Category Archives: WAR

Honor A Local Veteran Today


These people are from Parsons Kansas, and are just a few veterans from my small town. I’m sure there are many more local veterans worth featuring. Parsons will always remember Cpl. Daniel Cox, killed in Afghanistan’s Wardak province in 2009.

Ron Phillips

Ron Phillips, 14th Air Force

My name is Ronald M. Phillips (Ron) and as I write this in Feb. 2012 I am within three months of turning 90. That means that I am a Veteran of WW-II, and I was drafted only a few months after the Pearl Harbor disaster at the age of 19. After my entry into the U.S. Military I managed to carefully observe the opportunities on the company bulletin board. By taking advantage of those opportunities I moved from Buck Private rank to that of “O” three, meaning–“Captain”, in the U.S. Air Corps. (which later became the U.S. Air Force.) After entering, and graduating, from the Airplane & Engine school in Glendale, CA, I entered the Aviation Cadet training center in San Antonio, TX and about a year later I graduated as a 2nd Lt. Fighter Pilot in Moore Field, McAllen TX. That put me into a ‘combat-ready’ status so I ended up being sent to China to join General Chennault’s 14th Air Force “Flying Tigers”. The “Tigers” by then, were known world-wide because of their record. In the nine months before Pearl Harbor they were known only as The A.V.G., or the “American Volunteer Group”. There were only one hundred of them to begin with. They were flying the previously used, beat-up old P-40 Warhawks, and had shot down 297 Japanese aircraft with a loss of only 12 of ours. I don’t believe that record was ever broken.

After Pearl Harbor the AVG became “The Fourteenth Air Force”, under the tutelage of Brig. Gen. Clair Lee Chennault, and that’s when I joined the Fourteenth Air Force, 23rd Fighter Group Flying Tigers. ~Ronald M. Phillips

Leon Crooks

Sgt. Leon Crooks (left) Rome, 1944

It took 66 years for Leon Crooks to be awarded a Bronze Star for his World War II service, including an act of heroism that saved the lives of around 30 soldiers.

Crooks served in Company B, Second Chemical Mortar Battalion, also known as the Red Dragon Battalion, which dates back to Aug. 17, 1917, in the first World War. It was the first chemical battalion in the U.S. ranks. Crooks had a total of 511 days in combat. This unit tied with one other unit for the number of days on the front line in the European theater of operations.

The Bronze Star award recognizes Crooks’ entire military service, from June 22, 1943, to Sept. 18, 1945, but focuses on an action on Feb. 12, 1944, after the end of the first Battle of Cassino in Italy against German and Italian forces.
The lull in fighting had provided the Allies and opportunity to relieve and replace war-weary troops, and First Sgt. Crooks and his driver, T/5 Herbert Aram were asked to move to the rear echelons to pick up replacements and bring back PFC Norman Gearhart and PFC James Egoff.

Leon Crooks receives the Bronze Star

The Germans opened up with 88mm guns, shelling members of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force, whose gear had been loaded on a mule train.

“I was talking to my driver, and I said, ‘A lot of men are going to die out there today unless we do something’,” Crooks said. “The driver said, ‘If you get a truck, I’ll drive’.”

They got a 3/4 ton weapons carrier and, making three trips under German fire, transported the New Zealand soldiers to safety.

“We’d pull up, I’d get out and load the guys up, and when we got all we could handle, we’d drive back to the aid station, which was not too far behind us,” Crooks said. “Then we went back for our men.”

The driver was injured during the rescue. Crooks said that Aram didn’t even realize it at first.

“He said, ‘Sarge, I  think I’ve been hit,’ and a piece of shrapel had got him in the arm,” Crooks said. “I was pretty lucky, I never did get hit.”

David R. Larsen

Dave Larsen (Navy Cross) left
Charlie Vance (Bronze Star)

David Larsen is a Navy Cross Recipient, for extraordinary heroism on 2 August 1969.

