A Reflection on the Journey of Cesar Chavez

By Meta Peace Team Development Coordinator Melody Arnst

With it being Cesar Chavez’s birthday, I wanted to learn more about him and his journey as a civil rights activist. My experience growing up in a small farming community and on a small family farm also inspired me to learn more about Chavez and the impact he had on farmworkers. And as a peacemaker, I wanted to understand him, his journey, impact and dedication to nonviolence.   

Chavez’s journey began in his youth when his family lost their homestead in Yuma, Arizona during the Great Depression and was forced to move to northern California to work in the fields. It was hard work, and they did not live in the same place for long. At that time, the migrant farm workers provided a primary source of agricultural labor for California and the Southwest. Chavez saw firsthand the injustices migrant workers experienced. Child labor was rampant, growers often failed to provide bathrooms for workers and frequently housing—which the underpaid farmworkers were forced to occupy at exorbitant rates—had no plumbing or cooking facilities.  They worked brutally long hours in the field, and were exposed to harmful pesticides. Farmworkers were not covered by minimum wage laws, and many made as little as 40 cents per hour, nor did they qualify for unemployment insurance.  Cesar Chavez watched the humiliation and poverty his own family suffered, including his father being turned away at stores and restaurants that would not serve Mexican Americans, and his mother grow old working in the fields to ensure others were fed when they often went hungry.   

At the age of 17, Chavez joined the U.S. Navy. After World War II and leaving the Navy, he returned to Delano, California, a community in San Joaquin Valley famous for its grapes. It was there that he met Helen Fabel. After marrying Fabel in 1948, Chavez found himself going back to work in the fields and suffering the same conditions he had hoped to leave behind.   

In 1952, Chavez met Fred Ross, an organizer with the Community Service Organization (CSO), a Latino civil rights group. He spent the next 10 years learning how to become a grassroots organizer. Chavez worked to register new voters and fought racial and economic discrimination. He became a powerful speaker and leader within the CSO.   

During his time with the CSO, Chavez met Dolores Huerta. Together Chavez and Huerta collaborated and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA – later the United Farm Workers of America). Together they were formidable. They created the NFWA with the hope of creating a union to improve the conditions of the farmworkers, have their own indigenous leadership and to be directed by the farmworkers. It sounds so simple and yet it was a very difficult road to travel. As it has been with all civil rights activists that have stood firm against injustice and dedicated themselves to nonviolence, this was the beginning of a very difficult and long journey.  

From 1931 to 1941, there were approximately 30 attempts to strike in California’s San Joaquin Valley. These strikes were suppressed violently by growers and local law enforcement. Camps were burned, farmworkers beaten and even killed, and often arrested for something they “might” do. The fight for their rights were undermined and controlled by the growers.   

In 1965, the NFWA joined in a strike against grape growers that began with the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). The NFWA and AWOC eventually merged to become the United Farm Workers of America (UFWA). Chavez was inspired by and committed to the nonviolent civil disobedience of both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. They staged peaceful protests convincing workers to join the strike, they marched over 300 miles to Sacramento, and organized boycotts of grapes throughout the United States. A reporter followed Chavez during some of the marches and protests. She asked Chavez why the farmworkers showed him so much affection and respect. His response was that ‘the feelings were mutual’.   

Chavez undertook a very well-publicized 25-day hunger strike in 1968. During his fast, thousands of farmworkers came to pray in one of the largest vigils seen in California. On the 25th day, Bobby Kennedy returned to Delano to celebrate mass with Chavez as he took communion and broke his fast. This was only one of Chavez’s many hunger strikes.  

“I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness, is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice,” Chavez declared, in a speech read on his behalf when his first hunger strike ended. “To be a man is to suffer for others. God help us be men.”  

By 1969, 17 million people stopped buying grapes. For 5 years, Chavez and the farmworkers marched, boycotted and fasted, trying to reach a collective bargaining agreement – the right to unionize, organize. By 1970, the growers formally recognized the United Farm Workers (UFW) and capitulated demands for decent wages and safer working conditions.   

Chavez was also open in his support of the gay and lesbian population and their rights. Chavez believed in freedom and liberty for all regardless of gender, race and sexuality. Cesar Chavez fought against many bills that would have harmed the LGBTQ community, such as the Briggs Amendment which would have prevented gay or lesbian people from becoming teachers in California schools. According to his wife, Helen Chavez, “My husband spent his life fighting for dignity for all people. César was one of the first civil rights leaders to speak out for gays and lesbians, because he understood that you can’t demand equality for your own people while tolerating discrimination against anyone else.”  

Cesar Estrada Chavez died on April 29, 1993. He was honored in death by those he led during life. More than 50,000 mourners came to honor Chavez. For the last time, they came to march by the side of the man who taught them to stand up for their rights through nonviolent protests and collective bargaining.  

While learning about Cesar Chavez, I spent a lot of time reflecting and discussing what I learned with my father. He also grew up working in the fields of his own family farm and I grew up on the farm my Mom and Dad built. I know firsthand of the hard labor involved in growing and harvesting; however, I cannot fathom the hardships and humiliation that the farmworkers endured. Cesar Chavez is an inspiration to me, and I am honored to be able to share his story. 

As Luis Valdez said, “Cesar, we have come to plant your heart like a seed . . . the farm workers shall harvest in the seed of your memory.”  

Additional Resources:  



From Fields to Victory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vb93EX94q1w   




Civil Women – Women’s History Month: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2UHL7XKBLs  


Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Michigan Poor People’s Campaign calls attention to inhumane prison practices

by Ellie Bednarz, MPT Intern

On a bitterly cold Valentine’s Day, scores of people gathered at the State Capitol for a Moral Monday press conference and action organized by the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign (MI-PPC), Open Our Hearts to Our Incarcerated Neighbors. Organizers scheduled this event on Valentine’s Day as a reminder that St. Valentine, who ministered to the persecuted, experienced first-hand the indignities of imprisonment.

One of the event’s key organizers was MI-PPC Tri-Chair, Efren Paredes, Jr., who is currently incarcerated at the Lakeland Correctional Facility near Coldwater after receiving an unjust “life without possibility of parole” conviction when he was 15 years old.  Paredes has brought to the forefront just how harshly the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the prison population. Over 98 percent of Michigan’s 32, 200 inmates have tested positive for COVID, and 157 of them have died since the start of the pandemic. Paredes provided a written statement that was read by Meta Peace Team’s Kim Redigan, who is on the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign Coordinating Committee.  Paredes called for enforced social distancing, more KN95 masks, and an end to the practice of double-bunking within close quarters. Additional speakers from organizations working for criminal justice reform addressed ending life without parole sentences for minors, in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling, and passing “Good Time” laws that would reduce overcrowding and emphasize rehabilitation.

