Peace Action New York State

Peace Action New York State challenges U.S. militarism in domestic and foreign policies through grassroots organizing by community and student leaders throughout the State. Together, we can work with elected leaders to create a U.S. foreign policy that promotes human needs, not endless war.

 

 

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Don’t Be a Bystander

What We Can Do Now: Stop Hate Speech and Violence, Stop Trump

We all have to do what we can with what we have, where we are, to defend the values and the people we hold close to our hearts. The onset of violence targeting POC in particular immediately following the election is heart breaking and absolutely intolerable. This is not normal. This is not ok. This is hate with unbelievable power.

We elected a man who incites people to violence. That’s our next President. In the words of the indomitable Michelle Obama, we must go higher. We must defend diversity, safety, love, tolerance, respect, kindness. We must take action, and we must take action now for the safety of our communities.

Here’s what you can do, now, where you are, to fight back:


 

Build Your Community and Community Values

This is a difficult moment for hundreds of millions of Americans who have already been deeply and personally attacked by the hateful rhetoric and incitement to violence of the Trump campaign. In the immediate term, we need to identify our allies and build our communities, so we can then mobilize into action. Here’s what you can do today:

  • Identify 10 friends who are also reeling from the election and invite them over
  • Identify community organizations and leader already taking action, or who have done other election-related work, and invite them over to discuss, too.

At this meeting, talk about:

  • Election Results and Reactions: What just happened? How are you feeling? What are your fears? How is your community reacting?
  • Community Response: How would you like your community to react? What kind of community do you want to live in? How should your community address your fears?
    Community Values: What kind of community do you want to live in? What values would it exude? Write them down, then, make them known to begin to build a zero tolerance policy for hate speech and violence in your community and community centers.
  • Identify your community values statement and places where you can share it.
  • Consider: Can you table in a public space with your values statement and have others sign onto it? Can the University President/faith leaders/teachers/PTAs circulate it? Can you create a petition that can be circulated to the entire student body agreeing to the values? Are the values already listed somewhere, and you just need to remind the community of what they are in creative and bold displays?
  • Build community consensus around the values and, when people sign up to agree with the community values, ask the people you know, the organizations you are working with, and the community members you meet to sign up to take action to practice and defend those values and your community in ongoing actions.

 

Create Community Safe Spaces


There is an immediate need to combat the violence experienced by the communities who have been targeted by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. You can approach community and common spaces, such as businesses and gas stations, to be safe spaces for people to go when they feel threatened by or are experiencing hate speech and/or violence.

These spaces may include: gas stations, churches, coffee shops, retail shops, restaurants, faculty/departmental offices, or somewhere else. You should consider places in particular that are open late or in areas that are not well lit.

Once you’ve identified your community values, think about what community spaces will defend those values. Can they be spaces where people who are feeling unsafe or have just experienced hate speech/violence can go for help? Identify guidelines for these spaces, what the expectations are if someone comes in and needs help. Will they:

  • Call the police/public safety (if asked)
  • Be a well-lit space for people to stay until a threat has passed/until they can be picked up by an ally
  • Let the individual use a phone if they need to, to get a ride home/call a friend.
  • Draft these into an agreement for the business owner/representative to consider and to sign.
  • How will these safe zones be publicized? Will there be a sticker on an outside window of the building? A larger sign? Will you provide a few options?
  • Create lists of safe spaces and other resources (legal, counseling, and others) that you can print out and put up in bathroom stalls, libraries and other spaces where people can view these resources privately (though you may want to make this list public, too – bonus points if it can be distributed in a campus-wide email w/ a values statement)
  • Survey your community for allies: Individuals can act as allies, even in the absence of community safe spaces. For example, Fordham students are identifying themselves as allies and identifying students who feel unsafe, so they can be paired. Allies will commute with people who feel unsafe in their community, or accompany them on campus. If allies have a car, they may offer to pick people up from spaces where they feel unsafe. Click here for the google doc they created to identify allies & people who need their support.

