Where Have All the Peace Activists Gone?
Ralph Nader was one of the keynote speakers. In a brief but passionate address, he discussed one of the key issues in our war-torn, drone-demolished world: minimum wage.
Yeah. You read that right.
It was the eve of Inauguration for a Nobel Peace Prize winner, and heroes of the peace movement surrounded me everywhere. We could talk about so many major issues directly related to war and peace, but minimum wage took center stage.
I know it’s a party. I know everyone’s there to have fun. I’m all about that. So don’t have speeches. But if you’re going to give serious time on stage to the great issues of our day, and then frame the event in the all-important theme of peace, you’d better be prepared to talk about more than minimum wage.
Why not start here:
- President Obama was the first president to authorize the assassination of a US citizen without trial.
- He raised the war budget to the largest in history and expanded American military presence into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and beyond.
- Even while removing combat troops from Iraq, he negotiated an agreement to keep US troops in Afghanistan until 2024.
- 2012 was named the “Year of the Drone” as it easily topped the most drone strikes in history. Drones have killed and maimed thousands of people in the last four years – including countless civilians – and terrorized communities across the Middle East.
- The Obama administration recently created a series of secret guidelines for drone strikes; but then it exempted itself from following its own confidential rules.
- 166 detainees still remain at Guantánamo as of January 21, 2013.
- Congress passed multiple editions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) under Obama’s watch, which allows US citizens to be detained without trial.
- The New York Times has named Obama “Warrior in Chief” and describes him as “one of the most militarily aggressive American leaders in decades.”
And yet, at a Peace Ball, the crowd broke into chants: Obama! Obama!
I actually support many initiatives of President Obama, to my conservative readers’ deep dismay I’m sure. I think a lot of people’s rights have improved in this country over the last four years, which I consider a great victory.
But that certainly doesn’t mean he’s perfect, or that his administration shouldn’t be held accountable for its other actions – actions that kill innocent people and deny rights to the rest of the world.
I understand that Democrat or Republican or Libertarian or Green, this was a party and thus a night to be merry. But when we celebrate peace, let’s celebrate the ideal – something we don’t have yet, and aren’t likely to get with four more years of the status quo.
(Photo: Graffiti, attributed to Banksy. Credit.)