Volume 16, Number 6
May 2002

Letter to the Editor
Robert Keeby

Open Letter to Colonel Aviv Kohavi
Neve Gordon

America's Morality Has Been Distorted by 11 September
Robert Fisk

"Natural Family Planning" and Other Scams
Ann Pettifer

The People's War
Gideon Levy

Palestinians in the Media
Norman Solomon

Sharon Does Not Want Peace
Ian Gilmour

Talking Peace: An Interview with Colman McCarthy
Paul Ranogajec

World Bank to West Bank
George Monbiot

Fr. Basil van Rensburg, RIP: Veteran Anti-Apartheid Activist
Bronwen Dachs

Obligatory Celibacy
Rev. Richard McBrien

Gays in the Priesthood
Rev. Richard McBrien

Sex, Lies, and Vatican Tastes: A Tale of Two Bishops
Mary Rose D'Angelo

Comments on William G. Storey's A Book of Prayer for Gay and Lesbian Christians
Joan Pierce and Mark Jordan

What Has the Supreme Court Been Smoking?
Arianna Huffington

Dubyous on Welfare: Mad Money for the Marriage Game
Mary Rose D'Angelo

Conscious Evolution
Andrew Casad

Echoes of the Desaparecidos
Sarah Edwards

Wal-Mart Warriors
Jim Hightower

Take This Money and Be Quiet
Jennifer Bauduy

Brewing Poverty and Violence in El Salvador
Mark Engler

Missile Defense Is Not The Answer
The Union of Concerned Scientists

The Death of American Liberalism
Will Hutton

The D.C. Protests: New Politics with Deep Roots
Pat McElwee

Max Westler

Letter to the Editor
Robert Keeby

I have read recent copies of Common Sense with great interest (and was delighted to see my poem,“Black Rebel,” in the February issue).

The horrors of the Trade Center have been a tragedy for those who died and for their families. Yet we must learn from this. Those who died at the hands of the suicide killers were also victims because of the actions of our government over the years.

Have we given any thought as to why America is hated in so many parts of the world? We must restructure our thinking and accept our responsibilities as human beings--we must elect leaders who can involve America in international affairs without the “bulldog” attitude, that you either do what we say or we will bomb you or starve you to death! We proclaim to the whole world that we are a religious nation, but the face we show to the world is too often that of evil. The strength of America ought to be our actions of goodwill. Let that serve to protect us. Let that be our faith, not the warmongering of those in Washington who think blood and force is the proper way to conduct world affairs. Let us not forget that many suicide killers were trained and financed by America in the Afghanistan war against the Soviet Union. If those in power who control our lives act as beasts, then we are truly doomed. Our security in the future will depend entirely on our ability to live in cooperation with the nations of the world.

To put all this another way. The world has experienced too much hypocrisy. Where were the lovers of democracy when thousands of African Americans were hung for sport? We see photos of their smiling faces in lynch mobs. Where were the patriots when the church was bombed in Birmingham, Alabama, and the four little girls were murdered? Where were the lovers of liberty in America and in Europe during the slave trade? Where were the democrats in the nations of Europe when Belgium, Germany, England, France, Italy and Portugal colonized Africa? These nations’ structures are cemented with the blood of African people. Belgium murdered and mutilated millions of people in the Congo. Italian troops conducted chemical warfare on the Ethiopian people.

Some historical perspective is necessary. We, as African people in America, do not believe the show of grief about the Trade Center tragedy is all as honest as it should be. There is much to grieve over in the history of America and Europe which is a hundredfold more ghastly than the dreadful tragedy of the Trade Center. It is time to see tragedy in many more places than New York, the Pentagon and in a cornfield in Pennsylvania, and to learn from all this man-made suffering.

Yours sincerely,
Robert Keeby

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Open Letter to Colonel Aviv Kohavi
Neve Gordon

Dear Aviv, I presume you remember me. In any event, I remember you. We first met in the paratrooper brigade. I was a platoon sergeant in the corporals company; you were a young platoon officer. Even then friends of mine who were serving with you in the same post in Lebanon related that you were a sensible, serious, and above all decent officer.

The better part of our acquaintance occurred, though, at Hebrew University. We were studying towards our B.A. in Philosophy--you in preparation for a career in the military, I as a human rights activist. During that period we had more than one political discussion. I couldn't help but admire you. I found you to be a thinking person, imaginative, and judicious--quite different from the typical army officer that one meets at the university, one who registers merely to snatch a degree and to run off. Looking back, I believe that you really enjoyed your studies, a number of which, it should be noted, dealt with ethical theory.

Years have passed since we last met. You became the paratroopers' brigade commander, I a lecturer in the department of politics and government at Ben Gurion University. On Thursday, March 1, 2002 I saw you once again, not face to face, but on television. You were on the news program: the commander of the troops that entered Balata refugee camp, near Nablus. You solemnly explained that at that very moment your soldiers were transmitting a forceful message to the Palestinian terrorists: the Israeli army will hunt them down in every nook and cranny.

In the days after the interview, news began to trickle about what took place in the camp: prior to the incursion the Israeli military rained terror on the inhabitants employing helicopters and tanks; then, Aviv, you imposed a curfew on the camp, blew up the electric transmission lines, cutting off electricity to 20,000 civilian inhabitants; bulldozers ruined the water supply pipe lines. Your soldiers, Aviv, then moved from house to house by smashing holes in the interior walls; they destroyed furniture and other property, and riddled bullets in water tanks on roof tops. The soldiers spread terror on the inhabitants, most of whom were women, elderly, and children.

But that wasn't all. I learned that your soldiers also used inhabitants as human shields. Also, in the first few hours of the incursion the Palestinians had 120 wounded, and that you, Aviv, refused to allow ambulances to enter and leave the camp.

There were, of course, several battles in the camp during the incursion; two Palestinians and one of your soldiers were killed. You also reported that you confiscated weapons and that your operation prevented future terrorist acts from happening. But you totally ignored the connection between Israeli military violence perpetrated in the Occupied Territories and Palestinian violence in Israel, as if the incursions into the camps and the reign of terror that you and your soldiers imposed do not drive Israel/Palestine into a blood bath from which none can escape.

How, Aviv, do you think that your incursion affected the children whom you locked up for hours with other members of their families, while you searched their house and blasted holes through their walls? Did the infiltration contribute a smithereen to peace, or did it instead spread seeds of hatred, despondence, and death in the crowded, poverty stricken, hopeless refugee camp?

I have not stopped thinking about you since that television interview, trying to understand what was going on in your mind. What caused you to lead your soldiers --soldiers of the paratrooper brigade--to a war against a civilian population?

Aviv, I am presently teaching a course entitled The Politics of Human Rights. One of the topics I discuss during the semester is the intifada and its lessons with respect to human rights. From the standpoint of international conventions, at least, your acts in Balata constitute blatant violations of human rights. Such acts are, in fact, war crimes.

Aviv, what happened to the sensible and judicious officer? How did you become a war criminal?

Dr. Neve Gordon

Neve Gordon, a Notre Dame graduate, teaches in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University, Israel. He wrote this open letter to an Israeli Paratrooper Commander and it was originally published in the Hebrew newspaper Kol Ha'air. Neve Gordon can be reached at ngordon@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

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America's Morality Has Been Distorted by 11 September
Robert Fisk

In Afghan fields, the poppies blow. Yes, even as the Americans are moving deeper into the Afghan trap, the warlords and gangsters running much of the western-supported Afghan government are ensuring a bumper new crop of heroin for the world's markets.

The UN have warned of this, of course, but nothing is being done. The "war against terror" comes first. The broken roads and highways of Afghanistan are now ribbons of anarchy and brigandage and murder across the country. The pathetic little force of peace-keepers in Kabul cannot control all of the capital, let alone the rest of the country. The Interim President, Hamid Karzai, can scarcely control the street outside his office. But the "war against terror" comes first.

Locked into their "war against terror"--and now discovering that their enemies want to fight them--the Americans remain equally indolent when confronted by the infinitely more dangerous conflict 2,000 miles to the west of Kabul, in the streets of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Tel Aviv, Nablus, Jenin and Gaza. When the Israeli army goes on a shooting spree in the refugee camps and kills 16 Palestinians, among them two children, the US calls for "restraint". When a Palestinian suicide bomber murders a crowd of Israelis in Jerusalem, including two babies and a 10-year old, the US boldly blames Yasser Arafat for not "stopping terrorism" by locking up the bad guys. And Ariel Sharon? Why, he's busy destroying the police stations and prisons to make sure Mr Arafat can't do what he's been ordered to do. It's as if all the lessons of history--in Afghanistan as well as the Middle East--have been tossed into a bin. Take ex-President Clinton. He arrives in Israel and what does he do? He blames Mr Arafat. And what does his preposterous wife say when she does the same thing? "Yasser Arafat bears the responsibility for the violence that has occurred; it rests on his shoulders ..." She says that her role as a US Senator is "to support the Israeli people". Really? What's wrong with supporting innocent Palestinians as well? Wrong religion? Back-to-front writing? Wrong eye colour?

So a war against colonial occupation has been transformed into an offshoot of the "war on terror", the language of this war ever more infantile. We now have to learn by rote the following words: tit-for-tat, cycle-of-violence, axis of evil, bunker-buster, daisy-cutter ... Is there no end to this childishness? No, there is not. For the latest little killer is the word "transfer" or "resettlement". As in "the simple answer... would be to create a vast separation from Israel, resettling the Palestinians in Jordan, where 80 per cent of the population is Palestinian." This comes from an article published in USA Today. In Israel itself, an opinion poll asks Israelis how many of them would support "transfer"--of Arabs out of their homes, of course, not Jewish settlers off Arab land--as a solution to the war.

This is incredible. "Transfer" is ethnic cleansing and ethnic cleansing is a war crime. If American newspapers are prepared to print such an option and if Israelis are asked to give their opinion on it, what is Mr Milosevic doing in The Hague? The moral collapse is already underway. Take the watering down of the US government's latest report on human rights. In 2000, it said that Egypt's hopelessly unfair military courts "do not ensure civilian defendants due process before an independent tribunal". In the 2001 report, however, that sentence has been censored out. It has to be, of course, because Mr Bush is now setting up his own military courts to try his prisoners at Guantanamo Bay without due process.

And while the Americans are distorting the nature of the war between Israel and the Palestinians, they are lying about Afghanistan. General Tommy Franks, the head of the US Central Command, refers in the following words to the mistaken killing of 16 innocent Afghans at Hazar Qadam: "I will not characterise it as a failure of any type." Sorry? Either General Franks--who recently managed to refer to his newly killed soldiers as dying "in Vietnam"--didn't read the facts or he is a very disreputable man.

His boss, Donald Rumsfeld, refuses to use the word "mistake" or even "investigation" after thousands of innocent Afghans died under US bombs because the word "sometimes has the implication of more formality or a disciplinary action". When Washington's top military men are so dishonest, is it any surprise that Israeli tanks can open fire on refugee camps without any serious response from the US or blast cars carrying children because they want to kill their father?

It is surely time that Europe became involved. It is surely time that the EU held a summit about these terrible conflicts and involved itself directly. We should be expanding the peace force in Kabul to remove the weapons of Afghanistan and let America move into the swamp of semi-occupation and guerrilla warfare if that is what it wishes. We should be asking Israel to repay the $17.29m of European taxpayers' money that has been destroyed by the Israeli army in its vandalisation of EU-funded Palestinian infrastructure.

Since the Americans won't talk to Yasser Arafat, we should take over from them. If Washington is too slovenly to halt this terrible war between Arab and Israeli, we must try to do so. We're asked to fund America's bankrupt policies with our euros. So now it's time to demand that we have a say in them. Instead of that, Downing Street, which over Christmas castigated those journalists who predicted chaos and blood in Afghanistan--myself included, I'm glad to say--feeds Mr Bush's fantasies by supporting yet another war with Iraq.

I'm beginning to suspect that 11 September is turning into a curse far greater than the original bloodbath of that day, that America's absorption with that terrible event is in danger of distorting our morality. Is the anarchy of Afghanistan and the continuing slaughter in the Middle East really to be the memorial for the thousands who died on 11 September?

©The Independent (UK). 7 March 2002

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"Natural Family Planning" and Other Scams
Ann Pettifer

A friend, who is getting married in July, regaled us at dinner recently with stories of the pre-Cana encounter required by the Connecticut diocese where her wedding will take place. She and her fiancée (both are college professors) had welcomed the opportunity to confront some of the thornier issues that often plague newlyweds (money and in-laws always seem to top the list). However, several days later a couple of "follow-up" items arrived in the mail, the contents of which angered her. One was a "Chastity Manifesto," the other a questions and answer column called "Ask Father." Knowing of my interest in the gothic side-shows in the Roman Catholic Church, she contributed these strange documents to my archive. Each obsessively promotes pre-marital and marital chastity. For those of you unfamiliar with the notion of marital chastity, apparently it does not mean, as you might think, the absence of adultery, even of the Jimmy Carter "lust in the heart" variety. It refers instead to Natural Family Planning (NFP) to space children. Artificial birth control is what makes a marriage unchaste--no matter that all the criteria for a loving and wholesome partnership are otherwise present.

Now, before I have my say on all this, an apologia is in order. Someone dear to me scolds me whenever I write about the ills of the Roman Catholic Church. He says that I am wasting time that could be better spent addressing political and economic woes, the unfreedom and injustice to be found in every corner of the globe. This is a guy who practices what he preaches. Jewish and living in Israel, he is in daily confrontation with his government's determination to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and writing about what he sees. There is good reason, I counter, for banging away at Roman Catholic institutional stupidity and corruption. There are now over one billion Catholics in the world; consciousness-raised and mobilized, they could be a tremendously influential constituency, standing up for the people the world's hegemonic power, the USA, is busy trampling. Moreover, a prophetic Pope, robustly committed to the teachings and uncompromising example of Jesus, would have the moral authority to challenge and educate a US President who is little more than a ventriloquist's dummy, speaking lines scripted by a plutocratic, amoral elite.

So, having got that off my chest, I want to return to the "Chastity Manifesto" etc. The otiose language in both documents is willfully removed from ordinary, quotidian experience. Take the assertion that marital chastity is compromised by artificial birth control. In effect, this puts the married users of, say, the condom on the same level as people swopping spouses. There is an inference that condom use may, in fact, be a greater crime than adultery. Mother Theresa's extraordinary non-sequitur is quoted: "Artificial birth control leads to abortion"--which makes as much sense as saying that celibacy inevitably leads to priests masturbating altar-boys in the vestry. Pastors are urged to make the teaching of NFP an integral part of all pre-Cana programs. What is more, such advocacy must stress that NFP, too, must only be used when the couple has a sufficiently serious reason to postpone pregnancy. The primacy of procreation is a steady drum-beat. Eros is regarded as too louche to belong in a Catholic marriage. One particularly nasty statement in the Manifesto declared, "The greatest source of new poverty is the household headed by single women with children. It's called the feminization of poverty." There is no condemnation of the poverty itself, or of the heartlessness of a society that permits it. The impression left is that these women have merely whelped, to use a term my father, in his Thatcherite period, applied to unmarried mothers. There is no celebration of their courage in birthing babies when their lives might have been made easier by abortion.

