The Common Good

A New Peace Movement?

Sojomail - August 13, 2003

Quote of the Week Teddy Roosevelt: Has anything changed?
Politically Connect Paul Loeb: A New Peace Movement?
Soul Works The path of wisdom
By the Numbers Where do women out-earn men? Hint: It's not a city.
Culture Watch Three-hour "Gospel of John" to premiere at Toronto film fest
Boomerang SojoMail readers hit reply
Web Scene Giving drink to the thirsty | Food fresh from the farm | 'Toons for everyone!

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"Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. To destroy this invisible government, to befoul the unholy alliance between corrupt business and corrupt politics is the first task of the statesmanship of the day."

- Theodore Roosevelt, April 19, 1906

A New Peace Movement?
by Paul Rogat Loeb

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In the glow of the Iraq war's initial military success, most American peace activists felt profoundly demoralized. Between the war's portrayal as a glamorous spectacle and Bush's seemingly overwhelming support, many who'd recently marched by the millions felt isolated, defensive, and powerless, fearing their voices no longer mattered.

Now, as Bush's occupation faces a deepening quagmire, shifting public sentiment opens up major new opportunities for activism. Just two months ago, the national mood felt so resistant that it was hard to raise the most cautious dissenting questions. But polls now suggest the beginning of a very different national mood, where large numbers of Americans are having significant doubts. This gives us a chance to challenge the core fallacies of Bush's foreign policy, revitalize peace movement activism, and perhaps change our national direction. We can do this by launching a grassroots campaign to replace the U.S. control over Iraq with an international transitional authority under United Nations command - an authority that would control not only military operations, but also Iraq's political and economic affairs, including its oil fields. We can work to transform a beachhead for American empire into an interim government that would actually have a shot at bringing democracy.

The shifts in the polls are staggering, even if most peace activists haven't yet noticed them. Driven by the steady U.S. casualties in Iraq and continuing chaos, a July Gallup poll found 43 per cent of Americans believing things are going badly in Iraq, up from just 13 per cent in early May. In a mid-July Washington Post-ABC News poll, six in 10 of those surveyed said the war damaged the image of the United States abroad, half said the conflict permanently damaged U.S. relations with key allies, and 52 percent considered the level of U.S. casualties "unacceptable." A Zogby poll around the same time found 47% actually saying it was time for someone new in the White House versus 46% who wanted to keep Bush. These shifts all emerged before Congress's recent questioning of the occupation's political, economic, and human costs.

Before the war, we had a clear goal in trying to stop it. Once it started, this drastically limited the peace movement's options. We could bear witness for the future, but it was hard to influence the war's immediate outcome. Now the landscape has shifted again, to one far more hospitable toward dissenting views. Americans are developing significant reservations despite what until recently has been scant critical media coverage, minimal questioning by Democratic leaders, and little presence from the peace movement since late February. If we can begin coalescing public concern around an alternative to U.S. troops remaining indefinitely in Iraq, we have a real chance to influence national debate.

To read this essay in its entirety, go to:

*Paul Loeb is the author of "Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time," and board chair of Peace Action of Washington. See for more information.

For a more detailed version of how a shift to U.N. control could proceed, see:

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The path of wisdom

Who is wise? One who learns from all.

- Rabbi Ben Zoma, in the Mishnah

Where do women out-earn men? Hint: It's not a city.
by Laurent Belsie

Call it one small step for women, one little leap for pay equity. In a handful of the nation's counties, the typical full-time working woman now earns more than her male counterpart - sometimes a lot more, according to census figures released this week.

One might expect to find these bastions of gender enlightenment in, say, Massachusetts (rated "best for women" last year by one women's group) or Minnesota (home of the nation's first pay-equity law for state government workers). Instead, they're nestled in rural places few people have visited. ...

Women still lag. While liberals and conservatives debate causes and remedies, everyone admits the gap has narrowed but still exists. Last year, women earned 76 cents for every dollar that their male counterparts received.

And that gap pops up virtually anywhere one looks, from Boston ($5,014) to San Francisco ($6,011) to Minneapolis ($4,553) to Miami ($3,975). It shows up in the nation's 25 largest metro areas, its 15 most densely packed urban counties, and its 15 least densely packed rural ones. The women of sparsely populated Eureka County, Nevada, get paid only slightly more than half what the men make. (All these figures are for 1999, on which the 2000 census income data is based.)

