Peace History and U.S. Foreign Policy

Image courtesy of Roger Peace

Is it possible to cultivate a peace perspective while studying American wars? I think it is, if value-based questions are asked and a corresponding framework for analysis is offered.

The peacehistory-usfp.org website, which I am developing with the support of the Peace History Society and Historians Against the War, asks whether each foreign war fought by the United States was just and necessary. This is the entry point for critically evaluating U.S. wars and foreign policies.

The standards for evaluating wars are situated outside of Washington but within the real world. They are rooted in the developing moral architecture of international norms, including prohibitions against national aggression written into the Charter of the United Nations (1945), human rights guidelines as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and subsequent human rights treaties, and humanitarian laws governing the conduct of war as set forth in the Geneva Conventions of 1949.
Having taught many U.S. history survey courses at the community college level, including 35 “U.S. in the World” courses, I have struggled to find appropriate resources that offer alternative perspectives to the dominant nationalistic viewpoints that infuse undergraduate textbooks and popular websites. Wars are typically evaluated on the basis of whether American power and interests were advanced, with little concern for “just war” principles or the harm done to others.

The goal of the website is to fully examine every U.S. war and major foreign policy orientation over the course of 240 years. Thus far, four of the eighteen planned entries have been completed: War of 1812, U.S.-Mexican War, War of 1898 and U.S.-Filipino War, and Korean War. Each entry comprises a short book of 28,000-32,000 words (roughly 85-95 pages), supplemented with images.

I invite educators to utilize the website by assigning sections for student reading. Feedback is welcome. I also invite scholars to participate in developing new entries, whether by suggesting resources, creating outlines, writing sections, or reading drafts.
The website does not purport to reveal an “untold story,” but rather to parlay critical perspectives commonly found at higher levels of academia into accessible narratives for non-history majors and the general public (history majors will benefit as well). In the War of 1812 entry, for example, I relied on the authoritative accounts of historians Donald R. Hickey, Carl Benn, and Alan Taylor, experts on the subject, among others. The perspective put forth is “new” only in the sense that U.S. textbooks and popular history have privileged the official (Madison) administration viewpoint, minimizing or excluding British, Canadian, and Native American views, and treating dissenting Federalists and peace advocates as losers. It will nonetheless appear new to many.

Peace scholars have added much to our understanding of the role of peace movements and antiwar voices in policy debates and protests. The intent of the website is not to fashion the story around these movements and individuals, but to give them more prominence and highlight their critiques. Readers and students should become thoroughly familiar with the idea that the prospect of war has typically engendered intense debate and opposition, that U.S. leaders have often resorted to underhanded methods to push the nation into war, and that militant patriotism has been used to intimidate and silence antiwar voices.

Apart from historical entries, there are two other parts of the website that have yet to be developed. One is a subsection in “Resources” to be titled “For Educators,” which might include lesson plans and curricula/syllabi for courses. Another is the “Connections” section, which I envision as highlighting recent newspaper and website articles connecting past and present.

To take one example, the New York Times (9/7/16), in covering President Obama’s visit to Laos, reported that “the United States had dropped more than two million tons of bombs on this country during the height of the Vietnam War, more than it dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II.” Obama offered $30 million to help clean up the still-unexploded bombs, which “lie buried under fields and forests, killing and maiming thousands of children, farmers, and others who stumble on them.” The war has not ended for Laotians.

In the end, I hope that the website leads students and citizens to intelligently question both current and past U.S. foreign policies, and to consider alternative international arrangements that build on international cooperation, mutual security, and common problem-solving. More immediately, I hope it serves as an outreach vehicle for the Peace History Society and Historians Against the War.

 


Roger Peace earned his doctorate in American Foreign Relations from Florida State University and taught U.S. and world history courses for 17 years. Prior to teaching, he worked as a local peace organizer and foundation director for nearly two decades. He is the author of A Call to Conscience: The Anti-Contra War Campaign (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012). Contact him at rcpeace3@embarqmail.com.

Hear Peace Historian Geoff Smith’s CBC Interview on the 2016 US Presidential Race

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Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

This week we begin a new feature in collaboration with the Peace History Society newsletter, currently under the editorship of Robert Shaffer of Shippensburg University. In the future, the Peace and Change Blog will periodically republish selected materials from the newsletter for our readership. Our goal is to introduce you to one of the key organizations behind Peace & Change and provide you with pieces about peace studies, current events, and other related topics of interest.

We begin our new series with an interview of PHS member – and recent winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award – Geoff Smith of Queen’s University about the recent U.S. presidential election, which aired on the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Commenting on the state of the Republican Party, Smith argues “that the Republican Party is not there anymore as a political vehicle.” Smith goes on to highlight Trump’s populist appeal, discussing how the Republican candidate has reached “out to groups in various areas of economic life that have been depressed, and that have been put down, people who feel aggrieved.”