For those present on this cold February day, hearing the stories of the horrors that go on behind the prison walls was very eye-opening.  Black mold growing out of the walls and exposed asbestos are now leading causes of cancer for those imprisoned, but those concerns are either being overlooked or simply not addressed. The Michigan Poor People’s Campaign is calling on Governor Gretchen Whitmer to implement the 10-Point-Plan for Prison Reform authored by Paredes, and for Michigan’s citizens to advocate on behalf of those who are incarcerated by signing the online petition in support of the plan (see below). The press conference called on Michigan lawmakers to pass Senate Bills 848-851, which would abolish “juvenile life without the possibility of parole” sentencing (JLWOP). The introduced legislation would bring Michigan into alignment with 25 other states and the District of Columbia, which have already banned JLWOP or have no one serving a life-without-parole sentence who was convicted as a minor.

After speaking on the steps of the Capitol, activists, participants, and members of the Michigan Poor People’s Campaign marched to the Governor’s office, the Department of Corrections offices, and finally, the Department of Health and Human Services to present the 10-Point Action plan and letters calling for action.

To quote the rallying cry of this action, Somebody’s hurting my brother and sister… and it’s gone on far too long . . . And we won’t be silent anymore.

MPT was honored to be one of the event’s many co-sponsors. Here is a link to the 10-Point Plan Petition:  https://www.change.org/p/the-injustice-must-end-support-michigan-prison-reform?fbclid=IwAR3vMy9mmafmKDoCMhnk8IUGJkddeVSkAfWzdk0T1tnlYVtLoXaGnUZv6Cg

Cruel and Unusual Punishment?

Reflection’s on the Oxford Shooting: Teacher Perspective

On November 30, 2021, a mass shooting occurred at Oxford High School. Four students were killed, and more students & a teacher were wounded. The on-going increase in school shooting events has led to detrimental repercussions for all of us. As part of our on-going work to understand both the roots and impact of violence, MPT requested Kim Redigan provide her reflection on the Oxford School shootings from the perspective of a teacher (below). We also shared MPT’s Intern Cassidy Versen’s reflection on this event from the perspective of a student.

“After the shooting in Oxford a few weeks ago, we slipped into the well-rehearsed ritual that has become part of the U.S. landscape. The preachers pray, the community lights candles, and the pundits pontificate.

Predictably, the call goes out militarize our schools by installing metal detectors and arming teachers. Responding to violence with more violence is the American way, after all. In the meantime, those of us who are teachers try to bind the psychic and spiritual wounds of our students while processing our own grief and rage.

While everyone has an answer, an opinion, a solution, we arrive at school dazed, mute, broken by the violence that has once again violated the sacred space that is the classroom. We have been through this so many times.

On the way to school, my stomach tightens as I steel myself for the day ahead. I know the drill. There will be the obligatory morning announcement commemorating the dead, the deployment of counselors for students who need grief support, the conversations that will take place in each of my classes. There will be the search for scapegoats that traumatized teens reach for to feel some semblance of control. There will be the excruciating effort to comprehend the unthinkable.

I have been a teacher for 28 years, and this never gets easier.

Of course, the proverbial elephant in the nation’s living room is the availability of guns and our country’s obsession with weapons. While we may weep and embrace and step into a thousand proposed solutions after each school shooting, we tiptoe around the truth that we are a country built on violence. A country that guards its guns with far more fervor than we guard our children.

Until the proliferation of arms and the demand for security and dominance that undergirds the gun culture is addressed, prayers, protocols, and public gatherings mean nothing. Change nothing. Promise nothing. Do nothing to honor the precious lives of children lost to gun violence.

We are living at a time when Education Week issues a School Shooting Tracker, a grim scorecard that enumerates school shootings. This shows how normative school shootings have become. There have been thirty-two school shootings in 2021, a year during which most schools were virtual for a good chunk of the time.

The easy access that our youth have to high-powered weaponry must be addressed, especially given what we know about adolescent brain development and impulse control. Yet, after each school shooting those who demand sane gun policies are vilified.

As teachers, we can increase our ALICE drills, offer more mental health services, and keep a closer eye on bullying, but we dare not discuss gun laws. This is like telling a group of diabetics they cannot talk about sugar or making it taboo for recovering alcoholics to discuss booze. We are addicted to gun violence in this country, and until we break the denial and come clean about who we are, we can expect to see more of the same.

It is hard to write this, but in many ways the violence we see in our schools is a projection of ourselves, an indictment of a nation in need of truth telling and deep healing.

If we have the maturity to look in the mirror, we may have to admit that the violence we are witnessing implicates a nation that has never come clean about its own history of genocide, white supremacy, and militarism. It is so much easier to turn our gaze to the youth in our midst than to look honestly at the adult decision makers in the room. Much more convenient to see these shootings as the aberrant actions of a few troubled teens than a symptom of something much more systemic. So, we settle for heartfelt prayer services and superficial solutions that allow us to maintain a violent status quo that is rotten to its core.

There are no easy answers here, but the availability of high-caliber guns seems like an obvious place to start while we do the harder work of naming and healing the deeper wounds that our young people carry. That we all carry.

I have no answers, but I do have questions. I admit that the longer I teach, the less I know. For the most part, I am left with a patchwork of musings, speculations, and intuitions that speak to the more existential aspects of school that may or may not be relevant to the violence we are witnessing.

I think often of Dostoevsky’s words that “the world will be saved by beauty,” and ask myself what that means in the context of school. The young man who killed his classmates two weeks ago, referred to the Sig Sauer 9mm handgun his parents had bought him as an early Christmas gift as his “new beauty.” His choice of words prompt reflection: Where do our young people find beauty? Does a society rooted in materialism and consumption create space for them to experience beauty, wonder, awe? How does the formation of their aesthetic sensibility take root in a country that glorifies violence?

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote that, “We must go back to where we stand in awe before sheer being, facing the marvel of the moment.” Are we creating the kind of schools where our students can experience the marvel of the moment? The marvel of one another? The marvel of their own beautiful selves?