GMG3 Larsen was serving as a gunner’s mater mate aboard PBR 775 which was part of a two-boat night waterborne guard post stationed on the upper Saigon River. Operating in conjunction with the patrol, a six-man ambush team, which was providing bank security for the guard post, engaged four enemy soldiers who were part of an estimated 35 to 50-man force that returned the contact with accurate rocker fire, killing or critically wounding all but one member of the six-man ambush team. One man from the team managed to call for the PBR crewmen’s help. Armed with a machine gun and several ammunition belts, Larsen hastened to the assistance of the ambush team. As he led his small force ashore, he saw three enemy soldiers about to overrun the friendly position. He immediately rushed toward them, firing his machine gun, and single-handedly tu rned back the enemy assault, killing at least one of the enemy. Larsen then maintained a one-man perimeter defensive position and, although under continuous enemy fire, succeeded in discouraging further enemy attacks until additional help arrived. Later, armed with three different weapons, Larsen was the first man to take his post on the perimeter established to provide security for the medical evacuation helicopter. By his extremely courageous one-man assault in the face of direct enemy fire, Larsen was responsible for saving the lives of three fellow servicemen, and for protecting his shipmates as they administered aid to the wounded. His valiant and inspiring efforts reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Charlie Vance of Portland, Ore., was there that August night, and earned a Bronze Star.

“I brought out ammo and helped bring the wounded back,” said Vance, a former petty officer.

He said Larsen was an unlikely candidate for heroics, but he rose to the occasion.

“He was just a quiet old farm boy and he took in an M-60, and he was the first one off the boat,” Vance said of Larsen. “He actually saved lives.”

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Customs Of The Osage People


An Osage Village

An Osage Village

 I am writing this from the Osage point of view, written by memory from the writings of an Osage descendant, Louis F. Burns. I have found his book to be the most comprehensive. If you are a student or researcher, please consider Mr. Burns as my main reference here. While searching the internet, I have found several inaccurate sources with widely varying information.

This brief overview generally deals with the Osage nation prior to the “Louisiana Purchase” of 1803. After 1803, everything changed for the Osage people at such a quick pace that they were unable to adapt and survive as the proud nation that I write here about.

Osage Territory (1700's)

 For centuries, the Osage possessed the most prime real estate on the continent. The four-state area that they claimed during their height of power is a humid, temperate climate, encompassing just about every type of geography; wetlands, mountains, and bluegrass plains of the buffalo. Their enviable position in the center of the nation fashioned their customs and religious practices.

 The Osage style of government is thought to have been used by our founding fathers as a model for our present American style of government. The Osage had developed a special relationship with the French, and a group of the natives were taken to France a full half-century before our war of independence. A famous French treatise on this style of government was written shortly after this event and this treatise was indeed part of the model for our present constitution. Although no written proof of credit to the Osage is found, the similarities are beyond coincidence. Not the least of these is the concept of “inalienable rights” of each individual.

 At the top of the Osage government there was a powerful group of elderly ‘wise men’, who were referred to as “The Little Old Men”. The Little Old Men shared power and were made up of men from varied factions of the nation. It was their job to make judicious decisions based on petitioning from various counsels of “Grand Chiefs”. These Grand Counsels were specific to areas of tribal life. For instance, a Grand Counsel on war-making and another one meant just to lobby for peace.  At the more local, or “band” level, there was also some allowance for their own government. There were Chiefs and Councils at all levels. Sound familiar? This system was known to be in effect as early as the 1500’s.

 The government reflected the Osage personality. Slow to action and deliberate in all things, the system eventually became so top-heavy that it was cumbersome and had to be modified to meet the changing times. As such, The Little Old Men had a decreasing power as they approached 1800.

 The Osage had no concept of individual land ownership. The land was claimed by the entire nation. As a nation of hunters, these claims of territory were fiercely defended by warriors whose full time job was policing their claims. These small ‘war parties’ were not without rules.

Intruders were generally watched from a distance without them knowing they were observed. They were subsequently categorized and then dealt with. Although the whites considered these Osage people cruel savages, the punishments usually were comparable to the white’s justice.  

Three classes of intruders were considered. First was the traveller. If you were observed to be just passing through, and you took only what game and resources you needed to survive your journey, you would probably not even know you were watched. Minding you manners would save your life. Second was the hunter/trapper. These intruders were considered the worst, and were just common poachers as far as the Osage were concerned. White men would promptly hang a cattle rustler, and Osage warriors took it one step further. Poachers were beheaded and the heads displayed as a warning to any others with the same ideas. Third consisted of two different types of offenders who were treated similarly; settlers and traders. If traders were not poachers, they were not killed. If they were not trading directly with the Osage, they were however, robbed of their trade goods and sent on their way. The message was clear; Osage controlled the early merchants. Approved traders (mostly French) were encouraged.  Unapproved traders were harassed out of the area. Any trade with other native nations was not approved, as the Osage were constantly at war with them on all sides. Agricultural settlers, white or native, were treated much the same. Since the Osage were primarily concerned with hunting, and hunting territory, small groups of settlers were tolerated on their eastern border, along the Mississippi river. They were subject to some harassment though, and stealing their horses was fairly common. If they were not inter-married with the Osage, they were usually harassed until they left the area.

