January 30, 2019
Feminism Not Militarism
In 2017 members of the peace and justice movement were unsuccessful in convincing the leaders of the first Women’s March to include patriarchal militarism as an issue. Nevertheless, that year I did bring my anti-war banner (Stop the War Machine: Export Peace) to the March in Washington, D.C. and it received lots of thumbs-up support and conversation for its pro-peace message.
Finally, after two years of dialogue, the Women’s March organizers agreed that militarism would be included in the demands of the protest. On January 19, I brought my banner to the Women’s March in Freedom Square in Washington, D.C. Again, other participants and even members of the foreign media expressed their enthusiastic support of this message of peace. Later, I was with CODEPINK Women for Peace protesting outside the Trump Hotel. A former female diplomat of many years joined us despite the freezing winds and said, “People need to understand how the military budget affects their lives.”
More than 60% of the federal discretionary budget is war-related. Instead of these tax dollars being used for the needs of the people such as protecting the environment, or providing affordable housing, healthcare for all, outstanding public education, and a living wage, Congress allocates funding for some 800 bases around the world and the weapons to engage in some seven wars. These wars were never approved by Congress, and the weapons contractors make sure that members of Congress receive significant campaign contributions. The Pentagon is a large contributor to climate chaos, and twenty-two veterans commit suicide each day.
A hopeful event occurred on August 6,, 2018 when the Baltimore City Council, led by Mary Pat Clarke and Bill Henry, unanimously voted for a Back from the Brink resolution. This is a Call to Prevent Nuclear War. Baltimore was the first major city in the United States to pass such a resolution.
The City Council’s resolution indicated that “…just in the past year, Baltimoreans averaged $175 per capita [person] for a ‘nuclear weapons war tax’ paying a collective ‘$107 million in federal taxes toward the cost of producing, deploying and maintaining nuclear weapons. Marylanders as a whole averaged $244 per capita, with the state collectively paying an estimated $1.45 billion in 2017 federal taxes toward our country’s cost of nuclear weapons…’”
Over the next 30 years, the U.S. intends to waste $1.7 trillion of our tax dollars to refurbish the nuclear arsenal. These are tax dollars being wasted on weapons that can’t be used.
The issue of nuclear annihilation is an issue raised in the Plowshares movement, initiated by Philip and Dan Berrigan and others in 1980. More recently, seven Catholic activists entered Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia on April 4, 2018, the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. They went to make real the prophet Isaiah’s command to “beat swords into plowshares.”
One of the seven is Elizabeth McAlister, Philip’s wife and co-founder of Baltimore’s Jonah House. Elizabeth remains in jail in Georgia awaiting trial. On Thanksgiving Day 1983, she engaged in a Plowshares disarmament action at the Griffis Air Force Base in Rome, New York. To support her and the others, I’ll attend their trial.
Those of us who do nonviolent resistance are grateful that the leaders of the Women’s March made the choice for Feminism not Militarism, that more progressive women are in Congress, and that Elizabeth McAlister engaged in a nuclear disarmament action in Georgia. As the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom reminds us, listen to women for a change.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska can be reached at rhythmsofthedance1 AT gmail.com. The author lives in Baltimore and is an activist priest.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs