Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

Thursday, August 23, 2007

AN ACTIVIST IN INDIA

This man's name is J. Narayana Rao and he lives in Nagpur, India. He works with a group called All-India Peace and Solidarity Organization. He is a retired railway worker and union activist. He and his wife live on a very tiny pension each month and they share a small apartment with his son's family. He rides around Nagpur on a small scooter.

Rao has been on the mailing list of the Global Network (GN) for many years but it was not until last year, when he organized the India speaking tour for Mary Beth and I, that we first met. Almost immediately he handed me several copies of a newsletter he had put out over several years, at his own expense, where he took space issues articles and reports that he had received from the GN and reprinted them and distributed them to his fellow activists.

We were able to help Rao come to Germany last spring for our annual GN space organizing conference. We've also added him to our Board of Directors.

Just yesterday I received an email from Rao saying that during the up-coming Oct 4-13 Keep Space for Peace Week he has organized an India tour for himself that will take him to six cities during the week. He has scheduled 2-4 talks per day with students at colleges, meeting with peace groups, union organizations, and women's groups. He even has a couple of talks set up with Lions Clubs in a couple of cities.

The U.S. is now trying to drag India into the Star Wars game. While there last October I noticed an article in a local newspaper saying the U.S. was encouraging India to form a Space Command. The U.S. knows that Star Wars will be so expensive that even after they cut social programs in our country they still can't pay for the whole program - thus they need to bring India, and other allies, into the scheme to help pay for it. India, with 300 million poor people, hardly needs to be spending its money on Star Wars. But logic never prevails with the military industrial complex.

So we are incredibly blessed to have a man like Rao helping us spread the word about the dangers of the weaponization of space throughout India. It reminds us that there are good people everywhere doing the work of the angels.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

PEACEKEEPERS NEEDED

Saturday, August 25 will be another demonstration in Kennebunkport, Maine protesting the Bush plan for endless war. This will likely be the biggest protest ever in K-port with buses of activists coming from all over the region and individuals coming from across the nation.

I am coordinating the four-mile march and police have informed us that two different sets of counter-protesters are expected. One group (the so-called "Gathering of Eagles") and another group of people - likely the local Republican committee who want to defend Bush.

My job will be to try to keep the march moving together, with over 4,000 people expected, and to keep our folks focused on a positive message when we pass the "counters" who want to get us yelling and screaming at them which they then hope makes the evening news. Their goal is to show that peace activists are not truly peaceful. Often, sadly, there are always a couple of people willing to accommodate the right-wingers and join in the verbal fist-a-cuffs with them.

We are asking experienced and peaceful types who would like to help as a peacekeeper to wear black shirts and meet with me at 10:00 am on Saturday next to the stage at the rally site. There we will have a peacekeeper briefing and give out march assignments to people.

If you are interested in helping, but have questions, contact me at 207-443-9502 or email me at globalnet@mindspring.com

If you need more info on the protest logistics just go to this site: http://www.kportprotest.org/

Hope to see you there.

(Read the Portland Press Herald story on the up-coming protest.)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

WHAT WOULD THE EAGLES REALLY SAY?


There is a right-wing group out there called the Gathering of Eagles. They have been put together to pursue and harass anti-war protests across the country, particularly those held in Washington DC. The logo above is from their web site. They maintain that those now opposing the occupation of Iraq are threats to order and the American way of life.

These "eagles" have been holding rallies in Washington in recent years and top level Pentagon brass come and fire them up. Lacking a strong and active citizen base of support for the Iraq war the Republicans and the military industrial complex have needed to create their own appearance of grassroots support for the war. The photo at the top, also from their web site, shows one of these war supporters holding a sign with a photo of Cindy Sheehan's son. To say they are crude is putting it mildly. They like to call peace activists "moonbats". Their goal is to taunt peace activists into arguing and ultimating fighting with them.

Not all of the "eagles" are veterans. I read a message on their web site from one of their supporters who talked about how he was thrilled to join their counter protest recently in Washington. As he stood on a bridge he said, holding a sign with the wind blowing in his face, he claimed he came to realize the suffering a soldier must go through in Iraq protecting the U.S. from the evils of the insurgency. The wind-blown warrior wanna-be was quite good at romantic embellishment of his "big moment" in time.

Some would say these "eagles" are harmless. I feel otherwise. I fear they are the first volley in the current effort to pit American against American as the corporate globalists move us into this cycle of endless war. The goal of the militarists is to make peace activists afraid to assemble and march in the streets. Maybe even more importantly, the militarists want to create enough tension and fear that the general public might too become afraid to join the protest movement. The chilling of a growing movement is their hope.
One of the saddest things is to see how the "patriotic eagles" treat anti-war veterans like those that belong to organizations like Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans against the War. Even these vets, who have served and know the truth about war, are vilified by the "eagles" as dupes or terrorist sympathizers.

You know that the military industrial complex is desperate when they have to create groups like the "eagles" to defend a war and an occupation that is now opposed by over 70% of the public. But there is a lot of profit at stake in this Iraq debacle - profits from weapons and major profits from the control of Iraq's oil. These multi-national corporations will stop at nothing to keep their dirty hands on these profit making schemes.

Some years ago I was invited to a different kind of Gathering of Eagles in the Black Hills of South Dakota. There Native American elders decided to invite white people of good will to come and hear their prophetic warnings about how we were killing the Mother Earth with our way of life. The white man's cars, houses, consumerism, and wars are draining the Earth of its life blood they told those of us that assembled in the sacred land of the Lakota. Go home and tell the people that we must change the way we are living or else there will be nothing left for the future generations they told us.