 At the time of Lewis and Clark’s expedition, the Osage Indians lived in most of Missouri, northern Arkansas, eastern Kansas and northeast Oklahoma. They were thought to have descended from one branch of the Omaha Sioux and migrated from the lower Ohio River Valley. They were divided into three clans: the Great Osage, Little Osage, and Arkansas Osage. Their first experiences with Euro-Americans came in the mid 1600’s when French trappers and traders encountered them. Early records from the Trading Post that was to become St. Louis indicate that early Americans traded with the Osage at nearly twice the rate of all the other Native Americans combined.

 The Osage had a special relationship with the French from the very first encounters. This has been attributed to the temperament and manners of the French explorers, more than anything else. The official French government policy was to subdue the Osage and make them proper colonial subjects. The actual practice was nothing like this. Several French were married to Osage women, and are now the ancestors of many thousands of Osage people. Apparently the Spanish and English did not have the good sense to treat the Osage as equals, and subsequently were nearly completely shut out of the lucrative fur trading, unless done by proxy through the French. Osage warriors were known to attack British soldiers on sight.

Osage girls married immediately upon reaching puberty, unlike boys, who married in their late teens. When the oldest daughter in a family married, her husband also got marriage rights to all of her younger sisters if he so chose. However, this did not happen often; polygamy was rare. A distinction was always made between the first born daughter and those that came after. Marriages were arranged by the girls parents, and though inter-marrying with other clans, tribes and even whites was done, it was not the norm. When a daughter was married away into other clans, it was a political advantage and the family ties were never forgotten. The marriage to a first-born daughter was the highest honor. When a baby was born, the town would have a naming ceremony to make it a “real” person. As the children grew up, girls were educated mainly by their mothers in domestic arts, horticulture, and gathering. Children of native and white mix were considered “real” people as long as they followed Osage traditions. If they did not adhere to Osage customs, they were allowed to move about the clans and villages as they pleased, but they were not “real”, as such, they were not spoken to, or spoken of at all. Usually these ignored offspring would live with their French relatives.

The Osage were not an agricultural society, but the women did keep gardens at semi-permanent villages. They grew maize, squash, pumpkins, gourds, and beans, as well as gathering wild fruit, berries, acorns, and nuts. In autumn they would harvest the crops and preserve them for winter. Families lived in lodges made of wood and reeds, or of tall poles covered with animal hides. The lodges were thirty to forty feet in length, with two doorways and an opening at the top for venting campfire smoke. They were permanent, yet villages were regularly moved just short distance when conditions warranted, such as sanitation, gardening, flooding and draught. Osage warriors left them twice a year, once in the summer and once in the fall, when they headed west to hunt buffalo. Although some women travelled with the buffalo hunt, the main job of women in the villages was to grow crops and gather food, as well as raise children and take care of the home. The only time the Osage used “Teepee” style shelter was when they hunted far out on the plains, away from woodlands.

There were ceremonies in all seasons for naming, mourning, peace, planning, and harvesting, where women would dance in the rituals, but singing, priesthood and religous ritual and authority were only the dominion of men. Women commonly got tattoos, especially to remember their husbands, if their husbands were killed. If a man committed a notable act of bravery he earned the right to tattoo his wife and daughters. Mothers taught their children well-defined rules of behavior. They raised their kids gently, disciplining them using ridicule and rewards, never physical punishment. Osage women carried their babies on boards on their backs, because it was convenient. As a result of this the babies’ heads were flattened in the back and stayed that way for life.

 The mode of burial among the Osages was to place the corpse in a sitting posture on the ground, at most only in a slight excavation, and pile around it a heap of stones for its protection. When the early settlers came here many such graves were seen in which the skeleton was remaining intact, and in some instances the flesh scarcely yet having entirely disappeared.

Related articles – tag/osage

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Antique Postcards ~ Fatherless Children of France, World War One


This card is dated 1918, and World War 1 had created approximately 3 million widows and 10 million orphans. Europe was in ruins, but the United States homeland remained completely unaffected, with a booming economy and the good times of the roaring twenties on the way. Obviously, this card is sent to let someone know that you donated to a charity for French orphans, in their name. What a wonderful gift!

