Activists Reflect on the Last Year

Herstory Informs the Present

Recently I met with a friend to talk over the chapter she is writing for a book on the activism of the Seneca Army Depot women's peace encampment 15 years ago. We were two grey haired, stiff-jointed old women sitting on the floor of a porch at Hobart College poring over boxes of files, ecstatic and breathless to be reliving that time. I think I felt more hopeful then. I can see how powerful we were. I remember how frightened the army was of us.

Today I worry that time is short, that what we are doing is too big, or too small, that the message isn't clear, or effective enough, that what we are doing is not what we should be doing. I want to remember that the activist inside me is ageless, tough, articulate, that activism is impassioned, that herstory informs the present, that someone else will sit on a porch.

Kate Corcoran is a member of the Syracuse Women's Collective.

An Attack on My Country and My Religion

When the World Trade Center and the Pentagon got hit, it was an attack on my country and my religion. All I heard in the media and from people around me was that Islam is a violent religion and Muslims are nothing but a group of terrorists. I knew that nothing could be further from the truth.

I felt that no one was to blame but us Muslims, because we never went out to educate others about our faith. We took it for granted that people of other faiths know about Islam just like we know about their faiths. I felt the need to go out and educate others about Islam. After September 11, I kept looking over my shoulder because ignorance is our worst enemy and I felt there was too much of it around me.

Education is the best remedy for our fears, which is why I like to ask everyone to go out and educate themselves about Islam and find out how great a religion it is.

Magda Bayoumi volunteers as a parent- and child-advocate, wanting to assure that every child, especially special-needs children, get a good education.

A Grassroots Movement

A few months after September 11th I woke up and said to myself, "Today begins your life's work of pacifying." Since then I have slowed the pace _ stopped buying most everything, paying taxes and working a slave job.

It takes a long time for the seed of peace to develop from an inner sense of innocence and solid purpose, to a movement capable of shutting down the mechanisms of oppression. This is what a grassroots movement is, each blade of grass is autonomous and beautiful. Although the life of one is dependent on hundreds of others, there is no leader. Each blade of grass grows as tall as it can, and spreads its seeds. The world is going to be transformed generation by generation. I am not much of an activist. I just live my life.

P.S. Keep pressing WAER to carry Democracy Now! (see page 4).

Seth Rutledge is a "young 'un" Syracusan.

No More Victims Anywhere

I am a single mother of four children _ three young men and one young lady _ and have resided in Syracuse for about 14 years. Half of those I was involved with educating, supporting and encouraging others to become self-sufficient.

During the 9-11 tragedy, I was upset at first and did not understand what was going on with the government. I am a born again Christian and the only thing I knew to do was pray. I prayed for the country and those families who lost their loved ones.

The opportunity arose for me to get involved with the No More Victims Anywhere Campaign, sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee. This campaign connects the "War on Terrorism" and war on Iraq with the violence in our own backyard. I am so glad to be part of the social justice work that is needed in our community.

Rosalie Jenkins is the staffperson of the No More Victims Anywhere Campaign.

Wednesday Vigils

Since last October, SPC members have vigiled every Wednesday during rush hour (4:45-5:45pm) at busy intersections around Syracuse. Through the signs we hold, we are a rare voice of dissent from the so-called "war on terrorism."

This terrorist war comes from a surly and belligerent Administration _ abetted by a compliant Congress. It has meant increased military budgets…threats, invasions and interventions…the slaughter of thousands of civilians…secret mass detentions and other wholesale breaches of civil rights. It has stigmatized dissent as unpatriotic.

Our signs _ these days mine says, "Dissent Strengthens Democracy" _ say things seldom heard in the mainstream media. The drivers-by honk, smile, give us the finger, shout obscenities, flash the peace sign, occasionally stop to share an encouraging word. We can see conversations taking place in cars.

Many drivers-by seem to be with us. Can it be that those polls claiming a national consensus on behalf of the terrorist war are fabricated?

I need to be in the streets now. Being there keeps in mind for me the people of Afghanistan…Iraq…Israel…Palestine… the Philippines…Colombia _ whose lives we violate.

Ann Tiffany is a member of SPC's steering committee and a long-time SOA and Latin America activist.

