A community advocacy newspaper for northern New Mexico
Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, NM 87521
Peace, Yes, But What About Justice? By Pat d'Andrea
"The voices licensed to follow the event seem to have joined together in a campaign to infantilize the public." - Susan Sontag, The New Yorker
The mission of La Jicarita News is to provide information that is necessary to identify and analyze issues of environmental and social justice that affect the communities of northern New Mexico. This "alternative" view is not what you read about in the mainstream press, because, as teacher and writer Noam Chomsky points out, the press is engaged in the practice of "engineering consent" - maintaining the status quo of its corporate sponsorship. Except for a few independent voices like radio's Pacifica News, print media like The Nation, and the internet's alternet.org, the voices we hear on television, radio, and in our newspapers and magazines represent the mega-corporations that dominate not only media and entertainment but our domestic and international policies.
For the past weeks we have been bombarded by the jingoistic rhetoric of these corporate voices. Not an hour after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Tom Brokaw of NBC News was declaring that this country was "at war", the same language President George Bush used later in the day, despite the fact that his war powers resolution had yet to be presented to Congress. Those of us who wanted to hear reporting without this rhetoric but with detailed analysis of what had really happened and why it had happened, had to tune in the independent media sources, particularly Democracy Now!, the Pacifica program hosted by Amy Goodman and carried by affiliates across the country. Regrettably, there is now a battle within Pacifica over creeping corporate control of this community radio station, and just recently Pacifica stopped underwriting the award winning Democracy Now! for being too "radical." The program is now being produced at other independent stations.
After listening to these programs and engaging in dialogue with people all over New Mexico and the country, we realize there is a huge disconnect between the questions people are asking and the decisions that are being made by this country's administration to retaliate by going to war (against whom is left purposely unclear because there are struggles occurring all over the world to overthrow corporate exploitation of people and resources). The vast majority of the people who have called in to the University of New Mexico's KUNM radio show are asking our government to refrain from rash action that will no doubt result in huge losses of life from civilian populations. Many letters to the editors in both our daily newspapers make the same plea, and in an interview with religious leaders throughout el norte, conservative Republican Española pastor Michael Naranjo said, "In the name of religion people are destroying each other," and added that he could relate to the feelings of hopelessness among Palestinians because the people of northern New Mexico share similar grievances and a sense of desperation.
In the following pages we have assembled comments and articles from people in northern New Mexico and throughout the country to address these feelings expressed by Pastor Naranjo and talk about how what happened on September 11 relates to the issues we deal with here.
Antonio "Ike" DeVargas, northern New Mexico community activist and logger, speaks about how world events relate to conditions here in el norte.
Lisa Krooth, Executive Director of Community and Indian Legal Services, talks about the importance of protecting our civil rights.
Pat D'Andrea, writer and river activist, shares her experiences and thoughts on the reaction of Santa Feans to the attacks.
HEALTH & WELLNESS FAIR
Saturday, October 13, 2001
8:00 am - 2:00 pm
Picuris Pueblo Gym
Peace through unity in our community
No Booth Fee - call 587-2343 to reserve space
Fasting blood-work drawn 8 am - 10 am -
(No food or drink after 9 pm - water is allowed)
Free Water Testing
Run water few minutes, fill clean 1-qt. container
Entertainment Children's Corner
Apple Cook Off Fun Run/Walk
Blood Pressure Test Blood Glucose Test
Picuris-Peñasco Community Coalition 587-234
On September 13, a small gathering of Buddhist Peace Fellowship members sat in meditation for peace in front of the main post office here in Santa Fe. I spent a few hours passing out fellowship leaflets to people coming and going for their mail. Embedded in the long message on the leaflet were the two ideas that I feel should define our activism: no retaliation; pay attention to economic and political injustice and the anger and resentment they cause. Already there was so much anger mixed with the grief that I was sometimes afraid of retaliation myself. But dozens of people took the sheet, read it, and went on. Several joined the meditators, several came back for more leaflets, only two returned the statement with hostility. I was clear then that not one more innocent life should be taken. And as the morning wore on I knew that, for me, there would be no action without reflection on the issue of justice. The attack should be understood in terms of a cry for justice.
A march for peace brought several hundred people to the State Capitol on the morning of September 22. Standing on the base of a sculpture outside the Capitol grounds, the organizer told the crowd, "This is not a demonstration, this is a march for peace." Marchers walked down the middle of Paseo de Peralta to Canyon Road and then to the Plaza. Most had yellow pages printed with peace slogans hung on twine from their necks. There were American flags and no banners or signs. At the Plaza, the crowd sang "All we are saying is, give peace a chance." There were no speeches, the crowd dispersed quickly. For two weeks after the horrendous events of September 11 there were gatherings in churches, on the steps of the Capitol, and in homes and coffee shops all over the city. No one, it seemed, wanted war. When activists read or heard the news that 90% (or 98%, or 80%) of the American people were fully supporting the President's plans for war, we said to each other, "Doesn't look that way in Santa Fe," or "What question were people answering??''