Smith also discussed the issue of racism in the Republican Party, highlighting how Trump “stands for white America.” According to Smith, the key to a Democratic victory in November is to challenge Trump’s racist rhetoric and make it clear to the U.S. public that Trump is “not presidential.”

For those interested hearing more of the Smith’s thoughts on the current U.S. presidential election, follow this link for the full interview.

Lost Girls: Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Eithne Leahy

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About four months ago, I came upon a post on Tumblr. It was no more than three hundred words and unsourced (a serious red flag), but it seemed to strike a chord with me. When I took the position of social media intern for this blog back in January, I knew that this was something that I wanted to write about. Now, as May approaches, I can think of nothing better to leave with.

When researching this piece, for all intents and purposes, I went in blind. I knew nothing more about this issue than what a brief Google search told me- that rates of murdered and missing indigenous women in Canada were much higher compared to white and other non-native ethnicities. So when I emailed the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) and asked for an interview, I’m not sure what I expected. I definitely did not expect to find myself Skyping with Dr. Dawn Lavell-Harvard, president of the NWA’s Board of Directors. What I learned from my conversation with Dr. Lavell-Harvard is that the problem of violence towards indigenous women is neither a recent problem nor small-scale, but the culmination of generations of abuse and neglect from the Canadian government and society at large.

The NWAC was formed in 1974 as a consolidation of thirteen different indigenous women’s groups, all focused on the advancement of native women, who, since the implementation of the Indian Act in 1867, had lost all claim to their tribal identities except through their fathers. In other words, native women were only “Indian” through their relationships to their fathers and husbands. If a native woman married a nonnative person, she and her children would lose their “native” status. This law remained in practice until April 1985, when Bill C-31 forced an amendment to the Indian Act, stating that, pursuant to section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the gender discrimination enforced by the Indian Act was unethical as well as unlawful.[i]

The Indian Act was not the start of violence against indigenous women, just as the passing of Bill C-31 was not the end. In 2013, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) released a report on a national investigation into the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women and released some disturbing statistics. Since 1980, there have been 1,181 reports indigenous women who have either gone missing or been murdered. As of 2011, the indigenous population counted as 4.3% of Canada’s total population. As one of Canada’s smallest ethnic groups, it has one of the highest numbers of murdered and missing women.  It is important to note that there additionally untold hundreds of cases every year that go unreported. According to Dr. Lavell-Harvard, going to the police is not always a safe option for indigenous women.

Starlight tours, as they have come to be known, are one of the possibilities deterring indigenous women from reporting crimes. Starlight tours involve police officers, usually men, taking indigenous men and women out of towns and cities and leaving them in the cold to find their way home. When women are involved, rape threats are usually involved as well. In the winter, this can be a death sentence, as it has been time and time again[ii]

The dehumanization of native women does not stop here. The rates of native women in poverty are exponential compared to other ethnic identities. First Nations communities have extremely high risks of suicide, poverty, and Child Welfare Apprehension (known in the US as Child Protection Services) call-ins, as well as unusually high rates of murdered and missing women. As Dr. Lavell-Harvard said, “Racism and sexism have existed in Canada since time immemorial, and history is dependent on the displacement and dehumanization of indigenous peoples.” This rings all too true, especially in regards to First Nations children.

In September 2014, the provincial government of Manitoba was made subject of an inquiry. The inquiry focused on allegations of mistreatment and neglect of children by the state, but also unveiled some disturbing practices. According to the allegations, the CWA in Manitoba, after running out of beds in foster homes and shelters, checked young children into Best Westerns around Winnipeg and left them unsupervised. This practice came under fire after the brutal sexual assault of a fifteen-year-old native girl.[iii]

After the inquiry was released, judges and lawyers in Manitoba advocated for the children to be taken out of hotels and placed back into foster homes. With no room in the shelters, these children were sent to youth detention centers, and incarcerated alongside violent young people. Suicide rates among these children (many of whom are indigenous) have skyrocketed.[iv] Many of these children remain in police custody pending foster placement.

The past ten years has seen a surge of interest in this issue. After the RCMP released its report in 2013, the UN Human Rights’ Commission released a report, berating the Canadian government for its failure to protect indigenous women and girls. The Human Rights Watch has begun an inquiry, a CBC, one of Canada’s leading news sources, maintains a series of articles dedicated to missing and murdered indigenous women. Dr. Lavell-Harvard also expressed optimism for Trudeau’s administration, as justice for indigenous women was ne of his major campaign issues. She was however, very adamant that, as strange as it sounds, Trudeau is just one Prime Minister. For Lavell-Harvard’s vision of justice, there must be multiple administrations with similar attitudes spanning at least a decade. As she said, one “cannot address within one term of office decades of neglect.”

 

Learn how you can get involved at http://www.nwac.ca

 

Edit: As of May 10, 2016, Canada has officially adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a document which recognizes the rights of self-determination, language preservation, and land ownership.[v] Whether this will have any affect on the epidemic of violence against indigenous women remains to be seen.