Join Community Activists Already Providing Safe Spaces Through Direct Service

There are communities that are being targeted broadly and in violent acts by individuals as part of the incitement to violence of the Donald Trump campaign. Here are some actions you should consider taking to support them, and to build a broader progressive community to take political action in the future:

 

Boycott Trump



Trump owes his success in this election in part to his unreasonable wealth and to the wealthy who stood by him. The best way to send a message to them is through their pocketbooks, which is why Shaun King and other movement leaders are organizing a boycott of Trump enterprises and the companies that supported his campaign.

Join the boycott here: https://www.thedjtr.com/. Here are other resources on boycotting.

Companies to boycott include: The Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, NE Patriots, TD Bank, Chicago Cubs, New Balance, UFC, PayPal, Pep Boys, Herbalife, Trump Hotels (and all Trump products/enterprises) and MillerCoors, which producers Miller beers, Coors beers, Crispin Hard Cider, and Blue Moon.


Organize Teach-Ins to Promote and Practice Solidarity

This election made clear that privileged persons need to actively pursue and practice being an active ally for the most marginalized groups. You and your group can practice being an ally and strengthen current struggles for human rights by organizing a teach-in for your community and for your group – 10 or 25 or 100 people, these trainings will make an impact. Here are the resources to get you started:

  • #NoDAPL: Curriculum Available Here


    The Standing Rock Sioux are resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to protect their land and water. The 1,200 mile propose pipeline threatens the traditional and treaty-guaranteed Great Sioux Nation territory, and recent U.S. environmental regulations. This pipeline is a continuation of the U.S. stealing of indigenous land to feed wealth instead of human needs. The pipeline is opposed by a broad coalition of environmental, human rights organizations, with indigenous leaders centered in the struggle for their land, safety and rights. Their peaceful resistance has been met by a militarized police presence and violence.
  • #BlackLivesMatter: Curriculum Available Here


    The Black Lives Matter movement is a direct response to the brutalized killings of innocent black men and women by a militarized police force and the systematic racism of a justice system that will not hold anyone accountable for crimes against people of color. The movement was founded by Opal Tometi, Patrice Cullors and Alicia Garza and has sparked national conversation and policy shifts in addressing racial inequality and systemic injustice. The Black Lives Matter Syllabus is the intellectual property of instructor Frank Leon Roberts.
  • I Am Not Afraid: Curriculum Available Here


    The #IAmNotAfraid curriculum is a direct response to the misogyny, racism, xenophobia and incitements to violence of the Trump campaign. It focuses on building conversations and addressing fears following the election of Trump among young people aged 18-25, noting in particular their overwhelming support for progressive values, as indicated by their voting record in the 2016 election. The curriculum then notes the powerful movements of our generation, starting with Occupy Wall St, then charting what individuals can bring to a resistance movement and what actions they will take as a community.
  • Call and Write to your Elected Representatives Telling Them to Defend These Campaigns and Stand Up to Trump. Ask if they can commit to defending the campaigns and issues you care about, which could include immigration, reduced military spending, ending the militarization of the police, stopping drone strikes, defending UN funding, fighting climate change, promoting women’s rights and the rights of the disabled, and so many other issues that Trump has degraded. We have resources to help you make that ask on our website.

Intervening as an Ally: Learn How to Protect Yourself and Others

Many of today’s current protests are being met with a militarized police force and shut down with violence – and many of the communities protesting are at the greatest risk of personal violence, both in protests and in their schools and their communities. Here’s what you can do to take action and intervene to create a zero tolerance policy for hate speech and violence:

  • Non-Violent Direct Action: Resources Here from War Resistors League (including legal resources in case of arrest)


    Non-violent direct action, also called civil disobedience, are techniques outside of institutionalized behavior that challenge unjust power dynamics using methods of protest, noncooperation and intervention without the use or threat of injurious force. You may be met with a militarized police force, and trainings in non-violent direct action share how to meet that confrontation with non-violence to reduce the likelihood of escalation. 

