6) Backing Terror Elsewhere (School of the Americas)
To get the oil and other natural resources to fuel our gluttonous lifestyles, we sometimes back terrorist activity to help governments that are friendly to our natural resource interests.
And some of the governments we back, or paramilitary groups bent on overthrowing a particular government, can be best described as terrorist organizations.
At a talk on social justice in Bluffton, Ohio, I heard Fr. Tom Hemm speak about this issue. Fr. Hemm, who pastors a church in Ottawa, Ohio, was formerly in Chile for almost 30 years.
While in Chile, Fr. Hemm said he watched horrified as the School of America’s (Ft. Benning, Georgia) trained militia worked to undermine a government in Chile, with a reign of terror. Fr. Hemm said the government under attack had been favorable to the poor, but not necessarily to U.S. interests.
Fr. Hemm said many average U.S. citizens are unaware of this offshore military maneuvering. (Read: clandestine, third party sponsored terrorist activity.)
Sr. Paulette Schroeder in Tiffin, Ohio, is aware of it.
She went to Nicaragua on a Witness for Peace Tour. She told me she learned the U.S. government was secretly supplying the Contra forces in Nicaragua so we could have more of a hand in controlling the government there. (She said some of the leaders of these forces had also been trained at the School of the Americas as well.)
Sr. Paulette said they had been trained in coercion, torture tactics, abduction of the innocent…
Sr. Paulette continued that she learned the Sandanista Labor Movement, under the direction of Daniel Ortega, was trying to help shift the country to allow people to rise from extreme poverty. Education was coming to many impoverished villages, as were medical clinics and the like.
However, Sr. Paulette said the Contra forces were trying to undermine this with a campaign of terror.
Sr. Paulette’s group arrived in one of these Nicaraguan villages shortly after one of these terrorist raids.
It was just after sunrise the day the raid happened. People in the village were preparing for another day of farming in nearby fields. There were shots, explosions. A mother, Heraldina, grabbed her eight-month-old baby and began to run.
“BASTANTE! (STOP!)” Someone yelled. To stop was to die. She kept running. A bullet pierced Heraldina’s lower back and lodged in her baby Louis’s leg. Heraldina survived, barely. Louis lost his leg.
Sr. Paulette told me that was almost as appalling as the terror in Nicaragua, was what she perceived to be the “spin” she’d see about all this in the American media once she returned. (For instance, Ortega was being characterized as a communist, when what he simply wanted was social justice and basic human rights for all people in Nicaragua, said Sr. Paulette.)
As a presidential candidate, I have stood in solidarity with people protesting to close the School of the America’s. As president, I would continue to protest and work stridently to close the School of the America’s.
What’s more, I would work just as stridently to end American clandestine activities in other countries intended to promote U.S. interests.
7) Free-Trade Terrorists
In a more overt way, the U.S. has become “free trade” terrorist in pursuit of a globalization paradigm that is not only primarily about promoting U.S. interests, but it is also wreaking economic havoc and terror in other countries.
For instance in the agricultural arena, we parlay huge corporate profits into buying mega-farms that utilize the most advanced modern technology (huge computerized combines, high-tech tractors…)
In turn, these farms, because of the volume and speed of productivity, are able to regularly undercut small, subsistence family farmers selling to local markets in, say, Guatemala.
At a talk in northwest Ohio, I heard Bluffton College Economics Professor James Harder explain with this advanced agricultural technology in the First World, combined with cheap transportation and evolving free-trade, the small farmers in Central and South America are regularly being undercut – creating a tremendous social justice travesty.
With the passing of NAFTA, CAFTA (with the U.S. being a significant influence behind each of these), markets are being opened all over, often giving a distinct advantage, again, to First World countries like the U.S.
This in turn, is creating even more “terror.”
Like on the streets of Juarez, Mexico.
In El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez, we met with Fr. Justis Wirth, who teaches at Roger Bacon College. Fr. Wirth is a leading authority on the effects of globalization on Mexico and has written numerous articles on the subject.
Fr. Wirth said globalization had all sorts of possibilities to build one world and one people based on love, social equality and sharing “but the sad thing is that globalization has become all about economics.” Economics that is favorable to big business.
For instance, Fr. Wirth said the year NAFTA passed (again, with strong U.S. backing), the Mexican government stopped small subsidies to the family farmers in the interior of Mexico. Families that had been on these family farms for generations, lost their land. This translated to some 15 million people.