 

 

[i] http://www.ictinc.ca/indian-act-and-women’s-status-discrimination-via-bill-c-31-bill-c-3

[ii]  http://www.cbc.ca/news2/background/aboriginals/starlighttours.html

[iii] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/manitoba-ends-placement-of-foster-children-in-hotels-across-the-province/article27538419/?service=mobile

[iv] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/lack-of-foster-spots-keep-manitoba-kids-in-jail-watchdog-says/article23963168/?service=mobile

[v] http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/aboriginal/canada-adopting-implementing-un-rights-declaration-1.3575272

Writing a Twentieth Century American Peace History Textbook for Students

By Chuck Howlett, Molloy College

Chuck Howlett is a professor at Molloy College with an extensive background in peace studies. His previous works include Troubled Philosopher: John Dewey and the Struggle for World Peace (Kennikat, 1977) and Brookwood Labor College and the Struggle for Peace and Social Justice (Mellen Press, 1993) among others. His newest textbook,  The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present hit the shelves in April 2016 and is available in both paper- and hardback through Amazon and other booksellers.

 

   There are many worthy scholarly surveys detailing the history of the struggle for peace in America’s past. One can easily consult Merle Curti’s classic, Peace or War: The American Struggle, 1636-1936 (1936), Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr’s (my mentor) The Civilian and the Military (1956), Charles DeBenedetti’s The Peace Reform in American History (1980), which deservedly updated Curti’s important contribution to the study of peace efforts, Charles Chatfield’s The American Peace Movement: Ideals and Activism (1992), which addresses the peace movement from a social theory perspective, and, more recently, the very large survey by Charles F. Howlett & Robbie Lieberman, A History of the American Peace Movement from Colonial Times to the Present (2008). Each of these works is richly detailed and thoroughly documented with comprehensive end notes. These works, however, are designed more for scholarly audiences than undergraduate students interested in learning more about the peace/antiwar movement in the nation’s past.

    Rather interestingly, it was Lewis Paul Todd of Teachers College, Columbia University, and Merle Curti, who formerly taught there and then went on to a distinguished scholarly career at the University of Wisconsin, who were the first to include a discussion of the history of the American peace movement in their very popular high school textbook, America’s History (1951). Naturally, textbook publishers of American history textbooks were reluctant to address peace activism given the emphasis placed upon patriotic citizenship in social studies classrooms. However, despite the post-World War II Cold War atmosphere, the enormous cost of blood and treasure exacted from the war and the advent of the atomic, then, nuclear, bomb convinced the authors that it was time to remind the nation’s secondary school students that the struggle for peace was, indeed, part of the American experience.

    Unfortunately, the aftershocks of McCarthyism and the post-World War I Wilsonian internationalists were consumed by the Cold War and need to contain the spread of communism. The textbooks being published at the time chose to emphasize America’s military successes at the cost of defining the contributions made by peace activists. Peace through strength, a theme we are currently hearing in the Presidential primaries, became the mantra defining America’s greatness in the twentieth century. Only the Todd-Curti textbook survived the test of time.

    The Vietnam War provided renewed enthusiasm for the development of peace history and peace studies. Although numerous scholars began creating peace history courses there still was no textbook designed specifically for student use. The scholarly surveys above clearly fulfilled their mission, of course. Peace educators, like David Barash and Ian Harris, were more effective in developing peace texts, although not from a historical perspective. These works were more practical as manuals in terms of how to work for peace within the context of presentism. In large measure, the pioneering efforts of Morton Deutsch of Columbia Teachers College made peace studies a respectable endeavor and his ideas were certainly incorporated by Barash, and Harris, among others.

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    Given these circumstances and the current realities of world politics marked by a failed mission in Iraq, the widespread growth of terrorism, and, of course, the events surrounding the 9/11 attacks on American soil, I decided to revise, reorganize, and develop a simple narrative text addressing the role of peace activism in the United States from the time of World War I, a turning point in global history, to the present. My first debt of gratitude, of course, belongs to Robbie Lieberman. During the Iraq War, I invited Robbie to collaborate with me on a comprehensive survey of the American peace movement. The above-mentioned work is the fruit of our combined efforts. The work received very positive reviews, but like most surveys it did not provide a substantial analysis of all the peace organizations and the leadership issues surrounding their successes or failures. The same could be said for all the movements related to peacework, past and present. However, it served its purpose in terms and breadth and scope. My second debt is to Scott Bennett. He suggested that I take on the assignment of developing an inexpensive text in paperback suitable for classroom adoption. That was the hard part. While I knew how to strategically put together a reliable textbook, the real problem was affordability for students given how expensive textbooks are today

   While I invited Robbie to partake in this new adventure, I appreciated her response that she had numerous outside and administrative tasks to address and therefore could not participate. Hence, given my own background teaching in the Division of Education at Molloy College and determination to follow through on Scott’s recommendation, I tailored the textbook to the most relevant aspects of the twentieth century and the fact that the most dynamic aspects of peace activism were in response to the world wars and regional global conflicts such as Korea, Vietnam, antinuclear activism so compelling described by Larry Wittner’s excellent global analysis, and the Middle East, currently ongoing. Let me explain how the textbook, The American Peace and Justice Movement from the Early Twentieth Century to the Present was constructed and why educators can use it with their students. What should be considered in terms of content and pedagogy in the current political and cultural environment?