The Louisiana priest writing the "Ask Father" column was exercised about couples living together before marriage. Anxious to get these cohabiting pairs separated before the nuptials, he resorts to scare tactics that might have been lifted from one of those hell-fire sermons in James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. He pronounces "eternal unhappiness" the consequence for living together, and is ready to pray and fast himself to achieve an uncoupling. He urges his brethren in the cloth to do the same--though warning that if the couple decline to separate, "let us detach from them and not let their misfortune bring us down." A pagan fear of contamination is striking. Reading all this against the backdrop of the current crisis in the Church over the molesting of boys and young men by American priests seemed, to put it mildly, surreal. A mischievous thought presented itself: wouldn't it make more sense for Father to focus on the management of temptation and the waywardness of sexual impulse in the context of celibacy, and to address the sexual concerns of the non-celibate only when asked? If we could get away from this preoccupation with sex, there are many ways the celibate priest or religious could be helpful to women and men trying to navigate the choppy seas of marriage and family. One of the more successful guides in giving such psychological and spiritual counsel in our community is, indeed, a Holy Cross nun. But ordination itself does not bestow either pastoral gifts or qualifications; years of professional preparation, that go way beyond the courses offered on moral theology in the seminary, are required.

I know a thing or two about the Church's misbegotten position on birth control. My first three children arrived in less than two and a half years. (All somewhat epic when you add three days and nights on a train in Africa to get to a hospital for the third complicated birth. One child was still in diapers which the spouse, at the end of his rope, jettisoned into the Kalahari desert, muttering that they were biodegradable.) A convert, I had entered the Roman Catholic Church with reservations about papal infallibility and the Church's hostility to birth control. Nevertheless, it took over a decade of wanton breeding (or the fear of) and all the attendant anxieties, the chief of which was constant penury, to persuade an orthodox spouse that it was time for reason to overcome superstition. The argument used by the Louisiana priest that NFP makes marriage holier or increases harmony between husband and life is the worst kind of nonsense. Furthermore, the tribal egoism which often characterizes those large broods produced by conformist Catholics, works against the kind of discipleship Jesus expected of his followers. I am acquainted with one such maternal achiever--the woman has more than ten children. An exemplary bourgeois, she rests on her laurels and remains serenely detached from the troubled, anguished world that lies beyond her safe, affluent suburb. I find this chilling.

Novelist/philosopher Iris Murdoch thought that Christianity badly needed demythologizing; notions like the Virgin Birth, she held, corrupted the moral and spiritual possibilities of the Christian life. The concept of marital chastity is almost certainly linked to Mary's perpetual virginity which places it squarely in the world of taboo and myth. The point of Jesus' teachings is to transcend such anthropology. I wish we could remove the word chastity from the theological lexicon altogether. It is hopelessly freighted with traditions that have merchandised women and infantilized them. That "chastity" is derived from the same Latin root as the word "caste" should give us pause. An obsession with purity, whether in sex, class or race, will always have quasi-fascist overtones.

As I write, American Cardinals are in Rome to talk about, well, sex. At the same time, the stand-off at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem continues. Every day we see pictures of the devastation the Israeli Defense Force is wreaking in the region. (It was Richard Nixon who said of the Middle East that the cradle of civilization could wind up being its grave.) Yet the Roman Catholic Church is virtually mute, distracted by the mess in its own ranks and hamstrung by its many contradictions. However, the hierarchy's will to power and the neurotic drive to control its flock remain. The spectacle of a Pope clinging to office, who looks more each day like the triumph of the taxidermist's art, verges on the grotesque. What the Roman Catholic Church should be doing is following the example of those South African Christians who, in the final years of apartheid, produced the Kairos Document. This faced up to the sin inside the Church and then turned its attention to the malaise of cruelty and injustice in the world.

Ann Pettifer is an alumna of Notre Dame.

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The People's War
Gideon Levy

For the second time in Israel's history, Ariel Sharon is leading the country into a war of choice - as pernicious as any war of choice - and nearly the entire public is following him more than willingly. When history judges this war, only a few will be able to say that they opposed it from the outset. In the last analysis, it will also be very difficult to blame Sharon for the consequences of the war, in the light of the sweeping support he has been given by the majority of Israelis.

With a huge leap in the percentage of citizens who "rely on him" - from 45 percent in March to 62 percent in April, according to a poll reported by the mass-circulation daily Yedioth Ahronoth - it seems that no one can express the aspirations of most Israelis like the prime minister. This is not a war that was waged by Sharon, the "warmonger," this is the war of all of us. The call that was sounded at the right wing's demonstration almost a month ago - "We want war," the kind of call that is not heard in any enlightened country - has become the general sentiment.

Israel has set out on a bewildering operation whose goal no one understands and whose end no one can guess. Nearly 30,000 men were mobilized and they reported for duty as one man, making the refusal movement, with 21 refuseniks currently in jail, irrelevant. "We didn't ask why, we just came," the reservists told the prime minister, expressing the "together" syndrome that characterizes Israel at such times. Tens of thousands of men leave their homes, putting their normal life behind them, and set out to kill and be killed - and they don't even ask why? That is the behavior of the herd.

The series of horrific suicide terrorist attacks in the heart of Israeli cities, which were preceded by brainwashing, brought about the present mess. The groundless contention that former prime minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians "almost everything" and in return they set in motion a wave of terrorism, has become the most widely accepted axiom in Israeli public opinion. To it was added the old assumption that "something has to be done" in the light of the terrorist attacks and that "doing something" means making use of a lot more force.

The Labor Party and the Likud joined forces in order to reach the conclusion that it was necessary to reoccupy the Palestinian cities, and to strike hard against the Palestinians to teach them a lesson in the practice of peace. Even the lying statements of the prime minister that he had done everything he could to achieve a cease-fire, while ignoring the wholesale liquidations of wanted Palestinians, were widely believed.

So we have again become one nation that speaks in one voice and doesn't ask questions, such as: Who will fight terrorism after we crush all the Palestinian security units? Who are all the "armed people" Israel is arresting, and will they become Israel's security contractors after their release? What is the infrastructure of terrorism if not the occupation, the despair and the hatred? How will the shattering blow we have delivered against the entire Palestinian population help in the war against terrorism? How will it advance the peace, or at least the security of Israelis?

The nation wanted war, and it got what it wanted. Within a few days we succeeded in sowing hate in the heart of every Palestinian and it will not soon fade. The tens of thousands of Palestinians who are imprisoned in their homes after an unbearable year and a half, who are frightened by the sounds of gunfire and the rumbling of the tanks; the bodies that continue to be brought to the hospitals without letup; the mass arrests and the general destruction - these are now generating fierce resentment against us. The world, with the exception of the United States in the meantime, is again treating us like lepers, and public opinion in the Arab states is threatening to push their leaders into an all-out war. This is the balance of blood and terror of this operation, which has not a thing to be said to its credit, other than it satisfies the feelings of a public that is terrified by the terrorist attacks.

The Labor Party is a full partner to everything that is happening, despite its leaders' talk about a political horizon, the Saudi plan and the day after. The problem is not the "day after" when the acts that are being perpetrated in Labor's name today are horrendous. Meretz, Hadash and the extra-parliamentary movements have begun to come out of their slumber lately, but have not been able to obtain mass support. Over the weekend the Peace Now organization announced that it would hold a "demonstration of tens of thousands" - but only a month from now.

Most of the press is in one of its lowest periods, not only in its near total mobilization in the cause, but also because it is not supplying the public with concrete information about what is going on an hour away. Rare shots of the suffering that the Palestinians are enduring were broadcast on Channel 2 and led the defense minister to temporarily close the territories to the Israeli media, according to a report last week.

In any event, much more about what is really going on can be gleaned from the foreign networks. The suffering of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is hardly given expression, and the critical damage being done to the health and supply systems is barely mentioned. Again, the majority of Israelis don't have the slightest idea of what their neighbors are going through.

This is a dark time in Israel. The damage we are causing ourselves will in part be irreversible. In the not so distant future, when it becomes clear that this war was pointless, the meaningful voices of opposition will begin to be heard. But they will be too few and too late.

©Ha'aretz. April 9, 2002.

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Palestinians in the Media
Norman Solomon

In times of crisis, many policymakers and journalists pay special attention to the editorializing from America's most influential papers. The spin of news coverage and the mix of individual opinion pieces usually indicate the outlooks of the media establishment, but the editorials by powerhouse newspapers convey more direct messages.

With carnage a daily reality in Israel and the West Bank, some editorials have been entirely predictable. The Wall Street Journal, true to ideological form, applauds Israel's iron fist and urges the White House to stand firm behind Israeli leaders. In contrast, more refined Washington Post and New York Times editorials tell us a lot about common U.S. media reactions.

For editorial writers at the Post and the Times, an incontrovertible fact is that Yasser Arafat must be held responsible for the suicide bombings of recent weeks. "It cannot be forgotten that Mr. Arafat refused to take serious action to stop a sickening wave of suicide bombings against Israel, and that Israel has a right to self-defense," a Post editorial proclaimed.

Countless other commentaries also echo officials in Washington. Few have any use for a point that Zbigniew Brzezinski made on the PBS "NewsHour" as this month began. "It's absolute hypocrisy to be claiming that Arafat can put a stop to the terrorism," the former national security adviser said. "And it's -- let's put it mildly -- poor information on the part of the president to be maintaining that. This guy (Arafat) is sitting isolated. Sharon is trying to repress the Palestinians and terrorism is not stopping. How is Arafat supposed to put a stop to it?"

Typically, both the Post and the Times fixate on the strategic efficacy of the Israeli military offensive rather than its flagrant illegality and fierce cruelty. "Like Mr. Sharon's previous attempt to destroy Palestinian national aspirations through an invasion of Lebanon, this strategy is doomed to failure," the Post editorialized. A day earlier, the Times had clucked that Sharon mistakenly "seems determined to end terrorism by military means alone."

The Times could not resist clanging a timeworn bell about terrorists who "aim to drive Israel and its Jewish inhabitants straight into the sea." Such hyper-rhetoric punches old emotional buttons. (Cue Hollywood's "Exodus.") But as Michael Lerner, an activist American rabbi, observed days ago in an open letter, "Israel is in no danger of going out of existence -- it is the fourth largest military power in the world, and it faces a Palestinian people who have no tanks, no airplanes, no heavy artillery." Lerner was cogent: "Let us be clear that Israel is using its power today to preserve the occupation, not to preserve its safety."

While quite properly calling for an immediate halt to the horrendous suicide bombings, New York Times editorials are notably patient and rather equivocal about bringing an end to Israel's occupation. In the first paragraph of a March 30 editorial, the Times recommended "a commitment to withdraw from occupied lands." In the closing paragraph, the newspaper declared: "Israel must make clear that it recognizes the need to relinquish the bulk of the territories it took in 1967."

Translation: Even at this late and bloody date, the New York Times can't bring itself to forthrightly call for an immediate and total end to the occupation. Instead, the paper resorts to ambiguity; Israel should recognize the need to leave "the bulk of the territories." If a foreign power had been occupying your home for 35 years, how would you feel about the idea that it should "recognize the need" to leave most of it -- merely remaining in control of, say, all the hallways and doors?

Most editorial writers seem determined to detour around obvious parallels with apartheid-era South Africa. Evasions and apologetics for basic elements of Israel's policies dominate so much of the U.S. media landscape that insightful comments by Brzezinski were conspicuous: "The Israelis are becoming increasingly like the white supremacist South Africans, viewing the Palestinians as a lower form of life, not hesitating to kill a great many of them."

Parrot-like, highly selective media use of the "terrorism" label is providing top U.S. and Israeli officials with invaluable propaganda cover. Meanwhile, Brzezinski has it right: "You cannot define the loss of human life in terms of the number of Israelis killed by brutal, savage, inexcusable Palestinian terror. And it does take place. The fact of the matter is that three times as many Palestinians have been killed, and a relatively small number of them were really militants. Most were civilians. Some hundreds of children."

The New York Times ended an April 3 editorial with this sentence: "Only the most bankrupt leadership -- spiritually, intellectually and politically -- allows this macabre, self-delusional act of ruin to pass without anguished condemnation." Those words referred to a recent suicide bombing. But they also apply to the U.S. government and major media outlets continuing to wink and nod while the Israeli military slaughters Palestinian people.

Norman Solomon is a syndicated columnist (www.fair.org/media-beat) who has lectured at Notre Dame. His latest book is The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media.

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Sharon Does Not Want Peace
Ian Gilmour

The appalling events in the Middle East are the predictable results of the negligence and prejudice of the Bush administration. The Passover massacre in Netanya was an abominable crime. Indeed, all suicide bombings in Israel proper are terrorist atrocities, unspeakable and also self-defeating. But while such crimes cannot be excused, they can be explained. As Israel's most influential journalist Nahum Barnea told his readers: "The terrorism of suicide bombings was born of despair and there is no military solution to despair."

That despair has been induced by the Israeli army killing more than 1,400 Palestinians in 18 months, Israel's continued building of illegal settlements on Palestinian land, military occupation, daily humiliation and economic suffering. When, as the Israelis have done, you make life not worth living for thousands of Palestinians, there will be no shortage of suicide bombers.

The Bush administration has long known that for it to remain largely passive while the Israeli-Palestinian conflict grew steadily worse would sooner or later ensure an explosion. It also knew that Ariel Sharon has never wanted peace with the Palestinians and never will - he only wants their surrender and expulsion. As the speaker of the Knesset said a few weeks ago, Israel now has 'a violent government out to destroy the Palestinian authority to avoid giving up the settlements'. Yet because the US believed that the Israelis would eventually win the conflict, they gave Sharon a green light to be as brutal as he liked, short of killing Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader. And despite Sharon's record, Bush happily hobnobbed with him, while refusing to meet Arafat.

If Bush and Cheney hoped that Sharon's treatment of Arafat would bring him to heel, they badly mistook their man, as I saw for myself in Ramallah a few days ago. Arafat has long thrived on adversity, of which he has known a great deal. When I met him after he had been imprisoned for months in his headquarters at Ramallah, with Israeli tanks only a few yards away, and he had been shelled and bombed, he was notably unintimidated and, though depressed by suicide bombings, surprisingly ebullient.

He had no intention of sacrificing Palestinian interests or dignity simply to be given Sharon's gracious permission to attend the Arab summit in Beirut, which he knew he would not be given, or to be granted an audience with Vice President Cheney. As the peace activist and former Knesset member Uri Avnery said of Cheney: 'When an overbearing Vice President dictates humiliating terms for a meeting with Arafat he pours oil on the flames... persons who lack empathy for the suffering of the occupied people would be well advised to shut up.'

Arafat, who has made some serious mistakes, was relaxed but defiant. Needing a document, he was anxious to exhibit his 'infallible filing system', which consists of bulky piles of documents in his battledress pockets. His files, as he showed us, even extend to large wads of paper in both hip pockets which, one would have thought, must be exceedingly uncomfortable. He was particularly scathing about the Israeli claim that justice for the Palestinian refugees would entail Israel being swamped by millions of Palestinians.

Is it likely, he demanded, that they would want to go back to being ruled by Israel? He was convinced that the problem could be solved justly without the Jewishness of Israeli being threatened. Sharon may well kill Arafat, but he won't frighten him.

As Michael Ben-Yair, Israel's attorney general between 1993 and 1996, wrote in Haaretz earlier this month: 'The intifada is the Palestinian people's war of national liberation. We enthusiastically chose to become a colonialist society, ignoring international treaties, expropriating lands, transferring settlers from Israel to the occupied territories, engaging in theft and finding justification for all these activities... we established an apartheid regime.'

