Tom Hayden doesn’t like that letter
Tom Hayden didn’t like that open letter to him et al. His response—sent to John Halle, organizer of the letter, but not as I erroneously said at first addressed to him in the polite “Dear John” salutational sense—follows. (The subject heading of the email was, inexplicably, “Weirdness.”) Gotta say, this is a beaut: “I supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and am glad I did so. At the time I also said progressives should disagree with him on Afghanistan, NAFTA, global warming and Wall Street….” Well, what’s left to support, Cde Hayden?
So I started reading this letter which sounded pretty good and it looked like I signed it, so I read further and discovered that it was to as a member of a group I didn’t know I belonged to called the “Left Establishment.” As I kept reading, it was a vile, toxic diatribe ending with a demand that I, along with the rest of the “Left Establishment”, endorse a demonstration this week in Washington featuring civil disobedience at the White House fence.
To whomever sent the letter, I have to say I’m sorry that I just don’t respond positively to nasty invitations. I hope you can understand. Calm down and tell me who you are before the conspiracy theories mushroom.
Actually, I thought the Dec. 16 action seemed somewhat justifiable in light of current events – the WikiLeaks releases and erupting divisions within the Democratic Party. And I love the people who plan to get arrested. Maybe a big crowd will show up, but not because it was a smart idea to begin with. Mid-December is not the best time to turn out masses of people. But stuff happens, and now many people are boiling.
My personal best to those who are being arrested. They include a former Pentagon official, former CIA agent, a former New York Times reporter, and a mother who lost a son to war and was radicalized as a result. The lesson for me is that people can change from hawks to doves, from spies to whistleblowers, if organizers organize and events reshape their perceptions. That’s the lesson of WikiLeaks, that folk on the inside sometimes come find their situation intolerable and break away from old thinking.
Civil disobedience is a moral expression, and can be a personal healing. Sometimes it ignites a larger movement, or inspires other individuals to step up. We need more of it.
But I also think we need an outside/inside strategy that shifts public opinion more and more against the war. We need to persuade the undecided, not simply to create images of dissent. The peace movement will grow steadily in the months ahead, on its own, but also in its relation to other compelling causes, among them: Wall Street regulation, clean energy/green jobs, and the steady shift towards an unfettered market philosophy over our lives. Civil disobedience can light a flame, but the case for thoroughgoing radical reform must be made on our streets, our workplaces, our religious institutions, and yes, within the Democratic Party – whose overwhelming majority support progressive objectives. Members of the Progressive Democrats of America, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, are vital elements of our movement.
I would like every person who signed this letter to read it again, and be kind enough to retract their signatures or explain why.
This is not the time to inflict internal damage on a community which is already weak enough. It’s important to get a grip.
The peace and justice community is a fragile form of social ecology, with diversity being an essential quality. Everyone is entitled to a different approach, but there also is an essential unity that can be achieved, unless a malign force is introduced.
I have been working every day since 2002 to end these wars. I will never stop. I supported Barack Obama for president in 2008, and am glad I did so. At the time I also said progressives should disagree with him on Afghanistan, NAFTA, global warming and Wall Street, and I have pursued progressive alternatives every day. I have been so busy on the WikiLeaks crisis since August that I just haven’t had time to drop by the White House and pick up my marching orders.
Peace and Justice Resource Center