Joan Baez cites Quaker upbringing in presidential endorsement

From the musician’s Face­book page:

My choice, from an ear­ly age, has been to engage in social change from the ground up, using the pow­er of orga­nized non­vi­o­lence. A dis­trust of the polit­i­cal process was firm­ly in place by the time I was 15. As a daugh­ter of Quak­ers I pledged my alle­giance not to a flag or a nation state but to humankind, the two often hav­ing lit­tle to do with each oth­er.

From the Vault: More Victims Won’t Stop the Terror (10/2001)

Today is the ninth anniver­sary of the war in Afghanistan. In recog­ni­tion, here’s my Non​vi​o​lence​.org essay from 10/7/2010. It’s all sad­ly still top­i­cal. Nine years in and we’re still mak­ing ter­ror and still cre­at­ing ene­mies.

The Unit­ed States has today begun its war against ter­ror­ism in a very famil­iar way: by use of ter­ror. Igno­rant of thou­sands of years of vio­lence in the Mid­dle East, Pres­i­dent George W. Bush thinks that the hor­ror of Sep­tem­ber 11th can be exor­cised and pre­vent­ed by bombs and mis­siles. Today we can add more names to the long list of vic­tims of the ter­ror­ist air­plane attacks. Because today Afgha­nis have died in ter­ror.

The deaths in New York City, Wash­ing­ton and Penn­syl­va­nia have shocked Amer­i­cans and right­ly so. We are all scared of our sud­den vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty. We are all shocked at the lev­el of anger that led nine­teen sui­cide bombers to give up pre­cious life to start such a lit­er­al and sym­bol­ic con­fla­gra­tion. What they did was hor­ri­ble and with­out jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. But that is not to say that they didn’t have rea­sons.

The ter­ror­ists com­mit­ted their atroc­i­ties because of a long list of griev­ances. They were shed­ding blood for blood, and we must under­stand that. Because to under­stand that is to under­stand that Pres­i­dent Bush is unleash­ing his own ter­ror cam­paign: that he is shed­ding more blood for more blood.

The Unit­ed States has been spon­sor­ing vio­lence in Afghanistan for over a gen­er­a­tion. Even before the Sovi­et inva­sion of that coun­try, the U.S. was sup­port­ing rad­i­cal Muja­hadeen forces. We thought then that spon­sor­ship of vio­lence would lead to some sort of peace. As we all know now, it did not. We’ve been exper­i­ment­ing with vio­lence in the region for many years. Our for­eign pol­i­cy has been a mish-mash of sup­port­ing one despot­ic régime after anoth­er against a shift­ing array of per­ceived ene­mies.

The Afghani forces the Unit­ed States now bomb were once our allies, as was Iraq’s Sad­dam Hus­sein. We have rarely if ever act­ed on behalf of lib­er­ty and democ­ra­cy in the region. We have time and again sold out our val­ues and thrown our sup­port behind the most heinous of despots. We have time and again thought that mil­i­tary adven­tur­ism in the region could keep ter­ror­ism and anti-Americanism in check. And each time we’ve only bred a new gen­er­a­tion of rad­i­cals, bent on revenge.

There are those who have angri­ly denounced paci­fists in the weeks since Sep­tem­ber 11th, angri­ly ask­ing how peace can deal with ter­ror­ists. What these crit­ics don’t under­stand is that wars don’t start when the bombs begin to explode. They begin years before, when the seeds of hatred are sewn. The times to stop this new war was ten and twen­ty years ago, when the U.S. broke it’s promis­es for democ­ra­cy, and act­ed in its own self-interest (and often on behalf of the inter­ests of our oil com­pa­nies) to keep the cycles of vio­lence going. The Unit­ed States made choic­es that helped keep the peo­ples of the Mid­dle East enslaved in despo­tism and pover­ty.

And so we come to 2001. And it’s time to stop a war. But it’s not nec­es­sar­i­ly this war that we can stop. It’s the next one. And the ones after that. It’s time to stop com­bat ter­ror­ism with ter­ror. In the last few weeks the Unit­ed States has been mak­ing new alliances with coun­tries whose lead­ers sub­vert democ­ra­cy. We are giv­ing them free rein to con­tin­ue to sub­ject their peo­ple. Every weapon we sell these tyrants only kills and desta­bi­lizes more, just as every bomb we drop on Kab­ul feeds ter­ror more.

