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Thinking nonviolence while bombing Libya


I am so aware of my own human impulses to kill, to seek revenge, to cast blame. When I lived at the Catholic Worker and kids got into trouble they would say “Nonviolence is your strength,” quoting my Cesar Chavez button.

I’d answer, “Nonviolence is the ideal I strive for. I might not live up to it.”

The kids would laugh and promise to be good. They were secure in the confidence I would never hit them, and I was secure in that confidence too. I wouldn’t hit anyone.

But I recognize in myself the desire to hit, or, in the current case, to bomb Libyan airbases. I recognize the desire of the revolutionaries to fight. I even recognize Gaddafi’s desire to strike out in righteous indignation and repress the rebellion. I’ve felt all those impulses. I just know they won’t lead to anything good.

Young men and women in Egypt and Tunisia stood together and faced down violence. They were probably plenty afraid, but they had the good fortune to live through the experience and taste dignity and empowerment. Together they own their revolution. What is ahead of them is difficult and may fail. But they’ve made a good start.

On this day: St. Gwladys and St. Gwynllyw


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Gwladys and St. Gwynllyw, the first saints in whose story King Arthur and his knights, Sir Kay and Sir Bedevere, appear.

King Gwynllyw (pronounced Gwin-th-lew) abducted Princess Gwladys, after her father, King Brychan, rejected his request for her hand in marriage. The subsequent battle between Gwynllyw's men and Brychan's men came to an end when King Arthur intervened on Gwynllyw's side.

Governor's change of heart influenced by faith


Courtesy of The New York Times:

Early on the morning of Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent’s season of penitence, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois went through some final, solitary rumination. For much of his political career, he had supported capital punishment, albeit with reservations, even debating it at the dinner table with his mother. Now a legislative bill abolishing it was waiting for his signature, or his veto.

Thoughts on Libya


I have not had an opportunity to express my thoughts on the situation in Libya in the last couple of weeks since the U.N. resolution calling for the use of military force to protect civilians against the repressive forces of Gadhafi.

In general, I am opposed to the use of military force before using diplomacy. However, in this instance, I support the U.S. and U.N. intervention on the basis of humanitarian grounds.

I believe that there is often a false dichotomy between a realist foreign policy and an idealistic one. The former suggests that the U.S. should only militarily intervene when there is a clear threat to the country’s national interest. The latter suggests that the U.S. can intervene on broader humanitarian grounds even when the national interests are not clearly affected.

But the question is who defines the national interest? Was it in the national interest to have unilaterally invaded Iraq?

For the most part, national interests are defined by the ruling elites in this country who stand to benefit through military intervention in order to protect economic interests or potential economic interests.

Two excellent segments on 60 Minutes on CBS


After watching the exciting NCAA basketball games yesterday, I made dinner and then settled into 60 Minutes on CBS, as one of the stories previewed was about the legendary Coach Bob Hurley of St. Anthonhy's Catholic High School in Jersey City, NJ.

Prior to that terrific report, 60 Minutes ran a story about the heroic efforts of Elissa Montanti, a woman from Staten Island, NY, who has intervened on behalf of some 100 crippled children from around the world.

The two segments offered an uplifting way to wind down Sunday evening.

The Jesuit sex abuse settlement


Thank God. That’s all I can say about the news that the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus will be paying $166.1 million to hundreds of now-adults who were abused as children by various Jesuit priests.

I can’t say “Thank the Jesuits,” because, like their diocesan colleagues before them, the Jebbies fought paying this settlement and fought admitting that anyone in their ranks had done the reprehensible.

I don’t know what the problem is with clerics admitting fault, but we sure seem to have an institutional problem with that. I actually heard a Jesuit a few months ago say he was concerned about his provinces finances because “of the Oregon problem.” That “problem” would be the crime of sexual abuse of minors, but you know how it is with the English language -- so many words can stand for the same thing, right?

I’m exhausted by my Church failing to act like Jesus in these horrific events. Abuse happened guys, this is not new news (especially in the case of the Oregon province).

Geraldine Ferraro


When she got on the phone, Geraldine Ferraro's voice was tentative and wary. But I understood.

This was 1987, I was doing some work in New York for the San Francisco Examiner, and Ferraro had spent much of the last three years going through a media wringer that resembled something out of Kafka's novella The Penal Colony. Her husband had been charged with tax irregularities, her own finances had been questioned -- and her son was at the beginning of an ordeal in Vermont centered on charges of cocaine peddling.

Vatican brings ambivalence to Libya summit


A Vatican diplomat will take part in a high-level diplomatic summit on Libya scheduled for tomorrow in London, a news release today announced, marking a further indication that the Vatican is paying careful attention to events there -- though still without taking a concrete position on the legitimacy of the military operations now underway.

So far, signals from the Vatican on Libya have seemed decidedly mixed.

How Many were Slaughtered in Hama?


In 1982, Syria’s secularist dictator, Hafez Assad, father of the country’s current ruler, brutally put down protests in the city of Hama, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, analysts and pundits tell us we should review Assad Sr.’s behavior toward Hama for clues as to how his son will react to the uprising spreading in his country.

Thirty years ago, the senior Assad ordered the murder of thousands of his countrymen in Hama. But how many thousands?

That depends on whom you ask:
-- Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Ted Koppel put the number at 80,000.
-- The New York Daily News, in an editorial, says it was “upward of 25,000.”
-- Michael Tomasky, columnist for The Guardian, says the Syrian Government “slaughtered maybe 20,000 of its own people.”


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017