Israeli organisation Peace Now has spotted 34 new settlements started since Sharon became Prime Minister. When I was driving round the West Bank last week and seeing both these new settlements and the growth of the old ones, that seemed, if anything, an underestimate.

Yet while Bush has constantly told Arafat to stop the Palestinian violence, which Sharon's purposeful destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure and police stations has rendered him incapable of doing under present conditions, he has made no effort to make Sharon cease all settlement activity and enter peace talks. Since even the American Secretary of State said last November that the occupation must end, it is presumably the pro-Israeli bias of the dominant members of the Bush administration which is responsible for that administration determinedly shutting its eyes to the basic fact of the Palestinian struggle - that Israel is fighting a colonial war to subjugate the Palestinians, while the Palestinians are fighting to end 35 years of occupation of their land.

As Michael Lind, an American journalist, puts it, Bush's 'reflections on the conflict seem to have been written by the Israeli lobby' in the US. In an illuminating article in The American Prospect, he points out that the Israeli lobby distorts US foreign policy and makes anything more than the mildest criticism of Israeli taboo in the mainstream media. 'Until Americans have ended this corruption of our democratic process,' Lind concludes, 'our allies in Europe, Asia and the Middle East will continue to view our Middle East policy with trepidation.'

Of course, that is not a new development, but the current Bush administration looks like being even more pro- Israeli than all its predecessors. Until now, President Bush has seemed more intent on securing Republican majorities in Congress in November and getting his brother re-elected as governor of Florida than on securing decency and justice in the Middle East.

America's need to gain some Arab support or, at least, acquiescence to its intended attack on Iraq has necessitated some adjustment to its attitude on Palestine, but only a small and inadequate one. Much more is now needed. On Wednesday, at the insistence of Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the Arab League offered its historic and long overdue vision for peace: Israeli withdrawal from the Occupied Territories in exchange for full peace with the entire Arab world.

Sharon's reaction to this peace offer and to Palestinian violence has been to launch a massive assault on the Palestinian Authority's civilian institutions and effectively to declare war. The situation is so grave that an imposed solution on the basis of the Saudi peace initiative is now the only hope. One of the imposers will have to be the United States because America is the only country that can deliver Israel. The other imposer must be Europe to ensure that at last the Palestinians get a fair deal.

Ian Gilmour is a former British Secretary of State for Defence.
©The Observer. March 31, 2002.

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Talking Peace: An Interview with Colman McCarthy
Paul Ranogajec

Colman McCarthy--journalist, educator, and founder of the Center for Teaching Peace--was on campus for the 2002 undergraduate peace conference at the Kroc Institute in March. I had the opportunity to speak with him then, and what follows is some of that conversation.

P: Journalism is probably easy for a lot of students here to relate to as a career choice, but peace education and advocacy might be a little different, so can you explain that?
C: I'd been writing about the peace movement since the mid-1960s for the Washington Post and the National Catholic Reporter, The Progressive, and other outlets. I began to wonder, after interviewing so many peacemakers, both known and unknown, whether it was possible to teach peace. . . . Only one way to find out--I went to a high school in Washington, a very poor inner city high school, and asked the principal, can I come in as a volunteer and teach a course on radical nonviolence? She welcomed me and said give it a try and see what happens. I've been at that school ever since. Incidentally, it's the closest school to the White House. Only five blocks away from power. And it's one of the poorest schools in America--no cafeteria, no gym, no auditorium, no lockers. But it's a good scrappy place, good teachers, good kids come there. After I saw the success of the program I took it to other schools.

P: Why did you feel it was important for you to do this? What was it about starting peace education that was important to you?
C: Writing is thinking in private. Teaching is thinking in public. It's essentially the same calling. You're trying to offer new ideas to an audience. And the ideas I want to communicate are the basic ones--that there are alternatives to violence, where you're not trapped in a mindless intellectual prison, that sees killing people as the only method to get along. And so, whether you're writing for an audience for several million people, or talking with a group of 25 students, it's pretty much the same. . . .

Peace studies is in its infancy. In 1970, only one college in America was offering a degree program in peace studies. A little school here in Indiana, Manchester College. We now have between 60 and 70 offering the program. And Notre Dame is now offering the degree. . . . Notre Dame could be known as a peace school--I don't think it is. When you say Notre Dame to someone, they don't think about a peace school. . . .

P: What would you tell Father Malloy if you sat down with him and said, "I want Notre Dame to be a peace school"?
C: I would eliminate the football program.

P: That wouldn't make you very popular around here!
C: For a little while I would be castigated, scorned, and burned in effigy. There'd be no statues. Eliminate the football program and take the money paid to the coaches for bellowing at kids and go hire 40 professors to teach peace. That's the solution. Is it going to happen? When pigs fly and frogs sing opera.

P: What is your assessment of how the media have covered events since September 11? And why do you think they've done it in the way they've done it?
C: We have a pro-war press. All the dailies, as far as I know . . . endorsed the bombing of Afghanistan. It was the same in 1990-91, when there was almost absolute support on the bombing of Iraq. There was a study done of the 25 largest circulation papers. 24 out of 25 endorsed the bombing of Iraq. Only one dissent, the Denver Rocky Mountain News. Of the TV networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, had 738 interviews with experts analyzing the Gulf War, before, during, and after. Mostly double-dipping and triple-dipping admirals and generals. Out of 738 interviews, only one was from an expert opposed to the war, from a peace group. So that for the American media, 737 to 1, is balance. There's really no liberal media in this country. All the networks are owned by corporations, the major daily papers are owned by corporations. So reporters and editors are only as liberal as their conservative owners allow them to be.

P: What do you think are some of the glimmers or avenues of hope that you see that have come out of the last few months?
C: I get to a lot of campuses to lecture and speak and the campuses are more active now than they ever were in the great heralded 1960s. There's more community service programs, there are more anti-hunger programs, the sweatshop campaign, the School of the Americas--every fall there's busloads of students going down from all over the country. You have more courses offered in social justice, you have more animal rights groups on campuses. You have Amnesty International. That's wasn't happening in the 70s. It picked up I guess around the mid-80s, and now it's really got good steam. . . .

P: You mentioned activism for animal rights and for protecting animals. Can you talk a little more about that?
C: 12 million animals are slaughtered every day in this country. [Most] of the animals killed, exploited, harmed, captured, are for food. We also dissect them in labs, experiment on them. We kill them for fur. We use them for entertainment at the circuses and the aquaria. I think animals have rights. Why do they have rights? 'Cause they have the same desires to be free that humans do. And nonhumans are at the mercy of the dominant species. Who's the dominant species? Humans. And who among them dominate? The white males. So they own the corporations, they supply the consumers' demand for dead rotting animal parts. . . . They've got rights also. They got the same right to make it to sundown without being harmed as you or I would. Alice Walker has that lovely line--animals are not here on earth to be used by humans any more than blacks are here to be used by whites, or women to be used by men. It's the same principle. Animals may not think as we do, they may not reason as we do, but they feel pain as we do. And what ethical right do we have to cause pain to another living, sentient being? We do not have that right.

P: So you see this issue as an integral part of peacebuilding.
C: It's a consistency issue. If you're gonna oppose the death penalty, you gotta oppose the death penalty for animals, they're being killed also. And with no trial or lawyers, by the way. No due process. We like the taste of their bodies in our mouths, ok. Does your pleasure come ahead of their pain? That's the ethical issue. It clearly should not. But we don't see how the animals are killed, how they're raised, how they suffer. If we did we'd all be vegetarians. . . .

P: Ok, last night you talked about the three components of peace: prayer, service, and nonviolence. Can you talk about those now?
C: Prayer is only the prayer of cooperation. How do I cooperate with these gifts I've been given. That's the only prayer that matters. The rest is nonsense. You say your prayers so you get through your quadruple bypass operation or get good grades--that mocks it. That has nothing to do with true religion. Everybody has gifts, and so either we cooperate with using them better, or we do not. I think that's the type of prayer that matters.

P: And that's available to everyone.
C: Yes, it has nothing to do with creeds or dogmas--or popes. That felt good!

P: So you think prayer is something that unites them all and is a way to bring religions into dialogue?
C: Sure, the prayer of cooperation, that's accessible to anyone, even if you're an atheist. Atheists or agnostics. I hope there's an atheist club here at Notre Dame. Is there one?

P: I don't believe so!
C: After we get the gay and lesbian clubs recognized we're gonna get the atheist club recognized. And after, you can be an atheist gay/lesbian, animal rightser, anti-football, peace studies major. . . .

P: What about the next part, service?
C: Everybody graduating from Notre Dame will be one of two types of people: they'll either be self-centered or other-centered. And Notre Dame has, I think, one of the best community service programs that I've seen at the Center for Social Concerns. And I think that, along with the Kroc Institute, is the soul of this campus. You got peace education and you got service learning. Ideas and action. You need both. . . .

Every spring break and fall break I take great joy in visiting the students who come to Washington. They come for about a week or so. And they agitate and cogitate and ruminate--I hope they don't vegetate. I admire those students. You see them years later, and that's always been the great thing about Notre Dame.

P: How about nonviolence? One part of that is forgiveness--you talked about that a little bit as being something important to nonviolence.
C: Well, Martin Luther King, his first sermon he ever gave was in 1957 in Montgomery, Alabama, and it was on forgiveness. He said it is not just a theological virtue, it is a practical skill. Leave the garbage from the last fight behind you. If you can't forgive, you gotta haul the trash around with you. A lot of people say, oh I'm willing to forgive and I'm willing to bury the hatchet, but then we say to ourselves, but I'm going to mark exactly where I buried that hatchet, in case I have to dig it up for the next fight! I'll know exactly where it is. You're still imprisoned.

P: [So forgiveness is] part of the nonviolent tradition.
C: Absolutely. Because you can't reconcile. Gandhi always said you don't want to bring your adversaries to their knees, you want to bring them to their senses. To forgive, that's hard to do. I think we ought to forgive what the perpetrators at the World Trade Center did. As a nation. That will never happen. Bush says go get 'em dead or alive, after going into the National Cathedral and praying the Lord's Prayer in public. We forgive, and please forgive us--that's a powerful prayer. But it's hollow, it doesn't mean anything. We don't forgive, we don't forgive Al-Qaeda. We're over there obliterating an impoverished country. And there'll be no democratic government resulting there that respects human rights. And we keep doing it. In your lifetime alone we've bombed Libya, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan again, and Lebanon. All poor nations, and most of those nations are with people of color. That's U.S. foreign policy.

P: What is your definition of peace?
C: Peace is the result of love. That's all it is. If you have a loving family, you have a peaceful family. If you have a loving society, you have a peaceful society. What does love mean? Well, it means you see the good in other people, and you act on that. You share your wealth with others.

P: So it's a state of mind, but it's also a call to action?
C: It's an activity, sure . . . asking the person next to you 'What are you going through?', and then acting on the answer. Love is not an emotion, it is a demand for action. Sometimes it's only one or two people. I think the most revolutionary deed you can do is to raise honest and generous children. That is a revolutionary act. But you gotta do it every day. If you raise good honest other-centered children, you've done something. It's extremely difficult, because you can educate your kids at home all you want to be honest and gentle children, but they're getting a message from other sources, from our governments, that says let's go kill people we disagree with. That's what the United States government does and most other governments do also. Execute people on death row because they're "bad" people; kill animals for food because we like the taste of their bodies.

P: So your approach to peace then is a many-layered approach, and it starts at the personal level.
C: That's why I think schools are so necessary. That's why the peace education movement is necessary. Beginning with pre-K right on through. You teach peace the same way you teach any other course. Every year at the beginning of first grade you teach the kiddies how to add two and two. And then another math course the next year. They'll take math for eight years, and four more years in high school. And most people rarely use math past eighth grade math. We talk about our conflicts every day, and you can do that with little kids. It oughta be basic in any school system.

Paul Ranogajec is a fourth year architecture and peace studies student, and editor of Common Sense.

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World Bank to West Bank
George Monbiot

Two sets of human shields are in use in the West Bank. The first is less than willing. The Israeli army, like some of the terrorist groups it has fought, has been taking hostages. Its soldiers have been propelling Palestinian civilians through the doors of suspect buildings, so that the gunmen they might harbour have to kill them first if they want to fight back.

The second set of human shields has deliberately placed itself in the line of fire. Since the army's offensive in the West Bank began, hundreds of Israeli peace campaigners and foreign activists have been seeking to put themselves in its way. At great personal risk, members of the International Solidarity Movement have sought to protect civilians by making hostages of themselves. It is a display of extraordinary courage and self-sacrifice. It is also the latest incarnation of a movement which just months ago was left for dead.

The movement to which many of the peace activists risking their lives in Ramallah and Bethlehem belong has no name. Some people have called it an anti-globalisation or anti-corporate or anti-capitalist campaign. Others prefer to emphasise its positive agenda, calling it a democracy or internationalist movement. But, because they have always put practice first and theory second, its members have proved impossible to categorise. Whenever it appears to have assumed an identity outsiders believe they can grasp, it morphs into something else. It is driven by a new, responsive politics, informed not by ideology but by need.

After September 11, this nameless thing appeared to vanish as swiftly as it had emerged. The huge demonstrations planned for the end of September against the World Bank and IMF in Washington became a small and rather timorous march for peace. Most US activists, cowed by the new McCarthyism which has dominated American discourse since the attack on New York, kept their heads down. Commentators dismissed the movement as a passing fad which had rippled through the world's youth, as widespread and as insubstantial as Diet Coke or the Nike swoosh.

But those who dismissed it had failed to grasp either the seriousness of its intent or the breadth of its support. The television cameras always focused on a few hundred young men dressed in black and running riot, intercut occasionally with the wider carnival of protest. But they seldom permitted its participants to explain the sense of purpose which propelled them. So most outsiders failed to see that the commitment of many of the people involved in these protests is non-negotiable. The movement is no more likely to go away than the governments and corporations it confronts. Its survival is assured by its ability to become whatever it needs to be.

In March 250,000 protesters travelled to Barcelona to contest the assault on employment laws and the public sector being led by Tony Blair, Silvio Berlusconi and Jose Maria Aznar. In April some of them moved to Palestine. Among those in the British contingent are people who have helped to run campaigns against corporate power, genetic engineering and climate change. They were joined by members of the Italian organisation Ya Basta, which helped to coordinate the protests in Genoa. For the movement which came of age in Seattle, the World Bank and the West Bank belong to the same political territory.

If the protesters simply shifted as a mob from one location to another, their efforts would be worse than useless. But one of the key lessons this rapidly maturing movement has learned is that protest is effective only if it builds on the efforts of specialists. Like most of the Earth's people, the foreigners on the West Bank became visible when they began to bleed (five British campaigners were injured last week by the Israeli army's illegal fragmentation bullets), but some outsiders have been working there for decades. New arrivals join long-established networks and do what they are told. Among the bullets and the bulldozers, the movement is discovering a courage long suspected but seldom tried.

Protesters have moved into the homes of people threatened with bombardment by the Israeli army, ensuring that the soldiers cannot attack Palestinians without attacking foreigners too. They have been sitting in the ambulances taking sick or injured people to hospital, in the hope of speeding their passage through Israeli checkpoints and preventing the soldiers from beating up the occupants. They have been trying to run convoys of food and medicine into neighbourhoods deprived of supplies; and seeking to encourage both sides to lay down their arms in favour of non-violent solutions. They are becoming, in other words, a sort of grassroots United Nations, trying with their puny resources to keep the promises their governments have broken.