Increasingly, I have observed emotional lethargy, spiritual malaise, even despair in many of my students in the face of climate change, COVID, and a culture of cruelty. Theirs is a bleak and joyless worldview. While there has been an increased and welcomed emphasis on mental health, there has been little focus on cultivating wonder.

We need fewer punitive measures in our schools and more poetry, less time online and more time outside, less recitation and more meditation. This is not to say that a renewed sense of wonder would put an end to school shootings. Rather, it would help students recognize the ineffable beauty found in creation and one another. Most importantly, they would come to see the beauty in themselves. When we can embrace the beauty, it is easier to embrace the brokenness, and we are less inclined toward destruction and violence.

My heart is breaking for the loss of so many young lives. Sadly, unless something changes, more names will be added to the litany of those who went to school one morning and never returned home. Yes, I will pray and light candles and stand with my students, but I will also actively support legislation to reduce gun violence in our school, while wondering if our nation’s love affair with weapons will ever come to an end.”


It is easy to see school shootings as numbers. These are not numbers, the four victims in the oxford shooting were Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17. Learn about the students who were taken far too soon go to https://www.npr.org/…/what-we-know-about-the-victims-of…

Reflection’s on the Oxford Shooting: Student Perspective

On November 30, 2021, a mass shooting occurred at Oxford High School. Four students were killed, and more students & a teacher were wounded. The on-going increase in school shooting events has led to detrimental repercussions for all of us. As part of our on-going work to understand both the roots and impact of violence, MPT requested our intern, Cassidy Versen, provide her reflection on the Oxford School shootings from the perspective of a student (below). We will also share MPT’s Kim Redigan’s reflection on this event from the perspective of a high school teacher.

“I remember the first time I heard about a school shooting happening. I must have been in 6th grade, and I remember feeling so confused as to why someone would want to hurt little kids, especially while they were in school. I remember as the years went on, I heard more and more about mass shootings, some happening in high schools or college campuses, while others happened in public places like at Pulse or Las Vegas or the movie theater in Colorado. I remember my classmates and I complaining that the school shooting drills were not useful, why were we meant to hide in the corner of a classroom when someone could easily break down the door and kill us? I will never forget one of my teachers in high school explaining that while we had to do the drill, if there ever was an event of a school shooting, she would put herself between us to give us more of a chance to get out. Even now as a junior in college I am constantly aware of exits, places to hide, or even potential items to throw at the perpetrator in the event of a school shooting. Oxford should never have happened. While proactive school shooter drills are important for kids and can be crucial in saving more of their lives, no amount of training can ever prepare for something like this. Legislative change needs to be done. It is not as if there is not enough support for legislative change, the March for Our Lives protests has generated large support in terms of active nonviolence for changing gun laws. But more needs to be done to ensure nothing like this ever has the chance to happen again. Enough lives have been needlessly lost, the time for change is now.”


It is easy to see school shootings as numbers. These are not numbers; the four victims in the Oxford shooting were Madisyn Baldwin, 17; Tate Myre, 16; Hana St. Juliana, 14; and Justin Shilling, 17. To learn about the students who were taken far too soon, go to https://www.npr.org/…/what-we-know-about-the-victims-of…

Nur-eldeen Masalha and the Weight of History

By: Luke Adams, MPT Scholar Intern

Last weekend, I had to opportunity to work with a Peace Team at a Palestinian Cultural Rally  titled “With Love, From Kalamazoo to Palestine”. During a lull in the day, I managed to have a  conversation with a man named Ibrahim who was managing the table on literature about  Palestine. I had just finished reading Nur-Eldeen Masalha’s Palestine: A Four Thousand Year  History. I had initially considered it too dense to recommend that into a memo but something  about the exchange made me rethink that. 

This memo is dedicated to summarizing the history this book details, as well as spelling out what  the implications are for Palestinian national identity as a result. 

Nur-Eldeen Masalha can be reached at masalha1957@aol.com 


Palestine divides the history of the territory into several stages. Firstly, it addresses classical  antiquity and the time where the region wasn’t known as Palestine at all: first as part of Al-Sham,  a territory in Antiquity that consisted of Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. Next, the region  exists as “Philistia” (an early form of the word “Palestine”), which lasted about until the region  become part of the Roman Empire. Under this period, the Romans referred to the region of  “Syriana Palestina”, with three designated regions within. Variations on the name “Palestine”  would continue into the Byzantine and Ottoman occupations of the territory. However, during  the last century of the Ottoman rule Palestine achieved another milestone: independent  statehood. While Palestine was still largely a client state of the Ottomans, it gained an  independent national identity based on a cultural unity that had been developing throughout all  these eras. 

All of this shifted in 1918, when the British formally annexed the territory through the Balfour  Declaration. This was a decision informed by collaboration with the Zionist movement, but the  intentions of the British in establishing a Jewish Homeland were not exactly pure. In 1905,  British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour had signed the Aliens Act, which heavily restricted Jewish  entry from mainland Europe. Indeed, it posited that a central reason for Christian Zionists  backing the idea of a Jewish state is that they wanted Jews out of Europe (this piece of  antisemitic rhetoric persists to this day). This annexation caused great internal tensions leading  up to Israel’s declaration as its own nation-state in 1948, an event which Palestinians refer to as  The Nakba (“The Tragedy”), in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forcibly removed from their lands and their homes and were displaced. This event was so destructive and  traumatic that it has set the tone for the Israeli Occupation to this day, especially in light of the intricate security state that has been organized to defend it.


Palestinian history, according to Masalha, is something of interconnectedness and plurality. Over  the course of the book, Masalha details the residence of the Arab Christians, Jews, and  eventually Muslims that contributed to the makeup of Palestine – – peoples living with and  alongside each other. Not only that, but several layers of culture folded into each other over time:  for example, Byzantine art fused with Muslim architectural aesthetics to create much of the  design philosophy of the Ottoman period. This type of knowledge is important because it allows  for Masalha’s writing to stand on its own outside of any sort of polemical value that the  information here holds. 