These people, for the most part, had no place to go but to northern border towns where multi-national corporations (including many American companies) needed cheap labor for the factories they were rushing to put up once NAFTA passed.
In these factories, laborers make an average of $3 an eight-hour shift. That’s not $3 an hour, that’s $3 a shift – in a country that’s inflation rate is higher than in the U.S.
We walked the streets of Juarez.
Some 200,000 people live in cobbled-together shacks, where there is no running water and no electricity. People there are tremendously malnourished.
Parents are working two shifts just to get by (barely) and youth are roaming the streets in gangs. The crime rate is skyrocketing. And the murder rate in Juarez is the highest in Mexico.
Yet the average American has little understanding about these free-trade dynamics, much less about the U.S. government and corporate collusion that goes on behind the scenes to set things like NAFTA in motion.
What’s more, the American people tremendously fuel this system by continually buying (if not becoming addicted to) the cheaper products coming out of these multi-national corporations that have, in a very real sense, set up unconscionable sweatshops, not only in Mexico, but around the world.
At Missouri University, in Columbia, Missouri, I attended a talk on Third World sweatshops.
Global Exchange’s Medium Benjamin said it would take a Nike Company worker in Indonesia two and a half month’s wages to afford one pair of company shoes, while Nike’s CEO, Benjamin continued, is personally worth $5 billion.
“There’s something wrong with this system,” she said.
We believe that too.
And our administration would push to back out of NAFTA, CAFTA, etc. We would also push to forgive Third World debt. And we would mobilize as many forces as available (both financially and through organizations like the Peace Corp) to help Third World countries become as sustainable as possible in helping build their local economies.
We would also work to stop American-sponsored, international “cultural terrorism.”
8) Cultural Terrorists
America has also graphically become a “cultural terrorist.”
That is through media/entertainment, we are now beaming sex, violence and rampant materialistic messages (massive amounts of advertising) into countries worldwide – hijacking and altering their cultures severely.
Author Richard Horsley in his book Religion and Empire said the 9/11 terrorist attacks were, in part, motivated by those “angry at the western capitalist consumerism that has invaded their lives and undermined their traditional values.”
Leah Anjali Sonwani would agree.
Several years ago, I interviewed Ms. Sonwani, who is from India. (She was in America visiting friends.)
She said in India two generations ago, it was slower paced with people generally focused on things of the spirit, on family, on friends… But now India is becoming “westernized,” she lamented.
Because of the influence of western media on the culture, Ms. Sonwani continued, that this generation is much more materialistically oriented. What’s more, she said there is more immodest dress, divorce, crime, illegal drugs from this influence as well.
And, Ms. Sonwani said youth in India used to generally respect their elders. Now with the messages coming from western shows, within a generation there has been a dramatic diminishment of that respect, she continued.
This scenario is now playing out in countries all over the world.
And it’s not hard to envision the terror in parents’ hearts as they watch their children incrementally lose their spiritual and cultural moorings in this sea of western influence (primarily coming out of Hollywood).
Given all this, objectively, it’s also not hard to see how yet even more anger is being generated toward the U.S.
On one front, many countries now look at us as a “nation of pornographers” because of what they see portrayed in much of our mainstream media entertainment, Gordon Clark told me. Clark is Ohio’s Ashland University Director for the Center for English Studies, which is offered to international students.
During a talk I gave to a graduate theology class at Bluffton College, I said Americans have become incrementally desensitized to the sin of immodesty, and to sexual sins in general.
As a result, it would be easy to see how people from more conservative cultures would look at us as “evil” in this area.
And, with even a modicum of objectivity, it would be easy to see how, on the domestic front, this media/entertainment is helping spike incidence of sexual acting out, violence, rampant consumerism… in America as well.
I told the Bangor (ME) News that we have become a society fixated on material wealth to the detriment of social health.
And while you can’t necessarily legislate the media/entertainment influence away because of First Amendment rights, you can try to educate about it at every turn – including using the presidency as a bully pulpit to help people see this for what it is.
9) Eugenics Terrorists
Now to an American terrorist activity that darkens the collective “shadow-self” exponentially.
Our culture has adopted selective breeding and selective killing.
Dale Ahlquist, in his book G.K. Chesterton (The Apostle of Common Sense), points out that one of the biggest proponents for eugenics was Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood. (She was a member of the American Eugenics Society and lobbied for sterilization laws that targeted society’s undesirables and unwanted, wrote Ahlquist.)
Adolf Hitler not only advocated for eugenics, he instituted it.
