Sunday, February 07, 2010

Dear American Midwest, It is Time to Get on the Denuclearize and Demilitarize Bandwagon—AGAIN, and do it Right NOW!

Dear American Midwest, It is Time to Get on the Denuclearize and Demilitarize Bandwagon—AGAIN, and do it Right NOW!

By Kevin Anthony Stoda, formally of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Oklahoma Peace Movements

Unbeknownst to many Americans is that a national and global movement to get rid of nuclear weapons is on its way—even as the USA, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, India, China and others rattle their sabers. Let me remind you readers that the Peace Movements, especially including the anti-nuclear weapons movements in the North America and Europe in the late 1970s and early 1980s, finally led to the official end of the Cold War in the late 1980s and early1990s. However, that movement (or peace movements of the 1980s) had left the backbone of The Nuclearized Genie wandering the earth with its many holocaustal fanstasies, which South Asian and Middle Eastern nations have been more than willing in recent years to remind us.

Many schools across America have become even more militarized (and even staunchly anti-peace) domains in the last two decades as American media conglomerates and their War-Making Industry buddies have marched the USA [and the world] into Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and dozens of other tiny landscapes from Somalia to Colombia in the 1990s and 2000s. So, now, most schools, universities and students in the USA are barely aware of how militarized and warmongering the American culture has become.

One way Americans can make a difference across the plains, mountains and river valleys in 2010 is by promoting; Proposition 1, known in Congress as H.R. 1653.

Washington D.C.’s first campaign on this issue was Proposition #37, and it was successful. “Proposition One is a grassroots movement for disarmament of nuclear weapons and the conversion of nuclear and other arms industries to provide for human and environmental needs. The concept was proven viable by the victory of DC Initiative.” [Lobby Congress in support of H.R. 1653 now.]

The current U.S. Congress, however, is opposing the executive branch’s push towards ending nuclear weapons in our lifetime. You can bet that our enemies and friends in the Military Industrial Complex of America have had something to do with this opposition in Congress. A lot of the good old boys have grown up living and breathing MILITIARISM AMERICAN STYLE that they do not even realize it is a dangerous and bad thing for the American Spirit and Soul (especially in America’s heartland that has typically been the testing place for fighting American Imperialism and Militarism traditionally, i.e. since the 19th Century. Even worse, since 9-11-2001 the militarist stronghold on America’s higher education and the communities in which they are situation has been magnified.


“One example of the increasingly intensified and expansive symbiosis between the military-industrial complex and academia was on full display when Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, announced the creation of what he calls a new ‘Minerva Consortium,’ ironically named after the goddess of wisdom, whose purpose is to fund various universities to ‘carry out social-sciences research relevant to national security.’ Gates's desire to turn universities into militarized knowledge factories producing knowledge, research and personnel in the interest of the Homeland (In)Security State should be of special concern for intellectuals, artists, academics and others who believe that the university should oppose such interests and alignments. At the very least, the emergence of the Minerva Consortium raises a larger set of concerns about the ongoing militarization of higher education in the United States.”

In short, what plays in Wichita or Peoria still matters in the American self-image.

The Midwest is where , when progressivism and peace activism is there, the whole nation must follow. That is what Nixon and the U.S. military learned in 1969 and 1970—at that time the peoples of the Midwest were joining the two national coasts in demanding a stop to the 30 years of militarism in the USA begun in response to Hitler’s rise in Europe. [The same had happened in the 1910s when progressive swept through the Midwest and took hold of even the major parties.]

I came across an older online (published online circa 1999) description of how militarized America had become by the early 1990s—when the USA had already started its post-Cold War militarization. [NOTE: Read below this news from what a typical Midwestern college town’s 1989, i.e. in Arkansas] research on local militarization and remember—it has only gotten worse as the blank check has been handed over to the DOD and militarists dozens of times since this article was written.]

So, Midwestern Progressives and Conservatives for Peace, Get out and demand support in your state and region for the next major nuclear demolitions in the world—in order to make the world safer for all our grandchildren. Lead the USA out of this nuclear and militarized spending and developmental retardant path of the last three decades in our Heartland.


From around 1989 in Midwestern USA—example the 4 corners region of Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. THINGS HAVE GOTTEN WORSE IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD SINCE THEN.