Any Parsonions related to Mrs. Stella Lynd, 2718 Main?

For more about The Fatherless Children Of France; http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?_r=1&res=940DEFDD133FE433A25755C0A9679C946996D6CF 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Click the photo below to read the entire book of letters from orphans to their American benefactors. The book is ‘public domain’ from google.

The book above is priceless. Sweet, cute, and heartbreaking all wrapped up in one.

The true spririt of Christmas, COMPASSION.

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Postcard from Iwo Jima foxhole – WW2


Iwo Jima 1

The text of this card is printed below.  After some research, I believe Emery put the wrong year on this card. It should be 1945. ~ sekanblogger

Iwo Jima 2

(from) Pcf. Emery B. Schwartz  904965 – Co. A. 5th tank Bn. – 5th Marine Div. FMF – c/o F.P.O. San Fransisco

(to) Leon & Betty Hodges – 2409 E. Kellog – Wichita, Kansas

(body of text) Iwo Jima – March 18, 1944

Dear Leon & Betty,

  What have you kids been doing all the time since I’ve been gone? Alice says that Leon kept the kids amused the other night by drawing them pictures. I hope you keep drawing alot as it will come in very useful in many ways later on. On the way here a boy on the ship drew a different scene nearly every day. How are you getting along in school? Tommorrow will make one month staying in a foxhole every night. I’ve only had my shoes off three nights and things have been plenty rough all the time. I hope you study hard in school and learn a profession so you won’t have to go through this. I have to put this Japanese card in an envelope as they won’t accept it otherwise.  Love, Emery

———

(for the official Marine report from Iwo Jima on March 18, see below.) Please notice the casualty count. (X marks the end of sentence)

This is only the 5th Div report, the 3rd and 4th Div were also at Iwo Jima.

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BLEEDING KANSAS and Murder on the MARAIS DES CYGNES


 For many years I’ve driven by Trading Post Kansas, near the Marais Des Cygnes river (and now reservoir and wildlife refuge) without paying much attention to why it was named Trading Post. This was a trading post that was established specifically to trade with the Osage Indians. I did stop one time to read a historical marker about some murders that took place there. Now I’m a bit more interested in the history of Kansas.  This incident is also known as the MARAIS DES CYGNES MASSACRE, and the whole incident is a part of the meme of this blog. 

 The bloodiest single incident in the Kansas-Missouri border struggles, 1854-1861, occurred May 19, 1858, when 25-30 Pro-slavery Missourians seized 11 Kansas ‘Free-State’ men near Trading Post and marched them to a creek-bed nearby. The eleven men were lined up ‘execution style’ and promptly shot, apparently for no other reason than occupying land in a Free State. Five were killed and five wounded.  Weeks afterward, John Brown arrived and built a two-story log “fort”, about 14 x 18 feet, which he occupied with a few men through that summer. John had other armed and fortified encampments near the border. Ossowatamie is one location, and some reporters referred to John as “Ossowatamie Brown”. That December he led a raid into Missouri and liberated 11 slaves, killing one white man in the process.

 A Brown follower , Charles C. Hadsall, bought this property in 1858. Later, at the site of the fort, he built a stone house which still stands there today. The building and grounds are now part of a State Historical Site. This area, and some residents, were also part of the famous “underground railway”.

 The following is one of Brown’s many letters, documenting the turmoil in “Bleeding” Kansas. This letter was addressed to the Lawrence Kansas newspaper, the Lawrence Republican.

Trading Post, Kansas, Jan., 1859

Gents:–You will greatly oblige a humble friend, by allowing the use of your columns, while I briefly state two parallels, in my poor way.

Not one year ago, eleven quiet citizens of this neighborhood, viz.: Wm. Robertson, Wm. Colpetzer, Amos Hall, Austin Hall, John Campbell, Asa Snyder, Thos. Stilwell, Wm. Hairgrove, Asa Hairgrove, Patrick Ross, and B.L. Reed, were gathered up from their work and their homes, by an armed forced (sic) under one Hamilton, and without trial or opportunity to speak in their own defence, were formed into a line, and all but one shot–five killed and five wounded. One fell unharmed, pretending to be dead. All were left for dead. The only crime charged against them was that of being Free-State men. Now, I inquire, what action has ever, since the occurrence in May last, been taken by either the President of the United States, the Governor of Missouri, the Governor of Kansas, or any of their tools, or by any pro-slavery or Administration man, to ferret out and punish the perpetrators of this crime?