And most of all: we are mak­ing new vic­tims. Anoth­er gen­er­a­tion of chil­dren are see­ing their par­ents die, are see­ing the rain of bombs fall on their cities from an uncar­ing Amer­i­ca. They cry out to us in the name of peace and democ­ra­cy and hear noth­ing but hatred and blood. And some of them will respond by turn­ing against us in hatred. And will fight us in anger. They will learn our les­son of ter­ror and use it against us. They cycle will repeat. His­to­ry will con­tin­ue to turn, with blood as it’s Mid­dle East­ern lubri­cant. Unless we act. Unless we can stop the next war.

Gladwell and strong tie social media networks

A lot of peo­ple, include Jeanne Burns over on Quak­erquak­er, are talk­ing about Mal­colm Gladwell’s lat­est New York­er arti­cle, “Small Change: Why the Rev­o­lu­tion Will Not Be Tweet­ed”.

Mal­colm Gladwell’s modus operan­di is to make out­ra­geous­ly counter-intuitive claims that peo­ple will talk about enough that they’ll buy his boss’s mag­a­zine, books and bobble-head like­ness­es. I find him lik­able and divert­ing but don’t take his claims very seri­ous­ly. He’s a lot like Wired Magazine’s Chris Ander­son, his some­times spar­ring part­ner, which isn’t sur­pris­ing as they work for the same mag­a­zine empire, Conde Nast Pub­li­ca­tions.

In his arti­cle, Glad­well takes a lot of pot­shots at social media. It’s easy to do. He picks Clay Shirky, anoth­er New York “Big Idea” guy as his rhetor­i­cal straw­man now, claim­ing Shirky’s book “Here Comes Every­body” is the “bible of social-media move­ment.” Read­ing Glad­well, you kind of wish he’d get out of the echo box of circle-jerk New York Big Talk­ers (just get­ting out of the Conde Nast building’s cafe­te­ria would be a good start).

Gladwell’s cer­tain­ly right in that most of what pass­es for activism on Twit­ter and Face­book is ridicu­lous. Click­ing a “Like” but­ton or chang­ing your pro­file image green doesn’t do much. He makes an impor­tant dis­tinc­tion between “weak ties” (Face­book “friends” who aren’t friends; Twit­ter cam­paigns that are risk-free) and “strong ties.” He cites the Civ­il Rights move­ment as a strong-tie phe­nom­e­non: the peo­ple who put them­selves on the line tend­ed to be those with close friends also putting them­selves on the line.

What Glad­well miss­es is strong-tie orga­niz­ing going on in social media. A lot of what’s hap­pen­ing over on Quak­erQuak­er is pret­ty strong-tie – it’s trans­lat­ing to work­shops, arti­cles, and is just one of a num­ber of impor­tant net­works that are form­ing. Peo­ple are find­ing each oth­er and mak­ing real con­nec­tions that spill out into the real world. It’s not that online orga­nizes cre­ates real world changes, or even the reverse. Instead, under the right cir­cum­stances they can feed into each oth­er, with each com­po­nent mag­ni­fy­ing the other’s reach.

One exam­ple of non-hierarchical involved social media is how Quak­er blog­gers came togeth­er to explain Tom Fox’s motives after his kid­nap­ping. It didn’t have any effect on the kid­nap­pers, obvi­ous­ly, but we did reach a lot of peo­ple who were curi­ous why a Friend might choose such a per­son­al­ly dan­ger­ous form of Chris­t­ian wit­ness. This was all done by inter-related groups of peo­ple with no bud­get and no orga­ni­za­tion­al chart. But these things don’t have to be quite so life-and-death.

A more recent exam­ple I’ve been able to see up close is the way my wife’s church has orga­nized against dioce­san attempts to shut it down: a core group of lead­ers have emerged; they share pow­er, divide up roles and have been wag­ing an orga­nized cam­paign for about 2.5 years now. One ele­ment of this work has been the Savest​marys​.org blog. The website’s only impor­tant because it’s been part of a real-world social net­work but it’s had an influ­ence that’s gone far beyond the hand­ful of peo­ple who write for it. One of the more sur­pris­ing audi­ences have been the many staff at the Dioce­san head­quar­ters who vis­it every day – a small group has tak­en over quite a bit of men­tal space over there!

