Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Resisting Violence: Kathy Kelly

New World Notes News
Volume 1, Number 21 -- December 2 , 2008

Kathy Kelly in 2003. Is this Camp Casey?

This week in New World Notes, #39 -- December 2 & 5:

In my mind's ear, I can hear my mother advising, "Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?" She wasn't urging me to go and punch Randy Peterson in the nose--however much he deserved it. Rather, she meant that there is no glory in starting and winning a fight with someone two years younger than you and 20 pounds lighter.

With such ethical lessons, Mom destroyed all my chances of a career in the U.S. State Department, CIA, or armed forces.

Not that I can't appreciate the copious heroism displayed in America's great military invasion and glorious conquest of the island-nation of Grenada in 1983. Normandy, Schmormandy . . . this was war! Heute Grenada, morgen . . . Nantucket?

Now as adults, many of us face a problem the opposite of the one Mom pointed out. The adversaries that we feel deserve a swift kick are no longer smaller and weaker than us. They are huge and immensely powerful. The military-industrial-Congressional complex, for instance. Does it make sense even to show up for a fight?

Hero(in)es of the story: The Pit Stop Ploughshares (5 people on right)
in front of court building, Dublin, 2006

In NWN #39, Resisting Violence: Kathy Kelly, the alliterative veteran activist/peacemaker answers, "You betcha!"--or words to that effect. Kelly tells some inspiring and funny stories about small groups of ordinary people in Ireland--Belfast as well as Dublin--who were determined to fight back against Bush's war on the Middle East. And they were determined to end Ireland's complicity in it, even if a law or two had to be broken in the process. And they succeeded more than anyone expected.

GBU-28 bunker-buster: Made in USA, used by Israel in Lebanon, July-August 2006.
Capable of vanquishing enemy children in even the deepest bomb-shelter.

Raytheon--with substantial presence in Ireland--produced the software the GBU-28 requires.
Kathy's story explains the computer defenestration.

Kelly is a terrific storyteller, and these are fine, and heartening, stories. For me, the high point is her re-creation--in full Oyrish brogue--of defense attorney Nicks’s summation to the jury. This is funny, moving, and a key scene, for Mr. Nicks asks a question of the jury to which Kelly herself has no good answer.

Not to be outdone in the David-vs.-Goliath department, I single-handedly take on the Roman Catholic Church. Actually, my attitude is complex. This outfit is much like a compost pile: pretty dry near the top; fertile, effective, alive, and beneficial in many places close to the bottom. There--among the lower clergy and the laity--are committed political- and social activists such as Dorothy Day, the Berrigans, Fr. Roy Bourgeois. Such as the ones Kathy Kelly found in Ireland. Such as Kelly herself.

Stateside again, and off to jail in Illinois. Studs Terkel (left) and others lend support.

In my teens, I dated a number of "good Catholic girls" of Irish ancestry, so I feel I can give the world some general advice. Don't ever, ever underestimate what any one of them is capable of doing, once she makes up her mind to it.

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For nearly two decades, Kelly has been trying to show Americans the suffering of the
Iraqi people under U.S. bombings of infrastructure, sanctions, invasion, and now
occupation. And to move us to action to end our government's jihad against
these people. Too big a task? Never underestimate what a Good Catholic Girl is
capable of -- especially if she's Irish and from Chicago.

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