Had I been able to address Attorney General Eric Holder when he was here on May 27th, here is what I could have said.  –Sue Ann Martinson

Comments to Eric Holder: 

Perhaps you do not understand who we are.  Perhaps you do not understand the loving community of antiwar activists that surrounds these women and one man in Minnesota who are targeted by the FBI.  Perhaps, too,  you have forgotten that our country was founded with the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of expression and that includes freedom of political expression.  Perhaps you have forgotten, as we have not, that dissent is not a crime.  It is in fact necessary for a democracy to thrive.

To disagree with U.S. foreign policy appears to be the only  alleged “crime” that we can see, and we do not believe that disagreement with government policy is a crime.  In fact, we know it is not. 

When does providing for the common defense not promote the general welfare?  There are many answers, or perhaps I should say angles, to that question.  Certainly, the building of more and more destructive weapons is one angle, as antiwar activists have understood for decades.

But increasingly our government has promoted fear—fear of the “other,” whether that “other” is traditionally Black, Native American, or Hispanic, even Jewish, or more recently, Muslim or Palestinian.  Fear of communism.  Even fear of neighbor.  Fear of . . ., fear of . . ., fear of . . ., and now fear of people who do not agree with U.S. policy because “they must have done something wrong” to be targeted.  Yet we know that is not necessarily the case from the history of grand juries and of incarceration and torture since 9/11.

Sadly, the  fear-mongers and the war-mongers have become one in the same.  To uphold their platform of fear and hate they must grab at more and more U.S. residents and citizens to prove that they are right.  They must justify their actions although those actions daily become more and more divorced from reality—and from any movement toward real peace. 

So I come back to the circle of friends surrounding these activists in this town and Chicago and other places nationwide.  Some call us idealists because they think war will never end.  They believe it is part of the human psyche.  Perhaps.  But a wise person taught me that those people are looking though a lens of culture, although they cannot see their own biases as part of a fearful culture.  Sadly, that culture of violence and fear is the norm for them, and they cannot see beyond.

Actions based on fear engender fear.  Actions based on peace engender peace. 

The Minnesota peace and justice community has worked in coalition with the Antiwar Committee and Freedom Road Socialists for years now.  The faces of the wars change.  The solidarity of the activists in opposing war and injustice at home and abroad does not. 

One of the targeted activists said the other day that she has worked her whole adult life for peace and justice.  Those of us who have given our lives to the work for peace and justice know the consequences, whether that work has consumed our entire adult lives or come later in our lives.

We also know the rewards, as we live lives not of perfection, but of support for each other, lives in which fear does not play an immediate role, lives that sometimes take courage, lives that sometimes are challenging financially and in our families and with our friends, but lives that are ultimately rewarding not in any financial way or competitive way, but in rich friendship, community, and of a life well-lived, working toward goals that are worthy in the furtherance of humankind.  Some of us of would put these goals and this way of life in a religious context.  Some of us would not.  But we share the same impetus to work for peace and justice. We would say with Gandhi, “There is no way to peace.  Peace is the way.”

So no, you do not know us.  We ask also that you hear us and learn who we are.   The concept of Law in this country is based on fairness, but is only as fair as those who administer it.  The crushing apparatus of the law is sometimes in error.  Even more so now when it is driven, contrary to appearance, by the emotion of fear rather than fairness and rationality.

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By Published On: May 28th, 2011Comments Off on Comments to Attorney General Eric Holder

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