Perhaps most importantly, the peace campaigners are the only foreign witnesses in some places to the atrocities being committed. Using alternative news networks such as Indymedia and Allsorts, they have been able to draw attention to events most journalists have missed.

They have seen how Palestinians, told by the Israeli army that the curfew had been lifted, have been either shot dead when they stepped outside or seized and used as human shields. They have witnessed the sacking of homes and the deliberate destruction of people's food supplies. They have seen ambulances and aid trucks being stopped and crushed. On March 28 one peace protester watched Israeli soldiers in jeeps hunting women and children who were fleeing across the fields on the outskirts of Ramallah, trying to shoot them down in cold blood. And, by becoming the story themselves, as they are beaten and shot, the foreigners have brought it home to people who were dismissive of the murder and maiming of indigenous civilians.

The movement's arrival on the West Bank is an organic development of its activities elsewhere. For years it has been contesting the destructive foreign policies of the world's most powerful governments, and the corresponding failures of the multilateral institutions to contain them. Rather than echo the thunderous but effete demand of commentators on both sides of the Atlantic that Yasser Arafat (a man currently unable to use a flushing toilet) should stamp out the terror in the Middle East, the campaigners are, as ever, addressing those who wield real power: Israel and the governments who supply the money and weaponry which permit it to occupy the West Bank. The movement has always been a pragmatic one, as ready to protest against Burma's treatment of its tribal people or China's dispossession of the Tibetans as the IMF's handling of Argentina. In Palestine, as elsewhere, it is seeking to place itself between power and those whom power afflicts.

Everyone else is demanding that somebody should do something about the conflict in the Middle East. The peace campaigners are doing it.

©Guardian Newspapers Limited. April 8, 2002.

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Fr. Basil van Rensburg, RIP: Veteran Anti-Apartheid Activist
Bronwen Dachs

CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- Father Basil van Rensburg, 71, who gained international recognition for fighting the forced removal of blacks under apartheid, died March 31 in a Cape Town hospital from complications related to diabetes. Born in Cape Town, he was an outspoken critic of the apartheid era's Group Areas Act, which legalized the removal of black people from areas designated for whites.

In an April 1 tribute, Cape Town Mayor Gerald Morkel praised Father van Rensburg for alerting the world to the "wanton destruction of a settled community in the very heart" of Cape Town. "His courage in the face of incessant intimidation and his determination to expose the cruelties of forced removals, at a time when such conviction was often the target of security-police harassment, set an example to many white South Africans, who were becoming increasingly horrified at what was being done in their name," Morkel said.

In 1966 the apartheid government declared Cape Town's District Six a "white" area and began the forced removal of all black residents. Over the next 15 years, more than 60,000 people were uprooted from the five-square-mile area, their homes bulldozed behind them. District Six had been a vibrant multiracial area with a thriving jazz and street culture. The forced removals and destruction of property were carried out nationwide, but the District Six clearances became a symbol of the barbarism and inhumanity of apartheid. In November 2000 President Thabo Mbeki gave final approval to the transfer of land in District Six to the families of those who were evicted.

During a 1986 visit to Indiana's University of Notre Dame, Father van Rensburg again drew international attention when he went on a hunger strike in protest against apartheid.

In the mid-1980s, Father van Rensburg became parish priest of St. Gabriel's Church in Guguletu, an impoverished black township in the Cape Town Archdiocese, and worked on a range of programs, including AIDS education. Although he never mastered the language, Father van Rensburg encouraged the development of a full Xhosa liturgy at St. Gabriel's, with music from indigenous African instruments.

Father van Rensburg developed close ties with the parents of Amy Biehl, a 26-year-old U.S. Fulbright scholar who was stabbed to death in a racist attack in Guguletu in 1993. Biehl's father Peter, who had colon cancer, also died March 31.

©Catholic News Service

Editors note: Fr. Basil van Rensburg, who died in Cape Town on Easter Sunday, spent a sabbatical semester at Notre Dame in 1984. Prior to arriving in the United States, he led a movement in 1983 protesting the presence of uniformed and salaried Roman Catholic chaplains in the South African Defense Force. The protest culminated in Fr. Basil fasting for thirty days and a change in the South African Catholic Bishops' policy --the chaplains were withdrawn from the army.

Upon his arrival at Notre Dame, Fr. Basil was distressed to discover that the University--unlike many others in the US--was still investing in corporations that functioned in the apartheid economy. Working with the Notre Dame Anti-apartheid Network, he turned once again to the spiritual discipline of fasting and protesting--this time for twenty nine days, sustained by a copious supply of Perrier Water. Although unsuccessful in his endeavor to change Notre Dame's policy, his fast received national and international attention. The University's Board of Trustees became seriously divided on the issue, referenda by the faculty and students called for divestment, but the Golden Dome continued to work closely with American corporations in apartheid South Africa.

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Obligatory Celibacy
Rev. Richard McBrien

Certain issues that were once considered closed to public discussion in the Roman Catholic Church, such as obligatory celibacy for priests, are now “on the table.” Several weeks ago the Boston Pilot, the weekly newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, acknowledged in an editorial that questions of this sort were currently in the air. More recently, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles declared that such questions can legitimately be discussed.

Although the great majority of Catholics in the United States favor the end of obligatory celibacy for their priests (the latest figure is 75%), many Catholics continue to question the existence of any linkage between celibacy, on the one hand, and pedophilia and ephebophilia, on the other. (The former refers to abuse of pre-pubescent children; the latter, to abuse of post-pubescent youth.)

While it is true that celibacy does not directly cause such behavior (to be sure, sexual abusers are also found among the married population), there is a connection between the two in that the rule of obligatory celibacy limits the pool of potential candidates from which the Church can draw for its most important ministry.

In that thinnest of slices of the Catholic male population there is a disproportionately high percentage of homosexuals and of the sexually immature. Pedophiles and ephebophiles are found in the latter group.

The fact that many in this group may also be homosexual does not mean that homosexuality causes pedophilia or ephebophilia, any more than celibacy does. Unfortunately, many homophobic Catholics have been making precisely that connection and are now demanding a complete rooting-out of gays from the priesthood and from seminaries (an entirely impractical demand, even if it were ethically and pastorally responsible).

Clerical celibacy is a difficult topic to address because its history is so cloudy. Historians do not even agree on when it became a universal obligation for the Roman Catholic clergy. Many place its origin within the pontificate of Gregory VII (1073-85), a reformer who tried to deal all at once with clerical corruption, nepotism, simony, and the interference of civil authorities in the internal affairs of the Church (known as lay investiture).

Among other things, clergy were leaving church property to their families and bishops were bestowing church benefices (incoming-producing offices) on their sons.

That is one of the practical reasons for celibacy. The spiritual reasons have deeper historical roots. Because many New Testament Christians expected the world to come to an end in their own lifetimes, celibacy seemed an appropriate way to await the coming of the heavenly kingdom.

Even under those circumstances, however, celibacy was not expected of everyone (Matthew 19:11-12). Although St. Paul advocated celibacy for those who could embrace it, he also acknowledged that the gift and grace of celibacy were not given to all (1 Corinthians 7:1-9, 27-28).

Celibacy as a life-time commitment emerged in the late third century in connection with the rise of monasticism (first with solitaries, or hermits, in the desert, and then with the communal kind). But celibacy was not imposed on the diocesan clergy, only recommended. Indeed, when a formal proposal was made at the Council of Nicaea in 325 to make celibacy mandatory for priests, the council rejected it.

Although the history of clerical celibacy is difficult to trace, several facts are clear. First, celibacy is not required of all Catholic priests even today. There are thousands of married Eastern-rite priests. The only restrictions are that they cannot marry after ordination; they cannot re-marry after the death of their spouse; and they cannot be appointed a bishop.

Second, celibacy was not a universal requirement in the Roman Catholic Church for more than half of its entire history. At least some of the Apostles were married (the New Testament refers to Jesus’ cure of Peter’s mother-in-law, in Mark 1:29-31) and some of the popes were married as well.

Indeed, Pope Anastasius I (399-401) was succeeded immediately by his son, Innocent I (401-17). And Pope Hormisdas (514-23) was succeeded 13 years after his death by his son, Silverius (536-37). All four are recognized by the Church as saints.

Third, the Roman Catholic Church has married priests even today; namely, former Episcopal priests who became Roman Catholics (largely because of their dissatisfaction with the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church), were re-ordained, and have been allowed to function as priests in good standing while remaining married in the fullest sense of the word.

Finally, when the Council of Trent in the 16th century reaffirmed the obligation of celibacy for priests of the Roman rite, the council acknowledged it to be a matter of church discipline, not doctrine. In other words, it can change.

© 2002 Richard P. McBrien. All rights reserved. Richard McBrien is Professor of theology at Notre Dame.

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Gays in the Priesthood
Rev. Richard McBrien

There are many adverse effects of the current pedophilia crisis: the demoralization of clergy and laity, the damage done to the reputation of the Catholic Church and its hierarchy, the high costs of out-of-court settlements and their impact on the funding of the Church’s social and educational ministries, the further decline in vocations to the priesthood, and, most serious of all, the grave, long-term harm done to its innocent victims and their families.

In recent weeks a new item seems to have been added to the list: increased expressions of antipathy toward gay priests, of whom there are surely thousands in the United States alone. What is remarkable-but not surprising-is that these criticisms are coming from both sides of the ecclesiastical spectrum: from progressives who view the inordinately high percentage of gays in the priesthood as lessening the pressure for a change in the law of obligatory celibacy, and from homophobes who look upon gays as disreputable souls held in the grip of the worst sort of moral perversion.

Even though prominent psychiatrists and psychologists have been reminding us on television and in press interviews that there is no necessary link between homosexuality and pedophilia, the popular view to the contrary still holds sway in many parts of the Church and in society at large. In such precincts the solution is easy: Get rid of gay priests and we’ll finally be rid of this horrible problem of sexual abuse of children.

Surprisingly, the starkest expression of this view emanates from one of the highest sources in the central administration of the Catholic Church: Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the pope’s official liaison with the media and a psychiatrist by training.

The Vatican spokesman has questioned whether homosexuals can validly be ordained, comparing the situation of a gay priest who may not realize that he is gay to that of a gay man who marries a woman while also unaware of his sexual orientation. Dr. Navarro-Valls pointed out that just as such a marriage can be annulled on the grounds that it was invalid from the start, so, too, the ordination of a gay man might similarly be declared invalid.

A few priests have privately observed that, if this were actually to happen, the Roman Catholic Church might lose two-thirds of its priests under the age of 45 and some bishops as well. At the same time, many of its seminaries could be emptied of all but a handful of students.

The most incisive comment on the Navarro-Valls remark came from Eugene Kennedy, a noted psychologist in his own right and author of The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality (St. Martin’s Press, 2001), which has just appeared in a paperback edition. His central criticism, in a recent column for Religion News Service, bears repeating:

“These are unjustified and inexcusable statements whose real intent is obvious....If the Vatican concludes that homosexual ordination is invalid, then it can boast that no valid priest has ever been guilty of pedophilia.

“[It] used the same technique when it began to compile statistics on heterosexuals applying for permission to marry, telling them that if they admitted that they never wanted to be priests, or had severe psychological problems, their permissions would be granted quickly. Officials could then claim that no real priests ever sought marriage, only those who were either disturbed or had never had vocations.

“Dr. Navarro-Valls is close to malpractice in floating this trial balloon...[which] is breathtaking in the depth of its insult to the many wonderful homosexual priests who serve with such integrity, to all homosexuals, and, indeed, to heterosexuals whose good common sense rejects such theorizing.”

Dr. Navarro-Valls may have some competition, however, in the category of most wide-of-the-mark statements on this tragic crisis. Also vying for this dubious honor is Father Richard John Neuhaus, a former Lutheran minister who managed almost immediately upon joining the Catholic Church to insert himself into its centers of power.

For this papal confidant the explanation is simple: the liberals did it. According to his analysis, the counterculture had made significant inroads in the 1960s and ‘70s, and seminarians were being encouraged by their faculty to believe that celibacy was about to go the way of the buggy whip-and to behave accordingly.

Father Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who worked closely with the bishops in the 1980s and urged them--unsuccessfully--to adopt a national policy on pedophilia, characterized this view as “nonsense.” Pedophilia, he said, is a deeply ingrained disorder having nothing to do with ideology.

Perhaps the two papal insiders, Dr. Navarro Valls and Father Neuhaus, need to talk.

Richard McBrien is Professor of Theology.

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Sex, Lies, and Vatican Tastes: A Tale of Two Bishops
Mary Rose D'Angelo

Each day’s New York Times brings a new installment in the never-ending saga of priests, pedophilia and diocesan cover-ups that is revealing to US Catholics that their church’s corporate ethic falls significantly below Enron’s. The issue in which my grade-school diocese (Bridgeport CT) made its appearance as sleaze pool du jour offered a particularly ironic juxtaposition with a story about the Vatican demand that the archbishop of Chiapas stop ordaining deacons for five years.

There was nothing new or startling in the story of about the Bridgeport diocese--it was one more sordid tale of clumsy prevarication and legal stonewalling by ecclesiastical bureaucrats, their insurers and their lawyers. As elsewhere, their first concern was not to address criminal behavior but to conceal it--in a series of secret settlements. The raptor settlements have proven to be as dumb as they were dishonest--in the words of Yale Law school professor Peter Shuck: “In terms of avoiding the scandal and eliminating the liability, this is exactly the wrong to have done..... It’s not simply a case of an organization whose agents have erred...It’s an organization that knew about the improprieties and concealed them.” The article also analysed a larger pattern of diocesan lawyers fighting current accusations of pedophilia by using the statute of limitations (read--“He did it, but you caught us too late”) and the separation of church and state (“He did it, but its none of your business”) and most recently, trying to bury the evidence under the Vatican’s diplomatic immunity ("Nyah, nyah, nyah"). The “legs” on this story were the suggestion of cross-diocesan collaboration on this pattern--and the revelation of the past practices of Edward Egan, once bishop of Bridgeport, and now Archbishop of NY and another winner of the Arthur Andersen award for creative myopia.

The second article reported a letter from Jorge Cardinal Medina Estévez (Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments) to the current bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, Felipe Arizmendi. The deacons in question are married men, largely indigenous, who administer baptism and marriages, and conduct “non-eucharistic” liturgies in the remote and poor accessible villages that see a priest perhaps once a year. There are about four hundred of them, in a diocese that has ordained fewer than ten priests in the last forty years. They were recruited by the former bishop, Samuel Ruiz, who had sought to indigenize his diocese in an attempt to reclaim it from the missionizing of Protestant sects. Unlike the majority of the few priests, the deacons speak the Mayan dialects of the people they serve and among whom they live; they were trained in liberation theology. The deacons, with about 8,000 indigenous catechists are the bulwark of the “Native Church” he left behind on retirement. So effective was their work and his that Ruiz was a credible mediator between the Zapatistas and the government in the Chiapas uprising and his work to end violence in his diocese has made him a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.