This history gives enough scrutiny to the settler-colonial myths that Israeli political pretense is  built upon as to render them invalid. Much of the Israeli claim to the territory rests on biblical  citations. Namely, the image of the Book of Joshua and the conquest of Canaan. Masalha argues  that the lack of any evidence that the territory was ever considered “Canaan” (even by many  Jews living in the territory) lends to the idea that while the imagery of this book might be potent  enough to have great religious significance, its actual geographical implications are null. In the  larger picture, the fact that Palestine had a culture and territory than had been recognized for the  better period of a thousand years (as well as gaining relative nationhood later) destroys the oft repeated foundational myth that Palestine was a nation without a people or a culture, and thus  free to be conquered (i.e., “A land without a people for a people without a land”). 

A crucial fact that’s often left out of discussions related to the Occupation is just how much  Israeli nationalism is a recent construct. Aside from the previous concerns with literature like the  Book of Joshua being treated as ethnographic fact, many Israeli cultural touchstones were crafted  within imminent timing of the annexation of Palestine. One example of this is the revival of the  Hebrew language: Prior to the rise of the Israeli state, most of the Jewish diaspora in Europe and  the US spoke Yiddish. The language of Hebrew remained largely dormant, relegated to religious  scholarship. For Hebrew to be re-purposed as a national tongue, Israeli language scholars had to  retool it with bits of Aramaic and Arabic sewn into the fabric. Meanwhile, a great shift in  taxonomy had to occur to give the impression that the territory had strictly Hebrew origins:  Committees in the Israeli government made careful work of renaming countless cities and sites  (e.g., Al-Quds became Jerusalem, Jaffa become Tel Aviv, etc.). Following this, hundreds of  Israeli public servants changed their names to something they believed would lend credibility to  the Hebraization process (for example, David Ben-Gurion was originally named David Grün).  None of this is to imply that there is anything nefarious about the existence of Jews in Palestine;  only that the construction of Israel as a national identity is very recent, and required very  dramatic changes in language and taxonomy not just for Palestinian Arabs, but within the Jewish  world as well. 


The conflict related to the Israeli Occupation of Palestine has reached a fever pitch. With the  atrocities in Sheikh Jarrah lying only a few months behind, questions related to the suffering of  Palestinians are hard to ignore. If and when Palestine is freed, it will inevitably have to reckon  with a history of cultural erasure through Truth and Reconciliation or some equivalent process.  As such, the history of Palestine is going to need a deep re-evaluation. In that sense, 

authors like Nur-Eldeen Masalha not only contribute to some sort of written record, but  also offer a way forward for a culture hoping to reclaim its history.

Border & Rule, Global Security Regimes, and Resistance

Border & Rule:

Global Security,

Regimes, and


This memo will offer a spotlight to Canadian author Harsha Walia’s incredible new book Border & Rule. In addition, I’ll also be exploring the recent history of Walia’s own activism efforts, and what makes for an effective praxis in response to a security state more unified than ever before.


Border & Rule’s primary objective is to detail the idea of “border imperialism”: that the maintenance of borders as geopolitical entities is largely defined by imperialism, militarism, and vulture-capitalist trade policy. Walia’s analysis is astonishingly detailed, but her core argument relies on two phenomena: the construction of immigrants as a global class displaced by capitalism, and the policies through which borders themselves are defined geopolitically.


The key dynamic that this book delves into is the idea of “refugees” and “migrants” not just as legal classifications, but as identities constructed by a intricate web of global processes: climate, change, imperialist warmongering, and economic exploitation lead to groups from the global south migrating to comparative safety. As this is going on, western nations have started cracking down on immigration in increasingly dehumanizing ways. Reactionary leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orban and former President Trump have seized upon this with glee, but liberals are also guilty of using the same tactics with only nominally different rhetoric (see: the Obama and Biden administrations’ policies, Thomas Friedman’s comments about a “high wall with a big gate”). This creates a process where the state becomes obsessed with categorizing and persecuting immigrant communities.


Meanwhile, as the legal construction of immigration leads to its own imperial conflicts, the process through which borders are established and maintained relies entirely on a system of power and control. The most crucial element with how countries are defined is not necessarily even territorial, but largely economic; imperial nations define global economic relations via trade and financial policies. These neoliberal policies offer great power to multinational capitalists, but place nations in the global south in an economic and diplomatic position that is utterly subservient. In rare cases, like France’s debt settlement regime in Haiti, the entire financial systems of certain nations are rigged towards Western plunder. This lack of development leaves many populations vulnerable to crime, poverty, and other situations that can leave them displaced. While Western states throw the entire security state against immigrants, they also create the social conditions that allow for the “immigration crises” that they fearmonger over.


Further Discussion

This border complex is not just something that stands on its own but is also deeply connected to every other arm of the powers that be. The institutional marginalization of immigrants in western nations helps keep labor movements down for the multinationals that employ them. Security

forces at the US-Mexico border are often trained by the same entities responsible for the apartheid infrastructure of Palestine. These connections are not just coincidences, but dynamics that Walia demands we examine to create an understanding of how oppression works: of myriad powers working in lockstep to preserve their own interests.


Harsha Walia’s personal life is also proof that just because the truth is on your side does not mean you will be rewarded for it. Up until earlier this week, Walia was the head of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. However, in response to the revelation of the mass indigenous graves in Canadian Catholic Residential Schools, Walia posted “burn it all down” on social media. This led to a deluge of harassment over a figurative (and even if literal, perhaps justifiable) statement that eventually led to her stepping down. There’s something to be said about the right is fully willing to weaponize the “cancellation” of a major figure in the same way they often accuse the left of doing. In the meantime, Walia is proof that opting into a real liberatory platform immediately marks you as a target for society writ large.


Her life, however, is also a good example of how crucial it is to not submit to these kinds of threats. Outside of the BCCLA, Walia is also the co-founder of the political action group No One Is Illegal (NOII) in Canada, and a major figure in the Downtown Eastside Woman’s Center in Vancouver. Walia’s worldview and assessment of a unified security state are met with a local praxis that is unbreaking. Likewise, Walia also has gone on record that defining social struggle purely in charity mostly serves to legitimatize dominant institutions in our society. These ares lesson that anyone concerned with political action should internalize, and lessons that show the applicability of peace teams in real struggles for liberation.


Final Thoughts

At the risk of sounding scatterbrained, let me condense my thoughts into a coherent stream: Border & Rule is a terrifically insightful book, and Harsha Walia is one of our new most gifted social justice writers. I have already left a copy of the book for staff to pass around, but I would highly recommend seeking out a copy through Haymarket if you can. Besides this, I believe that Walia’s work is about to become even more relevant as conditions like climate change and fascistic immigration policy become even more emergent.