Centers, Museums, and Public Memorials for Nonviolent Peacemaking in the US: A Visitors' Guide
James Richard Bennett is compiling a Directory of Memorials, Museums, and Centers for Nonviolent Peacemaking and Peacemakers in North America. He can be reached at
Warmaking Consciousness
In 1989, during the section on militarism in my class at the University of Arkansas on The US Corporate State, my students and I studied Washington County where the University of Arkansas is located. That there were no significant military industries in the county made our discoveries even more striking. The structures of militarism pervaded the county. Here are only a few examples: Pentagon-direct expenditures of $22,989,000; three Army Reserve units, a Naval Reserve Facility, and the National Guard; seven Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, and National Guard recruiting offices; a visit from "The Mighty Eight Air Force Band"; military services recruiting in the schools; numerous veterans organizations: American Legion, VFW, Retired Officers Assoc., Retired Sergeants Assoc., etc.; National Cemetery; Veterans' Day ceremonies; Memorial Day; Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park; Prairie Grove Battle Reenactment; Confederate Cemetery; and on and on.
I assume the same institutional and symbolic domination prevails in most of the counties in the United States. War and warriors strike eye and ear everywhere. The nation unceasingly prepares for war both by its enormous military machine and arms industry ($5.5 trillion since 1941 for atomic weapons alone) and by conditioning the populace. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman traces the relationship between the successful conditioning of US soldiers to kill during the Vietnam War (in contrast to the lesser ferocity in the Korean War) and the armed violence in the US today. In countless ways and with overwhelming success, we are taught to accept war as a given. The result has been not only a nation threatening nuclear war a dozen times during the Cold War and invading two dozen countries since 1945 (each followed by a rise in presidential popularity) but a nation experiencing armed violence on its streets and in our homes and schools.
The violence is global, of course. In 1998 alone over 30 conflicts ravaged more than 40 countries, killing thousands and producing hundreds of thousands of refugees. Consequently, the struggle to reduce hatreds and achieve a nonviolent world must be global.
Peacemaking Consciousness
But because the US is the world leader, efforts to reduce its military-industrial-symbolic mind-set on war by increasing the presence of peace is particularly important. Those efforts-by the peace churches, the many peace organizations and magazines, and countless individuals-have produced many gains. One aspect of this myriad peace movement is the creation of centers, museums, and memorials for peace. Here I discuss only public organizations and memorials.
Peace Museums and Centers
The struggle to reverse national cultures of violence advances partly through the museums and centers dedicated to nonviolence and conflict resolution. Although they might be called museums, few nonviolent peacemaking museums limit themselves to preserving and exhibiting artifacts; typically they reach out with educational and even social action programs. An unusual example of the traditional museum is the uniquely designed "outdoor" Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC, that includes a room for Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the creators of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, founded upon the nonviolent life and principles of Martin Luther King, Jr., offers permanent exhibits that trace US history of the 1950s and 1960s, but it also gives awards, shows movies, and in other ways seeks to educate the public about the Civil Rights Movement. Most of the museums, such as the Prairie Peace Park near Lincoln, NE, the Peace Museum in Chicago, the museum at the Plowshares Peace Center in Detroit, and the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, are also active outreach centers. For example, Chicago's The Peace Museum traditionally offers exhibits, but it also provides a Drive-By Peace Program that goes into area classrooms to teach students skills of conflict solving. The International Network of Peace Museums met in Osaka and Kyoto in November, 1998.
Much more numerous are the centers and institutes dedicated solely to nonviolent peace education and action in the community, nation, and world. These organizations are of two kinds: governmental and non-governmental. I will mention a few of each which, following my "visitors guide" intention, have physical locations open to visitors.
A main governmental category is the education and research institute which often includes action programs. The greatest is the United Nations in New York City. With its membership of over 180 nations, its six main organs (General Assembly, Economic and Social Council, etc.), and its fourteen specialized agencies (WHO, UNESCO, etc), the UN is the single most effective organization for keeping peace in the world. The United States government has its own peace institute-the United States Institute for Peace (USIP) located in Washington, DC. The International Peace Garden connecting Manitoba and North Dakota (1932) is a joint US/Canada Center, while the Chamizal National Memorial in El Paso (1963) is a joint US/Mexico Center.
The largest category of governmental peace centers are the research and teaching programs on college campuses. The Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development (COPRED) has published a Global Directory of Peace Studies Programs (1995-96, Here are a few: Swarthmore College Peace Collection in Pennsylvania; Master of Arts in International Peace and Conflict Resolution, Beaver College, Glenside, PA; Colgate University Peace Studies Program, Hamilton, NY; International Center for Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA; Peace Studies Association, Earlham College, Richmond, IN; the Center for Peaceful Change, May 4 Resource Center, and Institute for the Study and Prevention of Violence at Kent State University; Wilmington College Peace Resource Center, OH; the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University; Matsunaga Institute for Peace, University of Hawaii; M. K. Gandhi Institute, Christian Brothers University, Memphis; Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution/Consortium on Peace Research, Education, and Development (COPRED), George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.
