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Journalism in the USA

Sep 18, 2001 05:47 PM
by nos

Respond to Violence: Teach Peace, Not War By Russell Mokhiber and Robert

Open the Washington Post to it's editorial pages, and war talk

Henry Kissinger: Destroy the Network.

Robert Kagan: We Must Fight This War.

Charles Krauthammer: To War, Not to Court.

William S. Cohen: American Holy War.

There is no column by Colman McCarthy talking peace.

>From 1969 to 1997, McCarthy wrote a column for the Washington Post. He
was let go because the column, he was told, wasn't making enough money
for the company. "The market has spoken," was the way Robert Kaiser,
the managing editor at the Post, put it at the time.

McCarthy is a pacifist. "I'm opposed to any kind of violence --
economic, political, military, domestic."

But McCarthy is not surprised by the war talk coming from the Post. He
has just completed an analysis of 430 opinion pieces that ran in the
Washington Post in June, July and August 2001.

Of the 430 opinion pieces, 420 were written by right-wingers or
centrists. Only ten were written by columnists one might consider

Nor is he surprised by the initial response of the American people to
Tuesday's horrific attacks on innocent civilians. According to a
Washington Post/ABC News poll, nine of ten people supported taking
military action against the groups or nations responsible for the
attacks "even if it led to war."

"In the flush of emotions, that is the common reaction," McCarthy

"But is it a rational and sane reaction?"

So, how should we respond?

"We forgive you. Please forgive us."

Forgive us for what?

"Please forgive us for being the most violent government on earth,"
McCarthy says. "Martin Luther King said this on April 4, 1967 at
Riverside Church in New York. He said 'my government is the world's
leading purveyor of violence.'"

What should Bush do?

"He should say that the United States will no longer be the world's
largest seller of weapons, that we will begin to decrease our
extravagantly wasteful military budget, which runs now at about $9,000
a second."

What will Bush do?

"Within the week, we will be bombing somebody somewhere," McCarthy
says. "This is what his father did, this is what Clinton did."

"In the past 20 years, we have bombed Libya, Grenada, Panama, Somalia,
Haiti, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq, and Yugoslavia. There are two things
about those countries -- all are poor countries, and the majority are
people of dark colored skin."

Are you saying that we should just turn the other cheek?

"No, that's passivity," McCarthy says. "Pacifism is not passivity.
Pacifism is direct action, direct resistance, refusing to cooperate
with violence. That takes a lot of bravery. It takes much more courage
than to use a gun or drop a bomb."

Since leaving the Post, McCarthy has dedicated his life to teaching
peace. He has created the Center for Teaching Peace, which he runs out
of his home in Northwest Washington. He teaches peace and non-violence
at six area universities and at a number of public secondary and high

But he's up against a system that systematically teaches violence --
from that all pervasive teacher of children -- television -- to the
President of the United States.

"In 1999, the day after the Columbine shootings, Bill Clinton went to
a high school in Alexandria, Virginia and gave a speech to the
school's Peer Mediation Club," McCarthy says. "Clinton said 'we must
teach our children to express their anger and resolve their conflicts
with words not weapons.'"

"It was a great speech, but he went back that same night and ordered
up the most intense bombing of Belgrade since that war began four
weeks before."

Message to children: kid's violence is bad, but America's violence is

McCarthy says we should teach our children forgiveness, not to
demonize people who have a grievance.

"When you hit your child, or beat up the person you are living with,
you are saying -- 'I want you to change the way you think or behave
and I'm going to use physical force to make you change your way or
your mind,'" he says.

"In fact, violence is rarely effective. If violence was effective, we
would have had a peaceful planet eons ago."

How to break the cycle of violence?

"The same way you break the cycle of ignorance -- educate people,"
McCarthy responds.

"Kids walk in the school with no idea that two plus two equals four.
They are ignorant. We repeat over and over -- Billy, two plus two
equals four. And Billy leaves school knowing two plus two equals four.
But he doesn't leave school knowing that an eye for an eye means we
all go blind."

"We have about 50 million students in this country," McCarthy says.
"Nearly all of those are going to graduate absolutely unaware of the
philosophy of Gandhi, King, Dorothy Day, Howard Zinn, or A.J. Muste."

When he speaks before college audiences, McCarthy holds up a $100
dollar bill and says "I'll give this to anybody in the audience who
can identify these next six people -- Who was Robert E. Lee, Ulysses
S. Grant, and Paul Revere? All hands go up on all three."

"Then I ask -- Who was Jeanette Rankin (first women member of
Congress, voted against World War I and World War II, said 'you can no
more win a war than win an earthquake,' Dorothy Day (co-founder of the
Catholic Worker movement), Ginetta Sagan (founder of Amnesty USA)."

"The last three are women peacemakers. The first three are all male
peacebreakers. The kids know the militarists. They don't know the

He hasn't lost his $100 bill yet to a student.

Of the 3,100 colleges and universities in the country, only about 70
have degree programs in peace studies and most are underfunded.

Instead of bombing, we should start teaching peace.

"We are graduating students as peace illiterates who have only heard
of the side of violence," McCarthy laments. "If we don't teach our
children peace, somebody else will teach them violence."

[The Center for Teaching Peace has produced two text books, Solutions
to Violence and Strength Through Peace, both edited by Colman
McCarthy. Each book contains 90 essays by the world's great theorists
and practitioners of non-violence. ($25 each). To contact Colman
McCarthy, write to: Center for Teaching Peace, 4501 Van Ness Street,
N.W., Washington, D.C. 20016 Phone: (202) 537-1372]

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate
Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington,
D.C.-based Multinational Monitor. They are co-authors of Corporate
Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy
(Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 1999).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman


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