For the eighth time, Brooklyn For Peace is holding its annual Peace Fair this Saturday, April 28th. It's an event you shouldn't miss. An opportunity to mingle with like-minded folks: activists in the peace and justice movements and non-activists ... just plain people who share a vision of a different world, one without endless wars that divert money and lives from more productive and human activities here and around our world.
The theme this year is Ending War, Promoting Peace. It sounds simple but is actually profound. If we examine the current state of affairs in our country, we might very well conclude that war, indeed, is one of the main obstacles to building a more humane society, one free of the violence, hate and injustice that is so pervasive. Our Congress, awash in corporate cash, refuses to pass any legislation that would free us from the economic depression that assaults our people - none! Not an iota of bills to provide jobs, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, save our deteriorating schools, rescue our environment from impending doom. But billions for war? More money for the Pentagon and the war contractors? Where do I sign? How fast can I vote? That is the modus operandi of the psychophants and parasites who are collectively known as Congress. To be sure, there are some good people among our elected representatives. Here in Brooklyn, four of our six Representatives voted recently to oppose the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA - aka the annual Pentagon budget). Kudos to them for standing up when it counts! They are part of a consistently progressive and anti-war contingent of Congress Members that hovers around 90 or so members. But that's 90 out of 435!
In the Senate, the number of consistent anti-war members can be counted on one hand. Both of our New York Senators voted for the NDAA. When queried by a recent Brooklyn For Peace delegation to Senator Charles Schumer's office, his aide replied that the Senator voted for the bill because "he supports the troops." What hackneyed and twisted logic! This third-most powerful Senator who, if he had stood on principle and opposed continued funding for the wars, would have certainly made a genuine contribution to supporting the troops by bring them home quickly -- safe and alive. His action, giving courage to other Senators, would have hastened the end of the war in Afghanistan, now in its 12th year.
Instead, Schumer voted for that disastrous bill which authorized the spending of still another $662 billion on the wars and to feed the bloated Pentagon and the filthy war contractors that feed at its trough. Schumer voted as he has always voted - in favor of giving the military industrial complex everything it wants and then some! This while his constituents face increasing layoffs and foreclosures, cuts to vital services and as a phony rationale to fighting the defecit, increasingly vicious attacks on programs like Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. And that he calls "supporting the troops."
One more piece makes the picture of Schumer's perfidy complete. The 2012 NDAA also contained an extremely dangerous and frightening attack on our civil liberties and constitutional freedoms. For the first time in history, it codified in U.S. law, the right of the President to detain, without charges or trial, any person suspected of being a terrorist or who is suspected of "associating" with terrorists. The wording is so vague and broad that many feel it could be even used to detain, indefinitely, American citizens on our own soil! Thus did it garner fierce opposition from many well known defenders of democracy: the ACLU, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, The Center for Constitutional Rights. The New York Times also attacked the detention provision vigorously in an editorial of December 15, 2011:
"The bill has so many other objectionable aspects that we can’t go into them all. Among the worst: It leaves open the possibility of subjecting American citizens to military detention and trial by a military court. It will make it impossible to shut the prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And it includes an unneeded expansion of the authorization for the use of military force in Afghanistan to include indefinite detention of anyone suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda or an amorphous group of “associated forces” that could cover just about anyone arrested anywhere in the world."It should be noted, to his credit, that Schumer opposed the inclusion of the detention provision in the NDAA. He even supported the Udall amendment to strip the bill of that section. But when the amendment failed, Schumer turned around and voted for the bill even though it contained that heinous anti-democratic measure. Pitiful.
Which brings me back to the Peace Fair at Brooklyn College this Saturday. Without groups like Brooklyn For Peace, few would know these facts that are so important to our democracy (or what's left of it). The media, controlled as it is, is no source of information when a Senator Schumer, who has the facade of a staunch liberal, supports, over and over, the misdirected spending priorities of Congress: favoring war over human needs. Brooklyn For Peace members work mightily, in their communities, to inform their neighbors on the issues of war and peace. They act to keep pressure on Congress to demand that they move the money from war to our communities. And their ongoing goal is to help build a strong movement of all those who have a different vision for our country - uniting those who are part of the peace movement and those who are in our communities, suffering from, and beginning to fight back against, the GOP/Right-wing's drive to turn our people into paupers by cutting to the bone the most elemental of services.
If you want to be part of this historic movement that is being born and is growing daily, I urge you to support, join and work with Brooklyn For Peace and like-minded organizations as we begin to build that movement that can reclaim our country for the 99 percent!
See you at the Peace Fair this Saturday, April 28, 2012, Brooklyn College Student Center (East 27th Street and Campus Road N) [map]
More information on the Peace Fair here.