Ahlquist noted Chesteron referred to eugenics as “terrorism.”
So as an example, we kill and dismember (terrorize) unborn babies in their mothers’ wombs.
I met with anti-abortion activist Jonathan Martin in Great Falls, Montana. He takes his family to abortion clinics all around the U.S. to protest. Martin told me he and his family hold protest signs with graphic pictures of post abortion, dismembered babies.
He said people will sometimes chastise him because of how graphic the pictures are. And his reply simply is that it is the “truth.”
“With abortion we have become our own worst terrorists,” I told The Range News in Arizona. During the interview, I also noted there were 3,000 people killed on 9/11/01 in America, while the same day some 4,400 people (unborn babies) were killed on American soil as well, as they are every day.
But it’s often not just about the abortionist, or the women and men choosing to have abortions – it’s about the whole American system.
That is, Ahlquist writes that G.K. Chesterton would be quick to point out that society has “created a whole class of people who are unwanted. They are permanently poor.”
And many abortions are the byproduct of this.
10) Suburban Terrorists
In the U.S., for instance, these are people stuck in backwater rural poverty loops or inner city poverty loops.
We went to Green County, Alabama, the poorest county in the country. Downtown Boligee here used to have a bank, a grocery, a mechanics shop and a number of other businesses. Now it has: nothing. Boligee’s Gary Burton told me a “good paying job” in these parts is $7 an hour.
Kids here, if they make it to this world at all, grow up without much of a chance. As they grow up without much of a chance in inner city Cleveland.
(We moved our family here after Campaign 2004 to try to be part of the solution to inner city poverty.)
Kids here consistently grow up trying to dodge drugs, gangs, hunger, bullets… They are, in every sense, terrorized.
But are they more terrorized by a gang member’s gun, a drug addicted parent… or by an apathetic suburban culture that has built an invisible wall (higher property values, zoning ordinances…) to keep them out? By a suburban culture that leaves them abandoned, while suburban kids have every advantage.
And just as we terrorize, and abandon, much of the Third World, we allow for the terrorizing and abandonment of those of the inner cities here.
We just don’t look at it that way.
It’s too painful.
It’s too ugly.
It is, indeed, “apathy in the face of relievable human misery.”
All told in regard to every category above, would it be safe to say America is part of the “Axis of Evil?”
Sure, if you connect the dots.
So to “fight terrorism,” our administration would primarily start at home, on ourselves.
And we would look to even more creative ways to stop terrorism, at its roots.
11) Significant Roots of Terrorism (Iraq Sanctions, U.S. Backed Israeli Military, U.S. Military Presence in Saudi Arabia, Abject Third World Poverty…)
Just after 9/11, I told The Athens (OH) Post that we had to look at the “whole set of precipitating factors” behind the terrorist attacks on September 11.
For one, Islamic militants (and others in the Arab world) had become enraged by U.S. urged, and U.N. imposed, sweeping sanctions against Iraq.
These sanctions followed the first Gulf War and set up a full trade embargo that excluded medical supplies, food and other items of humanitarian necessity. President George H.W. Bush stated: “By making life uncomfortable for the Iraqi people (the sanctions) would eventually encourage them to remove President Saddam Hussein from power.” – Seattle Post Intelligencer.
This didn’t happen.
What’s more, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia reported these were perhaps the toughest, most comprehensive sanctions in history. And they were responsible for the deaths of some 500,000 children, according to UNICEF figures.
Given that innocent children were dying, it’s not hard to see why a significant amount of anger was generated toward the U.S.
Our administration would have not backed those sanctions from the start, because of the potential humanitarian crisis.
And to help with a “regime change” (if that’s what the Iraqi people had wanted), our administration would have clandestinely inserted experts on non-violent resistance to train key people in the general populace. Non-violent resistance worked in India with Ghandi, in the Civil Rights Movement, in Denmark during World War II….
Another source of great animosity in the parts of the Arab world is the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, where 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were from, and the U.S. backing of the Israeli military.
In his book Religion and Empire (mentioned earlier), Richard Horsley also notes that terrorists are “frustrated by a political powerlessness to resist repressive regimes backed by the United States.
A Fox News report noted that Osama bin Laden said he, in part, carried out the 9/11 attacks because of injustices against the Lebanese and Palestinians by Israel and the United States.
The Representative Press carried the following quote by bin Laden: “We swore that America wouldn’t live in security until we live it truly in Palestine.”
