Thursday, May 30, 2019

Baltimore Activist Alert -- May 31 -- June 15, 2019

44] “Shadows and Ashes: The Peril of Nuclear Weapon” – May 31
45] Immigration Summit – May 31
46] WIB peace vigils – May 31
47] White House vigil May 31
48] Tell Dutch Medicare for All -- May 31
49] Black Lives Matter – May 31
50] Walt Whitman Tour – May 31
51] Ballroom Dancing – May 31
52] Bill Henry for Comptroller Campaign Launch – June 1
53] Quds Day 2019 – June 1
54] Fold-In at the White House – June 1, 8 & 15
55] Meet Me in the Middle meeting – June 2
56] Coffee, Conversation & Canvassing – June 2
57] Peace Vigil – June 2
58] Max is at the Charles Village Festival – June 2 & 3
59] Rally to Impeach – June 2
60] Get Lush Cosmetics Out of Bloody Saudi Arabia – June 2
61] Sierra Club fundraiser June 2
62] Emergency Demonstration against an attack on Venezuela or Iran  
63] Donate books, videos, DVDs and records  
64] Do you need any book shelves?
65] Join the Global Zero campaign
66] Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil
44] –  “Shadows and Ashes: The Peril of Nuclear Weapon”  will be on view at Montgomery College’s Cultural Arts Center, 7995 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, through May 31, 2019. The show -- which features photos, children’s artwork from Hiroshima, ceramic masks, poetry, and informational graphics -- will be accompanied by various events, including films, lectures, and discussion. Visit mcblogs/ for exhibit hours and parking.

45] – The Baltimore Immigration Summit takes place on Fri., May 31 from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM at Coppin State University, 2500 W. North Ave,. Baltimore 21216.  The Summit brings together academics, policy makers, service providers, activists, community leaders, and others working with and for New Americans (immigrants and refugees) in our region. Baltimore and its surrounding suburbs represent an area with a growing and diverse New American population, and local governments view New Americans as essential to the region's ongoing resurgence.
The theme of this year’s summit is “Restoring Hope through Solidarity,” which captures the critical nature of collaboration with and on behalf of New Americans. Additionally, this year’s theme resists the recent hateful rhetoric coming from the national stage and celebrates the ongoing good work of New Americans and their advocates in Baltimore. This work has become both more challenging and all the more critical as a result of the national climate, and this year's theme positions the Summit as a place to hear and be re-energized by narratives of hope and resilience in the Baltimore region. Celebrate the work of welcoming New Americans that continues across the Baltimore Region and to discover new opportunities for collaboration!

46] – On Fri., May 31 from noon to 1 PM, join a Women in Black peace vigil. A vigil will take place in McKeldin Square at the corner of Light and Pratt Sts.  STAY FOR LUNCH at Baba's Kitchen.  Warm-up, dry off, and enjoy a vegetarian chili lunch and lots of good conversation. Bring a side or topping for the chili.  There are still places at the table; invite a friend to come along with you.

Another noon vigil is at Roland Park Place, 830 W. 40th St, Baltimore. 21211. However, if weather is iffy, contact Bob at Even if there is no vigil, lunch will take place at 1 PM at the Greenway Room, 830 W. 40th St., Baltimore 21211.

A third vigil will be in Chestertown, Kent County at Memorial Park at Cross Street and Park Row.  This vigil is looking for more peace bodies on the Eastern Shore.  Welcome to the network, Chestertown Women in Black.

Wear black. Dress for who knows what kind of weather.  Peace signs will be available. When there are others to stand with, you don't need to carry the burden alone. Do this to be in solidarity with others....when everything around us says “Be afraid of the stranger.” Carpool and parking available. Just send an email that you need a ride to:

47] – On Fri.,  May 31 from noon to 1 PM, join the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker in a vigil urging the powers that be to abolish war and torture, to disarm all weapons, to end indefinite detention, to close Guantanamo, to establish justice for all and help create the Beloved Community! This vigil will take place at the White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Contract Art @ or at 202-360-6416.

48] – Dutch Ruppersberger has agreed to meet with five organizers about Medicare For All on Fri., May 31 at 3:30 PM.  Join a rally on Friday from 3 to 4:15 PM at Ruppersberger's at his office, 375 West Padonia Road, Suite 200, Timonium. RSVP at five constituents meet with Mr. Ruppersberger, they will report back to the rally attendees outside the office.

49] – There is usually a silent vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends Meeting, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St.  The next scheduled vigil is on May 31. Black Lives Matter.  

