Thursday, January 28, 2016

In 2016, Walk the Talk: "Anti-Islamophobia." (You can do it.)

December 6, 2015 — This week, American Jews are participating
in a series of nationally coordinated actions against Islamophobia
and racism to mark the eight days of Chanukah with a rekindling
of their commitment to justice. (See
As a person working to put a stop to war, it is clear to me that the conflating of the ideas of "the threat of Islam" and "the global war on terrorism" are the biggest obstacles to peace today.

Simply stated: Islamophobia fosters war.

We live in a 24/7 entertainment and media culture, and it is a constant struggle to shift from being a passive participant in the dominant cultural narrative to being an active influence on the ideas circulating in our communities.

Numerous groups are leading an effort to replace Islamophobia with education and conversation. (See links below.)

In particular, as an active participant in several church congregations, I recognize the responsibility of people of faith to move from contemplation to action. (Apostles act.) I invite us members of Christian communities to ask ourselves:

What are we doing to bridge the gap between ourselves and Muslims? 
(If we are not the ones to create the bridge, who is???)

Here are some of my recent blog posts on the subject of Islamophobia:

We all wish to be judged by our good intentions. But the way people know us is through our actions. So ... what do people in the Muslim world know about us here in the United States?

(See They'll Know Us By Our Actions)

The iPhobe is a humanoid robot that spouts anti-Islamic rhetoric and encourages fear and hatred in an unprecedented variety of ways.

(See Like your iPhone? You'll LOVE the new iPhobe!)

If we are going to stave off a U.S. war against Iran, we are going to have to have some very difficult conversations with other Americans. Some people are extremely hostile. It's confusing and a bit frightening, but we're going to have to confront it.

(See Why Does Iran Arouse So Much Hostility?)

In 2013 America, we have been conditioned to feel anything associated with Middle Eastern and/or Muslim men should trigger feelings of suspicion, fear, and hatred. And when those cues are triggered, all of our objectivity and healthy skepticism goes out the window.

(See Orwell and the Uses of Hate)

Here's something that would be courageous and valuable, in my opinion: zero in on the handful of people in the world who have their fingers on triggers of the massive nuclear arsenals that threaten us, and bring them to heel. That would be impressive.

(See The Wrong 3,000,000 Covers: Quel dommage! )

I wonder if the outrage that many Muslims seem to feel at the suffering of other Muslims doesn't put us Christians to shame.

(See Fighting Back: It's alright as long as you're a Christian, right? )

The biggest idea coming out of the 2013 Drone Summit? We will only deal successfully with the crimes being committed using drones when we understand them as part of the much larger war against communities of color . . . .

(See Drone Gaze, Drone Injury: The War on Communities of Color )

"Yes, I tell everyone: I'm Sicilian -- but," she said, "that doesn't mean I'm Mafia -- and German -- but that doesn't mean I'm a Nazi." And then she added: "And being Muslim doesn't mean someone's a terrorist! That's what I tell people!"

(See Kairos: "Muslim" Doesn't Mean "Terrorist"! )

I was back in New Jersey to visit with high school friends in July. It gave me the opportunity to visit the newly opened 9/11 Memorial. Not surprisingly, what I saw made me spend days and weeks thinking about the memorial itself, and the larger issue of 9/11 in our national life. Out of all that I have seen and heard and read and thought about, several thoughts keep rising to the top.

(See 9/11 Memory: Grieving and Celebrating Valor, Leaving Vengeance Behind )

Useful links to anti-Islamophobia resources

Veterans Challenge Islamophobia is an organization of U.S. military veterans, many of whom saw combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam, who are appalled by the current spate of bigotry, racism and hatred expressed toward Muslims, the huge majority of whom are law-abiding and productive citizens.

Messages from Veterans Challenge Islamophobia:
"Hate does not make America great. #VetsVsHate"
"Another veteran for Islam. #VetsVsHate"
"Hate speech has deadly consequences. So does war. #VetsVsHate #VetsFireTrump"
"I served with Muslims in Afghanistan. #VetsVsHate #VetsFireTrump"
"I am a Muslim and veteran. #VetsVsHate"
"Vets aren't props for hate. #VetsVsHate"
"Hate and fear are not American values. #VetsVsHate"
"I'm a warrior not a prop 4 hate. #VetsVsHate #VetsFireTrump"
"My ancestors were refugees. #VetsVsHate"

10 Strategies to Counter Islamophobia - Presented by Imam Malik Mujahid at 8th Day Center for Justice in Chicago, January 27, 2016.