Now for the other parallel. On Sunday, the 19th of December, a Negro man called Jim, came over to the Osage settlement, from Missouri, and stated that he, together with his wife, two children, and another Negro man were to be sold within a day or two, and begged for help to get away. On Monday (the following) night, two small companies were made up to go to Missouri and forcibly liberate the five slaves, together with other slaves. One of these companies I assumed to direct. We proceeded to the place, surrounded the buildings, liberated the slaves, and also took certain property supposed to belong to the estate.

We however learned, before leaving, that a portion of the articles we had taken belonged to a man living on the plantation as a tenant, and who was supposed to have no interest in the estate. We promptly returned to him all we had taken. We then went to another plantation, where we freed five more slaves, took some property, and two white men. We moved all slowly away into the Territory for some distance, and then sent the white men back, telling them to follow us as soon as they chose to do so. The other company freed one female slave, took some property, and, as I am informed, killed one white man (the master) who fought against the liberation.

Now for a comparison. Eleven persons are forcibly restored to their natural and inalienable rights, with but one man killed, and all “hell is stirred, from beneath.” It is currently reported that the Governor of Missouri has made a requisition upon the Governor of Kansas for the delivery of all such as were concerned in the last named “dreadful outrage.” The Marshal of Kansas is said to be collecting a posse of Missouri (not Kansas) men, at West Point, in Missouri, a little town about ten miles distant, to “enforce the laws.” All pro-slavery, conservative Free-State and doughface men , and Administration tools, are filled with holy horror.

Consider the two cases, and the action of the Administration party.

Respectfully Yours,

John Brown

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Ten Years In Afghanistan


The U.S.-led Afghanistan war is 10 years old today. As Americans protest on Wall Street and even Wichita, the longest war in our history passes quietly.

On Oct. 7, 2001, President George W. Bush told Americans that “their patience would be tested in the months ahead.”

Ten years on, there are more than 10 times as many U.S. troops there as when the war began. And a majority of Americans now say the war is not worth fighting.

According to the Los Angeles Times, “Almost half of the population of Afghans is younger than 15 and have little or no firsthand memories of the day. Older Afghans seem to feel the war, which ended Taliban rule, has moved beyond its original intent.”

Although President Obama plans to withdraw 10,000 troops this year, few people know the facts.  Numbers like these;- $1.28 trillion,- 1,801 U.S. troops killed, 11, 200 Afghan civilians killed. These numbers, even when seen and heard, have little effect on people today.

Are we so desensitized by ongoing war, political bickering, and the world’s poor economy that we forget? 

Didn’t we go there with intentions to make the world a better place and help those oppressed by the Taliban?

Of course, I do not have the answers, only doubts and questions. I do know one thing in my heart; might, power and money do not make anyone’s point of view more correct than another’s, but only serve to hide the truth…. and, history repeats itself.

PRAY FOR PEA CE

This is a poster that hangs in my bedroom. It’s the real thing, printed in 1969.

For those readers who are not old enough to remember, there was something you don’t see today; real, honest reporting directly from the war-front & great journalism by people like Walter Cronkite, always accompanied by the nightly “body count”.

vietnam

Printed at the bottom: All statistics from Department of Defense – March 1, 1969

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The Myth of War (via The Christian Left)


Picture

 Here on The Christian Left we have shown that the Spirit is often made manifest through human action. We are proving that there is such a thing as consciousness, and it is expanding, opening the possibility of a future based on love and compassion. We have done so and will continue to do so not only through our faith, but by deconstructing the myths that perpetuate injustice.

Through the global dialog and participation of thousands now, and millions in the future, we are reconstructing the core principles of our faith, those based on the gospel of Jesus, one founded on hope, love, and charity, healing, and building community.

Having initiated the process of deconstructing the idea in many people’s minds of Christians as wild-eyed Crusaders, we as liberals are also confronted with secular myths, in particular the myths of war. Even ardent, good, honest, hard-working liberals carry myths to justify war. The most common myth of war is that it is inevitable. Christians have many historical examples of love conquering the mightiest foes. Christ himself advocated peace, and even healed the ear of the Roman that was hewn. Ghandi drove out the British without firing a shot. Martin Luther King, Jr. inspired a nation to confront the evil of racism. The lone Chinese man stopped a tank in Tianamen square holding nothing but a briefcase.