What is most striking about this narrative is that the Vatican explicitly identifies the moratorium on ordaining deacons as an attempt to undo Ruiz’ work. The letter warns that Samuel Ruiz, who retired two years ago after leading the diocese for nearly 50 years, offered a dangerous precedent: “If you continue augmenting the number of permanent deacons, the perceived danger is that the initiatives sustained by Monsignor Samuel Ruiz will be affirmed, impeding the normalization of ecclesiastic life in the diocese and sending an implicit message of support to the other ecclesiastical groups for an ‘alternative’ church model that could seem convenient for ‘cultural situations and particular ethnic groups.’” Shorn of ecclesiospeak, that seems to say: “Papa don’t ’low no mariachi playin’ here"-- no pre-Columbian symbolism, no liberation theology, no Zapatista sympathizers. In most villages that will also mean no ministry in their own language, and indeed, no regular communal worship at all. Arizmendi tried to explain the “cease and desist” order as pro-priesthood rather than anti-diaconate, arguing that the church “Jesus built” was not based on deacons, who are supposed to be collaborators.” This justification is fraught with historical problems. The career of Jesus was completely innocent of the structures of deacon, priest and bishop; these functions were still loosely defined throughout the second century. If anything, Ruiz’ “native church” seems to be not only one significant realization of the vision of Vatican II, but also a pretty good reflection of the (admittedly wildly variable) churches of the first three centuries. But beyond the question of accuracy, does the curia really think that cutting down on deacons will increase the number of priests? What can this kind of “normalization” mean in a diocese that has ordained fewer than ten priests in 40 years? Hara-kiri?

What is the dangerous “abnormality” of the Chiapas diaconate? It seems to be twofold: that the roles of deacons are not adequately distinguished from those of priests (given that most of the diocese rarely sees one) and the roles of the deacons’ wives and widows are not adequately distinguished from those of the deacons. In other words, when the Vatican destroys the pastoral work of Samuel Ruiz and promotes bishops who bury sex abuse cases (like Edward Egan) they are concerned with the same goal: the desire to maintain the closed circle of a male and celibate clergy.

Numerous apologists have argued that celibacy isn’t the source of this problem--and it’s undoubtedly true that celibacy doesn’t create pedophiles--the plane loads of married westerners who invade Thailand for sex tourism make that clear, as do the many men and women with or without religious commitments, who live celibate lives and show no need to prey upon either children or adolescents. But pedophilia is not the real problem in this scandal--the real problem lies in the longterm policy of addressing ecclesiastical wrongdoing with lies, secrecy and silences. A married clergy and the ordination of women would incorporate permanent outsiders into the system. It is worth noting that in so far as there were whistleblowers in the Enron scandal, they were women.

Mary Rose D'Angelo teaches Theology at Notre Dame and is a member of Common Sense.

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Comments on William G. Storey's A Book of Prayer for Gay and Lesbian Christians

New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2002.

William G. Storey is Professor emeritus of Theology at Notre Dame and proprieter of Erasmus Books in South Bend.

In this thoughtfully crafted volume, William G. Storey, liturgical scholar and author of numerous books of prayer, has tapped the treasures of Christian prayer accumulated across twenty centuries of reflection and celebration. The result is an invaluable resource to assist the prayer experience of gays and lesbians from all Christian traditions, including those still seeking a place for themselves within a Christian context. Liturgies for morning and evening prayer offer users intimate participation in the "heartbeat" of the Christian life. Other short prayer services are included to mark numerous special occasions for shared celebration or mourning, especially those joyful or sorrowful moments particular to the gay and lesbian experience. A masterwork by this distinguished expert in liturgical prayer, A Book of Prayer for Gay and Lesbian Christians is a rich gift to both gay and lesbian Christians as well as the entire ecumenical Christian community.

-- Joanne M. Pierce, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross. She formerly taught at Notre Dame.


Gay and lesbian Christians need to recognize themselves in liturgy. We don't need to invent liturgy from scratch, because so much of Christian liturgy is already of our making. We couldn't invent it from scratch, since the strongest liturgies are never merely invented. Still, as lesbians and gays trying to lead lives of faith in one or another of the Christian churches, we do need to recognize our lives within shared prayer. William Storey helps us to recognize ourselves "as full members of the church." He has studied the liturgy as few believers do. He knows its old splendor, its varieties, its celestial harmony and its tears. He can explain how a prayer text came down to us or how a rite changed its shape over centuries. What is more important; he can make the most ancient rites vivid once again.

William Storey's prayer book reminds us that liturgical beauty goes together with theological truth. Indeed, the most truthful theology comes through liturgy. It gains in capacity for truth as it gains in power of expression. By contrast, too much church teaching is poor in expression and so in truth. Consider teaching on same-sex desire: it is often couched in the ugly, simplistic language of "official statements." We hear our lives-and not only our lives-caricatured as bureaucratic regulation. This prayer book shows why Christian teaching must speak more resonantly. Through the liturgy, theology begins to describe loves with some subtlety. It starts to inhabit fleshly bodies and to perform celebrations worthy of human experience. It responds to the God who comes toward us in our skin, speaking our language and celebrating our festivals.

A prayer book is an invitation. This prayer book invites us, gently and wisely, to become more ourselves--not despite our loves, but because ofthem. "The Good News is especially for us."

-- Mark D. Jordan, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion, Emory University. He is a former member of the Notre Dame faculty.

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What Has the Supreme Court Been Smoking?
Arianna Huffington

In an infuriating blow to reason, logic, fairness, compassion and equal justice, the Supreme Court ruled recently that people living in public housing can be evicted for any drug activity by any household member or guest--even if the drug use happened blocks away from the housing project and even if the tenant had no inkling that anything illegal was taking place.

Chew on that for a second. The highest judicial body in the land has said--unanimously--that it's OK to toss people who the court acknowledges are innocent out of their houses for crimes they didn't commit and didn't even know about. The generals in the drug war are getting mighty desperate--and silly.

The justices did not just uphold the constitutionality of the "One Strike and You're Out" eviction policy, first implemented by the Clinton administration in 1996; they also rushed to its defense, calling it "reasonable," "unambiguous" and "not absurd."

But try to tell Pearlie Rucker that the law’s not absurd. She was the named defendant in the case the court ruled on, a 63-year old great-grandmother who found herself and everyone living with her facing eviction when her mentally disabled daughter was caught possessing cocaine--three blocks away from Rucker's apartment. Or to co-defendant Herman Walker, a disabled 79-year old man, who now stands to lose his home because his full-time health care worker was found with drug paraphernalia in the apartment. You’d think that if the Supremes didn’t understand the hardship of poverty, they’d at least understand the hardships of old age.

When the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had struck down this draconian policy, it ruled that it perverted the intent of the law, which was meant to improve the lives of public housing residents--not destroy them.

The high court's opinion, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist no less, tried to buttress its cold-hearted argument by claiming that so-called "no fault" evictions are justified because drug use leads to "murders, muggings, and other forms of violence." But he failed to point out how locking up innocent people solves that. Or what social ills will be avoided by Pearlie and Herman being cast out on their innocent rear ends. Surely even the most brutal and utilitarian calculus would at least balance the cost of punishing so many blameless victims against whatever perceived good is achieved.

But, no, the justices couldn’t be bothered. In adopting such one-sided reasoning and hyperbolic "Reefer Madness" rhetoric the Supreme Court is following in the fear-mongering footsteps of the administration, whose latest whack-o anti-drug ad campaign tried to draw a link between teenage drug use and violent acts of terrorism.

In reality, two of the four plaintiffs in the case before the court were elderly women whose grandchildren were caught smoking pot in a housing project parking lot. I have a feeling the grandkids were far more interested in the munchies than in murder and mayhem.

The ruling is not only a galling example of drug war lunacy, but also a gut-wrenching reminder of just how differently America treats its rich and its poor. The multi-million dollar homes of Beverly Hills or the Upper East Side of Manhattan have more than their share of kids struggling with drug problems. But as concerned as these kids' parents are, you can bet that their problems are not compounded by the additional worry that the entire family will be tossed out onto the street because their kid is seen smoking a joint three blocks away. Why should we hold poor people to a standard of accountability most of us could never meet?

"A tenant who cannot control drug crime," wrote Justice Rehnquist in the majority opinion, "is a threat to other residents and the project." I wonder if the Chief Justice would apply the same condemnatory logic to Gov. Jeb Bush, who also lives in public housing and was also unable to control his troubled daughter.

Indeed, our political establishment, whether ensconced in plush public housing or not, is filled with people unable to "control drug crime" by a household member. But none of them--including Sens. Ted Kennedy, Richard Lugar, and Richard Shelby, and Reps. Dan Burton, Spencer Bachus, John Murtha, Duke Cunningham and Maurice Hinchey--were punished for the sins of their kids. What's more, unlike the thousands of poor and minority drug offenders who have had the book thrown at them, these lawmakers' lawbreaking offspring were frequently granted special treatment.

Take the amazing case of Rep. Burton's son, Dan II, who, in 1994, was arrested for transporting seven pounds of marijuana across state lines with the intent to distribute. He pleaded guilty and received probation, community service and house arrest. Soon after, he was discovered growing 30 pot plants in his apartment but skated on the charges once again--a federal felony carrying a mandatory-minimum sentence of five years in jail having been miraculously transformed into a state level misdemeanor.

It's not surprising that poor kids are routinely sent to jail while rich kids are given a slap on the wrist and a ticket to rehab, or that poor parents are thrown out of their houses for not knowing what their kids are doing while powerful parents are given our sympathy and understanding. But it is unjust. And isn't that ultimately what the Supreme Court is supposed to be about: dispensing justice?

Since Rehnquist and company were too busy taking hits from their double-standard bong, it's now up to Congress to undo this discriminatory policy. Here's a thought: Why don't Ted Kennedy and Dan Burton call a joint Senate-House hearing on "One Strike and You're Out" no-fault evictions. They can call Jeb Bush, Pearlie Rucker and their respective daughters (one taken to rehab, one taken to jail) as the first witnesses.

©Arianna Huffington. April 2, 2002.

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Dubyous on Welfare: Mad Money for the Marriage Game
Mary Rose D'Angelo

“I ask you not to be defensive about marriage,” said Senator Charles E. Grassley (R/Iowa), “It’s a no-brainer.” He was talking about Dubya’s welfare proposal of bestowing $300 million a year (yup, you read that right) on measures to support and encourage marriage, like counseling and education in relationship skills, and in one state’s proposal, Christian pep rallies and celebrity endorsements. Lots of us on the left have been impressed with the general brainlessness of this scheme, but it’s always nice to have confirmation from the other side.

One of my favorite articles on this proposal was illustrated by a a photo showing a relationship counseling session in which a social worker (female) was conversing with two late adolescent women. “Hmmm,” I said to myself. “I thought this was coming from the anti-gay-marriage crowd. Can it be that they’ve concluded that one reason Heather has two mommies is that mommies are more likely to stick around?” This could be a good thing--except those young women looked very young to me. Middle-class women get to stay middle-class largely because they are consistently encouraged to postpone marriage until they finished college and established a career.

Purely aside from any change of heart on the part of the censors of morals, I’m worried about all that money, and all the needs it isn’t filling. Divided equally, that money could give every state 6 million more a year for urgent needs like better welfare payments, food stamps, home care for the elderly etc. Indiana’s exigencies can be illustrated from the experience of St. Margaret’s House a downtown day center for women run by the Episcopal cathedral. You might think that the hardest time of year for poor people is winter. In the winter months, enrollment in Project Safe protects at least some people from having their heat cut off when they fall behind. Come March 15 (a little chilly this year, you may have noticed), the protection ends and the cut-offs begin. When the welfare check comes, all 229 dollars (got that? 229 dollars a month for a family with one child?) of it goes toward paying the bills from the gas, electricity and water companies, in hope of eventually making home livable again. This can take a while; the Enron-and-Cheney induced price hikes made last year particularly brutal. So while they’re trying to decide whether to get the heat, the electricity or the water restored, or to pay the rent or medical bills, women and children pour into St. Margaret’s where they have access not only to a heated space and water but to hot water, for showers and washing clothes, and where they can also get a hot meal a day to supplement the hopelessly inadequate food stamps. St. Margaret’s also has a clothes room and tries to give out soap, laundry soap, toiletries and other supplies that are essential to making life tolerable, but not covered by food stamps. August is the busiest month at St. Margaret’s, perhaps because they also give out school supplies, perhaps because the program of meals for children in the parks in June and July comes to an end. It’s certainly a good idea to end restrictions on welfare or tax laws that penalize poor people for marriage or for living with a partner. Spending money--and big money--to lecture people without the resources to marry on the virtues and benefits of marriage seems doubly cruel.

Mary Rose D'Angelo teaches Theology at Notre Dame and is a member of Common Sense.

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Conscious Evolution
Andrew Casad

What can you and I do in times of international crisis? When nations rise up against nations, when people are suffering, and when threats to our lifestyle are perceived, we are left to question what we can do to help. In times past, young men and women volunteered to risk their lives in taking up arms against expansionist regimes that might otherwise have imposed a global rule of oppression. Now the crisis is different but the threat is the same. It does not involve military powers but our own lifestyle; the very way we think of and interact with the world threatens to impose a global hegemony. As Ernestine Kelsey wrote in an article entitled “It’s Time for a Global Revolution in Consciousness,” “the enemy is not the ‘other’ but ourselves. We can’t rally the troops and send them off to eliminate the threat when the threat originates within. The solution can’t be a military power but instead a new consciousness that empowers us spiritually to address the challenges that threaten us a species.” The revolution in consciousness that Kelsey incites us towards is nothing new. For millennia humanity has faced threats to our existence, and each one was met with a cultural solution based not only on new technologies, but more importantly on a reorientation of values in relation to one another and the environment. The agricultural, urban, and industrial revolutions are but three monumental examples of this type of universal shift in Weltanschauung.

To advance this change in consciousness Notre Dame sponsored the Ecology, Theology, and Judeo-Christian Environmental Ethics conference in February. Ecologists, theologians, historians, biologists, philosophers, and many others gathered to discuss how we might reinterpret our Judeo-Christian tradition to reorient ourselves in relation to the environment.

The opening plenary speaker, Gary Belovsky of Notre Dame’s Environmental Research Center, pointed to how changing understandings of the science of ecology have begun to alter how we understand and describe the environment. The environment is not something that is stable, or that is merely an accumulation of gradual successions of steady-states, but rather undergoes abrupt changes due to both human intervention and natural processes. Professor Peter White of UNC Chapel Hill responded that what is needed is not a static maintenance of the environment as it is, or even a recreation of the environment devoid of human presence, but rather the preservation of the environment’s ability to change. In order for this to take place, humans must be seen as an integral part of the environment, not apart from it; humans are but one species among millions that make up the environment. However, as humans, we posses the unique ability to not only react to our environment, but also to alter it. The environment is something that is continually in flux and adjusting to the pressures upon it. Therefore, humans have to take into account the impact, both positive and negative, which they have upon the environment. To preserve the ability of the environment to change, and thus to alleviate the ecological threat we have created for the survival of our own species, humans must stand in a fundamentally different relation to the environment than has been the case in the past. We must see ourselves as one small element in the glory of creation, not the dominators of creation for our own benefit.