50] – On Fri., May 31 from 6 to 8 PM, take a walking tour of Walt Whitman & Living In Civil War Washington, D.C., hosted by Washington DC History & Culture at the Newseum, 555 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, WDC 20001. Friday, May 31 is the 200th birthday of poet, journalist and author Walt Whitman - one of DC’s favorite adopted sons. Born in New York City, Walt moved to Washington, DC during the Civil War and spent approximately a decade here - writing, working as a federal employee, and volunteering at various local hospitals. His experience was similar to many who lived in D.C. during the Civil War years of 1861-65.  When we think of the Civil War the first things that come to mind are typically either prominent historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and Robert E. Lee, or the major battles such as Manassas, Antietam and Gettysburg.

But for regular, everyday people, what was it like to actually live in Washington, D.C. during the Civil War in terms of jobs, housing, clothes, transportation, entertainment, food, shopping, etc.?  The two-hour walk will cover approximately a mile and a half and will visit many prominent places connected to Walt Whitman and the Civil War including The Newseum, The Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office, Ford’s Theatre, Freedom Plaza and the Willard Hotel.  This program will be led by Robert Kelleman, the founder of the non-profit community organization Washington, DC History & Culture.  Check out

Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892) was an American poet, essayist, and journalist. A humanist, he was a part of the transition between transcendentalism and realism, incorporating both views in his works. Whitman is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection Leaves of Grass, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.  Kelleman can be reached at or 202-821-6325 (text only).  Visit

51] – There is an opportunity to participate in ballroom dancing, usually every Friday of the month in the JHU ROTC Bldg. at 8 PM.  Turn south on San Martin Dr. from the intersection of Univ. Parkway and 39th St.  Drive on campus by taking the third left turn. The next dance will be on May 31. Call Dave Greene at 301-570-3283; or email

52] –  On Sat., June 1 at 10 AM, check out the Bill Henry For Comptroller Campaign Launch, hosted by Friends of Bill Henry at 601 N. Paca St., Baltimore 21201-1919.  Get tickets at  Join Bill Henry along with his family, friends, and supporters as he launches his campaign to be your next Baltimore City Comptroller.  As Comptroller, Bill will ensure independent oversight of the City's fiscal and policy affairs. He'll protect the public interest through the office's crucial roles in budgeting, approving contracts, auditing City agencies, and managing the City's real estate. This is By Authority: Friends of Bill Henry; Mel Freeman, Treasurer.  Look at

53] – On Sat., June 1 from 10 AM to 2 PM, get involved with Quds Day 2019, hosted by Al Quds Day on Capitol Hill, 100 East Capitol St., WDC 20036.  Join this annual rally and demonstration for the liberation and support of Palestine. We must stand united against all oppression, occupation, and colonization. We must stand united for peace and justice.  Visit

54] – On Sat., June 1, June 8 and June 15 from 10 AM to noon, join a Fold-In at the White House, Lafayette Square Historic District, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, WDC 20006.  Hosted by Searching for Eon, this Fold-In is a participatory art-as-protest performance piece that needs YOU. In Japan there is a tradition that says if you dedicate yourself to folding 1,000 paper cranes the gods will grant you one wish. Come dressed in a monochromatic outfit (all red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, or violet from head to toe) and you will sit down next to strangers who can teach you how to fold origami cranes.

Together hold space as a literal rainbow in front of the White House to celebrate Trans and non-binary members of our community, remember those we have lost, and engage in old fashioned conversation with passersby about the queer members of our community that we cherish and love.  Go to

55] – On Sat., June1 from 11 AM to 1 PM, get over to the Meet Me In the Middle meeting hosted by Communities United at St. Vincent de Paul Church, 120 N. Front St., Baltimore 21202.  Learn and keep up to date on Communities United activities. This is Community United's monthly public event. All are welcome, including children. RSVP here: See

56] –  Enjoy Coffee and Conversation with Our Revolution Baltimore at the R House, 301 W. 29th St., Baltimore 21211, on Sat., June 1st from 11 AM to 1 PM.  See meetings aren't your style? Just want a place to talk politics and activism? Have a question about or idea for OR Baltimore? If any of these apply to you, or you just want a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning, then come on down. Check out

  After Coffee & Conversation, there will be a community canvas for Bernie Sanders. The meeting location for the canvass is right there at R House, so plan to stay if you'd like to help elect Bernie Sanders as the next President of the United States. Look at  Go to

57] – Each Saturday, 11 AM – 1 PM, Chester County Peace Movement holds a peace vigil in West Chester in front of the Chester County Courthouse, High & Market Sts. Go to Email

58] – Max will be selling used books, buttons, bumperstickers and more on Sat., June 2 from 11 AM to 9 PM and on Sun., June 3 from 11 AM to 6 PM at the Charles Village Festival.  It takes place in the Wyman Park Dell.  Call Max at 727-256-5789.