These actions are powerful, and have included: activists against the Keystone Pipeline refusing to leave the offices of companies supporting the pipeline, Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus, #BLM activists blockading streets. For more resources, including training guides, click here.
  • Intervene to Stop Hate Speech: Resources Here from Bust.Com
    If you see someone being verbally harassed, don’t be a bystander. Make it clear that harassment is not tolerated in your community, or by you, by following a few clear steps to change the conversation with the person being verbally attacked, and if necessary, use the excuse of conversation to move that person away from the individual lashing out. A step by step guide is available in the link above.
  • Intervene to Stop Violence: Resources Here from Quartz.com
    If you see someone being physically assaulted or threatened, you can intervene to de-escalate the situation. No one wants you to intervene if you know you will also experience violence from that intervention, but consider the types of privilege you have and how they may protect you when you intervene. There are ways to intervene to de-escalate a violent situation that are across a spectrum of confrontation. Please see the link above and the link on intervening to stop hate speech to read about different strategies of intervention.
  • Learn About Taking Action to Influence Policy Makers: Resources Here from former Congressional Staffer.
    Trump will introduce policies that we will need to fight back against by lobbying through: letters, calls, petitions and meetings with our elected Representatives. Here are resources compiled by Peace Action New York State on writing those letters, making those calls and scheduling those meetings – and links to some creative action ideas, too.

Plug into Larger Movements and Movement Events

Your power can be amplified by plugging into similar groups of activists across the country in movement-building coalitions and events. Here are some groups you may want to follow and actions you might want to be a part of:

  • Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER): Protest at the Inauguration and Stand Against Trump Click Here for Facebook Event
    The ANSWER coalition is organizing a massive protest on inauguration day 2017, calling on progressive people from across the country to stage a massive demonstration against Trump. Over 8000 people have RSVPed as attending. More information on transportation is available here.
  • Women’s March on Washington: Click Here for Facebook Event
    Coalitions of women’s rights organizations from across the country are organize a march to the Lincoln Memorial the day after the inauguration. “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

The national event page is linked above, and it has links in the event description to pages for individual states, where travel is being organized.
  • Know What to Do at a Protest

: If you have not mobilized in a protest before: welcome! The vast majority of protests are completely safe demonstrations of community values to shape political action. We’re more impactful with more people and we’re glad you’re a part of movements on the streets. To stay safe, consider these tips: make sure someone not at the protest knows where you are, bring a small amount of cash with you, travel light, make sure your phone is charged. If you think there is a possibility of being arrested, write the number of a legal resource hotline on your arm. The National Lawyer’s Guild number is: 212-679-6018.

Join and Follow Organizations Whose Work You Believe In

Organizations institutionalize knowledge that let us build people power and organize it for strategic and large-scale action. Be sure to join organizations that you believe in, and follow them on Facebook, so you can take action and support the causes you believe in, not only today, and not only because of Trump, but tomorrow and next year and ten years from now, because they reflect your values and the world you want to help create.

 

Sign the Petition: Keep Trump’s Finger Off the Nuclear Red Button

 

CLICK HERE to sign 

 

To: Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Bob Corker

Rescind your endorsement of Donald Trump. He is unfit to be president and cannot be allowed access to the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

The president has total authority to launch thousands of nuclear weapons at any moment. If Donald Trump gets his hands on the nuclear Red Button, no one could stop him from lighting the world on fire. We can’t let a volatile demagogue command our nuclear arsenal.

The prospect of a nuclear-armed Trump is too real. So we are calling on Republican leaders in Congress to do everything they can to keep Trump’s finger far away from the Red Button. This includes rescinding endorsements of Donald Trump for president.

Donald Trump’s rhetoric about nuclear weapons is scary. He thinks more countries should have them. He won’t rule out dropping them on Europe. And just last month, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough reported that Trump asked three times in a one-hour policy briefing, “If we’ve got [nukes], why can’t we use them?”

Leaders from both parties, including 50 GOP national security officials, warn that Trump isn’t fit to command our nuclear arsenal and would put the nation at risk. This view is shared by a huge majority of Americans: only 27% trust him with nuclear weapons.