This may seem at first to be a threat to a theology that has often been interpreted in such a way as to see all of creation made for mankind. For the Book of Genesis recalls how God blessed humanity with the command to “be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move on the earth.” The popular or fundamentalist interpretation of dominion as domination, and of the dualistic relationship between spirit and world, however, is not justified by the tradition of Catholic theology. More importantly, traditional Christian theology has viewed the Christian as a pilgrim who is not at home in this world, but awaits the Kingdom of God. Therefore, what cares or concerns is the Christian supposed to have for the things of this world? These two aspects of Christian theology - a misconstrued dualism and the understanding of the Christian as sojourner - seem to create a challenge for those who wonder whether there is an essential connection between Christian faith and ecological concern. Indeed, some of the leaders of the environmental movement, including Russell Train of the World Wildlife Federation and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, have questioned where Christian churches have been in raising awareness of ecological responsibility.

John Haught, a theologian from Georgetown University and a leading figure in the relation of theology to ecology presented a paper entitled “Theology and Ecology in an Unfinished Universe,” in which he creates a cohesive narrative connecting Christian theology and ecological responsibility. Haught combines recent scientific discoveries regarding the flux of the environment, rather than any romanticized notion of balance, with the eschatological nature of Christianity. In so doing, Haught portrays the cosmos as something that is unfinished, something that is in process. In much the same way, Christian theology has come to understand the Kingdom of God as a kingdom that is already present, although not yet fully realized. Thus, just as Christianity is a theology of promise and hope, so too is the cosmos something that is full of promise. Since the cosmos is not in some steady-state, but rather constantly in flux, it holds the promise of future change and is itself on a pilgrimage of becoming. From this understanding of both Christian eschatology and ecology, we can see ourselves not as pilgrims in this world, awaiting the Kingdom of God, but rather as pilgrims with the world, mutually in the process of realizing the hope that God has promised humanity. Behind this understanding of humanity and the environment is the theology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who understands us not as dominators over the earth, but as co-creators with God in the work of bringing about the Kingdom of God. The Christian then must not distance herself from concern for the environment, but rather show great concern that God’s vision of the world is allowed to unfold in ways in which we could never imagine. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has declared, hope is the fundamental ecological virtue.

Given Haught’s conception of the fundamental link between ecological concern and Christian faith, we as Christians must not only be aware of ecological problems, but also seek to find solutions for these problems. There is no single unified ecological problem, nor is there one single set of solutions. There are myriad problems, each with their own local implications and thus requiring a unique local response. Ecological problems are not all far away; they are not only confined to such matters as the depletion of the Amazon rainforest, nor the pollution of air by our petroleum driven economy. Ecological concerns influence the lives of people. Every day 40,000 children die due to filth caused by those who have no regard for the environment. In our cities, industrial and agricultural pollution has made many rivers unsuitable for drinking or recreation. Yet we continue to be consumers, complicit in the crimes of global capitalism that have wrought havoc on our environment, and the lives of millions all in the name of profit. So we return to the question with which we began this discussion: what can we do in times of international crisis? How can we in our places make a difference in the environment and respond to the fundamental link between our Christian faith and ecological concern? If we take the example of those who gathered at the recent conference, we need to reorient our relation to the environment. As Kelsey says, “the revolution that we must wage today is to gain true freedom for ourselves and for the entire human family - including those yet to come.” We must recognize our role not only in our communities, nor just in our nation, but our role in the cosmos. We must come to understand the scale of the cosmos, both temporally and spatially. Only then can we see ourselves in the right relation to the environment, an environment that we are both part of and for which we are responsible. Christ calls us all to a conversion of heart; in keeping with that Christian understanding of hope and promise, we must recognize our call for a conversion of heart in relation to the environment.

If you would like to learn more about the Ecology, Theology, and Judeo-Christian Environmental Ethics conference held at Notre Dame, please visit their website at: http://www.nd.edu/~ecoltheo/ If you are concerned for the environment, and the impact we have upon it, contact one of several groups on campus that seek to see ourselves as responsible for the environment of which we are part, including the Notre Dame Greens (http://www.nd.edu/~ndgreens/) and the Notre Dame Students for Environmental Action. Additionally, Ernestine Kelsey and others of Human Sprits Uniting, a group concerned with the spiritual dimension of ecological concerns, will be hosting their Midwest Convergence in South Bend June 30-July 4 (http://www.humanspiritsuniting.com/). The Convergence will feature such speakers as Stephanie Mills and Diarmuid O’Murchu, who will facilitate dialogue to bring about a revolution in consciousness so that all may see with new eyes concrete solutions to the crises we now face.

Andrew Casad is a graduate student in Theology and a member of Common Sense.

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Echoes of the Desaparecidos
Sarah Edwards

Once upon a time, in Argentina, people were rounded up by the military and many disappeared. Taken into indefinite custody and subjected to interrogations and torture, their circumstances shrouded in absolute secrecy, many were never seen again. They were known as the desaparecidos, or disappeared ones. In the post Sept. 11 world, the U.S. seems to be following an eerily similar path. Detainees rounded up in the wake of September eleventh have allegedly been subjected to beatings and torture from guards and other inmates, denied food and medical care, cut off from friends and family, kept in solitary confinement for months at a time, and held in indefinite detention in addition to other abuses. The detainees have seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. Whisked away into isolated cells in undisclosed locations, they have all but disappeared from the public consciousness. Many of the South American desaparecidos wound up in unmarked hidden mass graves. Is this to be the fate of the new desaparecidos?

Many of the detainees have been subjected to outrageous abuses that many Americans believe would not be committed in our country. The rights to an attorney, habeas corpus, to be informed of the reason for arrest, and to be presumed innocent until found guilty that Americans take for granted have been denied to the detainees. The USA Patriot Act gives Attorney General John Ashcroft and the Department of Justice disturbing new powers to relentlessly harass immigrants and nationalized citizens, especially those of Middle Eastern descent, in the name of national security.

This hysteria belies a not so subtle nativism and racism on the part of Ashcroft and his enforcers. The USA Patriot Act allows indefinite detention and deportation of foreign nationals. The Attorney General can allow detention if he finds "reasonable grounds to believe" that the accused was involved in terrorism or other activities that could prove detrimental to national security, a broad definition that allows for all kinds of abuses. With the USA Patriot Act, the line between terrorist acts and domestic crimes is slowly being eroded.

Before the events of September 11, minor violations such as overstaying a visa, working while on a tourist visa, or not completing enough courses to fulfill the requirements of a student visa, would be punishable by a small fine or a stern letter. Now, these minor offenses can warrant indefinite detention and/or deportation. Many times the detention comes with long periods of solitary confinement, food and blanket deprivation, and outright physical abuse. And many of those detained have, when given the choice, chosen deportation over detention, and a large percentage of these individuals were kept in harsh conditions of custody for weeks or even months after agreeing to be deported.

Muhammad Butt, a Pakistani national, was arrested September 19 by the FBI as a suspect connected with the attacks. When no proof of guilt was found, he was transferred to the custody of the INS and was charged with overstaying his visa. On October 23, 2001, he died of a heart attack while locked up at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny, New Jersey. Representatives from the humanitarian agency Human Rights Watch spoke to Butt's cellmate (who declined to give his name for fear of reprisals), who disclosed that his cellmate's death was anything but unexpected and sudden.

He said that he had helped Butt fill out five or six medical attention request forms but he never received an answer, let alone medical attention. Around 6:00 AM on October 23, Butt reported feeling pain and he beat on the cell door for ten minutes but received no response. He then went back to sleep and never woke up. An INS public affairs officer in Newark, New Jersey, hotly denied the allegations, claiming "We have absolutely no information to substantiate any of the allegations being propagated by Human Rights Watch", adding that "This is the first time we [the INS] are hearing allegations like that." Six days after his death, Human Rights Watch requested information regarding details of Butt's treatment and the cause of his death. Months later, they received a reply from INS headquarters telling them that they couldn't release the information unless they had the signature of the dead man to authorize it.

Nineteen year old Pakistani Hasnain Javed was arrested on September 19 on the charge of having records that were out of date. While detained at the Stone County Correctional Facility in Wiggins, Mississippi, other inmates learned of Javed's descent although he had never revealed it to them. They began pushing him around, referring to him as Osama bin Ladin. Javed was able to beg for help from a guard through an intercom but no one came to his rescue. The prisoners stripped off his clothes and beat him, leaving him with a chipped tooth, a ruptured eardrum, broken ribs, and other cuts and abrasions. His attorney, Mary Howell reported that "his tongue was swollen to about twice the size of a normal tongue" and alleges that the day she saw him was the first time he was allowed to see a doctor. Prison officials claim that Javed had instigated the fight and that he received prompt medical attention. Omer Marmari, an Israeli arrested on September eleventh, was removed from his cell by guards and placed in one where there was no video camera. The guards then proceeded to beat him up. Another Israeli, Oded Ellner, arrested on the same day, reports being injected with "a series of shots". His attorney, Michael J. Wildes reported that his client had no idea what was being injected into him or for what reason. Other clients of Wildes have reported being "beaten up by INS guards, and then left by guards to be beaten up" by the other prisoners.

One of the most outrageous occurrences of this preposterous purge is the deportation of a man to a country he had left as a small child. Not only was his wife not aware of his deportation, neither was he. Habib Ibrahim was one of thirty-one Somali immigrants rounded up by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in January. All of these immigrants were deported to Somalia, a land many had left as infants or small children, because of minor criminal convictions. Ibrahim was locked up for almost a month until he was removed from his cell. He was put on a plane and was under the impression that he was to be released until he caught a glimpse of a sign revealing that his destination was Mogadishu, Somalia.

He arrived with no place to go and little money and contracted malaria. Three days later, he contacted his wife, informing her of his location and describing the armed men roaming the streets. One of the other deportees had been killed in a street gunfight. Currently, Somalia is engaged in civil war and it is illegal for the U.S. to send people back to countries that are in the midst of civil war, but according to George W Bush and John Ashcroft, upholding national security must take precedence over all laws.

No doubt many Americans believe that torture, denial of food and medical care, and agonizingly long months of solitary confinement are exclusive to prisons in repressive Third World countries, Argentinean dictatorships, communist countries, or fundamentalist religious states. Americans are too civilized to allow such a thing. Nothing of the sort could ever happen here. We are a free country and there are laws against those things. Wrong. In the frenzied crusade to eradicate the world of terrorism (by the often used and never effective strategy of perpetuating the cycle of violence) and to hunt down an elusive cave dweller, the United States has stooped to the level of the evil it hopes to rid the world of; resorting to the underhanded and inhumane tactics of an enemy in order to defeat it, uncaring of those innocents, no more culpable than those who perished in the Pentagon or World Trade Center, who have been rounded up and left to languish in jail for months, awaiting an uncertain fate. These nameless persons, hidden from the world, ignored by the media, and betrayed by a country that promised them liberty and recognition of their human dignity, are helpless and at the mercy of a president reveling in his almost limitless powers and a fanatical paranoid Attorney General.

Living in fear of the "knock on the door in the middle of the night" most commonly attributed to repressive regimes such as the Taliban may soon become a reality for Americans. An attack on a few is aimed at all and also the laws and freedoms that characterize what America is supposed to be. Many Americans have forgotten about the detainees and are quick to justify their indefinite detention and other injustices and human rights violations committed against them in the name of national security. They stand united against terrorism and denounce the human rights abuses committed by the Taliban and other members of the "Axis of Evil" while ignoring the blatant injustices and abuses that their own country is meting out. John Ashcroft and George W. Bush have unapologetically disrupted the lives of thousands of people in their quest to ensure the safety of innocent Americans. Both profess to be religious men but in their overweening hypocrisy have neglected Jesus' mandate that one should remove the beam from one's own eye before removing the splinter from another's eye.

Sarah Edwards is a freshman at Saint Mary's College, a member of Common Sense, and a member of the ND/SMC Peace Coalition.

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Wal-Mart Warriors
Jim Hightower

In my Texas politicking period, I was able to score a couple of underdog victories for statewide office simply by going down the road. Instead of another high-tech, made-for-television campaign, I crisscrossed this far-flung state with high-touch populist politics, visiting with folks in just about every place that has a ZIP code.

By getting out to where the workaday people actually were--in chat & chew cafes and inner-city churches, union halls and community colleges, kitchens and bars--not only did I gain support but, more important, I learned what ordinary people were doing and thinking, and I began to see the possibilities for building progressive majorities.

While most Texans who rallied behind my campaigns would not call themselves progressive, neither were they the bland bunch of corporate conservatives, compliant workers and contented consumers pictured by the pundits and consultants. At their core, I found grassroots Texans to be anti-establishment mavericks--and a whole lot more savvy, activist, progressive and politically exciting than the Powers That Be could ever imagine.

Since those days, I've continued going down the road, working with grassroots groups all across our country--and absorbing the phenomenal energy and rebellious spirit that is steadily spreading across our land, albeit mostly beneath the radar of the cognoscenti holed up in the power centers. Trying to judge America's political possibilities by focusing on the dismal waltz of the dead in Washington is like a cat watching the wrong mousehole. Our future is out here, where we can build on the work of hundreds of thousands of unsung people who daily are taking on the corporate greedheads and political boneheads. These people are lighting prairie fires of rebellion against the way things are, and from them, we can learn how to put progress back in progressive.

Winning Against Wal-Mart

I've learned that progress crops up in unexpected places, such as in hard-core conservative Arizona. I recently traveled there for a meeting of Local 99 of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), where I met a scrappy and happy group of veterans from the Wal-Mart wars. They've been forging alliances with local businesses, neighborhood groups and just plain folks, and in the past three years these coalitions have stunned the company by stopping ten new Wal-Mart stores.

Why single out Wal-Mart? Because it's a hog. Despite the homespun image it cultivates in its ads, it operates with an arrogance and avarice that would make Enron blush and John D. Rockefeller envious. It's the world's biggest retail corporation and America's largest private employer; Sam Robson Walton, a member of the ruling family, is one of the richest people on earth.

Wal-Mart and the Waltons got to the top the old-fashioned way: by roughing people up. Their low, low prices are the product of two ruthless commandments: Extract the last penny possible from human toil and squeeze the last dime from its thousands of suppliers, who are left with no profit margin unless they adopt the Wal-Mart model of using nonunion labor and shipping production to low-wage hellholes abroad.

Wal-Mart always expects to get its way, whether confronting suppliers, competitors, workers, governments--or the people of Glendale, Arizona. A developer in this middle-class suburb of Phoenix had announced plans to build a neighborhood shopping center, promising it would be a visual oasis. The City Council OK'd the plan and all was well--until word got out that the real occupier of this oasis was to be Wal-Mart. Indeed, Wal-Mart on steroids: a round-the-clock SuperCenter bigger than four football fields. It would crush neighborhood businesses and supplant good local jobs, remaking another community in Wal-Mart's image. Except that Kathleen Lewis and Bill McDonough stood up.

Bill, who was president of Local 99, already had some victories against Wal-Mart, and knowing that the company would resort to union-baiting, he reached out for allies in the larger community. One who reached back was Lewis, whose Headlines Styling & Barbering Service became the headquarters of the neighborhood rebellion against the invading hog. Around kitchen tables, she and other mad-as-hellers organized a citizens' group that dared to challenge the mighty Wal-Mart. Few of these middle-class folks had ever thought of themselves as rebels, but the realization that a global behemoth could bull into their lives without so much as a pretty-please ignited the latent American radicalism within them.

The fight was on. The City Council, deceived by the developers, withdrew its approval of the zoning for the shopping center. The Wal-Mart side, squawking like stuck pigs, launched a citywide referendum on the project, dumping hundreds of thousands of dollars into it. Against this, Lewis's group spent a whopping $8,600 running their kitchen-table campaign. UFCW, operating separately, went door-to-door, engaging thousands of families.