Anti-Islamophobia events happening around the country

Talk titled “Challenging Racism and Islamophobia” at WB Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina (January 3, 2016)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ditching a Beloved Symbol (Rule #1 of Activism: Get With the Times)

The "Doomsday Clock" - a trademark of
The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
We need some new memes.

In particular, I'm thinking today about the "Doomsday Clock" meme -- the one that suggests we're just minutes from disaster -- created by and updated yearly by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

Now don't get me wrong: I've always loved the "Doomsday Clock" symbol, ever since I was a teenager spending hours and hours at the Chatham Public Library in New Jersey, where The Bulletin was prominently displayed in the periodical room. I have a lot of nostalgia for the "Doomsday Clock."  The "Doomsday Clock" penetrated my consciousness and probably played a role in inspiring me to study nuclear physics in high school.

And so, on a day like today when The Bulletin is holding a press conference to update "Doomsday Clock," I want the whole world to sit up and take notice.

My fear, however, is that the world is not sitting up and taking notice. Sure, as I write this "Doomsday Clock" is trending on Twitter . . . but it has to share space with #RealFansGetIt, #WordsThatDontDescribeHillary, Detective Pikachu, Senior Bowl and other examples of our society's preoccupations. An hour from now, the lineup will be new again, and "Doomsday Clock" will have fallen off the radar screen -- even though the threat it signifies will not have been one iota reduced.

Is it time for us to admit that the very fact that the "Doomsday Clock" has been around so long proves that the "Doomsday Clock" isn't getting the job done?

Watch Peace and Planet video by Alexandra Minos
Alexandra Minos, a student at Falmouth High School, won
 first prize in Mass Peace Action's student video contest for
a short video explaining the Peace and Planet mobilization
 to abolish nuclear weapons, April 26, 2015.
This is painful for me, because saying this forces me to confront the fact that much of my accumulated experience is rapidly becoming passé. The symbols that spoke to me and my generation may not speak to the young people we are counting on to carry the struggle forward.

Why not ask them? Why not use the social media tools at our disposal to crowd source the next generation of meme(s) to inspire the effort to bring us back from the brink?

I have no idea what millions of young people could come up with, if given the chance. But I'd sure like to see . . . .

Postscript 1/28/2016

A glimmer of what might be obtained by crowdsourcing came yesterday as a meme -- #MyLast4Words -- started to trend on Twitter. Thousands of people weighed in. The contributions ranged from religious to snarky to whimsical to X-rated. It was an explosion of creativity. Here's one that caught my attention:

#MyLast4Words: It might never happen

Naturally, I made a contribution of my own.

Related posts

What I'm feeling particularly energized about is the potential for the thousands of people who have already signed on as supporters of World Beyond War -- as well as millions more who are expected to do so soon -- to become active participants in spreading this good news.

(See News Worth Spreading: "There IS An Alternative to War!" )

This exchange has always stuck with me, because once you peel away the hopeless competitiveness and lack of compassion of these two characters, you are left with a grain of truth: if you want to succeed, you need to go where the conversation is taking place. The question for us: are we willing to check our egos at the door and get busy talking to people?

(See Antiwar Agitation in 2014: Less Mercutio, More Larry Levy )

I've discovered that there is a whole group of people who are actively passing along the latest news about Guantanamo (and a whole range of other civic affairs), and they can be found by searching on Twitter. That in turn leads you to certain "hubs" who distribute and redistribute ("retweet") the news on a particular topic. The interaction between the hubs and the "spokes" allows for incredibly rapid dissemination (and *digestion*) of the right information by the right people at the right speed.

(See The World Turned Upside Down - Huff Post, Wash Post, and Twitter )

Saturday, January 23, 2016

My Ten Favorite "Scarry Thoughts" Blog Posts from 2015

Some of the blog posts I'm happiest about aren't necessarily the ones that get viewed the most.