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    First, with respect to content, there are two very important themes I attempted to convey. The first theme I wanted to express is that peace activists in American history are not really obstructionists; they are the embodiment and expression of what democracy is all about. Their right to dissent from war is based on a careful analysis of social, political, and economic events and a strong desire to make America a better place in which to live. Second, when looking at the facts, the individuals and organizations working for peace are not unpatriotic. It’s just the opposite because they truly care about their society; they are not out to destroy it but to improve it.

    Both of these concepts can be developed into pedagogy for teaching peace history. As I noted many years ago in the American Historical Association pamphlet with Glen Zeitzer, The American Peace Movement: History and Historiography (1985): “American historians for the most part continue to view peace history as a separate discipline and have not sought to integrate peace research into their own work….[P]eace history remains a tangential part of America’s history.” Sadly, and a motivating reason for developing this particular text, is that “When peace movements…have been included in textbooks, diplomatic studies, or histories of domestic America, it has often been pejoratively, in order to criticize pacifists as obstructionists or traitors to the realpolitik patriotism of the national policy known as war. The justification for omitting peace history has been that without war, or at least the threat of war, pacifism is merely a reactive ideology, with little to offer on its own.” Yet, the record does show that not only do pacifists, for example, oppose war and armaments, they also embrace social justice issues like pollution, racism, worker oppression, and colonialism. Peacework is an active ideology in that these activists have presented and continue to present “unique alternative to the policies they oppose.”

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Demonstration against conscription in Times Square, New York, New York, 1916, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Records.  Photo courtesy of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

    Structurally and in terms of content in order to drive home these concepts, I first wrote an introductory chapter that covered the origins and actions of the history of the peace movement from colonial times to the end of the nineteenth century. In this chapter I touched upon the main themes of religious non-resisters, most notably the Society of Friends and the work of John Woolman who exemplified peace action described in his journal as not only one of opposing violence and war but also criticizing the evils of slavery. I proceeded to describe the origins of the organized peace movement and its conservative and religious humanitarian outlook while criticizing it for lacking any real understanding of the economic causes leading to war—a charge Curti effective made in his important study. The work of Elihu Burritt and how he effectively used peace propaganda is included, which emphasizes the activist perspective mentioned above. Also included are discussions related to the growth of international arbitration at the turn of the new century. Simply put, the design of the book is to set the tone and substance of what is to follow and to demonstrate that Americans working for world peace and justice has always been part of the nation’s experience.

    It is after that initial chapter when I launch into my narrative in lively detail discussing the emergence of a more radical form of peace activism emerging from World War I. What I attempt to do is contrast the respectable work of peace activism before the war to a more wide-ranging examination of peace efforts addressing not only the problem of war and internationalism but also racial justice and the role of the labor movement. The defining aspect here is that the postwar peace movement, captured by the efforts of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the American Friends Service Committee, the War Resisters League, and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, now began to publicize the idea that peace is more than the absence of war. It is also about justice!

    Thus throughout the remaining chapters not only are the events discussed surrounding opposition to America’s wars in the twentieth century but also some of the emerging leaders like A.J. Muste, Jane Addams, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Emily Greene Balch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and a host of others. One telling point in terms of pedagogy is that the peace movement that evolved after World War I is largely defined by the seminal role women played in it. In contrast to the male-dominated movement in the nineteenth century, the new movement was greatly influenced by female activists who had tied their struggle for suffrage to the battle for peace. At the same time, explanations are provided for how the organized peace movement called for an end to racial discrimination in America through helping to establish the Congress of Racial Equality during World War II to participating in the Journeys of Reconciliation in the late 1940s and early 1960s. The early 1970s revolt on the part of Native Americans for justice is also discussed as part of the larger narrative for peace.

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Eugene V. Debs speaking in Canton, Ohio, 1917. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society

    Looking at the movement in terms of political success, the narrative addresses how the peace movement sought to mediate the conflict between American Marines and Augusto Sandino in Nicaragua in the late 1920s, how it played an important role in supporting the Washington Naval Arms Limitation Treaty of 1921-22, influencing the treaty to outlaw war in 1928, although flawed but nonetheless an expression of postwar peace sentiment, the US Senate examining the munitions industry—“Merchants of Death”—on the part of the Nye Committee in 1934-35, the adoption of the 1973 War Powers Act stemming from the Vietnam War, the origins of anti-nuclear activism during the 1950s to the “Freeze” in the 1980s, the popularity of the sanctuary movement in the 1980s—this can be tied to the ongoing immigration debate today—and the influence and role of the internet in mobilizing worldwide support for peace during the Iraq War. These are just some examples the text addresses and, which can be used for discussion purposes in the classroom.