Teachable Movies

By: Luke Adams, MPT Scholar Intern

A while back, Kim Redigan and I were talking, and she mentioned how every year in her Catholic Social Teaching class, she attempts to screen Spike Lee’s 1989 classic Do the Right Thing. Since then, I’ve had the idea of a movie list that could be used as a potential recommendation for screenings (both as part of a curriculum or for MPT). While I’m doing this Memo series, I feel like I might as well do a For Your Consideration list for potential private screenings. Who knows, maybe this could culminate in some sort of screening soon. 

I’ve set a few parameters for this memo. I’ve decided to focus squarely on narrative films instead of documentaries. Documentaries are more than worthwhile but I also feel that narrative films are easier to article lessons from in some ways. I’ll also only be writing about films with political connotations as a central theme. I could write all day about how Fight Club is a brilliant deconstruction of the masculine ego or how The Irishman is very much about the death of the American dream. However, both analyses are secondary to the point. Finally, all of these movies have to be of high quality. 2013’s Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is highly informational on the life of Nelson Mandela, but unfortunately makes for a slog of a movie with terrible editing to boot. This also means excluding Oscar-bait issue-drama sensationalism like Crash or Dead Man Walking


Bamboozled (2000, dir. Spike Lee)

For several decades now, White America’s relationship to black culture has been largely cannibalistic. To White America, blackness is an aesthetic fetish to be co-opted for cheap thrills as a tourist caricature of urban life: blackness is fetishized as sexier, smoother, funkier, and more aggressive, but it is not ordained with enough perceived intelligence for white people to ever want to truly empathize with. Black culture is only growing more prominent (a net social good, I should add), but many of the most popular representations (even outlets like BET) opt for sensationalized, negative depictions of blackness. This is an age of simulated minstrelsy. 

These conclusions that Bamboozled made are still (mostly) very present to this day in American culture. In Bamboozled, two starving street performers join forces with a disgruntled TV exec to create a true flop: a modern-day minstrel show, complete with full blackface. In the tradition of The Producers before it, the show accidentally becomes a hit. Unlike the ending to Mel Brooks’ masterpiece, however, the program continues far beyond this. White people (and eventually some black people) flock to the show in droves, turning it into a nationwide phenomenon. Blackface fully reenters American culture, advertising seizes upon in countless marketing campaigns, and even children begin to take tap-dancing classes to emulate the new stars of minstrelsy. These are all deeply disturbing images, but they leave no stone unturned in examining just how toxic American culture really is. I don’t think Spike Lee has ever made as vicious of a film as this, and I fully believe that he was entirely justified in doing so. 

I have no problem saying that this movie looks incredibly dated: Spike shot almost all of it on low-budget digital film that only looks worse every passing year. But what it lacks in technical strength, it more than makes up for in its biting humor, and for asking some hard questions: did blackface ever leave the collective imagination, or did it just change its shape? Can we really divorce ourselves from the images we consume? Just how deeply has Madison Ave’s cultural spectacle deformed our visions of reality? What is “real”, anyhow? 

The Florida Project (2017, dir. Sean Baker) 

The Florida Project is the story of three children growing up in a motel outside of Disney World in Florida. The lead child Mooney is raised by Halley, a single mother who has recently lost her job as a stripper, affecting her benefits. Halley’s struggle to provide her kids with a nice childhood is mostly seen through the eyes of Mooney, which offers a perspective where the specter of poverty lingers without taking up most of the frame. However, the movie also never lets you resign from thinking about Halley’s struggle. Moreover, it’s also not afraid to ask us to empathize with people who are in many ways unlikeable or troubled. 

Of all the movies on this list, The Florida Project is the least focused on proving a point to the audience. It’s ultimately a slice-of-life movie where the social themes make up the texture and feel of the movie. This makes it just a bit more subtle in its messaging and especially in its presentation. 

Disney world’s shadow looms over the whole movie, as both an image of childlike wonder and brutal hyper-capitalism. Most of the appeal of this movie comes from taking in the environments and the plot slowly peels itself outwards. The mileage of how much this movie will find with you is based on how much you’re willing to give it. If you’re willing to submit to it, there’s a lot of nuance and casual brilliance to be found here. 

I, Daniel Blake (2016, dir. Ken Loach) 

Daniel Blake is 59 years old when he suffers from a heart attack. After his doctor recommends him not to return to his job as a carpenter, he applies for Disability Allowance. However, the British government does not offer him this based on him allegedly being “fit to work”. Daniel can technically apply for Unemployment Allowance, but this is much more meager, and requires him to verify that he is spending over 30 hours a week looking for employment. This seems completely counterproductive to any sort of human aid. To put things worse, Daniel does not know how to use the computer, which puts him at an immense disadvantage in navigating through this labyrinth of documentation. 

I, Daniel Blake is a long, hard look at a welfare state that is more intent on policing the poor than administering aid. The British government’s intention to make Daniel prove his worth as a member of the labor force is deeply upsetting, but it also cuts right at the truth of neoliberal austerity. Daniel is not the only victim of this system either: placed alongside him in the queue is Katie, a single mother whose poverty prompts her to look for aid as well. Daniel’s quest to figure out how to work digital forms also forces him to connect with the young men in the apartment below him who scrape up rent by bootlegging sneakers. The scope of who the state decides to persecute as a matter of maintenance is massive, and this movie is excellent at creating a sense of solidarity between its largely working-class cast. 

The title is the key here: Daniel Blake is a man whose stubbornness becomes an unlikely virtue in the face of a state that wants to process him into oblivion. He refuses to have his humanity reduced to a number on a screen, and his struggle makes for some of the most arresting social commentary in recent memory. 

La Haine (1995, dir. Matthieu Kossovitz) 

La Haine is often considered the French counterpart to Do the Right Thing. It depicts many of the same conditions of poverty and crumbling race relations from across the sea. However, La Haine differs from Spike’s masterpiece in a few key ways. It’s darker and grittier, with characters that are much more flawed than even the nuanced characters of Spike’s drama. Whereas the ending of Do the Right Thing was notoriously mournful and thoughtful, a deep sense of dread pervades the entire atmosphere of La Haine

This movie takes place the night after a riot in the Paris projects, something that sparked in response to the violent police beating of an immigrant man named Abdel. In the aftermath of this, three friends – Vinz, Said, and Hubert – wander around the city in the riot’s aftermath, waiting to hear whether their friend has survived. All three (one Jewish, one Arab, and one black man, respectively) are the disillusioned children of poverty and discrimination that the underclass of Paris suffers from. Vinz threatens that if Abdel dies, he will kill the first police officer he sees so that his life will mean something. A parable is repeated throughout the film about a society that’s spiraling downwards towards a crash. As the story goes, it’s not how the bad the crash is that’s important, but how we will manage to pick ourselves up from this dysfunction. 