But here and there, rural counties are beginning to break the mold. Seven counties where women out-earn men (the difference in median income between the genders):

King (Texas) - $8,790
Golden Valley (Montana) - 5,035
Aleutians East Borough (Alaska) - 3,484
Ziebach (South Dakota) - 2,129
Blaine (Nebraska) - 2,083
Bent (Colorado) - 1,506
Crowley (Colorado) - 1,107

*Source: Census 2000

To read the entire story as it appeared in The Christian Science Monitor, link to:


Job Opening: Community Organizer/Interfaith

The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition seeks organizer to staff committees of local clergy and laity. Five years experience in community organizing and/or interfaith work, Spanish preferred.

Salary $32-42K, good benefits. Email cover letter and resume to Sara Wohlleb at or fax to (718) 329-2848.

Three-hour "Gospel of John" to premiere at Toronto film fest

The gospel according to John comes to life in director Philip Saville's three-hour, word-for-word sweeping adaptation, "The Gospel of John," a world premiere. The epic takes an authentic approach to the story with Christopher Plummer's intimate and accessible narration, Henry Ian Cusick's fresh, vital performance as Jesus, set and costume recreation, and an original musical score with instrumentation true to the period. Written by Emmy nominated screenwriter John Goldsmith, produced by impresario Garth H. Drabinsky, and directed by the award-winning Saville ("Metroland"), "The Gospel of John" features 75 principal actors from the Canadian and British stage, as well as more than 2000 extras.

To find out more about the film fest, go to:

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John Doe [name withheld at request of author] writes from New Jersey:

Regarding the exploitation of women as objects of violence, "Real Men Outdoor Productions" is only the tip of the iceberg. Women are literally being tortured live on the Internet. I've been clean for quite some time now and will not even write the URL in this message for fear that it might hook some unsuspecting person who's just checking it out. Unfortunately, the porn business, like the entertainment industry, works on the premise that there's no such thing as bad press.

As much as I'd like to see trash like that weeded out and eliminated by the authorities, the plain truth is that us regular folks and our character are the only long-term solution.... The willingness of the victim does not excuse the immorality. To narrow the issue down to whether or not a women was coerced misses the point. That's like trying to prove an addict was forced into his addiction against his will to justify making/keeping drugs/tobacco/ alcohol, etc., illegal. The [Internet site where I worked] begins each session by interviewing the intended victim and asking if she knows what she's there for and if she's totally willing to participate.

I believe that law enforcement has not been effective against violent porn since they are trying to prove coercion. Does a narcotics officer have to prove coercion when he busts a person taking illegal drugs? After a year away from that garbage I now have the ability to think more clearly and I can't believe that it hasn't been shut down. Forget the willingness of the victim; what about the willingness of the teenager who stumbles onto the site? There's another victim! We'll be making much more progress in this battle when we recognize porn and explicit sexual entertainment as a drug and not just a taste that certain people have.


Mayor Oscar B. Goodman writes from the city of Las Vegas:

Thank you so much for contacting my office. As the mayor of Las Vegas, you first must know that although our city offers many legal options for adult entertainment, as the mayor I will not tolerate any violence towards women. Due to my adamant stance on this issue I have asked for an investigation. The following account will update you on the current status [...what follows is a press release from the city of Las Vegas published in last week's SojoMail].

The city of Las Vegas does not tolerate any illegal businesses operating in the city limits. Thank you for your email and concern on this matter. I appreciate you taking the time to defend the rights of women in our state.


Bill Harris writes from Everett, Washington:

Thanks to David Batstone for bringing up an important topic on violence against women. I once took an excellent, week-long multi-cultural awareness workshop for business people put on by Sanchez Tennis Associates. There were perhaps 100+ people in the workshop, divided evenly between male and female. In one of their exercises (it happened to be shortly after we males had made some statements that we may on occasion think we don't get sufficient credit from women), they asked us to take a few minutes and write down silently what we do as part of our daily routine to avoid sexual assault. As you might expect, the men in the group looked a bit befuddled, and then most of us, somewhat in desperation to come up with any answer, wrote down something like, "Stay out of jail." Then we looked up and waited.