Finally came the vote. The turnout was more than double that in the previous election, and by a resounding 60-40, Glendalers refused to be Wal-Marted.

The significance is not that one Arizona SuperCenter was defeated--or even sixteen--but that regular people like Kathleen Lewis and her citizens' crew are finding that the Wal-Martization of our society and culture is not inevitable, and that they share some common ground with organized labor. Like dozens of other Wal-Mart wars (www.walmartyrs.org and www.walmartwatch.com), the Arizona phenomenon represents an incremental rise in a simmering grassroots rebellion by America's middle class against the corporate order. "We did what had to be done," said Lewis. For labor, UFCW is showing that it can turn up the heat on the biggest of the big, energize its own middle-class members, forge winning coalitions--and begin to realize its own strength. As Bill McDonough put it after the Glendale victory, "When we prevail, it demonstrates that it can be done. Local 99 is a core army of 16,000 members, with reserves ten times that or more if we use the people close to us to help. The same tactic should be employed across the nation. When and if that happens, you'd be talking about an army of 150 million."

© 2002 The Nation Company, L.P.

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Take This Money and Be Quiet: Bush Offers Tax Credits To Buy Health Insurance
Jennifer Bauduy

The number of Americans without health insurance is on the rise. More and more people are losing access to health-care -- at least two million last year alone. And President Bush's proposal last month to offer health-care tax credits is likely to do little to alleviate the problem.

Now, more than 40 million Americans don't have insurance, according to Families USA, a consumer health organization. That's 40 million people who live in fear of developing an illness they can't afford to treat, or who don't get preventative care to ward off treatable diseases. Tens of millions more are underinsured, or have inadequate insurance plans.

Meanwhile health-care costs are also rising. Costs rose 7.2 percent in 2000, the highest increase in a decade, according to the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Unfortunately, the modest insurance tax credits Bush recently offered in his budget proposal won't help. If all goes according to the president's plan--where low-income individuals could be eligible for $1,000-reimbursement on insurance premiums and families could get $3,000 --the numbers of uninsured would be reduced just 5 percent, according to an analysis by Massachusetts Institute for Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber.

Most moderate- and low-income individuals would still find it difficult to make up the difference--thousands of dollars--in premium costs.

"That leaves 95 percent of the people with the same problem, and that's not a solution we are looking for," said Don McCanne, president of Physicians for a National Health Program, which advocates for a single-payer, national health care plan--where one public agency collects funds for health care and pays all health care providers. "It's tax legislation not health-care legislation," he said.

Maybe that's the idea. The administration has shown little real interest in alleviating the situation of the uninsured. Bush claims to be in favor of strengthening safety-net institutions like community clinics, but at the same time his administration proposed cutting funds available through Medicaid to county hospitals.

Meanwhile the push by corporate owners of private hospitals to eliminate public hospitals or replace them with for-profit ones can only exacerbate an already sick health-care system.

"It creates tremendous inequities in health-care," said McCanne. He added that the possibility of seeing a single-payer system in the United States --such as the one that exists in Canada--under the current Bush administration is non-existent. But on the state level, there is hope.

California's health and human services agency is currently studying various reform options, including single payer, for extending health coverage to the 22 percent of Californians that are uninsured.

McCanne, who co-authored one of the proposals for universal health insurance, said preliminary results showed that single payer would not only provide coverage for everyone, but reduce administrative costs substantially, saving the state of California billions of dollars.

Critics say they don't want the government involved in insurance. But Medicare, a system that is vital for providing retired citizens health-care, is government insurance and it works well. Administrative costs for Medicare are significantly lower than costs for managed care systems. The costs are under 2 percent for Medicare, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that runs the programs. Overhead costs for managed care systems vary with each plan, hovering between 14 percent to 18 percent.

"We have a mechanism, single payer health care reform, in which we can finally control costs, with the tremendous advantage of insuring everyone with comprehensive benefits and establishing equity in our health care system," McCanne said.

A universal health-care system would seem like an obvious solution to putting an end to the health-care crisis. But an administrative shortsightedness that prefers vouchers and tax credits to long-term answers is more likely to prevail, ensuring the continual rise in health-care costs, and the numbers of uninsured Americans.

©TomPaine.com. Jennifer Bauduy is the associate editor at TomPaine.com. Published: Mar 18 2002.

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Brewing Poverty and Violence in El Salvador
Mark Engler

In advance of his visits to several Latin American countries, President Bush has focused public attention on U.S. aid to developing countries. As a result, the real purpose of his tour has gone unnoticed. Bush is using his time in Mexico, Peru, and El Salvador to promote neoliberal economic policies that actually serve to exacerbate inequality and undermine democratic institutions in countries throughout the region.

El Salvador, in particular, provides a case study in how Bush's version of economic "modernization" has failed the poor.

Geography has never been George W.'s strong suit, but one might expect him to try being sensitive to El Salvador's human rights concerns, given that a U.N. Truth Commission blamed the right-wing governments supported by his father for 90 percent of the approximately 80,000 murders committed through the country's civil war. Instead, President Bush's visit falls on the day normally reserved for commemoration of Archbishop Oscar Romero's assassination. The army's death squads gunned down Romero, a stalwart defender of the country's poorest citizens, during a mass on March 24, 1980.

Ten years after the signing of the Chapultepec Peace Accords ended more than a decade of bloody conflict, U.S.-supported policies continue to impede progress toward human rights. Rather than atoning for its sponsorship of Cold War crimes, the United States has overseen a type of economic transformation that punishes the same communities most victimized during El Salvador's time of violence. Under the supervision of the IMF and World Bank in Washington, DC, the conservative Salvadoran governments of the 1990s hacked social services and sold off state enterprises in telecommunications and utilities to private interests.

Businesses dramatically raised costs to consumers. At the same time, the government led drives to bust the unions that fight to keep wages in the "modernizing" economy from falling to sweatshop levels. Over the past months it announced the firing of 10,000 workers in the public sector--a dramatic loss of jobs in El Salvador's small labor economy.

Contrary to the objectives of the U.N.'s International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey, Mexico, the forum which prompted Bush to increase foreign aid, these economic policies worsen living conditions for the majority of Salvadorans. The United Nations Development Program reports that El Salvador's increasing levels of income inequality rank among the highest in the world. Even the official government measures show that half of the country lives in poverty. Many Salvadorans can provide for their basic needs only because of money sent back from relatives who have emigrated to the United States. Indeed, with a regressive tax structure and a lack of public assets creating huge debts for the government, the economy as a whole depends on the $1.9 billion a year in remittances for its survival.

Democracy is also a casualty in the neoliberal regime. Members of the Bush administration have embraced the conservative ARENA party as their ideological brethren. Bush himself praises his Salvadoran counterpart, Francisco "Paco" Flores, as a "brilliant young leader" and a "breath of fresh air." But ARENA frequently shows contempt for free speech and the rights of opposition parties. When the rival FMLN gained a plurality in the Legislative Assembly in 2000, ARENA led right-wing parties in refusing to let them assume the presidency of that body. More recently, after a prominent health-care union led several days of street marches protesting the January cutbacks, they found their offices occupied by police. These are exactly the type of abuses that Bush would need to remedy if he were serious about his proclaimed desire to "strengthen democratic institutions" in El Salvador.

In the context of economic turmoil and political abuses, human rights have again become endangered. Due to an epidemic of street crime, which has given the country one of the highest per capita murder rates in the hemisphere, life for most citizens is as dangerous now as during the war. ARENA persistently attempts to undermine the Human Rights Ombudsman, an office created by the Peace Accords as a major institutional safeguard against future abuses. And the process of reckoning with past trauma has been difficult. Against the advice of organizations such as Amnesty International, the right rushed an amnesty law through the Assembly in the wake of the U.N. Truth Commission report detailing many of the war's horrors. With few exceptions, those responsible for atrocities never faced justice.

For its part, the Bush administration harbors figures like Elliott Abrams, who, as a chief Reagan spin-doctor on Central American affairs, steadfastly denied that horrific abuses ever happened. Mentioning one notorious site of terror, The New York Times noted in January that the families of those villagers massacred at El Mozote have long been denied the "foundations of healing"--the prosecution of criminals, the official naming of victims, and appreciation of the urgent need for relatives "to possess a shard of bone to bury."

As neoliberals rush to forget the past, they may yet provoke its repetition. Francisco Flores has advocated that the U.N. return to conduct a "closing ceremony" for the Peace Accords, asserting that "the agreement to fortify democracy in the country has been completed." Furthermore, he has explained that with this matter settled, he will have nothing further to discuss with the leading opposition party.

Neither Flores nor Bush seem to understand that the pursuit of democracy and human rights must always be an on-going process.

In January, Hector Dada Hirezi, a leading commentator and past member of a transitional national government, argued that Salvadorans are finding the Peace Accords, based on the premise of ending war without producing winners and losers, being supplanted by an economic system in which the poor lose and economic elites win. More ominously, a major human rights institute at the University of Central America in San Salvador has warned that the government, in charting its present course, is "cooking a broth of violence." The rhetoric of poverty reduction has long been a part of U.S. policy in Latin America. While foreign aid can be used to good ends, allowing humanitarian gestures to disguise the policies that continue to brew poverty and injustice constitutes a recipe for crisis. Bush need only consider Argentina, a past neoliberal poster child whose dollarized currency and foreign debt spiraled into economic meltdown. Or go no further than El Salvador itself, where the issues that provoked the country's long civil war look all too similar to the poverty, inequality, and corruption that persist today.

Mark Engler is an independent writer and activist from Des Moines, Iowa. He has previously worked with the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress in San Jose, Costa Rica, as well as the Public Intellectuals Program at Florida Atlantic University.

©www.TomPaine.com. Published March 22, 2002.

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Comments on William G. Storey's A Book of Prayer for Gay and Lesbian Christians

New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 2002.

In this thoughtfully crafted volume, William G. Storey, liturgical scholar and author of numerous books of prayer, has tapped the treasures of Christian prayer accumulated across twenty centuries of reflection and celebration. The result is an invaluable resource to assist the prayer experience of gays and lesbians from all Christian traditions, including those still seeking a place for themselves within a Christian context. Liturgies for morning and evening prayer offer users intimate participation in the "heartbeat" of the Christian life. Other short prayer services are included to mark numerous special occasions for shared celebration or mourning, especially those joyful or sorrowful moments particular to the gay and lesbian experience. A masterwork by this distinguished expert in liturgical prayer, A Book of Prayer for Gay and Lesbian Christians is a rich gift to both gay and lesbian Christians as well as the entire ecumenical Christian community.
-- Joanne M. Pierce, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross. She formerly taught at Notre Dame.

Gay and lesbian Christians need to recognize themselves in liturgy. We don't need to invent liturgy from scratch, because so much of Christian liturgy is already of our making. We couldn't invent it from scratch, since the strongest liturgies are never merely invented. Still, as lesbians and gays trying to lead lives of faith in one or another of the Christian churches, we do need to recognize our lives within shared prayer. William Storey helps us to recognize ourselves "as full members of the church." He has studied the liturgy as few believers do. He knows its old splendor, its varieties, its celestial harmony and its tears. He can explain how a prayer text came down to us or how a rite changed its shape over centuries. What is more important; he can make the most ancient rites vivid once again.

William Storey's prayer book reminds us that liturgical beauty goes together with theological truth. Indeed, the most truthful theology comes through liturgy. It gains in capacity for truth as it gains in power of expression. By contrast, too much church teaching is poor in expression and so in truth. Consider teaching on same-sex desire: it is often couched in the ugly, simplistic language of "official statements." We hear our lives-and not only our lives-caricatured as bureaucratic regulation. This prayer book shows why Christian teaching must speak more resonantly. Through the liturgy, theology begins to describe loves with some subtlety. It starts to inhabit fleshly bodies and to perform celebrations worthy of human experience. It responds to the God who comes toward us in our skin, speaking our language and celebrating our festivals.

A prayer book is an invitation. This prayer book invites us, gently and wisely, to become more ourselves--not despite our loves, but because ofthem. "The Good News is especially for us."
-- Mark D. Jordan, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion, Emory University. He is a former member of the Notre Dame faculty.

William G. Storey is Professor emeritus of Theology at Notre Dame and proprieter of Erasmus Books in South Bend.

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Missile Defense is Not the Answer
Union of Concerned Scientists

The United States is currently attempting to develop several components of a missile defense system designed to protect U.S. territory from attack by long-range (strategic) ballistic missiles. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) believes that a missile defense system should be deployed only if it has been demonstrated through realistic testing to be effective against real-world threats and if its deployment would provide a net security benefit.

UCS's position is based on four propositions:

1. The Technology Is Not Ready

None of the long-range missile defenses the Unitd States is developing have been tested against realistic missile threats and testing of the system farthest along in development will not be complete until 2008 at the earliest.

The technology needed for an effective missile defense system still doesn't exist, and won't be ready to deploy for years, if ever, despite the administration's plans to build a rudimentary system by 2004. Moreover, the system that is the furthest along -- the ground-based midcourse system developed under President Clinton -- will offer little or no defense, since it can be defeated by simple countermeasures.

2. The Security Costs Of Deploying A Defense Against Long-range Missiles Could Outweigh The Security Benefits

Deploying a missile defense system in the face of Russian and Chinese opposition could cause those countries to react in ways that would reduce U.S. security. In response, Russia could maintain its nuclear forces on higher alert levels, leading to an increased risk of mistaken, accidental, and unauthorized launch. According to the U.S. intelligence community, China is likely to respond by increasing its nuclear forces beyond its current plans. This could prompt India and then Pakistan to do likewise.

Moreover, the United States needs Russian and Chinese cooperation on a range of non-proliferation and security issues. Getting that cooperation will be easier if the United States does not proceed with a missile defense program that Russia and China find threatening.

3. A Long-Range Missile Launched By A Terrorist Group Or A Developing Country Is One Of The Least Likely Threats Facing The United States

There is little incentive for a terrorist group or a developing country to use long-range missiles. Other means of delivery are less expensive, more reliable, and can deliver much larger payloads more accurately than long-range missiles. For example, short-range missiles launched from ships offer advantages over long-range missiles.

Moreover, no terrorist group would have the technical ability and materials needed to build a long-range missile, which is difficult even for most states to do. Nor is it plausible that a terrorist group could successfully steal or smuggle such a weapon: the sheer size and weight of a long-range missile (such missiles are roughly 50 to100 feet long, and can weigh several hundred tons) would make it essentially impossible for a terrorist group to obtain such a weapon without the knowledge of the owner state and the host country from which the missile would be launched.

Even if a developing country did acquire a long-range missile in the future, it would know that the United States would retaliate against an attack. Because U.S. early-warning satellites would detect the launch location of any long-range missile, it would be immediately obvious where the missile came from and which government was responsible. Dictators may be ruthless but they are seldom suicidal, and there is every reason to believe that such deterrence will continue to be effective against states.

4. It's The Warhead, Not The Missile

It is important to distinguish between the means of delivery and the weapon. Unless armed with a nuclear or biological weapon, a long-range missile would cause far less destruction than the September 11 attacks, in which the hijacked airplanes were aimed with pinpoint accuracy and carried tons of explosive fuel. Conversely, the September 11 attacks could pale in comparison to an attack with a nuclear or biological weapon delivered by means other than long-range missiles -- such as trucks or ships.