The prospect of Trump commanding our nukes is terrifying. Further, Trump exposes just how our nuclear command system is built for first-strike and quick-launch at the president’s sole discretion. There are no checks and balances. Nothing to prevent a President Trump from launching a civilization-ending nuclear attack based on misinformation or poor judgment. No need even for a president to explain.

We know the first step to keeping our world safe from nuclear disaster is halting Trump in his tracks, before it’s too late.

It is a dereliction of public service for Republican leaders to condone a nuclear demagogue for President of the United States. The right thing to do is to disavow Trump, and do it now.

Crooks and Liars
Daily Kos
Deluge
Global Zero Action
LeftAction
Not Who We Are
Peace Action
People For the American Way
People’s Action
Presente.org
Silver Linings Action
Watchdog.net
Women’s Action for New Directions

Footnotes:

Trump asks why US can’t use nukes: MSNBC
50 G.O.P. Officials Warn Donald Trump Would Put Nation’s Security ‘at Risk’: NY Times
The Nuclear Stakes In This, And Every, Election: The Huffington Post

debate

September 26th: Join Us and Bring Peace into the Conversation at the Presidential Debate

Gather at 4 p.m. at Uniondale  along  Hempstead Tpke. to create a peace zone and walk along at 4:30 to Monroe hall, California  for a peace zone rally with student faculty and community speakers.

4:45-5:45 PEACE ZONE RALLY outside Monroe Hall with student, faculty and community speakers

6:00- 7:30  Panel “Si Se Puede” to “Build the Wall” The Importance of the Latino Vote in 2016 Monroe Lecture Hall, Hofstra University South Campus

8:00-8:50 – BRINGING  STUDENT & COMMUNITY VOICES TO THE 2016 DEBATE : Pre-Debate Panel: Kate Alexander, PeaceAction NYS; Emilie Beck, PeaceActionMatters@Hofstra; Frederick K. Brewington, civil rights attorney; Hofstra student Bernard Coles IV; and Paul Gibson, Uniondale Community Land Trust and GUAAC. Moderator: Prof. Andrea Libresco. SPEAKOUT on issues and questions we would like to see candidates address, Monroe Lecture Hall

9-10:30 COMMUNITY DEBATE WATCH, Monroe Lecture Hall

Endorsements for Congress: Elect Peace Champions

Champions for Peace, Running for Congress:

Representative Clarke (NY-9), Representative Nadler (NY-13), Representative Paul Tonko (NY-20), Zephyr Teachout (NY-19) and Derickson Lawrence (NY-16) have been endorsed by Peace Action New York State.


Peace Action New York State is endorsing several candidates for Congress who are champions for a common sense foreign policy that prioritizes diplomacy and peace-driven solutions to today’s most entrenched conflicts. We know that bombing will not create peace, and we will elect leaders who share our vision of a world without war. Here are our 2016 endorsements for Congress:

Representative Paul Tonko (D – NY20)
Representative Tonko signed the recent bipartisan Dear Colleague letter in Congress, asking President Obama to postpone the 1.15 billion dollar sale of U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia because of their ongoing war crimes in Yemen, committed with U.S. weapons. He was one of only two New York Representatives to sign this letter – the other was Representative Nadler. Along with Peace Action, according to his voting record, Representative Tonko supports the Iran Deal, Syrian and Iraqi refugee resettlement in the United States, and Congressional debate on a new AUMF.

Representative Yvette Clarke (D- NY9)
Rep. Yvette Clarke has been the representative for New York’s 9th congressional district since 2013. From 2007 to 2012, she was the representative for New York’s 11th congressional district. She has a history of using her role in Congress to push peace-related agendas. She was among the large group of Members of Congress to send a letter to President Obama asking him to allow Congress to debate on alternatives to sending ground troops to Syria. She also joined Rep. Jim Himes to call for multilateral international negotiations to end the Syrian Civil War as an alternative to US military intervention.

