Skip to main content

One Pacifist's Answer to 9/11

The following is from Hope magazine's John Wilson's (JW) interview of Colman McCarthy (CM), July/August 2003. His comments on Peacemaking I found challenging and insightful. I hope you do too.

Peace to you today, Jim

In 1985, McCarthy and his wife, May, established the Center for Teaching Peace, a Washington- based nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in conflict resolution and peace studies. Today, he teaches classes at three universities and three high schools.

JW: You oppose military solutions, but speaking as a pacifist, what is your solution to September 11?

CM: • After September 11, we had four options: military, political, legal, and moral. Predictably, the military prevailed:
Got a problem? Go bomb somebody. The political solution: Follow our own advice when we tell Israelis and Palestinians, or the factions in Northern Ireland, or the factions in Sierra Leone, or the factions anywhere -- to sit down, talk, compromise, negotiate, reconcile, and stop killing each other. Sound advice, so why don’t we follow it ourselves? It’s dismissed as naive: “You can’t talk with evildoers like Osama, Al Qaeda, or Saddam Hussein.”

That was the thinking in the early 1970s, when the evildoers and major threats were the Chinese Communists who had the weapons and hordes to take over the world. But then Richard Nixon went to China, talked, compromised, negotiated, reconciled, and dealt. The Chinese sent him home with a bag of ping pong balls and two pandas, and now China is a trading partner. The political solution worked. Ronald Reagan, who in 1986 called the Soviet Union “the evil empire” and “the focus of evil in the modern world,” went to Moscow. He talked, compromised, negotiated, reconciled, and dealt. They sent him home with a bottle of vodka and now Russia is a close ally Once again, a political solution worked.

Compared to the Chinese and Soviet dictators, bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are mosquitoes. The last dictator to fall was Milosovec. It was well-organized~ students, not U.S. pilots bombing Bel- grade, who brought him down. No one was killed in the two years of protest and resistance. Milosovec is now getting legal due process, on trial in The Hague for war crimes. The people who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 were arrested, convicted, and sent to prison. They had due process. It could have worked with Saddam Hussein or bin Laden.

The moral solution: three days after September 11, Bush and his war council went to the National Cathedral in Washington for a prayer service. A Catholic cardinal came, a rabbi, an imam, Billy Graham, and assorted reverends offered prayerful succor. They recited the Lord’s Prayer, including the most ignored words in history: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” On September 11 some people did trespass in New York and Washington. Were they forgiven? It was the opposite: “Let’s go kill them.” If you re going to say the Lord’s Prayer, mean it, but don’t use it in fake piety for your grubby political goals. The moral solution would have moved us to forgive the planners of September 11, and then ask them to forgive us of all our violence-much worse when our decades of bombing people is recalled-and then say, ‘Let’s start over; the old way of violence is not working.”

U.S foreign policy is based on the “izes”: theorize, demonize, victimize, and rationalize. Bush theorized about Iraq’s threat, he demonized Saddam Hussein, he victimized Iraqis at the other end of the bombing runs, and then rationalized it as the way to peace.

Two types of violence exist: hot and cold. Hot is felt, visceral, visual, obscenely cruel, immediate, and well- reported by the media: the World Trade Center, the Columbine High School massacre, the sniper attacks in Washington. Cold violence is unfelt, distant, out of sight, and generally ignored by the media: the 40,000 people who die of hunger-related or preventable diseases every day. Executions on death row. But how can we be selective about violence? The victims are dead either way Yet selectivity prevails. On September 11, September 12, September 13-- and all days since, 40,000 people died of hunger and preventable diseases. Why so little attention to that violence?


More to come in the following weeks, Jim

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2010 Annual Report April 10, 2010 Off to Colombia

-->Off to Colombia: 2010 Annual Report April 10, 2010 Dear friends, I fly to Bogotá on April 20th for two months where I will set up interviews for Paul Alexander for his book on Christians that are working for peace and justice. I will also be sharing with Mennonite Brethren congregations in Colombia to encourage them in their peacemaking in the midst of the war. This year I began sharing on a subway platform. I give out 20 - 30 pieces of literature an hour. I encourage people to pray and let their government representatives know their concerns about war. I tell them how we’ve reduced suffering in Colombia by reducing U.S. military aid. With youth, I share important questions to think about before they enlist in the military. I plan to continue this sharing when I’m home in Chicago. See my live video subway sharing at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1lgdHD_zz0 on my website.
-->‘‘That Jim is able to make a commitment to witnessing in the subway for peace an…

Pastores Compartiendo

¡Queridos amigos!Pastores Compartiendo 10/03/19 Cali, Colombia "Compartan su experiencia de conversación con la otra parte. Veo esto como una forma de alentarnos unos a otros" ¿Puedes decirnos de qué se trata tu compartir?" Pregúntale a mi amigo de la iglesia nazarena; Juan y a su madre Norha. Enfoco mi participación en sanar la profunda brecha que hay hoy en Colombia. Un lado apoya los acuerdos de paz y el otro se opone a ellos. Mi enfoque viene del libro: ‘Yo tengo razón y tú eres un idiota’. Ambas partes piensan esto el uno del otro y no se hablan. Esto es muy similar a lo que está sucediendo en los Estados Unidos hoy a favor de Trump y en contra de Trump. Comienzo compartiendo mi experiencia de tratar de hacer esto yo mismo. Luego pido a los oyentes que para hablar a través de la pared que nos separa. Y así plantar semillas para una sociedad colombiana más amable. "Ese es un verdadero desafío como todos sabemos hoy aquí en Colombia", dijo Norha. Ella agregó: &…

Running Out of the Classroom

Hello friends, Running Out of the Classroom 4/1/2019 She stood up to share, and then she just runout of the classroom. I was confused, I had no idea what was going on. In a few minutes she returned and began crying and sharing about some terrible violence that had happened in her family. This started about 8 in the class one by one to cry and share about violence that took place with their uncles, aunts, parents, grandparents or neighbors. This ended up taking up the entire time of the last two classes of my time in Colombia. This likely was the first time they had shared these things outside of their families. This surely was healing for many of the students. The adult friend who was there mentioned she was having someone experienced with trauma healing coming to her church. She hoped to have her go to the school and help some of these students. It felt a real gift to be able to hear and share these things. Afterwards as students often did after class…