In the meantime, all the women were writing and writing and writing. When they stopped us and asked for volunteers to read some of what we had written, the men only had the one action. The women seemed to have page after page of actions they did every day to avoid sexual assault. You could have heard a pin drop from the male segment of the workshop after that. I think we all got a much better understanding of the different worlds that men and women inhabit.

I'm not sure you'll make much progress by pushing on the paintball company, no matter what we may think of them. Without an understanding of those two different worlds, I'm not sure but what many will regard it as another case of political correctness. I sometimes hear TV news stories about a sexual assault, and there are sometimes news stories to help women prevent assault and to deal with the effects of assault. I can only recall hearing perhaps one news story about men helping or exhorting other men to stop the violence against women. Perhaps that's a campaign worth having.


James Talley writes from Salina, Kansas:

Marlene Keller's remark in Boomerang, "...legislation of morality has never, and will never, work..." strikes me as rather blind-spotted. If morality generally describes our notions of right and wrong, good and evil, acceptable and unacceptable, and if politics is the task of deciding what a community and its members ought to do and not do, then at some level, every law or policy is fundamentally a moral matter. The important distinction is that morality is a larger set than politics, that politics is a subset of morality. We get into trouble when we try to make the sets equivalent, not when we allow morality to creep into law.


Patricia McCann writes:

Three cheers for Elizabeth Palmberg's excellent article ["Econ for Pentagon Dummies" in last week's edition of SojoMail]. Can it get widespread publication somewhere in traditional print media, too?


Chaplain Quinton Kruse writes from San Diego, California:

I am concerned that many young people I have been talking with are so discouraged by the product of the electoral process that they do not intend to vote - some eligible for the first time. Yet, they will turn out in large numbers to demonstrate for or against this or that. I tell them that if they are mad and shouting about it and they don't vote, they are just running their mouths. The only hope we have in this country is to vote!


Aram Grayson writes from San Jose, California:

The article in last week's SojoMail about Bush's top 40 lies is excellent. I forwarded the article to everybody in my address book.  


Rev. Ian Wrisley writes from Lake Norden, South Dakota:

Dominick J. Di Noto's comments in last week's Boomerang were disturbing to say the least: "Religion has no place in politics or in citizens' civil rights.... Speaking for myself, I'm a Christian and a Democrat but my Christianity has nothing to do with my choice of a political party!"

I am glad that Sojourners thinks differently! If our faith does not inform our politics, our politics end up informing our faith. This is the point at which I take issue with the Religious Right. Many of their stances are more socially and politically - rather than theologically and biblically - motivated. Now I encounter someone who is apparently on the Left who holds a similar perspective. And he's wrong. Civil rights leaders, for instance, were motivated by a Christian worldview that says "in Christ there is neither slave nor free, male nor female, Jew nor Greek, but Christ is all and is in all." Further, they appealed not to a vague political idea of equality to convince others, but on discussions of God, the Bible, and theology.... If the faith of Jesus does not impact a life more deeply than religious sentimentality or personal moral decision-making, has it impacted it at all?


Sister Rose Tresp writes from Laredo, Texas:

In response to Brian Brumbaugh [SojoMail 07/23/03}: I don't understand why those of us who challenge the fairness and justice of our tax system are automatically considered to be people who "hate this country and our president." I think I love my country more because I want it to be a place of justice. I also don't understand how a more fair system could possibly weaken the United States. What is weakening the United States is the growing gap between the rich and the poor. Large gaps between rich and poor cause social unrest. Most of the "poor" are working poor, elderly, handicapped. The working poor are struggling to raise children on wages that are not enough to cover all of the basic needs. The working poor subsidize those of us who pay less for our clothing and food because these working poor work at such low wages. Yes, give these working poor the child tax rebate. That money will be immediately spent on basic necessities and thus will contribute to growing the economy.


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*Giving drink to the thirsty

Healing Waters International builds drinking water purification systems in underdeveloped countries - installing them at churches who maintain and operate the systems - selling the water at a fifth of the cost of drinking water sold in stores. This young organization currently has 11 installations in the Dominican Republic and is looking for exposure to install similar systems in other countries. Once installed, the systems are self-supporting and create a valuable community service supplied by the local churches.

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