Just When His Wisdom Is Most Needed
April 20th Stop the War Photo
Confronting the War of Terror
New Grants, April-May 2002
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May 22, 2002
I have recently returned, as Acting Executive Director of the A.J. Muste Institute, to a community that raised me, and to a building in which I grew up as a political activist. I've been away for awhile, so I am rushing to catch up on the extraordinary reading material hung on every wall and door by the organizations housed in this wonderful place.
The last door on the top floor opens into the Institute office, and on it is a story about A.J. Muste that you may already know, but that moves me particularly now. It is about a series of anti-war vigils that Mr. Muste participated in nightly in front of the White House. Apparently, when Mr. Muste held vigil alone on a cold and rainy night, a reporter asked him if he really thought that doing so would help change the world. "Oh no," he replied, "I don't do this to change the world, I do this so that the world won't change me."
We have heard so often in the past months that the world is a now a different place, that it is inappropriate to call for peace when people are so understandably hurt and angry, that it is now so dangerous only destruction can stop bloodshed. None of us have lived in a time when neighbors were not being crushed by violence, in a time without hurt, anger and fear. Or in a time when the call for peace has been silenced. There has certainly been no time in my own life when it has seemed more important to stand against the use of violence.
As we gathered news from our grantees for this issue of Muste Notes we were once again amazed at the strength and commitment with which so many folks daily take on the painstaking task of building a livable world. We are once again inspired as resolve deepens in the face of controversy and growing repression.
Whether you are in daily touch, occasionally involved, or a full time activist, I join you in a renewed commitment to the work for peace and justice, and to the Institute's support of that work. Please consider our fund appeal, look at the literature list, visit the website or call for information about the organizations you help fund--and contact us if you have a project you need help with.
If we haven't heard from you in a while, this is the time to get back in touch. It's very good to be here.
Just When His Wisdom is Most Needed…
by Wendy Schwartz
We are delighted to announce the release of a new edition of The Essays of A.J. Muste, first published in 1967. The 2002 volume of nearly 600 pages contains everything in the original collection plus a preface showing the current relevance of A.J.'s ideas. There are A.J. Muste's 28 brilliant essays presented as written during the decades of his activism. "Sketches for an Autobiography" eloquently describes his life as a pacifist activist, political organizer, minister, and feet-on-the floor philosopher.
There are also entertaining and historically important accounts of his relationships with other civil rights, antiwar, and labor leaders and of his travels to promote peace, including to Vietnam. His writings on the moral imperative of universal civil rights, social and economic justice, the abolition of nuclear weapons, and on the necessity of establishing common ground among nations instead of military superiority over the weaker and poorer, are all as fresh-and true-today as when they were first committed to paper. If his specific thoughts on Communism now have historical value, primarily they reflect an ethical and humane way of thinking about the world and its people that should still be a model for transnational relations.
Nat Hentoff's introduction provides a brief biography of A.J. Muste that fills in the gaps in the essays. Nat also offers an illuminating analysis of A.J.'s spiritually based philosophy of nonviolence and his unique role as a leader of the pacifist movement in the United States. Nat is the author of Peace Agitator: The Story of A.J. Muste, available from the Muste Institute.
The new edition of The Essays of A.J. Muste contains a preface by Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson, the author of another biography of A.J., Abraham Went Out, published by Temple University Press. Jo Ann briefly recounts some events in recent history to demonstrate the continuing value of A.J.'s beliefs. Citing a very correct observation that A.J. had "offered sounder counsel to our country" during the Vietnam War than the nation's top officials, and the fact that the U.S. is nevertheless still spending billions on war making, she makes the point that "the sterling quality of Muste's counsel" is still to be heeded, as time has not diminished its validity.
Indeed. Since Jo Ann wrote those words, an ever-larger portion of the world has become more violent and millions more people face danger every day. As we pacifists around the world today take nonviolent action to replace war with peaceful negotiation, revenge with mercy, and hatred with compassion, the inspiration of the life of A.J. Muste is a beacon to light our way ahead.