This film is also a very interesting period piece for 1995, when hip-hop culture had started to assimilate in working-class communities around the world. The citizens of the Paris projects blast KRS-One and Cypress Hill from their windows. Break-dancers show off their moves in public spaces. In some scenes, songs from French rappers play from taxicab radios. This movie’s style carries with it a subtext about working class solidarity, and how the diasporas of the world have been given refuge by rap’s portrayal of social distortion and city life. 

Parasite (2019, dir. Bong Joon-Ho) 

Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite has become the most notorious social drama of the decade since its release in 2019. Not only did it win the Palme D’Or when it debuted at Cannes, but it also swept Best Picture in the US, becoming the first foreign language to do so (a blighted category, but still good to see nonetheless). Once you watch it, it’ll become increasingly obvious why it is so well-acclaimed. Parasite is a Neo-Hitchcockian masterpiece, and one of the most brutal interrogations of class warfare in modern history. 

The film begins by following the lives of the Kim family. They live in a semi-underground apartment in a working-class neighborhood in South Korea. The Kims scrape enough together to get by through odd jobs and by stealing the neighbors’ wi-fi. However, an opportunity presents itself when the son, Kim Ki-Woo, is offered an opportunity by his rich friend to take his job as an English tutor for the daughter of the illustrious Park family. The twist here is that Ki-Woo allies with his sister to fake his credentials, from his formal education to his actual status as a tutor. However, the utter obliviousness of the Parks allows him to fake it until he makes it, prompting more schemes from his family: as caregivers with fake company cards, drivers who conceal their resume behind the gift of gab, and star chefs who conceal the fact that they’re. There’s a brilliant commentary here about how success under capitalism is more based in nepotism amongst the capitalized than any real sort of basis.  

Since the movie’s narrative relies on several astonishing twists, I won’t spoil anything from here. But this movie has layers on layers of commentary, some of which reaches truly dark and ominous levels. One major theme is the psychology of wealth, and Bong is excellent at determining the exact point at which we start punishing our fellow laborers for scraping by to survive. The Kims are worth rooting for as the movie begins, but as circumstances change, the movie demands their accountability: not for their actions towards to Parks, but for actions that are far more despicable. In a world where the ruling class maintains their stranglehold on the rest of the world, who are the true parasites? Is it right to spurn the other flies on the belly of a great hippo just because you’re capable of hiding yourself? 

Philadelphia (1993, dir. Jonathan Demme) 

There’s a lot of things that would read as red flags surrounding this film’s release; Jonathan Demme’s last movie The Silence of the Lambs swept the Oscars in 1992 – a venue where Best Picture is often a red flag for a social drama (see: the continued awfulness of movies like Green Book and Crash). On top of this, TSotL received widespread condemnation from the queer community for its transphobia in the portrayal of Buffalo Bill. These are not conditions from which nuanced issue dramas – especially related to LGBTQ rights – are typically born. And yet, in terms of how it approaches its subject matter, Philadelphia is an act of pure humanism, and a sublime act of penance from Demme as a filmmaker. 

Philadelphia follows Andrew Beckett, a senior associate at a top law firm in Philadelphia. Beckett is a closeted gay man who lives with his partner Miguel, who has been recently been diagnosed with AIDS. When his work is sabotaged by his partners in a covert way of firing him, Beckett decides to sue his former employer. However, given that this movie takes place at the height of the AIDS crisis, he finds that his friends are numbered, and he initially is forced to represent himself. Parallel to him is Joe Miller, a black personal injury attorney who initially is afraid of AIDS and gay people in general. The process through which he ends up representing Beckett involves a deep reflection on empathy, and solidarity between groups that have both been heavily persecuted by mainstream society. 

This movie reaches a good blend of depicting the reality of the AIDS crisis and the social ostracism that came with it without feeling stiff or indulgent in how it treats suffering. It’s just as much a celebration of gay life on film as it is a stark shakedown of what said life means to American society. Demme takes special attention to making us recognize Beckett as a human being first and foremost. When held in comparison to dramas like Green Book where characters virtually only exist as mouthpieces for the message, this is more than welcome. 

Serpico (1973, dir. Sidney Lumet) 

Some of Lumet’s other films – especially 12 Angry Men and Network – are equally deserving of attention as superb social dramas. However, in an age of endless violence stemming from militarized police, Serpico is especially prescient. This film. chronicles the real-life events of Frank Serpico, who served as an undercover vice detective for the NYPD. This career puts him head-first into a sea of corruption, at both the local level and the entire infrastructure of the NYPD. His refusal to take bribes from petty dealers initially makes him a target by his fellow officers, which is only amplified when his anti-corruption crusade puts a target on his back. This is a world where no good deed goes unpunished, and Serpico’s struggle to merely be good in a world of cynical corruption is truly captivating (to say nothing of how well Al Pacino emulates this frustration in through his title role). 

My favorite scene in the entire movie (outside of perhaps the classic office meltdown scene) comes early on, before any of the real corruption starts. After arresting three men for attempted rape the night before, Serpico confronts one of the boys. Seeing that he is perhaps the least guilty of the three, he does something totally unexpected: he pulls him aside into a local shop, buys him a cup of coffee, and says that he shouldn’t take the fall for his friends. Rape is surely a terrible crime that demands accountability, but this scene unmasks so much just through subtle gestures. Many criminals are frightened, distraught men who choose horrific ways to cope. The fact that this movie can successfully portray even hardened criminals as real humans is quietly radical. 