Our task, as those inspired by a bold vision of peace, is to provide a viable path to end war forever. This path must adhere to non-violent, Christian means, otherwise the end will be for naught. As we have deconstructed the good and the bad in the past of Christianity and constructed a new future advocating for the ill, the hungry, the war weary, the aged, and the children, we will deconstruct the past myths of war and create a future of peace.

A Practical Plan for Peace – Global Incremental Mutually Verifiable Arms Reduction (GIMVAR)
-Global

Ending war will entail assiduous and sustained effort from people in all areas of society. Without question, peace is predicated on a widespread, grassroots movement from all parts of the globe in all areas of political, economic, and civil society. On the surface, a global citizens movement demanding peace seems untenable. After all, so many conflicts rage across the globe. We have violence in every continent. The Saudi government sends troops invade Bahrain to suppress the people’s call for justice. The Americans are in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen. Turkey is bombing the Kurds. We see war in Chechnya, and Somalia. We see the threat of war in Ossetia and Iran.

Nevertheless, wherever conflicts erupt the civilians want peace. One of the missions of this essay is to inspire Christians large and small, of all denominations, and of all nations to act upon that sentiment and take bold action to stop the wars in which their governments fight.

Global arms reduction has several components the most important of which is reducing the dollar amount of weapons exported and reducing the total volume of weapons produced. Massive, sustained citizen input will be required for these demands to even be heard by most governments. It is our job as Christians to make sure that they do.

-Incremental

To be successful, the transition away from a war economy will need to be incremental. Obviously, a huge shift in military power will create power vacuums that may cause some to see an advantage in another’s weakness. Moving in a methodical, incremental fashion prevents a sudden shift in power and allows nations to make adjustments.

Secondly, those involved in the armaments industry will need to be incentivized to change their manufacturing and production to new industries such as green technologies, labor intensive industries such as organic farming, renovating homes to be energy efficient, the construction of green transportation and communications infrastructure. Providing a transition path for industry will reduce, but not eliminate, institutional resistance.

-Mutually Verifiable

Verifying that those you fear are also playing by the rules is the critical component to the long-term success of this program for peace. As Reagan said, “Trust, but verify.” Taking incremental steps, agreed upon by all parties, helps to improve the process of verification. Governments and inspectors can verify that all parties have met their obligations before proceeding to the next step.

Both incentives and punitive measures will need to be invoked to ensure that countries participating in the process toward peace satisfy the agreements they have made. Incentives could include interest free loans, or simply grants for building food security, or developing industry, or water conservation and soil preservation. Punitive measures could include economic sanctions, freezing of assets, or the denial of participation in athletic competitions.

Any punitive measures must be non-violent, for peace cannot be attained by violent means.

-Arms Reduction

Arms reduction will need to first focus on heavy armaments such as jet fighters, bombers, tanks, personnel carriers, artillery, warships, submarines, and other heavy weaponry. These types of armaments can be most readily identified as having one and only one purpose: killing human beings.

Small arms will also have to be included. While one may argue that small arms are necessary to protect one’s family, or to protect the people against the overreaching power of the state, reducing the number of small arms exported and imported is a critical component to attaining peace.

As Christians, we can choose to accept the myth that ‘war is inevitable’, or we can start taking concrete steps toward embracing our neighbors, loving our enemies, and eliminating the scourge of humankind – war.

God Bless!
Mark

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With Poverty on the Rise, this is no Time to Slash the Safety Net


The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

Karen DolanBy Karen Dolan

The increasingly extreme conservative ideology pervading Congress and the tea party is infused with a dogmatic creed of rugged individualism, used to justify policies that benefit only the super-rich and large corporations, while hurting — even killing — the rest of us.

As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) points out, living with economic hardship in this country means an early death. Rugged individualism works for those individuals lucky enough to be born with silver spoons in their mouths. For those unlucky enough to be born with a steel shovel in their hands…well, data shows they’ll die about 6.5 years before their silver-spoon peers do.