PHOTO: April 20th, 2002 Stop the War March on Washington http://dc.indymedia.org/front.php3?article_id=22198
April 20th, 2002- "Stop the War" March on Washington: "The picture can do little justice to the emotion of the event; cresting the hill and seeing the Mall deluged with tens of thousands of like-minded people calling for justice. Sometimes we feel isolated in our struggles, and it was an amazing display that multitudes of people do care and are willing to come out for progressive ideals." -James Russell, who posted his photo on the DC Indymedia website (dc.indymedia.org)
Confronting the War on Terror
A Special Update on Projects Funded by the Muste Institute
"The War on Terror is a War of Terror," read one activist's hand-painted sign at the April 20th anti-war march on Washington. The U.S. government has indeed supported an escalation of violence throughout the world on the tragic grounds of September 11th: the uninterrupted bombing of Afghanistan, the threat of all-out war on Iraq, continued support for Israel's occupation of Palestine, the deployment of "military advisors" to the Philippines, as well as an increase in military aid to Colombia and other rightwing repressive governments circling the globe. At home, the military budget depletes social services, the violence of poverty erodes our communities, and civil liberties and immigrants' rights are dismantled.
The April 20th anti-war mobilization, which brought more than 75,000 people to Washington, D.C. was one visible sign that nonviolent struggle in the U.S. is alive and powerful. More evidence of widespread resistance to policies of destruction arrives in the Muste Institute office every day--in reports from the many local and international groups we support by providing fiscal sponsorship, grants and subsidized office space. Here is a small sampling of recent updates:
The War Resisters League www.warresisters.org helped call together a peace and justice coalition that organized and promoted the April 20th Stop the War march and rally. Disarmament volunteer Carmen Trotta shaped the WRL's contribution by bringing together groups and anti-war activists from all over the country, as well as speakers and entertainers for the program. Hardly a marcher passed who wasn't trailing WRL's newest END WAR tag, explaining why "bombs won't bring peace," and offering contact information for continued anti-war involvement. This year WRL's pre-April 15th distribution of thousands of its annual tax expenditure pie charts held particular significance in the face of current U.S. military build-up. WRL is our largest tenant, a frequent grantee and beneficiary of Muste Institute fiscal sponsorship.
Ann Arbor Coalition for Peace and Justice justpeaceinfo.org, which received a $500 grant from our September 11th Emergency Fund, organized two busloads of people from Ann Arbor, Michigan to the April 20th march in D.C. As we go to press, the Coalition is about to publish an ad in the local paper, signed by supporters, calling for an end to the U.S. government's "war on terrorism" at home and abroad. The text of the ad can be viewed at http://justpeaceinfo.org. The Coalition has carried out numerous anti-war activities since September 11th and is also working to raise awareness of the case of Rabih Haddad, a respected Muslim leader and Ann Arbor resident jailed since December, when federal officials raided a Muslim charitable organization he helped found. The government has fought to keep all Haddad's court proceedings secret as it tries to deport him and his family for overstaying their visas.
Colorado Campaign for Middle East Peace www.ccmep.org has sent delegations of volunteers to that embattled region, where they have joined others from the International Solidarity Movement in using nonviolent direct action to "help Palestinians and Israelis end the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem." As of May 13th three of these international activists, illegally imprisoned by Israel, continued a hunger strike. With its updated website (www.ccmep.org) the organization has helped get the word out about both brutality and resistance in the region through regular first-hand reports from their volunteers. CCMEP's educational work is fiscally sponsored by the Muste Institute; the Institute also made a direct $2,000 grant in April 2001 for organizing opposition to the U.S. embargo against Iraq.
In a very early response to U.S. military deployment following September 11th, the national student organization STARC Alliance www.starcalliance.org (Students Transforming and Resisting Corporations) developed a curriculum for activism, "After September 11th: The Roots of Hate and Terrorism, A Radical Education Project." STARC played a key role in building the April 20th march on Washington, and helped coordinate press work for the main rally. STARC received both a $500 emergency grant and a $2,000 general grant from the Muste Institute.