And what questions were we asking? Some that came to mind were these: Who did this? Why? Who is Osama bin Laden, where is he, and why does the administration place the blame on him? Which countries qualify as those who "aid and abet terrorism?" What is the history of the relationships among Middle Eastern states and the United States? Does it explain why people hate us? What should progressives do?
Standing on the Plaza near the famous (or infamous) war memorial, I wondered about the lack of context in public discussions; as if in Santa Fe, so proud of its "history," we were suddenly in an ahistorical zone. There were newspaper articles in which brave souls pointed out the possible roots of desperation that might lead to a terrorist attack - from the 1953 overthrow of Mossadegh by the CIA in favor of the repressive regime of the Shah of Iran to the recent $43 million in aid given to the Taliban in Afghanistan as part of the "war on drugs." And the authors were roundly condemned in letters to the editor. Give peace a chance. What kind of peace?
There was a timidity about the response here; as Dorothy Doyle said in a letter to the editor, why aren't Americans taking to the streets in protest when the president announces an all-out "war on terrorism" and "you're either with us or against us." Wasn't it obvious that suicide bombings at the WTC and the Pentagon, which took so many innocent lives, had roots in history and not just in a perverse kind of religious fervor? Wasn't it clear that more bombing, more killing, would keep the cycle of violence alive rather than stop it? And finally, who was going to hold the administration accountable for whatever happened next? Should we do that in the next election?
At a gathering called Peaceful Alternatives there was an immense amount of energy in the room and ideas flew in the small groups where people got together. I was impressed that such a large, well-organized meeting could be prepared in just a few days. But by the end of the meeting, when it was (according to the agenda) time to make commitments for action, there were not more than a third of the original participants present and commitments for action were pretty scarce. After the meeting I talked for several hours with two of the organizers: Why was the meeting so promising and yet so inconclusive? We realized that people had come for a variety of reasons: some were ready to take to the streets; some were confused, cautious, fearful and undecided; some needed to be with like-minded people (wanting peace) and needed to talk about what had happened, what it meant, and how to cope with it on a personal level.
The meeting didn't account for people's very different motives in attending. And it didn't meet the need of some of us to clarify our own history, put the attacks in context, talk about accountability. Meetings almost never succeed in satisfying everyone, that wasn't the point. Where, we asked, did the feeling of holding back come from? We were so timid.
Timidity based in fear? I think so: The "drumbeat of war" that was beaten every day in some media, the polls, the apparent acceptance of "losing some civil liberties in order wipe out terrorism." There were announcements from various agencies that terrorists were still on the loose, that people had gotten fraudulent licenses to transport hazardous waste. Snippets of information never came together in a single indictment of Osama bin Laden. The president announced, we'll do things you, the public, will never know about. There were a hundred small hurdles every day that could make a cautious person stay at home. Peace at any price.
Leaders stood up and were followed, as the organizer of the peace march that was "not a demonstration" showed. When the time came to walk from the Plaza to Senator Bingaman's office to demand that he come home to hear the views of his constituents, there were at least a hundred people who followed the lead of the Los Alamos Study Group. An ad created by LASG and others gathered more than 3,000 signatures in Santa Fe in just days. That we need leaders who will take risks and say the hard things is clear. Walking for peace and prayer is one thing, asking the hard questions in public is quite another.
I stood with two friends, activist nuns in their eighties, and waited on the Plaza while the peace march came down Palace Avenue. I held a sign that said "Drop Food, Not Bombs." It was the only sign that I saw in the march that day. The Plaza is a public space but we all know it no longer "belongs" to Santa Feans, it's more a theme park where "natives" and visitors meet, or collide.
I felt that very keenly holding my sign. Tourists steered clear, whether they were in the jitneys that take people on historic tours of Santa Fe or lounging on the benches. They didn't want to hear it. In the crowd of hundreds who marched, there were several who said thanks for the sign. Sadly, quietly, maybe even hopefully.
Peace with justice must still be a possibility, there must be leaders who will carry that message. It's happening in the big cities on the coasts, I hope it happens here as well. There are hundreds of people in Santa Fe who will march for peace with justice.
Noam Chomsky, Professor of linguistics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
"The U.S. has already demanded that Pakistan terminate the food and other supplies that are keeping at least some of the starving and suffering people of Afghanistan alive. If that demand is implemented, unknown numbers of people who have not the remotest connection to terrorism will die, possibly millions . . . . This has nothing to do with revenge. It is at a far lower moral level even than that. The significance is heightened by the fact that this is mentioned in passing, with no comment, and probably will hardly be noticed. We can learn a great deal about the moral level of the reigning intellectual culture of the West by observing the reaction to this demand. I think we can be reasonably confident that if the American population had the slightest idea of what is being done in their name, they would be utterly appalled."