Numerous non-governmental peace organizations expand peace consciousness and advocacy. For example, in California: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Santa Barbara; Grandmothers for Peace International, Elk Grove; Peace Brigades International, Oakland. Elsewhere, The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA ; Institute for Peace and Justice, St. Louis, MO; Jeannette Rankin Peace Resource Center in Missoula, MT; Fellowship of Reconciliation, Nyack, NY. In New York City: Educators for Social Responsibility, War Resisters League; A. J. Muste Memorial Institute, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. In Washington, DC: Council for a Livable World, Peace Action, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, World Federalist Association, Physicians for Social Responsibility.
Peace centers connected with established religions also invigorate the national peace voice. Many faith-based colleges offer peace programs, for example: Peace Studies Program, Siena College, Loudonville, NY; Peace Studies, Loyola University, Chicago; Justice and Peace Studies, University of Saint Thomas, St. Paul, MN; Peace Studies Institute, Manchester College, N. Manchester, Indiana; Bethel College, North Newton, KS. Independent religious peace groups include: Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Berkeley, CA; Pastors for Peace, Chicago; Jewish Peace Fellowship, Nyack, NY; Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Nyack, NY; Catholic Worker Movement, NYC; Friends Meeting House and American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) in Philadelphia; Mennonite Central Committee Peace and Justice Ministries, Akron, PA; Pax Christi USA, Erie, PA; Plowshares Network, Baltimore, MD; Brethren Peace Fellowship, New Windsor, MD; Washington, DC: Sojourners, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Methodists United for Peace with Justice; Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Lake Junaluska, NC.
Public Peace Memorials
Public peace memorials reflect a variety of aims and programs. Parks, gardens, and plazas dedicated to peace engage people in memorable experiences of peace. Here are a few of the government-sponsored peace parks (or located on government land, some or all of the money privately raised): Peace Garden, Fresno State University, with statues of Gandhi, King, and Chávez; Lyndale Park Peace Garden in Minneapolis; Peace Plaza in Salem, OR; Peace Garden in Harrisburg, PA; Prairie Peace Park, near Lincoln, NE (40 exhibits on 27 acres, plus publications, peace camp). Also: International Peace Garden linking North Dakota and Manitoba; International Peace Park composed of Glacier Park, Montana, and Waterton Lakes Park, Alberta; and International Peace Arch Park at Blaine, WA.
Significant peace monuments are found in many of the states: J. William Fulbright Peace Fountain and Statue at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; Frank A. Miller Peace Tower and Bridge, Riverside, CA; Fountain of Time in Chicago; Samantha Smith Statue in Augusta, ME; Pacifist Memorial at the Peace Abbey, Sherborn, MA; International Peace Monument, Belle Isle Park, Detroit; Stop, Look, and Listen sculpture, Hope College, MI (for A. J. Muste); Vision of Peace sculpture, St. Paul City Hall, MN; Medgar Evers Statue, Jackson, MS; Jeannette Rankin Statue, Helena, MT, and US Capitol; Sadako Sculpture display and World Peace Mural, Prairie Peace Park, near Lincoln, NE; Children's Peace Statue in Albuquerque. In New York City: Isaiah Wall, Ralph Bunche Sculpture, Gandhi Statue, and several monuments at the United Nations Headquarters: Single Form in front of the Secretariat Building, Non-Violence on apron of General Assembly Building, Let Us Beat Swords Into Plowshares sculpture, north garden, etc. Elsewhere, Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial, South Bass Island, OH; May 4 Memorial, Kent State U (1990); Peace Wall and Gate, Bluffton College, OH; Orangeburg Massacre Memorial, SC; Emery Reves Arch of Peace, Dallas; Guns to Plowshares, DC; Fin Project: From Swords Into Plowshares, Seattle; International Peace Arch, Blaine, WA. Two Peace Pagodas (stupas) create a strong focus on peace in two states, all built under the inspiration of the Buddhist Nipponzan Miyohoji sect: in Leverett, MA and Petersburg, NY (Grafton Peace Pagoda). Both exhibit striking white domes; the Leverett Peace Pagoda measures 160 feet in diameter.
Peace Poles are spreading throughout the country. Of the approximately 100,000 peace poles standing in the world, with their message "May Peace Prevail on Earth" in numerous languages, approximately 6000 are planted in the US at colleges, churches, parks, and other public places, and in private yards.
Finally, mention should be made of the Nuclear Weapons Free Zones. By 1988, more than 4200 cities, counties, and provinces in 24 countries around the world had declared themselves "nuclear-free zones," including 150 in the US.
In a recent issue, Peacework printed several of Denise Levertov's poems. One began with these words: "They speak of the art of war,/but the arts/draw their light from the soul's well,/and warfare/dries up the soul and draws its power/from a dark and burning wasteland." Kamla Chowdhry in the same issue warned that "civilisation may not survive." But our warmaking country can be restored to peace consciousness through the guiding presence of the arts and sciences of peace studies centers, museums, parks, and memorials, public and private, which lead us to peacemakers and active peacemaking, These foundations inspire us to extend them until wasteland, war, and warriors become the smaller voice and vision



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