Two members of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows www.peacefultomorrows.org gave emotionally stirring speeches at the morning rally in Washington on April 20th: Amber Amundson, whose husband Craig Amundson was killed in the attack on the Pentagon; and Derrill Bodley, father of Deora Bodley, killed in the crash of flight 93 in Pennsylvania. The group takes its name from the Martin Luther King, Jr. quote: "Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows." Peaceful Tomorrows just received a grant from the Muste Institute for their efforts to reach out to the U.S. public with a message for justice and for an end to the cycle of war and revenge (see New Grants).
Coalition for the Human Rights of Immigrants (CHRI) www.itapnet.org/chri was already involved in protesting the detention of immigrants before September 11th. Since that date, as thousands of Arabs, South Asians and Muslims have been jailed for immigration violations, CHRI has formed a collaboration with Prison Moratorium Project and the South Asian activist group Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM) to work directly with detainees and their families and bring attention to the issue. CHRI is sponsored by the Muste Institute, has received two direct grants and shares an office in our building.
We are grateful for the work of these and so many other organizations that continue to mobilize against war and hatred.
New Grants, April-May 2002
EDUCATORS FOR PEACE
Porto Alegre, Brazil: $5,000 (SFE)
Educators for Peace was founded in January 2002 to promote peace education in Brazil. This grant from our special donor-advised Sheilah's Fund East goes to a training for 100 teachers from southern Brazil, who will expand peace education through the school system. The training follows up from the Alternatives to Violence Project, coordinated by Rede em Busca da Paz and supported with a Sheilah's Fund East grant in December 1999.
GLOBAL NETWORK AGAINST WEAPONS & NUCLEAR POWER IN SPACE
Gainesville, FL: $2,000
This organization has been working for 10 years to increase public awareness of--and opposition to--the militarization of space. Our grant goes for outreach and promotion of an international week of educational and protest events to "Keep Space for Peace," scheduled for October 4-11, 2002. The Muste Institute made a previous grant to Global Network in 1999.
NEW YORKERS AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY
Albany, NY: $1,000
Founded in 1977, this organization has seen resurgence in activity and membership over the past year, under the leadership of new executive director David Kaczynski (who became an anti-death penalty activist through working to save the life of his brother, "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski). Our grant goes for the New York City Council Moratorium Resolution Campaign, and other educational work against the death penalty in New York State.
Cary, NC: $1,000
Peaceful Tomorrows was formed by surviving family members of victims of the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Its mission is to break the endless cycle of violence and retaliation engendered by war through exploring effective alternative responses to terrorism. Even before the organization was launched at a February 14th press conference, four of its members traveled to Afghanistan to meet with families affected by U.S. bombing; members also participated late last year in a "Walk for Healing and Peace" from the Pentagon to the World Trade Center site. Our grant goes for start-up funds.
SERVICIO PAZ Y JUSTICIA (SERPAJ)-MORELOS
Cuernavaca, Mexico: $1,000 (SFE)
SERPAJ-Morelos (formerly SERPAJ-Cuernavaca) works to promote active nonviolence as a method of struggle, gather data on popular struggles in Mexico and distribute that information on a grassroots level. This Sheilah's Fund East grant went for participation of a member of SERPAJ-Morelos in an international peace encampment in Ecuador March 14-20, challenging the expansion of militarism in Latin America.
VIETNAM VETERANS AGAINST THE WAR
Chicago, IL: $2,000
Founded in 1967 by returning veterans from the U.S. war in Indochina, VVAW uses the lessons of that war in its ongoing efforts against military intervention and for peace and justice. Our grant goes for a national media campaign, drawing public attention to anti-war messages through the voices and perspectives of Vietnam veterans.
The A.J. Muste Memorial Institute makes small grants to groups doing nonviolent organizing for social change. Our next deadline for proposals is July 5, 2002. To read our grant guidelines, click here.