She has been vocal against legislation and initiatives to restrict Syrian and Iraqi resettlement in the US, calling it a “violation of these refugees’ basic rights”. She would advocate for the refugee resettlement above 10,000 persons. Rep. Clarke supports taking practical steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, believing in a nuclear-free world. Because of this stance, she would not support the proposal for the $1T nuclear weapons modernization budget or the Long Range Stand Off missile. Rep. Clarke was a supporter of the Iran JCPOA. She believes that the government needs to consider alternatives to US military involvement when it comes to looking for solutions to end terrorism in the Middle East, as “The Iraq war cost the US billions of dollars and, most importantly, has not solved the issue, but worsened it.” Rep. Clarke co-sponsored the Responsible End to the War in Afghanistan Act, which “allocated funds only for purposes of providing for the safe and orderly withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY10)
Rep. Jerry Nadler has been the representative for New York’s 10th congressional district since 2013. He has previously represented New York’s 8th (1993-2013) and 17th congressional districts (1992-1993). Rep. Nadler has faced a lot of backlash from his district’s largely Jewish population for ultimately endorsing the Iran Nuclear Deal, a decision he believes was “our best chance for averting a nuclear-armed Iran”. He faced similar backlash in 2002, as New York’s only Jewish member of Congress to vote against authorizing war in Iraq.

Derickson Lawrence (I – NY16)
Derickson Lawrence is running for the 16th Congressional District of New York, challenging incumbent Representative Engel. He reached out to PANYS to better understand the Syria crisis, after seeing one of our action alerts, and consistently turns to us for policy and messaging advice on foreign policy issues. Many of his views align with PANYS. He opposes a no-fly zone in Syria and supports the current diplomatic efforts to end the Civil War in Syria, along with alternatives to US military intervention. He supports taking practical steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, and therefore does not support the current proposal for the $1T nuclear weapons modernization budget. He supports the Iran JCPOA and would support an international ban on autonomous weapons.

Zephyr Teachout (D-NY19)
Zephyr Teachout is running for the 19th Congressional District of New York. She has been endorsed by Bernie Sanders. She opposed the war in Iraq and disagreed with President Obama on the intervention in Libya. Her campaign page indicates that she would work as “a voice of restraint against reckless wars in the Middle East and around the world” and would advocate “for international alliances to prevent dictators from obtaining nuclear weapons, and working in coalition to prevent the root causes of radicalization and terror that have given rise to ISIS and al-Qaeda”. She also opposes the TPP.

 

Hofstra Debate: Bring Peace to the Election

CREATING A PEACE ZONEGather at 4 p.m. at Uniondale  along  Hempstead Tpke. to create a peace zone and walk along at 4:30 to Monroe hall, California  for a peace zone rally with student faculty and community speakers.

 

4:45-5:45 PEACE ZONE RALLY outside Monroe Hall with student, faculty and community speakers

 

6:00- 7:30  Panel “Si Se Puede” to “Build the Wall” The Importance of the Latino Vote in 2016 Monroe Lecture Hall, Hofstra University South Campus

 

8:00-8:50 – BRINGING  STUDENT & COMMUNITY VOICES TO THE 2016 DEBATE : Pre-Debate Panel: Kate Alexander, PeaceAction NYS; Emilie Beck, PeaceActionMatters@Hofstra; Frederick K. Brewington, civil rights attorney; Hofstra student Bernard Coles IV; and Paul Gibson, Uniondale Community Land Trust and GUAAC. Moderator: Prof. Andrea Libresco. SPEAKOUTon issues and questions we would like to see candidates address, Monroe Lecture Hall

 

9-10:30 COMMUNITY DEBATE WATCH, Monroe Lecture Hall

US Leading Peace Activists in Syria: News Release

News Release: US to Syria Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation

2016 August 9~ A Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation, organized by the U.S. Peace Council (USPC) just returned from a week-long visit to Syria. The delegation met with representatives of numerous NGOs, heads of industry, religious leaders and civil society, high-level leaders of the Syrian government, and it held an extended private meeting with President Bashar al Assad.