It’s been inter­est­ing for me to com­pare Quak­erQuak­er with an ear­li­er peace project of mine, Non​vi​o​lence​.org, which ran for thir­teen years start­ing in 1995. In many ways it was the big­ger site: a larg­er audi­ence, with a wider base of inter­est. It was a pop­u­lar site, with many vis­its and a fair­ly active bul­letin board for much of it’s life. But it didn’t spawn work­shop or con­fer­ences. There’s no “move­ment” asso­ci­at­ed with it. Dona­tions were min­i­mal and I nev­er felt the sup­port struc­ture that I have now with my Quak­er work.

Non​vi​o​lence​.org was a good idea, but it was a “weak tie” net­work. QuakerQuaker’s net­work is stronger for two rea­sons that I can iden­ti­fy. The obvi­ous one is that it’s built atop the orga­niz­ing iden­ti­ty of a social group (Friends). But it also speaks more direct­ly to its par­tic­i­pants, ask­ing them to share their lives and offer­ing real-world oppor­tu­ni­ties for inter­ac­tion. So much of my blog­ging on Non​vi​o​lence​.org was Big Idea thoughts pieces about the sit­u­a­tion in Bosnia – that just doesn’t pro­vide the same kind of imme­di­ate per­son­al entre.

Mal­colm Glad­well min­i­mizes the lead­er­ship struc­ture of activist orga­ni­za­tions, where lead­er­ship and pow­er is in con­stant flux. He like­wise min­i­mizes the lead­er­ship of social media net­works. Yes, any­one can pub­lish but we all have dif­fer­ent lev­els of vis­i­bil­i­ty and influ­ence and there is a fil­ter­ing effect. I have twenty-five years of orga­nized activism under my belt and fif­teen years of online orga­niz­ing and while the tech­nol­o­gy is very dif­fer­ent, a lot of the social dynam­ics are remark­ably sim­i­lar.

Glad­well is an hired employ­ee in one of the largest media com­pa­nies in the world. It’s a very struc­tured life: he’s got edi­tors, pub­lish­ers, copy­ed­i­tors, proof­read­ers. He’s a cog in a com­pa­ny with $5 bil­lion in annu­al rev­enue. It’s not real­ly sur­pris­ing that he doesn’t have much direct expe­ri­ence with effec­tive social net­works. It’s hard to see how social media is com­ple­ment­ing real world grass­roots net­works from the 40th floor of a mid-town Man­hat­tan sky­scraper.

Relat­ed Read­ing:

Wikileaks Whistleblower is Arrested

The NYTimes is report­ing that a mil­i­tary ana­lyst who leaked the “Col­lat­er­al Mur­der” videos to Wik­ileaks has been arrest­ed. 

atwar-wikileaks-blogSpanIf you missed the leaks at the time, you can watch them at Col​lat​eral​Mur​der​.com. They are videos tak­en from the gun-sights of US heli­copters, com­plete with the com­men­tary from mil­i­tary per­son­nel fir­ing down into the Iraqi neigh­bor­hoods below them. The videos cap­ture the killing of civil­ians, includ­ing two Reuters jour­nal­ists. They show just how imper­son­al mur­der has become. This is a video game war and there’s no real con­se­quence to shoot­ing the wrong tar­get from thou­sands of feet away.

The arrest­ed sol­dier is Spe­cial­ist Bradley Man­ning, 22, of Potomac, Md. Motives for leak­ing the videos are unre­port­ed at this time, but one would sus­pect they include a moral revul­sion to what the Amer­i­can war has become. The war has large­ly been fought out of sight. Man­ning has helped give us a glimpse of what’s hap­pen­ing. It’s hor­rif­ic in its banal­i­ty but so is the war in Iraq.

That tired old quagmire playbook

“We’ll end the war just as soon as…” is the rhetor­i­cal par­ent of empire-crushing quag­mires. The con­di­tion­al changes as need­ed, because it needs to stay fresh to stay plau­si­ble. One pres­i­dent will claim that the right ene­my leader needs to be killed, anoth­er that more troops need to be tem­porar­i­ly added. 

Strate­gic changes can change the tide of a mil­i­tary con­flict but Afghanistan is now an eight-year-old war. We’re not bat­tling some oth­er empire for con­trol of ter­ri­to­ry. The fight­ers shoot­ing at Amer­i­can sol­diers are Afghani. They will still be there when we leave, when­ev­er we leave. They are Afghanistan’s future whether we like it or not. The only real ques­tion is whether we’ll leave as friends or as ene­mies. Thir­ty thou­sand addi­tion­al U.S. troops will be 30,000 addi­tion­al U.S. rifles aimed at 30,000 more Afgha­nis who sim­ply don’t want us there. Eigh­teen months will be eigh­teen more months of Afghan seething over the cor­rupt U.S.-backed Karzai gov­ern­ment.