According to the Winter 2006/2007 Christian Peacemaker Teams newsletter: “Palestine is still under occupation” by the Israelis. And the abuses continue.
CPT representatives consistently report on home invasions, home demolitions, intimidation, beatings and imprisonment of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and settlers.
I interviewed CPT member Art Gish, who has gone to Palestine many times and is the author of the book Hebron Journal.
Gish said he has witnessed some of these abuses and he has stood in front of Israeli tank in protest at one point.
For more information on the Israel/Palestinian conflict, I attended a talk at Bluffton College by Ziad M. Abu-Rish who works for the Middle East program / Peace Building Unit of the American Friends Service Committee.
Abu-Rish, who is a Palestinian, said the Israeli / Palestinian conflict today basically boils down to the “oppressor versus the oppressed.”
He said the Palestinians, who have no state now, are considered the largest refugee population in the world. There are 3.6 million registered refugees, one-third of whom live in 59 refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said Mr. Abu-Rish.
He continued that the Palestinian refugees are discriminated against when it comes to laws of citizenship, education, land ownership…
As president, I would call for a suspension of military funds to Israel until a thorough investigation of these allegations was pursued (on both sides). This investigation would be carried out by an Independent Commission and the findings would be presented to the American people.
Also, terrorism is a complex problem and going after it in war is not the right tact, I believe. We must put our efforts into long-term programs to stem some of the precipitating factors behind it.
One of the main ones of those being poverty.
I told the Ashland (OH) Times that if a kid grows up in dead end poverty situations in the inner city of Cleveland (LA, Chicago, Detroit…), they are often apt to join gangs. If a kid grows up in dead end Third World poverty situations in Kabul (Baghdad, Calcutta…) they are apt to join a: terrorist cell.
I attended a talk by William Hartung, who is a President’s Fellow for the World Policy Institute. He said there is tremendous economic inequality worldwide between the First and Third worlds. And Hartung said there should be many more “programs for constructive opportunities for youth in the Third World (so they aren’t as apt to join a terrorist cell).
So another way to fight terrorism at its roots, is to pump a lot more humanitarian aid and other forms of help into Third World countries.
In Piqua, Ohio, we interviewed Ellen Johns.
She and her husband live in a modest, one-story home there. They have cut back considerably on their lifestyle to financially adopt 11 children worldwide through Child Reach International.
Their response to 9/11 was, not to get behind the bombing in Afghanistan, but rather to adopt their 11th child who was living in an orphanage near the Afghan/Pakistan border.
And in addition, if we are the victim of terrorism – maybe we should consider other responses.
Like that of the Amish.
12) What if the Amish Were in Charge of the War on Terror?
I recently gave a talk to a group in Oberlin, Ohio.
During the talk, I referred to the recent, and absolutely horrific, killings of eight young Amish girls in Nickels Mines, Pennsylvania. I then referred to a Sojourners Magazine article by Diana Butler Bass that ran shortly after the killings.
She noted the Amish practice of forgiveness unfolded in four public acts. First, some elders visited Marie Roberts, the wife of the murderer, to offer forgiveness. Then, the families of the slain girls invited the widow to their own children’s funerals. Next, they requested that all relief monies, intended for Amish families, be shared with Roberts and her children. And finally, in an astonishing act of reconciliation, more than 30 members of the Amish community attended the funeral of the killer.
They were “actively making peace,” Ms. Butler Bass wrote.
And then she added the following:
“What if the Amish were in charge of the War on Terror? What if, on the evening of Sept. 12, 2001, we had gone to Osama bin Laden’s house (metaphorically, of course, since we didn’t know where he lived) and offered him forgiveness? What if we had invited the families of the hijackers to the funerals of the victims of 9/11? What if a portion of the September 11th Fund had been dedicated to relieving poverty in a Muslim country?
“What if, instead of seeking vengeance, we had stood together in human pain, looking honestly at the shared sin and sadness we suffered?
“What if we had tried to make peace?”
Ms. Butler Bass proposes we stand together in human pain, honestly looking at our “shared sin.”
Given the U.S. “shadow self” chronicled in this paper, it is not a stretch to say there is “shared sin.” In fact, it’s not a stretch to say the U.S. may well be perpetrating a lot more “terrorism,” in all its forms, than most of the other countries out there.
Our administration would acknowledge this. Ask forgiveness. And work overtime to change it.
“‘…number one, there should be a while lot of bumper stickers all across America that say “God bless Afghanistan, too,”’ said Schriner.” – The Athens (OH) Post 11/12/01