These twelve made my 2015.


I never quite understood how much of a Chicago story the Bomb and opposition to it really is. I can think of at least three reasons why people right here in Chicago -- today -- need to make themselves heard about nuclear disarmament . . .

(See Unfinished Business in Chicago (Nuclear disarmament, that is))


Far more important than the historic performance of fossil fuel stocks is the future correlation of fossil fuel stocks to generalized, systemic risk in the market, and their negative correlation to the few sectors of the market that stand apart from that risk.

(See The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Valuation )


What I'm feeling particularly energized about is the potential for the thousands of people who have already signed on as supporters of World Beyond War -- as well as millions more who are expected to do so soon -- to become active participants in spreading this good news.

(See News Worth Spreading: "There IS An Alternative to War!" )


Can there be any more clear illustration than the one at left to remind us that the work of the Church is liberation?

(See Christian "Church"? How about Christian "Liberation Organization"? )


"Once the boat went to full pressure, there was really no other option."

(See In Whose Machine Will YOU Be a Cog? )


It will be the 2016 presidential election that will provide the main form of entertainment and distraction to the U.S. populace between now an the end of next year. An enormous amount of political fluff will fill our lives -- pushing aside, I suppose, vast amounts of sports fluff and shopping fluff and celebrity fluff and -- well, you get the point.

(See What Will Dominate Election 2016? (ANSWER: ISIS and #BlackLivesMatter) )


It has required years and years of reflection to sort out the good and bad aspects and conclude that the diplomatic and commercial opening of China was part of a massive move away from conflict and toward peace.

(See THE EYES AND EARS OF HISTORY: A Perspective on the Iran Deal)


You might think that each person is just another face in the crowd, but if you look closely, they're all carefully drawn to depict an individual, and it's all these individuals working together that is going to stop Japan's return to militarization and war.

(See People Power Against War in Japan: A Lesson for Us All? )


Yesterday was the UN International Day of Peace. The day nudged me to think about what -- if anything -- I feel I really know about peace and the movement for peace. Here are 10 things that are true for me . . . .

(See #PeaceDay 2015 - Ten Thoughts on Peace)


As I walked home from today's service, I replayed the service in my mind. "The part about the visitor card was pretty good . . . " I thought, "and yet . . . visitor card . . . ? Maybe it's not really a visitor card . . . . Maybe what we should be calling them is participant cards."

(See Being Church in Logan Square, Chicago: An Ecclesiophilic Reflection )


"A terrible disease has struck the area . . . people call it the 'flu' . . . many in our own community have fallen to it . . . including someone very dear to you, someone in your own family . . . I'm talking about your sister, Margaret."

(See November 11, 1918: Another Veteran for Peace )


Hibakusha is a word that has traditionally been used to refer to people affected by the nuclear blasts in Hiroshima and Nagaski.  It is now being broadened to recognize the many additional victims of acute affects of nuclear radiation (including fallout from tests and radioactivity from mining and processing). In fact, we are all subject to the impact and threat of nuclear radiation spread indiscriminately by nations and corporations.

(See HIROSHIMA: What does it mean to say, "We are ALL 'hibakusha'?")

To be continued . . . . 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#NOwar - Permanently Trending on Twitter? YES!

All they are saying . . . .
(Won't you help them spread the word?)
(Please retweet this message!)

#DalaiLama: "we have been brainwashed" #NOwar
(Please retweet this message!)

What value might be obtained by having a really high quality "channel" on social media that people can tune in to for news and ideas about war abolition?

Currently, there is a growing community of people sharing links, images, and ideas using the #NOwar hashtag.

The key to making #NOwar trend -- and trend permanently -- is to have a lot of very high quality material there.

One way that I plan to help is by providing visual material -- "memes" -- that emphasize the "YES! #NOwar" message, and encourage people to spread the message and create materials of their own.

War abolition is a multi-pronged effort. The #NOwar channel on Twitter is a place for the whole world to bring the best ideas into a single place, for re-dissemination.

The forces of militarism have been very good at perpetuating a global state of war - a "permawar" worldview. Isn't it time we started to seize back the attention of the world for the vastly more popular #NOwar worldview?