A Moment of Truth

US Courthouse, Columbus, GA

School of the Americas 37 trial

The street in front of the courthouse is empty. Most of my fellow defendants are in the courtroom. About 50 of our beloved support community fill the small courtroom, watching and listening, some dozing, as this week-long trial comes to an end. We are all stretched a bit thin.

Coming back from the bathroom, I detour outside. The marshals who search everyone every time we enter the building know me by now. We chat for a moment. I try, unsuccessfully, to sneak in a bottle of water. Caught, I ask them about the rule that one can't bring anything in to eat or drink.

They tell me it's just the rule.

We go back and forth, smiling and becoming a little impatient with each other. Finally, truly curious, one asks, "Why do you have to question all the rules?" There is a moment of silence as I understand the distance between us. I answer, "Yes, that's it exactly. We have to question all the rules."

Rae Kramer is on her way to six months in prison for her nonviolent action to close the SOA, a US terrorist training school.

The Horrors of War

Just after the World Trade Center attack, a friend and I went to Manhattan to help as emergency medical technicians. We first worked the decontamination area at the main trauma center. On September 12 we went to "Ground Zero." As I stood amidst the coat of white ash which gave the illusion of winter to the neighborhood surrounding the still-smoldering remains of the World Trade Center, I thought, this must be what it looks like when an "errant" US cruise missile "accidentally" hits an apartment highrise in a place like Baghdad or Belgrade. I couldn't stop thinking that, finally, I was seeing with my own eyes the horrors of war, which I'd been protesting for a decade. And I thought to myself, this could be anywhere _ Iraq, Panama, the Sudan _ anywhere at all the US has bombed civil infrastructure; except here the destruction was limited to one civilian target, and just one day. This first-ever first-hand view of the real results of warfare served to strengthen my convictions against war exponentially.

Brian Dominick lives in Syracuse and is available to talk to groups about these and related subjects;

Capitalism Must Go

Facism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most conservative circles of corporations and banks. I believe the transnational banks and corporations staged the September 11th attacks to create an international crisis which would permit them to impose world facism and carry on a permanent terrorist world war. The purpose of the war would be to crush any group or movement which impedes or threatens profits, profiteers or a system that makes profit possible.

In the US every law passed in response to September 11th has been blatantly destructive to civil liberties. Our first priority must be to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. I think our second priority should be to encourage a worldwide dialogue _ panalogue _ in which we would imagine together an economic and social system more benign, more rational and more life supporting than capitalism. When consensus is reached, the new system would be put in place nonviolently.

Considering alternatives to capitalism is the second most dangerous undertaking in the world. The most dangerous is to do nothing.

Angus MacDonald is a long-time Peace Council activist about to turn 90. His granddaughter Laura is currently in prison for her nonviolent protest at the School of the Americas.

The Return of Our Vision

I experienced an overwhelming sense of frustration with the 9/11 attacks and the US government response that madly fed the cycle of violence, magnifying and spreading the terror. The anti-capitalist global justice movement had been building momentum, but suddenly we seemed to be scrambling to develop an analysis and present an alternative to the war machine, struggling to maintain our strength in the face of our own grief and the massive intolerance of nationalism. All those forces we oppose _ capitalism, racism, patriarchy, imperialism _ took advantage of 9/11 to push forward their agendas of domination and exploitation.

People came together locally and globally to organize and speak out in dissent. Our creativity, sensitivity and boldness empowered us, and during the protests this winter and spring in NYC and DC, it felt like our energy and vision had returned. Sustained through local organizing efforts in communities around the globe, it seems to have grown even more diverse, and therefore stronger.

Jessica Maxwell grew up on a farm in upstate NY and has been a community activist and resident in Syracuse for the past 4 years.

An Activist's Reflections
on the War on Terrorism

war games, mind games; information, propaganda; real or an illusion; who to trust ?

fought daily inside my heart, my mind, my soul;

the challenge to become more than organic life on earth ­ eating, sleeping,

and satisfying creature comforts

activist defined is radical: reflection defined is to ponder to notion

ponder this radical notion: the invitation to enlightenment, is not just of

the self, for the self;

but the transmutation, of the whole, of the planet

Be Here Now and DO HERE NOW

Inaction is an action

terror is uncertainty, anxiety, panic

whose defeat comes through calm, rationale, justice, peace, oneness, love

Christine Shahin-Wood is a mother, activist, and earth citizen.