Tariq Ali, The Nation:
"The only real solution is a political one. It requires removing the causes that create the discontent. It is despair that feeds fanaticism, and that is a result of Washington's policies in the Middle East and elsewhere. The orthodox casuistry among loyal factotums, columnists, and courtiers of the Washington regime is symbolized by Tony Blair's personal assistant for foreign affairs, ex-diplomat Robert Cooper, who writes quite openly, 'We need to get used to the idea of double standards.' The underlying maxim of this cynicism is, We will punish the crimes of our enemies and reward the crimes of our friends. Isn't that at least preferable to universal impunity? To this the answer is simple: 'Punishment' along these lines does not reduce criminality but breeds it, by those who wield it. The Gulf and Balkan Wars were copybook examples of the moral blank check of a selective vigilantism. Israel can defy UN resolutions with impunity. India can tyrannize Kashmir, Russian can destroy Grozny, but it is Iraq that has to be punished and it is the Palestinians who continue to suffer. Cooper continues: 'Advice to postmodern states: accept that intervention in the premodern is going to be a fact of life. Such interventions may not solve problems, but they may salve the conscience. And they are not necessarily the worse for that.' Try explaining that to the survivors in New York and Washington. The United States is whipping itself into a frenzy. Its ideologues
Robert Fisk, Middle Eastern correspondent:
"Every effort will be made in the coming days to switch off the 'why' question and concentrate on the who, what, and how. CNN and most of the world's media have already obeyed this essential new war rule. I've already seen what happens when this rule is broken. When The Independent published my article on the connection between Middle Eastern injustice and the New York holocaust, the BBC's 24-hour news channel produced an American commentator who remarked that 'Robert Fisk has won the prize for bad taste.' When I raised the same point on an Irish radio talk show, the other guest, a Harvard lawyer, denounced me as a bigot, a liar, a 'dangerous man' and - of course - potentially anti-Semitic. The Irish pulled the plug on him."
Dorothy Doyle, PEN member and resident of Santa Fe:
"We helped overthrow the previous Afghanistan regime and then supported the Taliban which persecutes women and shelters Osama bin Laden. We refuse to honor treaties that would stop global warming; we initiated the World Trade Organization and the World Bank creating impossible debt and deprivation throughout Latin American and Africa. We use our tax dollars to wage a 'drug war' in Colombia that destroys crops of peasants and seeks to eradicate opposition forces. We have, without real protest, allowed our government leaders to reduce domestic spending on the poor, on our infrastructure and on education until they are all falling apart. We have passed laws that allow the growth of monopolies in very industry (and the demise of unions) including communications so that most Americans haven't a clue as to all the above realities. And finally, we have installed a Republican president who has appointed the most reactionary heads of state agencies imaginable - all dedicated to continuing the above policies. And still Americans do not take to the streets in protest.''
G. Simon Harak, Jesuit priest from New York City:
"When I've spoken to families who have suffered from the economic sanctions and and bombings; or with Palestinian families who have been tortured by an Israeli government which we back - they asked me the same question [that Americans are asking]: Why do they hate us?"
Pat D'Andrea refers in her article on page 3 to the demonstrations that took place in Washington DC on September 29 and 30. These dates were originally selected for a massive anti-globalization demonstration against the meeting there of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), organized by a coalition of groups that also helped organize previous anti-globalization marches in Seattle and DC. After the attacks on September 11 the coalition called off the original demonstration and statements were made by several of the organizers that they could not suddenly change the intent of the planned demonstration to one of peace and justice because some of their member groups might not think this was an "appropriate response" in the wake of the attacks. Fortunately, the International Action Center, founded by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, sees the link between the anti-globalization movement and the anti-war movement that is is developing to protest our government's (and western allies') call for violence and revenge, and quickly organized an anti-war demonstration for the same weekend. The ten thousand people who demonstrated in the streets of DC (and many thousands more who were in the streets of San Francisco the same weekend) recognize that the line that divides the corporate world from the world of nation states is now almost nonexistent, that foreign policy decisions "to go to war" are made in the interest of protecting access to the world's resources owned by the world's largest corporations. Michel Chossudovsky, a professor of economics at the University of Ottawa, points out that this impending war will make that reality even more clear: "The imminent shift from civilian into military production would pour wealth into the hands of contractors at the expense of civilian needs. Behind the Bush administration is the power of the 'big five' military contractors (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon et al,) increasingly in partnership with the energy giants, which are behind many of the regional wars and along strategic oil pipelines." This represents the power elite that Ike DeVargas talks about in his article on page 4. According to Howard Zinn, professor of American history, "from 1952 on, foreign aid was more and more obviously designed to build up military power . . . . In the next 10 years [1952-62], of the $50 billion in aid granted by the United States to 90 countries, only $5 billion was for non-military economic development. By 1970 the US military budget was $80 billion and the corporations involved in military productions were making fortunes. Two-thirds of the $40 billion spent on weapons systems was going to 12 or 15 giant industrial corporations whose main reason for existence was to fulfill government military contracts. Senator Paul Douglass noted that 'Six-sevenths of these contracts are not competitive. In the alleged interest of secrecy the government picks a company and draws up a contract in more or less secret negotiations.' "
Copyright 1996-2000 La Jicarita Box 6 El Valle Route, Chamisal, New Mexico 87521.