59] – Join the rally to impeach on Sat., June 1 from 1 to 4 PM at the Washington Monument, 2 15th St. NW, WDC 20024. Demand that Donald Trump be removed from office. RSVP at  During the rally, hear from musical guests and speakers who will cover everything from Trump’s impeachable offenses to why his term has been so damaging for millions of people across the country. The event will include speakers and musical guests from Washington, DC and across the country. Speakers will address Trump’s ten impeachable offenses, why impeachment is the necessary next step to removing Trump from power, and related issues such as the Trump administration’s systematic assault on people of color, immigrants, women, and the LGBT community. We need to impeach this dangerous president NOW. Volunteers: send a message to

60] – There is a Week of Action to Get Lush Cosmetics Out of Bloody Saudi Arabia, June 1 through 7.  One of the protests will occur in Washington, D.C. on Sat., June 1 at 1 PM.  Go to

61] – On Sat., June 1 from 4 to 6 PM, consider going to a Fundraiser - Moving Toward A More Sustainable Maryland, hosted by the Sierra Club Maryland Chapter. Tickets can be had at  The benefit will feature former Maryland Governor and smart growth leader Parris Glendening!  Maryland is at a crossroads on transportation policy and smart growth. Are we going to create a 21st century transportation system that prioritizes moving people instead of cars, and confronts climate change? Or are we going to repeat the mistakes of the last century, and build sprawling highways that swallow up open space, worsen traffic, and contribute to a warming planet?  RSVP at  Check at

62] – It is a violation of U.S. law for us to attack a country that has not attacked us, as only Congress can declare war. The Trump administration is nevertheless beating the war drums for war against Iran and Venezuela. The Mueller investigation is tightening the vise, and could cause Trump to attack those countries in order to divert attention from Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Such a military strike would demand an immediate and unequivocal response from us to show that we will not tolerate his abuse of power.

Let's mobilize to show that we the people will not tolerate another military adventure, which would be bound to have profound negative consequences. If a preemptive military strike against Iran or Venezuela takes place, then meet at 33rd and N. Charles St., Baltimore 21218. If the attack is before 2 PM local time, then events will begin at 5 PM, local time. If the attack occurs after 5 PM local time, then events will begin at 5 PM, local time, the following day. Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net.

63] -- If you would like to get rid of books, videos, DVDs, records, tarps and table cloths, contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at

64] -- Can you use any book shelves? Contact Max at 410-323-1637 or mobuszewski2001 at

65] -- Join an extraordinary global campaign for the elimination of nuclear weapons: A growing group of leaders around the world is calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons and a majority of the global public agrees.  This is an historic window of opportunity.  With momentum already building in favor of Zero, a major show of support from people around the world could tip the balance. When it comes to nuclear weapons, one is one too many.

66] – A Peace Park Antinuclear Vigil takes place every day in Lafayette Park, 1601 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 24 hours a day, since June 3, 1981. Go to; call 202-682-4282.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

“One is called to live nonviolently, even if the change one works for seems impossible. It may or may not be possible to turn the US around through nonviolent revolution. But one thing favors such an attempt: the total inability of violence to change anything for the better" - Daniel Berrigan

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

My Pentagon Regret

Published on Portside (

My Pentagon Regret

James Carroll
May 28, 2019
Tom Dispatch; Common Dreams

  Earlier this month, the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group -- the massive aircraft carrier itself with its dozens of warplanes and thousands of sailors and marines, a guided missile cruiser, and four destroyers -- suddenly began to make its way from the Mediterranean Sea into the Persian Gulf, heading for the waters off Iran. Pentagon sources spoke of ominous but unspecified threats. The U.S. military moved into a showy state of readiness, with reports that a force of up to 120,000 troops might be mobilized and sent to the Middle East for a possible future war with Iran.

   In the Trump era, such American saber rattling, especially by hyper-hawkish National Security Advisor John Bolton, feels so unnervingly routine that it might not have even made me sit up. Then I read that the latest Middle East deployment included a task force of -- god save us from memory! -- B-52s, the massive strategic bombers dating from the 1950s that wreaked such havoc in the first great war of my adulthood: Vietnam.

   Even as that now-ancient national trauma popped back into my mind, I chastised myself. Not every provocative U.S. naval deployment in sketchy waters off some distant coast is a set-up for a replay of the Gulf of Tonkin, that war-igniting North Vietnamese “attack” on U.S. destroyers that never was. I reminded myself as well that just because Bolton is sounding the alarm doesn’t mean his counterparts in Tehran are harmless or that Donald Trump, who years ago warned against a president launching an attack on Iran to win a future election, would be willing to go there. Why, oh why, I kept asking myself, won’t that antiwar trick knee of mine stop jerking?

The Ghost Bomber Flies Again, or 12 Drummers Drumming

   But B-52s? I just couldn’t get them out of my mind. How could those aged monsters with their massive swept-wings, eight pylon-mounted engines, and 70,000-pound payloads of bombs still be flying?

