Memorial Day: Remembrance and Resolve

"As we approach Memorial Day, we need to think not only of remembering our fallen sons and daughters, but also to resolve to protect future generations from such occasions."                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Vietnam-memorial-soldier.jpg                                                          

Memorial Day is upon us. Neighbors are hanging flags in front of their homes. Parades are planned for Main Street. Veterans are searching the back of closets for worn uniforms. And arrangements are being made to bring bouquets of flowers to cemeteries across the nation. We are preoccupied with thinking about heroes and the sacrifices they made to keep our country safe.

Our leaders talk at length about our need for defense in a perilous world. Almost everything can be cut from the emaciated national budget except our defense expenses. The president needs mounting unrestricted authority to send our armed forces and drones anywhere to thwart our many malevolent enemies. This talk of threat and danger to our very being is broadcast recurrently by the political class and the media and widely accepted as truth by citizens as a patriotic duty.

Psychologists give the name “projection” to ascribing to others your own wishes and intentions. The United States has rarely been attacked (Pearl Harbor is an exception), and in modern history was never invaded. Standing as a military colossus, the most powerful armed entity in world history, there is scant fear that any nation or force could defeat us or significantly harm our interests. Invasions don’t come our way, but incursions do emanate from us and penetrate other nations on an astonishing scale—a reality most Americans ignore or discount, abetted by their leaders.

Those leaders have taken our young people into innumerable wars and military actions globally since the end of World War II. These armed infiltrations are conducted under the guise of protecting our liberties or the liberties of others, while in large measure they are efforts to expand our power and financial control and exploit fertile resources—actions tagged imperialism by serious scholars and objective observers. We have to peer directly into the face of that war record to begin to comprehend its scope. A partial accounting identifies the following assaults:

Korean Conflict, 1950 – 1953; Operation PBFORTUNE, Guatemala, 1952; Operation Ajax, 1953; Operation PBSUCCESS, Guatemala, 1954; Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961; Vietnam War, 1962 – 1973; Laotian Civil War, 1962 – 1973; Cambodian Civil War, 1969 – 1970; Operation Powerpack, Dominican Republic, 1965 – 1966; Operation Urgent Fury, Invasion of Grenada, 1983; Operation Blue Bat, Lebanon, 1958; Operation Eagle Claw, Iran hostage crisis, 1980; First Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya, 1981; Operation El Dorado Canyon, Libya, 1986; Iran-Iraq War, 1987 – 1989; Operation Just Cause, Panama 1989 – 1990; Second Gulf of Sidra Incident, Libya, 1989; Persian Gulf War, Iraq, 1991; Operation Desert Storm, 1991; Operation Desert Shield, 1991; Somali Civil War, 1992 – 1994; Operation Provide Relief, 1992; Operation Restore Hope, 1992 – 1994; Yugoslav wars, 1994 – 1999; Bosnian Conflict, 1994 – 1995; Kosovo Conflict, 1997 – 1999; War on Terrorism, 2001 – present; Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan 2001 – present; Operation Enduring Freedom - Philippines 2002 – present; Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa 2002 – present; Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2003 – present; Waziristan War, 2004 – present; War in Somalia, 2006 – present; Operation Enduring Freedom - Trans Sahara 2007 – present

 As we approach Memorial Day, we need to think not only of remembering our fallen sons and daughters, but also to resolve to protect future generations from such occasions. Dead soldiers are pawns and victims--more than they are heroes. We need to give thought to restraining the excess exercise of the war option by our country. Beyond that, we ought to memorialize the utter futility and ugliness of war itself.  

As a veteran of World War II, I can still remember the wounds and suffering of that long-ago time. That experience brought home to me that every war symbolizes the failure of humans to conduct their affairs in a sensible and civilized way. I look for the day when we stop celebrating wars in the language of glory and grandeur and recognize that every war marks the very lowest level to which humanity sinks.  

We should honor the fallen, but more so we must be peacemakers who thwart the creation of further generations of wasted young men and women.

 Jack Rothman was the founding organizer for the Los Angles DSA chapter. He was a professor of community organizing at the University of Michigan and UCLA Schools of Social Work. His book, Strategies of Community Intervention, has been the leading text in the field. 

 Photo credit.

Wikipedia. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 45 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 14 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 8 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.