    What should make this text appealing to students is that it is written in narrative form and seeks to minimize quoted material. Since this work is derived from the much larger survey Robbie and I co-wrote, interested parties can refer to the extensive citations listed in the back of that work. Another feature is that the book tries to tell a story through each chapter. Although designed as a textbook, the narrative is told in complete chapter form and is not broken down into subtopics. Purposely, I chose to frame it in such a way that instructors can use it to develop appropriate essential questions for in-class discussion as well as encouraging students to read it for critical comprehension. Rather than developing a set of questions for each chapter, which is normally found in textbooks, I decided to let the narrative speak for itself.

    Lastly, there is included a few illustrations and charts tailored to highlight the topic under discussion. While I wanted to include a number of images as part of the text, the cost was prohibitive. So, to compensate for that, I included a series of appendices. These appendices were created to assist students get a better feel for the history of peace activism itself. Included are a list of notable peace leaders, a chronology of events, a brief description of peace organizations, and some primary source documents. The tone, substance, and balance of this textbook resulted in a paperback edition of close to three hundred pages and priced, presently, at $39.95.

    By focusing on new insights and interpretations that demonstrate knowledge of the field, it is my hope that students will become more familiar with how democracy encourages citizens to play an active role in the struggle for peace. This particular exercise was designed to demonstrate to students that individuals like them took an active interest in issues such as peace and justice from a grassroots perspective and that their non-governmental participation can not only improve our democratic way of life but make it better.

    Equally important, while the popular culture may not give much credence to studying peace history, it certainly cannot ignore the reality for scholars that writing a textbook about peace and antiwar movements helps refine the process of thinking about the critical issues of the day. The purpose is thus very simple. It is to achieve one very important common objective, which was so eloquently stated by publisher Alfred A. Knopf.  When Knopf asked the eminent Columbia University cultural historian Jacques Barzun to write a book about teaching all Barzun could do was ask why? Knopf, in his own inimitable way, succinctly responded: “the substance of what we think, though born in thought, must live in ink.”                                             

RMCLAS 2016

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This past week I attended the 63rd Annual Meeting of the Rocky Mountain Conference for Latin American Studies hosted by the Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies (RMCLAS) in Santa Fe, NM. While at the conference, I attended a number of panels and roundtables that presented scholarship and teaching practices that might prove interesting to peace and activist scholars.

Transnationalism proved a popular topic at the conference with three panels and a roundtable discussion dedicated to the theme. It is also not surprising that I attended these panels considering that I examine transnational networks. One particular panel, titled “Without Passports: International Solidarity in the Cold War,” presented a different views on international cooperation between North American and Latin American activists. In “International Agents: Locating Transnationalism in the Chicano Movement,” University of New Mexico graduate student Victor Andrew Oneschuck detailed the connections between the Chicano movement and political movements in Cuba and Nicaragua. Taylor Perk, also a graduate student at the University of New Mexico examined the often contested relationship between U.S. and Chilean Maoists with his paper titled “A World to Win: Chile, the United States, and the Formation of Maoism.” Finally, Griselda Jarquin, a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, discussed the transnational activism of The Berkeley-Leon Sister City Association during the Nicaraguan Revolution.

Sprinkled among the various panels were a number of other papers that addressed activism in Latin America. Claudia Rueda, a professor at Texas A&M at Corpus Cristi, detailed the relationship between Nicaraguan students and U.S. diplomats in the 1960s with her paper, “Unlikely Bedfellows: Nicaraguan Students and their Allies in the 1960s.” In a look at more contemporary Latin American protest, Cheryl Jiménez Frei, a doctoral candidate at the University of California, Santa Barbara, examined monuments and memorials as sites of political protest and contestation in modern Buenos Aires in her paper, “Public Protest, Performance, and Participation: Shaping Historical Memory and the Monumental Landscape in Buenos Aires.”a. In the same panel, Sarah Cline, a professor of history at University of California, Santa Barbara, highlighted the importance of Wikipedia as a space for academics to participate in public history, arguing that creating content for the digital encyclopedia would reach far more readers than is possible with traditional scholarly publications.