Related posts

What I'm feeling particularly energized about is the potential for the thousands of people who have already signed on as supporters of World Beyond War -- as well as millions more who are expected to do so soon -- to become active participants in spreading this good news.

(See News Worth Spreading: "There IS An Alternative to War!" )

One thing that is clear to me is that the way community forms on Twitter bears the closest resemblance to the characteristics of community formation that we, as activists, need to work with from now on.

(See Twitter Community for Activism: What Do We Understand?)

I'm learning, along with everyone else, about good ways to get the message out on social media. My contribution this week will be to create "memes" (graphic + text) that can be conveniently shared by others on Twitter and Facebook.

(See "Memes" for Peace and Planet)

#FridayFeeling challenge . . . .

I found this great image here . . . . Let's see some people create some great #NOwar #peace memes . . . please share them with me @scarry and I'll share them with my network!

Speak out BOLDLY!
If you ask these kids what they really want --
fewer wars?
less destructive wars?
or no wars at all?
what do you think they would say?
Make #NOwar - trend on Twitter - until it's a reality . . . .
(Please retweet this message!)

Some more great YES! #NOwar materials . . . .

You put it perfectly, @planetepeace: "YES! #NOwar"
@CampaignNV @antiwarcom @peaceandplanet @VFPNational @CODEPINK
(Please retweet this message!)

#Dissent: it scares the hell out of #war makers
@MintPressNews @BORDC @defenddissent #NOwar
(Please retweet this message!)

#NOwar: the first step is truly saying NO ...
for then we begin to SEE the alternatives!
(Please retweet this message!)

#Japan #NOwar activists ROCK!
Let's support them!
@STWuk @berlinSTOPwar @Coley_EJ @teensSOWL
(Please retweet this message!)

Let's see #AmericaTogether saying #NOwar!
(Please retweet this message!)

Thanks new followers! Please share what YOU are
 doing to create a world beyond war! #NOwar
(Please retweet this message!)

Every speech act adds to the momentum . . . .
(Please retweet this message!)

LOVE this #NOwar mural from #Somalia
(Please retweet this message!)

"That bird really is a dove asking us for world #peace" #BernieSanders #NOwar
(Please retweet this message!)

A little Iraqi orphaned girl drew a picture of her mother on
floor #heartbreak #NOwar v @BecckyP @aiww @mutalabala
(Please retweet this message!)

In times of peace, the war party insists on making preparation for war.
As soon as prepared for, it insists on making war. (Robert M. La Follette)
(How do YOU say #NOwar?)
(Please retweet this message.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The REAL Election 2016 Story: Peace, Justice, Sustainability

I suspect that every visitor to this blog cares about the 2016 election, and wants to see the campaign conversation turn to issues of peace and justice.

[UPDATE February 14, 2016 - In the wake of Henry Kissinger's mentoring of Hillary Clinton becoming a flashpoint in the election, there is suddenly widespread attention to antiwar issues. See, for instance, "5 Top Reasons Why Bernie Sanders Would Be Best President for Peace: Why Peace Action PAC is endorsing Bernie Sanders for President" by Kevin Martin, Jon Rainwater in Common Dreams ]

I will regularly update this page with the several posts of mine that I think are the most important to helping to drive that conversation.

Comments are welcome!

The number one threat facing the US and the world is nuclear weapons. Nuclear disarmament is urgent. There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

It looks like foreign affairs are about to take center state in Election 2016.

(See Election2016 after Paris: It's time for someone to show leadership)

Anyone who has had to write a speech knows that the hardest part is to land on the main idea. Once you've got that right, the rest practically writes itself.

(See "The way to respond to ISIS is not through violence." )

We can't imagine that anti-racism work is just about specific police officers or even specific departments. Entire institutions of racist law enforcement need to be brought to heel in real time. It's a task worthy of a society-wide, national, federal effort. And it's top priority. No leader can ignore this reality . . . .

(See "If elected . . . ." (The Election 2016 and #BlackLivesMatter Nexus) )

The next group of leaders elected will have to tackle the climate crisis while doing crisis management in the face of a collapse in fossil fuel assets values.

(See The Feel-Good Folly of Fossil-Fuel Valuation