on Justice and Peace in Palestine

Last year I wrote a resolution for Veterans for Peace (VFP) endorsing the July 9, 2005, Palestinian call for "Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights." My original resolution didn't get through unaltered but with help from Hedy Epstein, Ken Mayer, and Gene Glazer the Board of Directors approved a decent resolution that was adopted at the national convention. Below is this year's effort.

I plan to submit the final text before July 12, 2006. In the meantime, there may be changes to the text as I seek endorsements and strategize with people. So, please keep checking back at my blog for updates every Saturday. I will allow anyone who doesn't agree with the final text to withdraw their endorsements but you have to let me know. Click here to see VFP's "Resolution Notice."
RESOLVED, as a peace organization based in the United States—the major diplomatic, financial, and military underwriter of the State of Israel—Veterans for Peace has a special duty to work for a just peace in Palestine, the territory which comprises Israel and the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. To this end, although we do not prejudge what a just peace would look like, we express our strong preference for the peaceful creation of one democratic state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea with equality for all of its citizens and we stand in solidarity with the growing number of Palestinians and Israelis calling for such a solution; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Veterans for Peace calls for an immediate end to all diplomatic, financial, and military support of the government of the State of Israel by the United States government; and,

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that Veterans for Peace urges its members, chapters, and other people of conscience to work diligently—using boycotts, divestment, and other nonviolent means—to bring about the conditions necessary for Palestinians and Israelis to settle their longstanding dispute not on the basis of military force but on the basis of universal principles of human rights and international law; and,

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the Executive Director shall issue, for broad media distribution, a press release publicizing this resolution and shall transmit copies of this resolution to the President of the United States, the President pro tem and the minority leader of the U.S. Senate, the Speaker and the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
One State Resources
Association for One Democratic State in Palestine/Israel
Alternative Palestinian Agenda

Endorsements (in alpha order; list in formation)
  1. Hedy Epstein, St. Louis (Mo.) Women in Black*
  2. Tom Hayes, filmmaker, People and the Land
  3. Farouq Shafie, cofounder, Palestine Aid Society of Ann Arbor*
  4. Rabia Shafie, cofounder, Palestine Aid Society of Ann Arbor*
*for identification purposes only

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