The delegation’s findings could not be more timely as the world watched the Obama administration escalating violence and bombing in Libya and threatening to escalate its overt military role in Syria. These violent actions take place while the Syrian government and its allies are closing in on the various foreign-funded terrorist groups that have plagued the people of Syria for over 5 years.

Consisting of seven activists representing various peace organizations the Peace Delegation was led jointly by Henry Lowendorf from the executive committee of the USPC and Gerry Condon, Vice President of Veterans for Peace.

Almost everything we read about Syria in the media is wrong,” said Gerry Condon. “The reality is that the U.S. government is supporting armed extremist groups who are terrorizing the Syrian people and trying to destroy Syria’s secular state.

In order to hide that ugly reality and push violent regime change,” continued Condon, “the U.S. is conducting a psychological warfare campaign to demonize Syria’s president, Bashar al Assad. This is a classic tactic that veterans have seen over and over. It is shocking, however, to realize how willingly the media repeat this propaganda, and how many people believe it to be true.

Donna Nassor pointed out,

Contrary to media reports, in eastern Aleppo, as in Medaya earlier, we learned that it is the terrorists who prevent supplies from getting in and civilians from leaving even while the Syrian government creates channels for residents to leave that besieged part of Aleppo.

Furthermore, people in the US are unaware of the strangulating sanctions their government is imposing on the Syrian people,” stated delegate Madelyn Hoffman.

Similar to US sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s that killed over half a million children, this illegal economic war is causing loss of life and unnecessary suffering of the Syrian people. Universally, everyone the delegation talked with asked that these sanctions be lifted.

The Peace delegation spent nearly two hours in dialogue with President Assad, a soft spoken man with a wry sense of humor who thoughtfully answered questions about the current engagement in Aleppo, his perceptions of the bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia, and the revolutionary policy of ending the war through grass roots reconciliation initiatives.  Judith Bello reflected, “Syria’s reconciliation plan is a powerful example of a restorative response to divisive forces spreading violence and chaos in a generally tolerant and peaceful country. .”

All members of the Delegation returned convinced that Syria’s sovereignty must be respected, that it up to Syrians to overcome whatever problems exist in their country without interference from the US,” said Henry Lowendorf, co-leader of the delegation. “There exists in Syria a strong nonviolent political opposition who are working both inside and outside the government.”

As delegate Vanessa Beeley stated,

“Syria is being invaded by US-allied proxy forces that are torturing, abusing, kidnapping and massacring the Syrian people. We urge that the world start listening to the Syrian people who demand their right to determine their own future and decide who should govern them.”

Joe Jamison concluded,

We call on the US, its allies in Europe, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Israel to stop supporting the mercenaries no matter what they name themselves, end the war on Syria, end the sanctions and restore normal relations with the Syrian people and their government – immediately. If the US and its allies continue promoting the terrorists, as many inside Syria told us, the fire they lit in Syria in 2011 will continue to engulf more of the world.

Members of the Peace Delegation:

—  Henry Lowendorf (Co-Leader of the Delegation), Member of the Executive Board, US Peace Council

—  Gerry Condon (Co-Leader of the Delegation), National Vice President, Veterans For Peace

—  Joe Jamison, Member of the Executive Board, US Peace Council

—  Madelyn Hoffman, Executive Director (not representing the organization), New Jersey Peace Action

—  Judith Bello, Member of Administrative Committee, United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC)

—  Vanessa Beeley, Independent Journalist, Member of Steering Committee, Syria Solidarity Movement

—  Donna Nassor, Attorney, College Professor, Palestinian Rights Activist

Commemorating the Nuclear Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

This speech was originally given by PAFNYS Co-Director Kate Alexander at “Know Where You Stand and Stand There”, an event organized by the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives, and Great Neck SANE/Peace Action, for the commemoration of the 71st anniversary of the U.S. nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.