I’m no fan of the Tal­iban. But it’s hard to imag­ine being the coun­try being ruled by any­one else when the U.S. troops even­tu­al­ly do pull out. Ten years of war will have insured anoth­er gen­er­a­tion of rad­i­cal­ized Aghani youth. And what about Amer­i­ca? A whole gen­er­a­tion got inter­est­ed in pol­i­tics because of a bright young pres­i­dent promis­ing change, yet here we have the same tired quag­mire play­book. It’s a shame.

Flashbacks: Aging Youth, Vanity Googling, War Fatigue

I occa­sion­al­ly go back to my blog­ging archives to pick out inter­est­ing arti­cles from one, five and ten years ago.

ONE YEAR AGO: The Not-Quite-So Young Quak­ers

It was five years ago this week that I sat down and wrote about a cool
new move­ment I had been read­ing about. It would have been Jor­dan Coop­er’s blog that turned me onto Robert E Web­ber’s The Younger Evan­gel­i­cals, a look at gen­er­a­tional shifts among Amer­i­can Evan­gel­i­cals. In ret­ro­spect, it’s fair to say that the Quak­erQuak­er com­mu­ni­ty gath­ered around this essay (here’s Robin M’s account of first read­ing it) and it’s follow-up We’re All Ranters Now (Wess talk­ing about it).

And yet? All of this is still a small demo­graph­ic scat­tered all around. If I want­ed to have a good two-hour caffeine-fueled bull ses­sion about the future of Friends at some local cof­feeshop this after­noon, I can’t think of any­one even vague­ly local who I could call up. I’m real­ly sad to say we’re still large­ly on our own. Accord­ing to actu­ar­i­al tables, I’ve recent­ly crossed my life’s halfway point and here I am still ref­er­enc­ing gen­er­a­tional change. How I wish I could hon­est­ly say that I could get involved with any com­mit­tee in my year­ly meet­ing and get to work on the issues raised in “Younger Evan­gel­i­cals and Younger Quak­ers”. Some­one recent­ly sent me an email thread between mem­bers of an out­reach com­mit­tee for anoth­er large East Coast year­ly meet­ing and they were debat­ing whether the inter­net was an appro­pri­ate place to do out­reach work – in 2008?!?

Pub­lished 9/14/2008.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Van­i­ty Googling of Caus­es

A poster to an obscure dis­cus­sion board recent­ly described typ­ing a par­tic­u­lar search phrase into Google and find­ing noth­ing but bad infor­ma­tion. Repro­duc­ing the search I deter­mined two things: 1) that my site topped the list and 2) that the results were actu­al­ly quite accu­rate. I’ve been hear­ing an increas­ing num­ber of sto­ries like this. “Cause Googling,” a vari­a­tion on “van­i­ty googling,” is sud­den­ly becom­ing quite pop­u­lar. But the inter­est­ing thing is that these new searchers don’t actu­al­ly seem curi­ous about the results. Has Google become our new proof text?

Pub­lished 10/2/2004 in The Quak­er Ranter.

TEN’ISH YEARS AGO: War Time Again
This piece is about the NATO bomb­ing cam­paign in Ser­bia (Wikipedia). It’s strange to see I was feel­ing war fatigue even before 9/11 and the “real” wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

There’s a great dan­ger in all this. A dan­ger to the soul of Amer­i­ca. This is the fourth coun­try the U.S. has gone to war against in the last six months. War is becom­ing rou­tine. It is sand­wiched between the soap operas and the sit­coms, between the traf­fic and weath­er reports. Intense cruise mis­sile bom­bard­ments are car­ried out but have no effect on the psy­che or even imag­i­na­tion of the U.S. cit­i­zens.

It’s as if war itself has become anoth­er con­sumer good. Anoth­er event to be pack­aged for com­mer­cial tele­vi­sion. Giv­en a theme song. We’re at war with a coun­try we don’t know over a region we don’t real­ly care about. I’m not be face­tious, I’m sim­ply stat­ing a fact. The Unit­ed States can and should play an active peace­mak­ing role in the region, but only after we’ve done our home­work and have basic knowl­edge of the play­ers and sit­u­a­tion. Iso­la­tion­ism is dan­ger­ous, yes, but not near­ly as dan­ger­ous as the emerg­ing cul­ture of these dilet­tante made-for-TV wars.