Sicario (2015, dir. Denis Villeneuve) 

The action and military thriller genres aren’t typically known for their humanism. Jack Bauer’s use of torture in 24 was always portrayed as justified to stop nuclear bombs or deadly bioweapons from destroying post-9/11 America. Movies like Black Hawk Down and American Sniper use the façade of gritty “realism” to shy away from how little humanity we ordain to those who we perceive as our enemies. Sicario is the antithesis to this. This movie follows FBI agent Kate Macer as she investigates the Sonora cartel, bringing her into the heart of darkness of both the drug war and the American security state. This is not just a tepid critique of a mostly just system (which a great deal of media like this defaults to), but a withering condemnation of American intelligence, counterinsurgency, and hyper militarism. Given how stringent the Pentagon is with Standards & Practices, I have no idea how this was made. 

There are several moral quandaries that tie this story together, but at the center of it all is a narrative about the cyclical, futile nature of violence. Deeply flawed characters are humanized as living people, and some characters who seem initially just in their intentions turn out to be the most sadistic forces of all. I won’t spoil the twists this movie takes, but the final few scenes reflect with brutal honesty the consequences of a world where mass violence has become mundane. 

Sorry to Bother You (2018, dir. Boots Riley) 

Part of me already regrets putting this on the list. This is easily the raunchiest, most out-of-pocket, and bizarre movie on this list, especially for a comedy. However, it’s already become one of the most significant and on-point social satires of our time. It would be wrong of me to not recommend something as creative and energetic as this. 

The plot of Sorry to Bother You revolves around Cassius Green, a black Oakland resident who’s flat broke; he’s unemployed, he pays for gas in change, and he lives in his uncle’s garage. Tensions are rising, as his uncle is considering selling himself into lifetime indentured labor to Worryfree (an ostensible Amazon surrogate run by CEO Steve Lift). As a last resort, Cassius turns to telemarketing, where he discovers a secret: he becomes infinitely more successful at sales when he puts on his “white voice” over the phone. Not just any old white voice either, but the calculated image of Ned Flanders approachability that they “wished they sound like”. Cassius becomes wildly successful at this, moving up the ranks into bigger deals and bigger clients until he eventually reaches the world of military contracting. However, this puts him at odds with his former co-workers who wish to unionize, and his girlfriend Detroit, who wishes to depict the horrors of colonialism and capitalism through her art. Going any further would spoil the fun, but this is a wonderful dissection of how capitalism erodes human interaction, alienates our labor, and commodifies even the resistance to its own commercialization. 

Director Boots Riley has a long history of radicalism, namely as the lead MC in the rap-rock groups The Coup and Streetsweeper Social Club (a group featuring guitarist and fellow activist Tom Morello). Boots is scathing in his critiques of late capitalism, but that’s also because he genuinely believes in the possibility for a better world. Sorry to Bother You is a brilliant exercise in solidarity: something that believes that we are only going to become free through each other. When you consider what can possibly be taken from a movie, that’s hard to beat. 

Manufacturing Consent and Resisting Hegemony

To begin this series of book memos, I will be discussing Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman’s 1988 masterwork Manufacturing Consent. This memo will discuss the core themes of the book, followed by a discussion about how the media theories presented here tie directly to recent events in global politics.


The main topic of Manufacturing Consent is twofold. Firstly, the mainstream media follows a “propaganda model” that explains many biases in favor of the US security state. This model is shaped by five main factors: consolidation of information under corporate media, the use of Anti-Communism (and more broadly, fear of anything Anti-American) as a scare tactic, the bullying and blackballing of media members who speak out of line, the ability of advertisers to curate content under the threat of ad pulling, and (most importantly) the reliance on the State Department as a source for political news coverage[1].

Secondly, the mainstream media then uses this near-unanimous power to “manufacture consent” for the public (hence the title). What this means specifically is that the media intentionally misleads the public into a sense of security on a variety of social issues, and any sort of significant backlash is largely drowned out by how unanimous the leading narrative is. The diversity of thought in these circles is largely divided between jingoistic fanatics and centrists who still have faith in the security state but pin their alleged skepticism on logistics or other reasons that don’t directly challenge the powers of the US military apparatus[2].

The textbook example of this that Chomsky and Herman deploy is the coverage of the Vietnam War. From the war’s inception, true left-wing resistance to the war was virtually never seen in the media (despite being widespread across many parts of the American public). Media support for the war from both liberals and conservatives was entirely gung-ho in the early years. Even when events like the Tet Offensive cast the shadow of doubt, this doubt was not communicated by the media in the form of anti-war radicalism, but instead by liberals who considered the war to be an honest mistake in a noble fight against Communism. Walter Cronkite’s condemnation of the war as “unwinnable” in 1968 was an example of this, in that Cronkite initially supported the war but defaulted the strategic logic instead of objecting the inhumanity of the war itself. People who opposed the war on humanitarian or anti-imperial grounds were considered akin to “the wild men in the wings” and were never truly taken seriously[3].  

The Vietnam War is also emblematic of several tactics that the media uses in manufacturing consent. The first is to determine “worthy” victims versus “unworthy victims”. A group of South Vietnamese killed by the NLA is an atrocity that demands the full attention of American audiences. Meanwhile, Northern Vietnamese peasants who are slaughtered as a result of American troops are defined as enemy combatants whose deaths are reported as miniature victories by the press. To be clear, both instances are horrific. However, only one of these crimes has the full defense of the Western press at its side.

Besides this, the media has an equal role in determining the roles of which elections are considered legitimate. When the newly formed left-wing government of Nicaragua held its first general election in 1984, it was framed as a sham election by the US press despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, the real sham elections in the US-backed fascist states of Guatemala and El Salvador around the time were deemed legitimate. This is a clear example of the State Department manufacturing “evidence” at will and feeding it to an array of media outlets who are more than willing to disseminate it[4].

Further Discussion

The internet age has undoubtably reoriented the public’s relationship to information in a way that is ultimately more democratic than when Manufacturing Consent was released. However, in an environment where the conditions for the propaganda model persist, these scripted biases inevitably introduce themselves into several instances of modern coverage.

The current occupation of Palestine is a textbook example of how “deserving” and “undeserving” victims are cast. A noted point of controversy in the US media is how Israeli civilians killed by the IDF are often reported as “human shields” by Hamas by the US media. This was a noted trope in the 2014 Gaza War in particular, but this dynamic continues into the recent violence in Sheikh Jarrah. While Israel was waging war in this territory and far-right fascist mobs were emboldened in Jerusalem, the US media mainly focused on the inability of the Israeli parliament to form a government. Meanwhile, many outlets chose to frame the conflict as a “long-running legal battle” instead of a question of colonial rule[5]. I’m reminded of Dom Helder Camara’s idea of the spiral of violence: the idea (roughly) that structural oppression and violent resistance to it is locked in a perpetual cycle, while only the most visible backlash to oppressive violence is visible to those representing power.