The United States should greatly expand its efforts to prevent terrorists and states from acquiring nuclear or biological weapons.

While it is difficult to produce the fissile material needed to make a nuclear weapon, terrorist groups and hostile developing states could seek to purchase stolen fissile material or even complete nuclear weapons. As one of its highest priorities, the United States should be working with Russia to help secure Russia's nuclear weapons, materials, and expertise. Moreover, both Russia and the United States possess many tons of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) from dismantled nuclear weapons. The United States should recommit to the effort of rendering this material difficult to steal or reuse for weapons, and should increase funding for U.S. and Russian plutonium and HEU disposition programs.

While the Bush administration plans to reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons, it also plans to store thousands of warheads to allow for easy redeployment. Russia prefers to make such reductions binding and verifiable, but will only do so if the United States agrees. To address the problem of theft, it is essential that both countries provide accountability for the weapons they withdraw from deployment, as well as any nuclear material from dismantled warheads.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent non-profit alliance of 50,000 concerned citizens and scientists across the country. They augment rigorous scientific analysis with innovative thinking and committed citizen advocacy to build a cleaner, healthier environment and a safer world.

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The Death of American Liberalism
Will Hutton

The most important political story of our time is the rise of the American Right and the near collapse of American liberalism. This has transformed the political and cultural geography of the United States and now it is set to transform the political and cultural geography of the West. Britain's reflex reactions to an ally with whom we apparently share so much and which has served us well are going to be tested as never before.

The signals are all around. It takes extraordinary circumstances to produce the kind of warnings voiced over the last week by Chris Patten, EU commissioner for external affairs and former chairman of the Conservative Party, but these circumstances are extraordinary. Patten has damned the emerging US reliance on its fantastic military superiority over all other nations to pursue what it wants as it wants as an 'absolutist and simplistic' approach to the rest of the world that is ultimately self-defeating. It is also intellectually and morally wrong. He is the first ranking British politician to state so boldly what has been a commonplace in France and Germany for weeks.

The most obvious flashpoint is the weight of evidence that after Afghanistan George Bush intends a massive military intervention to topple Iraq's Saddam Hussein. Dangerous dictator he may be, but the unilateral decision to declare war upon another state without a casus belli other than suspicion will upset the fabric of law on which international relations rests, as well as destabilising the Middle East.

American loyalists shrug their shoulders; Tony Blair is reported to have said privately that 'if we can get rid of Baghdad, we should', a devastatingly naive remark which so far stands uncorrected. This is the traditional British view that insists we stick close to the US. It remains the same good America that has been on the right side of the great conflicts of the last 100 years; worthwhile allies put up with the bad decisions as well as the good.

But it's not the same good America. The postwar US that reconstructed Europe and led an international liberal economic and social order has disappeared completely. Its former leaders would no more volunteer the scale of defence spending now contemplated in the US--a 12 per cent, $48 billion increase on an already stunning military budget - while offering the less developed countries close to nothing in increased aid flows, debt relief and market access than fly to the Moon. Yet Bush has only agreed to attend next month's crucial UN conference in Monterey on global governance and Third World development strategies if it is understood that the question of money is not be raised.

It is this essential stance, along with the tearing down of international weapons treaties and last week's feeble move on global warming that tells us how profoundly conservative the US has become. Unilateralism, as Patten argues, is not in itself ignoble--states pursue their self-interests--but US unilateralism is uncompromisingly absolutist because it is ideological, which is what it makes so dangerous.

American conservatism, following the teaching of the influential conservative American political philosopher Leo Strauss, unites patriotism, unilateralism, the celebration of inequality and the right of a moral élite to rule into a single unifying ideology. As Professor Shadia Drury describes in Leo Strauss and the American Right (St Martin's Press), Strauss's core idea that just states must be run by moral, religious, patriotic individuals and that income redistribution, multilateralism and any restraint on individual liberty are mortal enemies of the development of such just élites is the most influential of our times.

Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of state for defence pushing for an early invasion of Iraq, is a Straussian. So is John Ashcroft, the attorney-general, who has legislated for military tribunals both to try and execute suspected terrorists beyond the rule of law. Straussians build up the military capacity of the nation while invoking the Bible and the flag. This is not prejudice; this is a coherent ideological position.

The emergence of the largely reactionary south and west of the US as its new economic and political centres of gravity; the weakness of its rules on campaign finance which allow rich, usually conservative, candidates to buy elections; the inability of American liberals to fight back; the embrace of Straussian ideas, laced with traditional anti-tax, free-market nostrums--these ingredients make a deadly cocktail. They have transformed American politics, so that even an essentially progressive President like Clinton found himself behaving, as he acknowledged, like an Eisenhower Republican, while being the object of a co-ordinated conservative conspiracy in first the Whitewater investigations and later the Starr inquiry. The Supreme Court's suspension of the Florida recount in December 2000, to gift the presidency to Bush, is part of the same story.

This destructive conservatism is contested fiercely, especially on the liberal, internationalist seaboards. Many good Americans are as bewildered by their current leaders and ideas as we are. But they are not in control. What the world has to deal with is not just the Bush administration, but the internal forces that put it there and will continue to constrain the US even without it. Iraq, the continuing defence build-up, disdain for international law and total uninterest in the 'soft' aspects of security--aid, trade, health, education and debt--are now givens in US policy.

Before this challenge, Britain, in its own self-interest, has to play the same balance-of-power politics it used to do in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe. That means siding with the EU and no longer being US conservatism's lapdog. We cannot, for example, be part of the US national missile defence system if its purpose is to destroy the fabric of international law or join America's war against Iraq.

Mr Blair should beware. Trying to be both pro-European and pro-American will no longer work. There is a choice and, if he does not make it, ultimately it will wreck his premiership. In an era of globalisation, it is international affairs that determine the fate of governments, because party Whips cannot contain the consequent passions. The Tories broke over Europe. Labour will break over too-slavish fealty to this US. This is the new political drama. Watch out.

©The Observer (UK). February 17, 2002.

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The D.C. Protest: New Politics with Deep Roots
Pat McElwee

The rumbling of a different way of politics came to the streets of Washington on the weekend of April 20. Activists young and old, experienced and novice, and from all religious traditions congregated in large numbers from Friday to Monday to protest wrong-headed policies and to provide options for peace and justice. Forty-five students from Notre Dame and St. Mary's drove vans to participate in the weekend's events and to make it known that they will not sit idly by and let injustices and militarism win the day in their country's policy debates.

These youths witnessed the violent reaction of their country to the tragic spectacle of September 11 and disliked much of what they have seen--even the little that the U.S. press has allowed them to see. In discussing these issues before leaving for the D.C. mobilization, students expressed their general impressions that the U.S. response has been wrong. In the face of policies that oppress the poor and favor force over justice as a problem-solving technique, students are frequently, as one young woman put it, "scared and nervous." Many feel that while they may not have a firm grip on all the issues, they are "tired of just sitting around and talking about it and want to be active." During the weekend of April 20, youthful restlessness and discontent connected to a movement with deep roots.

"Nonviolence means accepting the fact that conflict exists, understanding that truth belongs on all sides, understanding that there are risks involved in taking action, and non-cooperation with business as usual--with injustice," taught the facilitator of a Nonviolent Training Program on Friday, April 19 at the William Penn House--five blocks from the Capitol Building. The 40-odd attendees of the program were mostly though not exclusively young and were from Indiana, Florida, California, Arizona, Colorado, New York and Texas. As at numerous such workshops throughout the weekend, the participants learned about the great tradition of nonviolent direct action as manifested by heroes such as Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and Rosa Parks, but also shared stories of less well-known actions in their own communities. Participants practiced engaging real-world situations that may arise during nonviolent actions. These included speaking clearly to reporters, dealing with enraged demonstrators or counter-demonstrators, and peacefully yet effectively facing a police blockade. During the afternoon, fears were expressed and tried-and-true solutions were taught. At the end of the afternoon, one young girl thanked the older persons present for "showing us that the '60s didn't just go away." The elders had communicated the method.

The spirit and the movement of the '60s have not gone away. Memories of the Vietnam /Civil Rights era echoed throughout the weekend's protests. One musician, Charlie King, inspired the crowd on Sunday with some of the same songs he had played for crowds in 1968. In some cases, the historic link goes even further. The "Raging Grannies," a singing group whose members are between 70 and 82 years old, performed Saturday morning at a rally in front of the Washington Monument. They sang satirical protest songs such as "We March to Stamp Out War" to the tune of "The Saints Go Marching On."

The mobilization in Washington revealed strong connections not only among generations but between causes as well. This was reflected in the structure of the events Saturday--the major day of mobilization that drew nearly 100,000 marchers. Four major rallies began around 10 a.m. Act Now to Stop War and Racism (ANSWER) organized a demonstration in front of the White House to protest Bush's expanding war on terrorism and to express solidarity with Palestinians undergoing a devastating military invasion by Israeli troops. A "Stop the War" rally was held at the same time next to the Washington Monument with many prominent speakers including the Rev. Al Sharpton and peace advocates from Peaceful Tomorrows who had lost loved ones in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and who gave voice to a major theme of the weekend--"Not In Our Name."

Some were there who had placed themselves between Israeli tanks and Palestinian civilians during the recent assault on the West Bank. The Mobilization for Global Justice gathered--with colorful puppets and street theatre--in front of the headquarters of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund where delegates were meeting, just as they have done in Seattle, Quebec City, Prague and elsewhere. But the biggest gathering by far was the Palestinian Solidarity rally in front of the Washington Hilton, where the powerful Israeli lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) was going to meet on Monday. Estimates put this single gathering at around 60,000 people.

Around 1:30 p.m., the rallies converged in a unified march along several blocks of downtown Washington. They snaked from the Washington Monument to the Mall directly in front of the Capitol Building, growing in numbers as the march continued. Solidarity with the suffering nation of Palestine dominated the chants of the marchers and the words of the speakers, and Palestinian flags colored the rally for the rest of the afternoon. Arabs joined with Orthodox Jewish rabbis, labor organizers, American college students, and others as the international peace movement and the Palestinian nationalist movement came together to condemn Sharon's brutal occupation of the West Bank and to demand justice for a people living in an intolerable situation. Pins reading, "We are all Palestinians," and, "It's the Occupation Stupid," were among the most popular sported by activists.

Nonviolence and the twin goals of justice and peace tied the causes to one another. During the weekend of protest, nonviolent tactics were employed by groups as superficially diverse as pacifists, opponents of the School of the Americas, Palestinian nationalists, sympathizers with the Palestinian plight, critics of corporate globalization, critics of the creeping war in Colombia and the Philippines, anarchists and communists. The absence of arrests on Saturday testifies to the discipline of the tens of thousands of participants in the mobilization and the maturity of this movement.

The only arrests in connection with the event were planned well in advance as acts of civil disobedience. On Friday, about 100 "Critical Mass" bike riders took to the streets of downtown Washington to block rush-hour traffic and draw attention to U.S. military aid to South America that props up the School of the Americas, exacerbates the Colombian civil war and leads to military coups such as the recent one in Venezuela. About 40 persons were arrested and spent the night in jail. On Monday, activists for the Colombia Mobilization once again put their bodies on the line by sitting down in the streets near the Capitol Building. Over 30 were arrested. Most came from Catholic groups active in liberation theology and those who work with them for justice in Latin America.

Such acts have been part of the nonviolent tradition since its inception. Woman suffragists were arrested in front of the White House at the turn of the 20th century. Labor organizers from the International Workers of the World (IWW) movement filled jails in small towns across the country in the 30s and 40s to win recognition of workers' right to organize. Civil rights activists did the same to show the world the inhumane treatment of America's southern black population. Apartheid in South Africa, British colonialism in India, the Vietnam War, and the Soviet regime: these unjust systems and more were brought down through disobedient actions of the people.

All are parts of the same movement for justice that filled the streets of Washington on April 20. The movement has achieved stunning results in its glorious past and parts of it have been rightfully incorporated into the national and global mythology. Acceptance has always been a struggle, but acceptance eventually comes through the actions of a corps of activists committed to what is right. This is true for oppressed Palestinians and those in solidarity with them just as it was and is true of America's oppressed black population and its supporters.

This movement is far from marginal. It has support that crosses class lines. Recent immigrants, labor, middle-class activists, Haitian activists and future college-educated elites literally joined hands and voices in Washington last weekend. And they are bringing their message to those in power. A campaign of grassroots lobbying organized by the School for the Americas Watch has brought the issues to Congress, doing without salaries what corporations must pay people to do.

And the movement has supporters in the corridors of power. U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney--the first black woman representative from Georgia--spoke with passion as she told the nearly 100,000-strong crowd on the Mall on Saturday, "Despite all our differences, we are here today as one community with one thing in common: a desire to see the restoration of the true ideals of America."

Representative Jan Schakowsky from Illinois, an ardent critic of the School of the Americas, had similarly reassuring things to say on Sunday. "I am not the only member of Congress who stands with you," she said. "There are many of us.... I want to thank you. You have exposed the hidden, and often ugly, truth.... Keep it up and I will be with you every step of the way."

The mobilization in D.C. showed those in attendance, those watching on C-Span or listening on Pacifica Radio, and those who would read about it in print that there is no reason to feel isolated. Official discourse and numbers skew reality by presenting a false national consensus in favor of continued violence and the status quo. Very many Americans are questioning the government's policies and priorities and are linking up to this international movement for a different way of politics.

Changes come as the movement continues its work. The youth have connected to the tradition of their elders. Activist campaigns with common goals are finding each other, and the movement is growing to address new issues.

April 20 in D.C. was a rallying point. The real work will be done by these students and other activists in their communities at home and abroad.

Pat McElwee is a junior in Arts and Letters and Associate Editor of Common Sense.

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Max Westler

To have lived to such an age, and for what,
is mother's constant lament. to and from
the supermarket I'm telling her how lucky
to still be alert, in pretty good shape
considering. How many others with troubles
worse than hers, or hasn't she seen them
all stooped over and gasping for breath,
or shuffling down the aisles with a large can
of pineapple juice and a look of confusion
in their eyes? Why end her days on earth
behaving like a spoiled child? Besides,
her life hasn't been a total bust. She had me,
didn't she? Who then rolls her eyes and
hisses, "Yes, for my sins, God in his infinite
wisdom gave me you." And that's how it goes,

our weekly colloquy, but today she says nothing,
is shivering in spite of the heat. All at once she's white
as one of those useless hankies she keeps folded
in her purse. "Is something the matter," I ask;
and "Just keep driving," she snaps back. Traffic blurs,
congeals, and now sweat creases her face. Can't I please go
any faster? When I pull into her condo, she doesn't wait
for me to stop before jumping ship; goes scrabbling up
the stairs, and it's then I see the muddy stain in the seat

of her pants. An hour passes, then another before she
finally appears, changed into a sunny dress, all made up
to go out, though it's still too early for the early bird
special. She doesn't meet my eyes, but pours herself
an amber glass of the "Johnny Walker Red" I've been
drinking from. Down there on the small heaven of
the putting green, two rumpled duffers are practicing. One
by one, the balls stray past the hole. "It's no picnic

getting old," she says, and one day soon, sooner than
I think, I'll be singing a different tune, and what
she wouldn't give to be there to see it, her smartass son
just for once having to admit he was wrong.

Max Westler teaches English at Saint Mary's and is a regular contributor to Common Sense.

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