One panel that might be particularly interesting to the readership of Peace and Change addressed the current legal struggles of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States. Elizabeth Hutchison (ehutch@unm.edu) and Kimberly Gauderman (kgaud@unm.edu), both faculty at the University of New Mexico, joined Maria Baldini-Poterman and Natalie Hansen (natalie@hansentaylor.com), both lawyers specializing in asylum cases, to discuss the experiences of and difficulties faced by those fleeing Central America out of fear for their own safety. For many fleeing Central American violence, their experience in the United States is little better than the one the left, with many being held for months, and sometimes years, in squalid detention centers along the border. If denied asylum, many refugees are deported back to their home country where a majority fall victim to the violence they fled. In response, the presenters highlighted the need for scholars as “expert witnesses” and issued a call to action, asking that those interested provide their emails in order to join a growing database of academics and other experts willing to help those seeking asylum. Although the database itself is still being created, the panelists advised those interested in joining the list of expert witnesses to contact them and to visit the University of California, Hastings College of Law’s Center for Gender and Refugee Studies or the Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Finally, in a roundtable discussion of gaming and history education, of which the author was a participant, participants engaged in a discussion of various interactive teaching methods. A subject of significant discussion was Reacting to the Past (RTTP), a role-playing experience in which students assume the role of a historical figure in a historical scenario. Scenarios can be found at the RTTP website, along with guides for instructors. Many of participants in the discussion had used Reacting to the Past in their classrooms and had significant praise for the gamified learning experience.

In sum, RMCLAS 2016 was once again a fantastic experience. There is a significant and growing study of Latin American activism, particularly in the transnational twentieth century, and significant spaces for scholars to engage in public discourses on pedagogy and politics. Ultimately, it was encouraging to find the places where are others are engaging the intersections between peace history and Latin American Studies.

Remembering the People Power Revolution in the Philippines

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Our guest contributor is Filip Mazurczak, a translator and journalist whose work has appeared in a variety of venues, including First Things, The National Catholic Register, Visegrad Insight and others. We are grateful to Filip for bringing the People Power Revolution to light on this milestone commemorative day.

Today, we mark the 30th anniversary of the culmination of the People Power Revolution in the Philippines, a movement strongly backed by the Catholic Church that successfully deposed a corrupt, illegally elected dictator. Along with large nonviolent Christian-inspired protests in Eastern Europe and Latin America in the 1980s, the People Power Revolution demonstrates that the enormous potential that Christianity has to unshackle captive nations.

Following martial law in 1972, Ferdinand Marcos was the dictatorial president of the Philippines. Civil liberties were suspended, and anti-dictatorship activists were jailed. Initially, the United States had given ample financial and military support to Marcos, seeing his regime as a bastion against communism, although Washington’s support declined during the Carter and Reagan administrations. While the Marcos family lived in luxury (as embodied by First Lady Imelda’s famous collection of more than 3,000 pairs of designer shoes), most Filipinos lived in growing poverty.

Along with East Timor, the Philippines are one of two Asian nations with a Christian majority. Currently, about eight in ten Pinoys are Catholic, with growing Muslim and Evangelical minorities. Starting in the 1980s, the Church there became a catalyst for peaceful change for the better. In 1981, Pope John Paul II went on a six-day pilgrimage to the Philippines to beatify Lorenzo Ruiz, the country’s first Christian martyr. During a meeting with the leaders of the Marcos regime in Malacañang, the presidential palace in Manila, the pontiff openly criticized the suspension of civil liberties in the country with the dictator sitting right next to him in English: “Even in exceptional situations that may at times arise, one can never justify any violation of the fundamental dignity of the human person or of the basic rights that safeguard this dignity […] Legitimate concern for the security of a nation, as demanded by the common good, could lead to the temptation of subjugating to the state the human being and his or her dignity and rights.” Marcos appeared genuinely uncomfortable; he apologized to the pope of “petty and small” differences between the throne and altar in his country.

These words seem to have inspired the Filipino bishops to fight for justice. In early 1983, the Philippine Bishops’ Conference issued a pastoral letter titled “A Dialogue for Peace,” which condemned the Marcos government for corruption, economic mismanagement, violation of civil liberties, and the arresting of priests and nuns who had fought against the dictatorship. By August, anti-Marcos human rights activist Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino was shot, which sparked large-scale anti-government protests. On what would have been Aquino’s fifty-first birthday, the bishops issued another letter titled “Let There Be Life,” which blasted the widespread political violence in the country.

Following a series of massive anti-Marcos protests, the dictator agreed to early presidential elections in February 1986. Aquinos’ widow Corazon (“Cory”) was the opposition’s candidate. In the weeks before the election, the bishops issued two letters warning that the regime would likely use fraud in counting election results and speaking of the civic duty to vote for a better tomorrow. After the February 7 vote, the government had declared Marcos the winner, although the independent anti-voter fraud organization, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, declared that Aquino had won more votes.

In the following days, the anti-Marcos demonstrations grew even more rapidly. The protests were organized by Corazon Aquino herself and by the Catholic Church, led by the archbishop of Manila, Cardinal Jaime Sin. On February 16, Cardinal Sin organized a Mass for the “victory of the people” in the capital’s Luneta Park, during which Aquino herself appealed for the people to resist the Marcos regime’s fraud in a nonviolent way. The address was broadcasted on the Church’s Radio Veritas, as were other pro-democracy speeches.