I want to acknowledge the difficulty of the world & political climate we find ourselves in today. Because it is so heavy. Because it is so difficult. Because, as is so true in the issue of abolishing nuclear weapons, this is not a political battle fought with moralistic language – it is a battle for our morals, happening in the political field.

And, just as so many holes were being made in the barriers that have kept privileges invisible and the suffering of the marginalized away from our consciousness – we have politicians brazenly working to reinforce those barriers, and millions of American choosing ignorance & hate and the security of an unchallenged world view, over informed empathy & compassion and love.

Tonight, we will make a few more holes in the barriers that have kept us separated from each other, the barriers which have shielded us from the consequences of our actions, and especially, the consequences of our militarism.

Because, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are easily among the most devastating consequences of our militarism in U.S. history.

And yet, somehow, having nuclear weapons in the U.S. is conscionable. And proposals to modernize our nuclear weapons are heralded as essential. .

And I think that is because, we do not sit with the discomfort of war.
We do not sit with the moral discomfort of nuclear war & its damage.
We throw around words like catastrophic, cataclysmic.

But that’s not how you describe what this really is. That’s not the language the communities affected by nuclear war use.

They use the language of loss & heartbreak.

Kunihiko Bonkohara : “My father was blown away by the blast and his body was pierced by shards of glass and wooden rubble… My father went to a nearby river to wash his body, and when he came back home the black rain began to fall… Years later,  My father was diagnosed with stomach cancer and my mother with breast cancer, and they both passed away. Because I was in Brazil, I was not able to meet with them at the end.” –

Shoso Hirai: “Mr. Hirai was exposed to the atomic bomb at his friend’s house, 4 kilometers from the epicenter, while going to a munitions factory as a mobilized student. He entered into the city center the following day to look for his father who had gone to work and his younger brother who was also a mobilized student. He only found his father’s bones and his younger brother is still missing”

We must sit with these stories. We have to. It is our moral duty.
 Because we have to recognize war for what it is & eliminate the language of grand conquest.
 We have to use a different language.

We have to use this language of loss & grief.
 Because that is the way it is expressed by communities who have actually had to survive what war has done to them, what our nation has done to them, what we in silence – more afraid of protests and protestors than of maintaining weapons of war and endless war – what we have done to them.

We have to break down the barriers that keep us secure in our place in the world & welcome with open arms the informed perspectives of others, that challenge us, and demand better of us.

In this same way, allies for racial justice, allies for black lives matter, must listen and take leadership from the communities directly affected. They must listen to the needs of the families of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Alton Sterling, Philando Castille, and Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Korryn Gaines. As allies, we must listen to the cries and protests and anger and expertise from the community impacted by our domestic wars if we are ever going to end them.

And, we must listen to the cries and grief and anger of communities impacted by our foreign wars – by our nuclear weapons –  if we are ever going to end them.

But first, before we can stand with these communities and for their demands, we have to listen to them:

Shigeko Sasamori: “Shigeko Sasamori san was 13 years old when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Hearing the sound of a plane, she looked up to see a B-29 flying overhead — seconds later she was knocked unconscious by the blast. When she came to, she was so badly burned that she was unrecognizable. Shigeko repeated her name and address over and over until she was finally found by her father.”

Heartbreak & grief.

If we recognize this as loss – loss that is caused by us – I think we would recognize and expect of ourselves better.

We would begin to exercise moral leadership for nuclear abolition.
Just because it is the right thing to do.

For the same reason little kids say “this isn’t fair”
Nuclear abolition is just, simply, unequivocally, and essentially just the right thing to do.

And it is simple, despite what the pundits tell you. Pundits who by the way, are not the experts in nuclear war, only in military strategy. They are not experts in long-term peace, they are experts in war. But, the only experts in nuclear war are those who lived through it: the Hibakusha.

So it is simple, because we have our experts, and the Hibakusha tell us simply: we must build a world without nuclear weapons. The suffering is to great to risk being repeated.

One nuclear weapon, detonating over a city, would instantly burn away 40-65 square miles. That is roughly the size of San Francisco and 2-3 times the size of Manhattan.