Across the world, another electoral conflict brews. In a historic upset, the Peruvian elections have placed leftist candidate and former schoolteacher Pedro Castillo in power as President. His opponent Keiko Fujimori has not only lost but is now crying fraud in spite of there being no evidence to back this up. I have not been following this coverage with a magnifying glass, but it does not take even that to notice certain tropes: for example, a Wall Street Journal article from the 11th blames the victory Pedro Castillo on pandemic anxiety and highlights Fujimori’s claims of fraud.[6] Whether Fujimori receives the media support that right-wing grifter Juan Guiado did in the Venezuelan election from a few years ago has yet to be seen, but I am waiting intently to see what happens.

Final Thoughts

None of this should be the cause for resignation or despair. As Castillo’s victory displays, sometimes these struggles can be won. However, taking the side of the oppressed means reorienting your mind completely away from neoliberal bromides and coverage that uses an illusion of impartiality to push capital’s bottom line. This doesn’t just mean being more skeptical of the media (a canard used by virtually every ideology at this point), it means never expecting American civil society to respect people’s dignity unless they are forced to.

[1] Herman, Edward E. S., & Chomsky, N. 1988. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media. New York: Pantheon Books.

[2] Herman, Edward E. S.

[3] Herman, Edward E. S.

[4] Herman, Edward E. S.

[5] Hussain, Murtaza. “Study: U.S. Newspapers Are More Than Twice As Likely to Cite Israeli Sources in Headlines Than Palestinian Ones.” The Intercept, First Look Media, 12 Jan. 2019, theintercept.com/2019/01/12/israel-palestine-conflict-news-headlines/.

[6] Dube, Ryan. “Socialist in Peru Has All But Won Presidential Vote asPandemic Fuels Despair.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 11 June 2021, http://www.wsj.com/articles/socialist-in-peru-has-all-but-won-presidential-vote-as-pandemic-fuels-despair-11623417118.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine Continues

Dunham by dunham, village by village, house by house, the native Arabs of Palestine face a slow, systematic genocide in their homeland. Two houses were demolished in the South of The Jordan Valley, in the village of Fasayil, Sunday morning. The Israeli government did not issue a warning. The village of 1,300 people have been facing Israeli assaults on their land since the early seventies, with the construction of two settlements on either side, and a huge farmland ahead of them, all less than a kilometre away. But it was in 2010 that the Israelis came and virtually destroyed the entire village. The residents have, since then, built the village back up. But at least once a year, days like this are expected to continue.

Hassan Mohammed Hussein A´zayed built a house for his son, who suffers from mental disabilities, and is sensitive to hot weather. “That house cost me 15,000 shekels to build, not only because of building materials, but because of the air conditioning (unit)!” The house only lasted one year before it was bulldozed on Sunday, the AC unit along with it. A few meters in front of the newly destroyed house, one can see at least three other piles of rubble that used to be housing units, all belonging to Hassan. This was the seventh time a house of his was demolished. “They keep destroying them. Sometimes with warning, sometimes not. It´s a random policy. There´s no way to know what they´re going to do.” Hassan has 8 children.

Aeman Rashaeda, father of four, who´s wife teaches at the nearby school, was the next to lose his house, literally resting along the same path as Hassan´s. When the Israelis approached him, they told him that it was forbidden to build, and that he was living in a closed military firing zone. One might find such language to bode ominous prospects.

When the complete destruction of the village took place 8 years ago, 10 families immediately fled. This is a village that receives only 1500 liters of water to each household per week; that can never get a permit to farm or build; who cannot dig a well deeper than 150 meters, enforced by Israeli occupation law. Before the 1967 invasion of the West Bank, this village shared with others from a natural spring 4 kilometers up a nearby mountain. It has, since then, been surrounded by 3 Israeli wells, the water now privatized, controlled for settler use. 60 percent of the Jordan Valley has been closed by the Israeli occupation for “military firing and security zone(s)”, but it´s been well known for years to have actually been used for agribusiness. Pick any one feature of the military occupation of the Palestinian West Bank, and you will find a policy of theft, of racism, of genocide.

Rashed Khudairy
Coordinator of Jordan Valley Solidarity Campaign
+972597177518 (primary)
+972592391208 (secondary)

Time to Abolish War

Let me talk about war.

How many of you believe war is bad? And I, after my time in war, totally agree with you.
War is not about conflict resolution it does not resolve conflicts.
War is not about national security it does not make us secure.elliott
It is always a rich man’s war run on the blood of poor people. War can reasonably be visualized as a giant machine that grinds up the working people to feed the rich man.
War is the greatest concentrator of wealth.
War is used to steal away our unalienable rights.

General Eisenhower described how the people of the aggressing nation pay a high cost for war when he said “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the dark clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”

What do we pay for war? There are 15 cabinet level departments in our government. We give 60% of the budget to one – the War Department. That leaves the other 14 departments fighting over the crumbs. Those 14 departments included things like: health, education, justice, department of state, interior, agriculture, energy, transportation, labor, commerce, and other things that are important to our lives.

Or looked at another way we, the US, spend more on war than the next 8 nations all put together. That includes Russia, China, France, England, I don’t remember who they all are. But not North Korea it is way down the list around number 20.

What do we get from war? What is our return from this huge investment? It seems all we get from one war is another war. Lets see what that looks like, WWI begat WWII, WWII begat the Korean War, the Korean War begat the Cold War, the Cold War begat the American War in Vietnam. Because of the public outcry and protest during the American War in Vietnam there was a hiatus. Then we had the Gulf War, which begat the Global War on Terror, which begat the invasion of Afghanistan, which begat the invasion of Iraq, which begat the rise of ISIS. All of which begat militarized police on our streets at home.

Why do we choose to do this? When are we going to get off of this stupid cycle? When we do break out of the cycle we can do things like: feed our hungry, educate our children (which are our future), end discrimination, pay workers an honest wage, end inequality, we could even create a democracy here in this country.

We can do these things. But only if we deny the rich and powerful their wars.

Original presentation by Elliott Adams (MPT Trainer & Past-president of Veterans for Peace); at Poor People’s Campaign, Detroit, 26 Jan 2018