In the next days, the Marcos regime sent tanks to stop the protests. The protestors responded in a way that spectacularly embodied the Christian teaching to love one’s enemy: rather than throwing Molotov cocktails at the tanks, they brought the tank crews food, rosaries, and flowers. The protestors filled up the streets, praying. Meanwhile, Radio Veritas constantly informed its listeners about the logistics of the protests, and always urged them to use nonviolent means of resistance. The protests reached their culmination in February 22-25 as an astounding two million protestors (the country’s population at the time was about 56 million people) filled up the Epifano de los Santos Avenue.

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The Church-supported protests resulted in much more than moral victory: by February 25, Corazon Aquino was inaugurated as the Philippines’ new president. Marcos, meanwhile, defected to Hawaii. The whole world was thrilled by what had happened in Manila, and many Americans called their Filipino friends to express their admiration for what had happened.

Today, the Philippines are still plagued with socio-economic woes. While the country has enjoyed one of Asia’s highest GDP growth rates in recent years, the largesse hasn’t been spread out equally: income inequality and severe poverty remain problems. This poverty was seen a year ago, when Pope Francis visited a shelter for street children in Manila. Meanwhile, millions of Filipinos continue to leave their country for more prosperous lands: the United States, Italy, Australia, and the United Arab Emirates, among others. In addition to this ongoing poverty, the Philippines are plagued by political violence as Muslim separatists in the island of Mindanao use terrorism to achieve their goals. Yet the People Power revolution is evidence that perhaps the Philippines’ large Catholic population can again fight for greater justice and peace.

Several years ago, books by multiple British and American authors – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and others – about how toxic religion is and how it leads to violence and intolerance topped the bestseller charts. Throughout the history of Christianity, one can find examples that would seem to confirm this view, from the Crusades to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, from the religious wars in France to the Teutonic Knights’ use of force to convert the pagans of the Baltics.

Yet at the same time history abounds in examples of Christianity as a force for good and peace. Perhaps at no other time was this so evident in so many different parts of the world as the 1980s. In the first months of the new decade, on March 24th, Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, who eloquently defended the right of the peasants in his troubled homeland to ownership of their land and a nonviolent solution to the nation’s troubles, was slain while saying Mass. Five months later, the Solidarity trade union, whose explicit Catholic influence was unmistakable, was formed in Poland, its membership eventually swelling to 10 million, a third of the nation’s adult population and pressuring the government to hold semi-free elections in 1989. That year, Christians in other parts of the Soviet Bloc began to oppose their regimes as well. In Leipzig, tens of thousands of East Germans marched for change after services at the Lutheran St. Nicholas each week. In majority-Orthodox Romania, the Orthodox bishops, for decades subservient to the regime, began to speak out, and the Calvinist Bishop László Tőkés became the most outspoken defender of the nation’s Hungarian minority oppressed by Ceausescu.

Meanwhile, although dictators ruled most of Latin America in 1980, the region today is largely democratic, save for the living museum of communist tyranny that is Cuba. Much of the region today enjoys dynamic economic growth and an expanding middle class. This is in no small part due to the work many bishops, priests and lay faithful who peacefully fought for peaceful change, and a pope who publicly criticized the human rights abuses of dictators such as “Baby Doc” Duvalier, Pinochet, and Stroessner.

Thus the dramatic events that unfolded in the Philippines were part of a spectacular decade of Christian-inspired political change for the better. Today, more people live in democracy than ever before. This is at least partly thanks to the moral awakening that characterized the 1980s in diverse regions of the world ruled by tyrants of various ideological hues.

HathiTrust

In the world of digital collections and archives, few organizations compare to the HathiTrust. The multi-institutional library brings together the individual collection of its more than 100 partner institutions to create a digital clearinghouse of nearly 14 million total volumes, including books, journals, magazines and other print material. For scholars of interested in peace research, HathiTrust includes documents from a number of peace organizations, including the American Peace Society and the National Council for Prevention of War. It also includes numerous documents related to the U.S. government and a large catalog of digital books. In fact, roughly 39% of the works hosted by HathiTrust are in the public domain.

Below is an example of the type of documentation that can be found in HathiTrust. It is a program for the Fourth Annual American Peace Congress held in St. Louis, Missouri between May 1 and 3, 1913.

HathiTrust also creates digital tools and software designed to facilitate researchers’ navigation through the library’s massive amounts of digital text. HathiTrust is a valuable resource for educators and researchers, housing numerous documents while generating better tools to access them with.

EDIT – An earlier version of this article claimed that HathiTrust houses 39% of the works in the public domain. This is incorrect. The accurate claim is that 39% of the materials held HathiTrust are in the public domain.