Pub­lished March 25, 1999, Non​vi​o​lence​.org

Torture for Ideology

Reports are in that link up the US tor­ture pro­gram and the hunt for the non-existent weapons of mass destruc­tion. Jonathan S Lan­day in McClatchy News quotes a “for­mer senior U.S. intel­li­gence offi­cial famil­iar with the inter­ro­ga­tion issue”:

“The main [rea­son for the tor­ture] is that every­one was wor­ried about some kind of
follow-up attack (after 9/11). But for most of 2002 and into 2003,
Cheney and Rums­feld, espe­cial­ly, were also demand­ing proof of the links
between al Qai­da and Iraq that (for­mer Iraqi exile leader Ahmed)
Cha­l­abi and oth­ers had told them were there.”

“There was con­stant
pres­sure on the intel­li­gence agen­cies and the inter­roga­tors to do
what­ev­er it took to get that infor­ma­tion out of the detainees,
espe­cial­ly the few high-value ones we had, and when peo­ple kept com­ing
up emp­ty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s peo­ple to push
hard­er,” he con­tin­ued.

All this is not real­ly a sur­prise; I cov­ered it in real time over on Non​vi​o​lence​.org. There were numer­ous reports that the Vice Pres­i­dent and Sec­re­tary of Defense were push­ing the intel­li­gence agen­cies to come up with evi­dence that would back their flawed the­o­ries.

The Unit­ed States is sup­posed to be the cham­pi­on of free­dom but we resort­ed to the most bru­tal of communist-era tor­ture tech­niques because our high­est offi­cials were more inter­est­ed in their car­toon view of the world than the com­plex real­i­ty (and not so com­plex: any­one who’s tak­en an “Intro to Islam” class would know that an alliance between Sad­dam Hus­sein and Osama bin Laden would be have been very unlike­ly). When facts and ide­o­log­i­cal the­o­ries don’t match up, it’s time to dig for more facts and revis­it the ide­olo­gies. 

Mixing Quakers and Politics?

Update: I’ll be adding #qqtalk to tonight’s live Twit­ter blog of the Pres­i­den­tial debate. If you have a Twit­ter account you can just fol­low me at “martin_kelley” and non-Twitter users can see all the qqtalk posts by going to this “qqtalk” page. And def­i­nite­ly check out the fas­ci­nat­ing dis­cus­sions hap­pen­ing in the com­ments of this post!

Wess of Gath­eringin­Light just emailed me if we might des­ig­nate a “qqtalk” tag for those
of us Quak­erQuak­er reg­u­lars who are live-blogging tonight’s
pres­i­den­tial debate on Twit​ter​.com. Inter­est­ing idea but I’m wor­ried
that it will be too par­ti­san. I, for one, have not been live blog­ging
the debates as a Friend.

I’ve tak­en a lot of care to keep Quak­erQuak­er culturally-neutral
so that we keep the focus on the faith. I want it to be a place where
peo­ple from dif­fer­ent back­grounds and val­ues will find com­mon ground in
their inter­est in the role of Quak­er tra­di­tion in their lives. I’m a left­ie East Coast Chris­t­ian anarco-pacifist – veg­an, bike rid­er, you get the pic­ture, right? – and while I can argue that my val­ues jibe with my
under­stand­ing of Quak­er faith, I would nev­er want to pre­sume that you
have to adopt them to be a good Quak­er.

Part of the prob­lem
with Quak­erism in all of its forms is that we’ve mixed up the faith
with the cul­ture and some­times don’t know where one ends and the oth­er
begins. That’s kind of nat­ur­al but it’s led to a sit­u­a­tion where we’re
some­times divid­ed against one anoth­er over the wrong issues. We also use the words “Quak­er” or “Friends” as a short­cut for a range of val­ues and don’t do the work explain­ing how the faith leads to the val­ues.

So
in the few hours we have till the debate, any ideas about whether to
adopt a qqtalk tag? Drop them in the com­ments. Also, if you’re a Quak­er
who’s going to be live-twittering tonight, leave your twit­ter name
below so peo­ple can see what we’re doing on an indi­vid­ual lev­el if they
want. 

I’ll start off: 

I’m at http://​twit​ter​.com/​m​a​r​t​i​n​_​k​e​l​ley and have been using #debate08 for my debate cov­er­age.