(martnpro / Flickr) Poverty, which the government defines as a family of four eking by on less than $22,113 a year, is soaring, and American children are suffering the most. In the world’s wealthiest nation, the Census Bureau recently revealed that more than a quarter of our children aged 0-5 are poor. The number of people young and old in poverty grew by 2.6 million, up from 43.6 million to 46.2 million. The poverty rate is the highest it’s been since 1993, and the number of people in poverty is the greatest since records began 52 years ago.

Meanwhile, as the poor get poorer, the middle class is shrinking.

Fortunately, our social safety net has kept millions more American children and adults out of poverty. Since the Great Recession began, government programs such as unemployment insurance, food stamps, and the Earned Income Tax Credit have played a critical role in keeping the poverty rate from rising even more dramatically.

In 2010, 3.9 million Americans, including 1.7 million children, were lifted out of poverty because of food stamps, while 3.2 million Americans were kept out of poverty by unemployment insurance benefits. Social Security provided a safety net from poverty to 20.3 million of us.

Purveyors of right-wing nonsense about government spending impoverishing our children and the middle class miss the big picture. Although those lacking health insurance increased from 49 million in 2009 to 50 million in 2010, and employment-based health coverage continued to decline, children were protected from this downward trend because Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) covered them. Additionally, President Barack Obama’s health care reform act, so much maligned by the right wing, enabled the number of insured 18-24 year-olds to actually rise by half a million last year.

What’s needed is more public investment, not less.

Obama’s American Jobs Act is a good start. It shows that the White House recognizes that we need public money invested in jobs that won’t just employ people, but will also fix our crumbling infrastructure. However, his calls for Congress to approve new so-called “free-trade” agreements with an anti-job track record is counter-productive.

Plus, we need a much larger-scale public effort to directly create green jobs that will quickly employ people, provide good wages and benefits, and reduce our carbon footprint at the same time. If we were to bring home the billions of dollars now being spent in devastating and costly wars overseas, we could actually pay for the significant investments that must be made at home.

We taxpayers are paying $1 million per year per U.S. soldier deployed in Afghanistan. For that same money, we could bring that soldier home, employ her in a well-paying green job for $50,000 per year, and similarly employ 19 more unemployed Americans.

There’s a way out of this misery. The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

Don’t drink the tea. Instead, fight for a way to end our unemployment crisis and for our children to be healthy and able to participate in a thriving future.

Karen Dolan is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, a community of public scholars and organizers linking peace, justice, and the environment in the U.S. and globally. www.ips-dc.org

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9/11 is No Excuse for Bashing Muslims


Violent jihadists don’t represent Islam any more than the Anders Breiviks of the world represent Christianity.

J. Richard CohenBy J. Richard Cohen

On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we’ll be transfixed once more by images of the planes ramming into the World Trade Center and people, caught in the flames, leaping to their deaths. We’ll see pictures of the burning Pentagon and hear stories of the heroic firefighters and police officers who sacrificed their lives to save others.

And we’ll be reminded that, despite Osama bin Laden’s death, violent jihadists are still a threat.

We’d be naive to think otherwise. What’s more, the threat has morphed in recent years. While we’ve made progress in eroding al-Qaeda’s capacity to launch attacks from overseas, we’ve seen an increase in plots hatched by “homegrown” terrorists — U.S. citizens or permanent residents inspired by extremist, al-Qaeda-like ideology. Indeed, half of the “homegrown” plots since 9/11 have occurred in the last two years, many of them instigated by the FBI.

There’s yet another danger, not only to our physical security but to our character as a people. It’s a danger that President George W. Bush warned the country about in the days following 9/11: the danger of branding all Muslims as our enemies.

(David Shankbone / Flickr)

Unfortunately, in recent years we’ve seen a revival of the Muslim-bashing that fueled a 1,600-percent increase in hate crimes against Muslims in 2001.

During the last presidential election, Barack Obama, a Christian, was portrayed as a Muslim and even a terrorist sympathizer.

Then, last year, anti-Muslim activists coalesced in opposition to the so-called “ground zero mosque,” a proposal to build an Islamic center two blocks from the site of the former World Trade Center. Exploiting the memory of 9/11, a small cadre of extremists who opposed the project created a national controversy brimming with bigotry and intolerance. They wanted nothing less than to deny American Muslims their rights under our Constitution.

The question some are asking is whether the anniversary of 9/11 will spark another jihadist attack. A more likely possibility? A new round of Muslim-bashing across America from those who want to divide, rather than unite, us — from those who forget there were many Muslims who died on that day and who would equate all Muslims with terrorists.