PHS News, January 2016

Happy New Year! And what a better way to start 2016 than with the most recent issue of PHS News. The January issue, which is edited by Robert Shaffer and available at the Peace History Society website, recaps the events of the biennial Peace History Society Conference held at the University of St. Joseph. The issue also includes memorials to George Houser and Julian Bond, who both passed in August 2015, as well as articles by Marc Becker and Ian Christopher Fletcher.

Pope Francis and His Exemplary Americans: Reflections from an Undergraduate Peacebuilder

 

Editor’s Note: One of the goals of Peace & Change Blog is to bring student voices into the conversation about the teaching and scholarship of peace history and peace studies. To that end, we are pleased to feature this post by Ed Nuñez, a sophomore majoring in Justice and Peace Studies at Creighton University, the new institutional home for Peace & Change. An aspiring liberation educator, Ed works for the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice and works with the Ignatian Solidarity Network as an activist and blogger. We at Peace & Change Blog are grateful to Ed for offering this piece on Pope Francis’s visit to the United States in September, and for his reflections on what the Pope’s recognition of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton as “exemplary Americans” means to him as a young Catholic committed to peacebuilding and social justice.

On September 24, 2015, Pope Francis made a historic speech to a joint session of the United States Congress. I remember the day very vividly. I was sitting in a big ballroom here at Creighton University while Omaha Catholic high school students were watching the speech in the auditorium one floor below. We all knew it was a historic day for us, for the United States, and for our Church. We were waiting for Pope Francis to come through that door to the Congress floor. When we all heard, “Mr. Speaker, the Pope of the Holy See!”, we all started clapping and applauding. I got the chills. To see the leader of my faith and my Church walk into the halls of a place that makes the laws and policies that make our society function was an amazing moment. Pope Francis walked up to that podium and to see all the lawmakers and politicians applaud him and stand for him made me so proud to be Catholic.

As the speech went on, Pope Francis made some incredible remarks. From speaking about abolishing capital punishment in the world to speaking about the refugee crisis to urging Congress to pass humane immigration reform, Pope Francis was amazingly vocal in what he wanted Congress to be paying attention to. He spoke with urgency, compassion, and in a spirit of dialogue.

But what stood out the most in Pope Francis’ speech was his mention of four inspiring American individuals, who “shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people”. These people were Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton. Each person represented values and principles that I think are essential to the American way of life and also to those who desire to bring peace about in this world. These values are unity, equality, community, and dialogue.

Abraham Lincoln led the way toward abolishing slavery in the United States and also bringing the country together in a time of crisis. Lincoln exemplified the value of unity by stressing to the people that a Civil War would harm the country awfully. Pope Francis called him “the guardian of liberty,” and Lincoln used this liberty to help bring about unity among the American people. Unity is essential to bringing peace and change in this world because as one human family, we we need each other.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the most notable and vocal civil rights activists in contemporary American history. He spoke of making American society equal and wished to have his children “not judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Dr. King wanted to bring about equality and his legacy is still living on in many movements today, from the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the movement to lower the incarceration rate among African-American people. Equality is a principle that is essential to working for peace because when people realize that they are equal because they are human, we can live in peace.

Dorothy Day was the co-founder of the Catholic Worker Movement, which is based in the belief in the inherent dignity of each human person and works to be hospitable to even the most vulnerable in society. Pope Francis said, “…her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.” Dorothy wanted to create and build the value of community each and every day. Community is not just a group of people living together, but is one that shares stories, learns from one another, shares in the joys and sorrows, and believes in each other. This concept is vital to making peace known in this world.

Thomas Merton was a Cistercian monk who lived and worked in Southeast Asia in the late 20th century. Thomas Merton is most known for his capacity to dialogue with people of other faiths. Dialogue is a principle that is just as difficult to attain as the others because people are so individualistic and set in their ways but we can look to Thomas Merton as an example of dialogue and how people of different faiths, cultures, genders, and backgrounds can come together and work to make everyone feel fully human – peace.

Pope Francis’ speech will be a great mark in our history for the years to come. But what do we make of it? We need to look to this speech and see the values of unity, equality, community, and dialogue in the four inspiring Americans and in ourselves to make peace known in this crazy, mixed up world we live in.

January Issue Preview StoryMap

The January issue of Peace and Change: A Journal of Peace History is focused on World War I, shell shock, and more. Featured in the issue is an interesting interview with Harriet Hyman Alonso and Adam Hochschild that was facilitated by Scott Bennett. Follow the link here to view a StoryMap JS preview of their interview. The StoryMap follows many of the anecdotes and movements referenced in the interview.

If the link above does not work click on the following link to access the StoryMap JS:  https://s3.amazonaws.com/uploads.knightlab.com/storymapjs/36cbed0b6bf5050b5b2bc0c27ce5cc2f/january-issue-preview/index.html