120-200,000 people immediately died in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and hundreds of thousands more died in the following months and years from radiation poisoning.

And, the typical U.S. nuclear weapon is 70 times more powerful that the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

The U.S. still has over 6,970 nuclear weapons even though one of our current nuclear weapons is 70 times more powerful that the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

Knowing what we did to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and what we did to the Japanese at home. All I can think is: what were we thinking? and how close are we to doing this again, but in the Middle East and to our Muslim friends?
 If some objective, some mission or goal, requires that kind of destruction
maybe we should re-evaluate that goal?
Because,
Nuclear weapons do not root out terrorism.

Nuclear weapons do not discriminate between military and civilians.
Nuclear weapons have not prevented conflict between India and Pakistan.
Nuclear weapons have not prevented North Korea weapons tests.
Nuclear weapons have not prevented the U.S. from provoking Russia, or vice versa.

Nuclear weapons only destroy.
The destroy our environment.
The destroy our economy.
They destroy public health.
They destroy families.

And as the people creating them
The destroy our hearts & minds.
They destroy our standing in the world.

And they serve none of today’s threats in international peace & security.
 They are one of the greatest threats in international peace and security today.

And keeping them, maintaining them, wastes our resources.

And yet, the current administration is proposing spending $1 trillion over 30 years to modernize our nuclear weapons arsenal.

$1 trillion. or 348 billion in over ten years.
on a weapons system we are never supposed to use.

For that same amount of money, for 10 years, we could:
Provide 39.2M homes with renewable energy
Give 10.48M students four-year scholarships to a public university
Support 3.37M veterans receiving VA medical care
Give 9.93M low-income persons health care
Get 4.12 M children enrolled in the head start program
Pay the salaries of 464 thousands elementary school teachers

Education, health care, veterans medical care, renewable energy, or even criminal justice reform….or nuclear weapons.

It’s pretty clear where we should be spending our money.
On programs we need, not on weapons we should never use.

But, instead of thinking about what we could spend with that money, think for a minute about what we will lose because we have to find the money for this modernization program.

Education, health care, veterans medical care, renewable energy.
These are the programs that lose funding because we fund endless war, endlessly.

For students here, for those of you with children, and for the students whose peace activism we encourage at peace action – and for me – the question is simple:

“how can we afford these weapons without bankrupting my future?”

But there’s more at stake here than money:
even though these are the investments that will shape our future.

What we’re also trading in for nuclear weapons, is our morality.

Because how can we listen to Shigeko’s story, and remind ourselves that she was so badly burned she could not move, and then tell her: we are building more nuclear weapons.

How can we listen to Shoso Hirai, whose brother is still missing, and tell him: we need these weapons because we might have to use them again.

How can we listen to Kunihiko Bonkohara, who lost both his parents, and tell him: these weapons will protect us.

President Obama made history this year when he became the first sitting U.S. President to visit Hiroshima.

There he said:

“Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima?  We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past.  We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 in Japanese men, women and children; thousands of Koreans; a dozen Americans held prisoner.  Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become. “

I couldn’t agree more, Mr. President.
So when our pundits – and our adminstration-  tell us that nuclear weapons are necessary for security, we must shout back:

You may be experts in military strategy, but you are NOT experts in nuclear war.
The HIBAKUSHA are experts in nuclear war.
The HIBAKUSHA know the costs of nuclear weapons.
Our CHILDREN will know the costs of nuclear weapons, when you defund their future.

And I have LISTENED to them.
And I have GRIEVED for them.
And I have LEARNED from them.
And today, we STAND with them,

in saying:

We MUST rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Together we can resist the pro-war hate-mongering of the new Administration and pitch in to create a better world for our families, our communities, and for the people impacted by U.S. policies worldwide. Start with a potluck dinner with friends and family that includes a call to your Representatives on refugee or nuclear weapons policy – and you’ll see what we can do together.

Yes, I want to start a Peace Action New York State chapter!

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