Their words — their depictions of Islam as a virulent political movement rather than a religion — have consequences.

We saw it in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when a Sikh man was fatally shot outside a gas station in Mesa, Arizona. His killer mistook him for a Muslim.

We saw it in 2008, when three men burned down a mosque outside Nashville.

And we saw it on July 22, when Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 77 people, mostly teenagers, in Norway.

Breivik cast himself as a Christian knight dedicated to stemming the tide of Muslim immigration. He wanted to jolt his country into recognizing what he viewed as the threat of multiculturalism in Europe. In a 1,500-page manifesto, Breivik cited the words of Frank Gaffney, Pamela Geller, and other U.S.-based Islamophobes dozens of times, making clear their influence on him.

So as we mark this solemn anniversary, we must remain vigilant against the threat of terrorism by Islamists who preach an anti-Semitic ideology that is antithetical to our democratic values.

At the same time, we must remember that violent jihadists don’t represent Islam any more than the Anders Breiviks of the world represent Christianity. Our democratic values require nothing less.

J. Richard Cohen is president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and antigovernment extremists. www.splcenter.org

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10 Years of 9/11 Wars is Enough


Media caution and skepticism are in short supply.

Peter HartBy Peter Hart

The 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is sure to bring televised images of somber reflection. Looking back is, in some ways, easier for commentators and pundits than wrestling with the current state of Washington’s so-called “war on terror.”

The United States is mired in two major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with undeclared drone bombing campaigns in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. Launching these wars was fairly easy for the White House, with or without congressional approval. How any of them ends, though, remains unclear. Even the NATO war in Libya, which by many accounts has “ended,” could become more chaotic and bloodier in the very near future.

(Defence Images / Flickr)

The shift from Washington’s time-limited military adventures that followed the Vietnam War — the relatively brief conflicts in Grenada, Panama, Somalia, and Kosovo, for example — to today’s seemingly interminable and endlessly multiplying military commitments is one of the most notable, yet little noted, features of the post-9/11 landscape. Regrettably, too many mainstream journalists seem all too willing to encourage Washington’s new “permanent war” footing.

The Iraq War, we’ve been led to believe, is the one that’s ending, if it’s not already over. Last summer’s withdrawal of combat troops was treated in the press as the conclusion of a very long war. But this summer the news tells a different story: Obama administration officials are lobbying the Iraqi government to hammer out an agreement that would allow U.S. troops to stay beyond the end of the year.

One newspaper called this a “vexing problem” for President Barack Obama, since he’ll have to explain why he’s extending a war he vowed to end. And recent upticks in bombings in Iraq inevitably trigger worry about how dangerous it will be for U.S. troops to leave. This is a strange conclusion, given that this violence is happening while troops are on the ground, and, of course, much of the violence in Iraq is a result of U.S. troops being there in the first place.

Similarly confused rhetoric defends the U.S. war in Afghanistan, where readers are asked to wonder what sort of horrors would take place if U.S. troops were to leave. The White House has a “withdrawal” plan, we’re told; “Obama Moves toward Exit from Afghanistan” was one headline after he gave a speech this summer. A newspaper article called it the “beginning of the end” of the war.

But the facts tell a different story: Even if the White House withdraws troops according to its proposed schedule, by 2012 the number of U.S. troops still fighting that war will be higher than when Obama took office. It’s downright strange to call that the “end” of anything.

Never-ending war has a domestic component too, of course. Massive police and law enforcement resources have been dedicated to racial and ethnic profiling, along with dubious terror “busts” that often turn out to be little more than schemes to goad people into talking about taking actions they probably wouldn’t undertake on their own. As Mother Jones magazine recently revealed, many of the domestic terror prosecutions since 9/11 have been the result of a dramatic increase in the use of informants and undercover operatives posing as would-be terrorists seeking to incite others to action. But each new “terror bust” is treated as big news, one more victory in the “War on Terror.”

After a decade of false alarms and fizzling terror plots, you’d think the media would be more skeptical of government warnings — and perhaps even exercise a little restraint. But then in July came word of a new al-Qaeda threat: terrorists who will sew explosives inside themselves. It was dubbed a “nightmare scenario” on NBC Nightly News. More cautious analysts pointed out that the difficulties in actually pulling off such a stunt would be considerable. But in a seemingly endless war on terror, media caution and skepticism are still in short supply.

Peter Hart is FAIR’s activism director. www.fair.org

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