    B-52s were brought into service in the 1950s as the emissaries of an orgasmic, potentially civilization-destroying nuclear assault against hundreds of cities in the Soviet Union and communist China. Thank god, it never came to that, but then the B-52 was reconfigured as the ultimate instrument of carpet-bombing in Vietnam, leveling vast numbers of mile-square “target boxes” across that land. Its crowning performance, however, didn’t come until near that war’s end: the “Christmas bombing” of 1972. From December 13th to December 29th, over the mythic 12 days of Christmas, like so many drummers drumming, wave after wave of those strategic bombers were sent against previously off-limit targets in and around the North Vietnamese cities of Hanoi and Haiphong. It would prove to be the biggest heavy bomber assault since World War II.

  Then an antiwar activist and a priest, I was among those who, as soon as we heard about the bombing campaign, assumed our country was engaged in a war crime of the first order -- a modern Guernica, as the French newspaper Le Monde put it. Events would prove us right and, yes, the B-52 has haunted me ever since. That’s why the news of its latest provocative deployment against Iran takes me back across the years to a set of as-yet-unreckoned-with mistakes -- ones that are distinctly the property of the Pentagon, but also, given the U.S. wars that followed, the American people. That’s why, as recent events began to unfold, I found myself returning to what I still consider my own mistake rooted in the absurdity of that distant moment almost half a century ago, one that I suddenly felt a need to revisit.

The 12 Days of Christmas

  The story begins with that Christmas bombing. Here’s my best recollection of what happened. Less than two months before it began, just ahead of the presidential election of 1972, Richard Nixon’s secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, announced that, when it came to the Vietnam War, “peace is at hand.” In that way, he gave his president, if not a partridge in a pear tree, then at least the means to smother Democratic antiwar presidential candidate George McGovern that November. And a Washington-Hanoi peace accord had indeed been agreed to in Paris in October only to break down in December. At that time, the reelected president ordered the most savage bombing campaign of an already savage war, dispatching more than 100 B-52s to drop high explosives on, among so much else, the Bach Mai Hospital in the North Vietnamese capital, Hanoi. Once again, civilians were being killed by American flyers.

  At that point in the war, as a member of the Catholic wing of the peace movement, I had been an organizer of numerous antiwar demonstrations and a participant in a handful of civil disobedience “actions,” but something in me snapped on first hearing news of that barbarous burst of yuletide violence. I experienced a jolting urge to escalate myself and immediately thought of a good friend in Washington, another Catholic antiwar organizer and priest, as firmly committed to nonviolence as I was but less in the grip of timidity. He, too, was enraged by the Christmas bombing. “Let’s do something about it, he said.

  The week before Christmas, I travelled from Boston to Washington to join him in shaping a response. By the time I got there, he had already gathered a few other activists, most of whom I knew. I trusted them. We were all old hands at antiwar protests (with small-potato arrest records to show for it). None of us, however, had engaged in the serious kinds of law breaking that had sent other Catholic pacifist-protesters off for significant prison terms. Yet all of us were appalled by the ongoing Christmas bombing, which, for us, felt like a new kind of draft notice.

  Our collective urge seemed clear enough: Stop the war! Shut down the Pentagon! The question was: How? Inspired by a plain-spoken fellow whose father had been a teamster and who had himself been a trucker, we were soon hunched over maps of the roadways ringing the Pentagon. A patchwork of clover leafs and ramps brought traffic into its two massive parking lots that accommodated almost all of the 20,000 workers who daily filed into the largest office building in the world. Its five sides enclosed five concentric rings, 17 miles of corridors. Because one of its sides fronted on Arlington National Cemetery and another on the Potomac River, automobile traffic generally flowed in from just two main arteries. Most of those thousands of vehicles passed, morning and night, through a single complex interchange, “the mixing bowl.” A pair of Y-shaped crossings then funneled vehicles into the parking lots, each with its own choke point.

  Shut down the Pentagon? Here perhaps was a way to do it: somehow block the traffic at one or more of those congestion points at the height of the morning rush hour and so stop its workforce, however briefly, from showing up to run the American war machine.

A Plunge into the Absurd, or 10 Lords A-Leaping

  I recall feeling like I’d been dropped into another reality as I listened to my co-conspirators improvise strategies for blocking those critical roadways, grand designs that seemed so much less cockamamie once our trucker chum took charge. He had determined that I-95, the highway adjacent to the Pentagon, was under construction. Large trucks were already ubiquitous in the area. His idea: we would join them and who would even notice? In short order, we had a plan. He still possessed his “CDL” -- a commercial driver’s license -- which would allow him to rent a set of dump trucks with which we could then deposit something on the highway, shutting things down in the most literal way possible.

  It tells you everything about that moment that his plan left us effervescent, even though in any other time it would have seemed imprudent at best and lacking even a modicum of common sense at worst. I then returned to Boston where, within hours, the fantastic unreality, the folly of that plan seemed, to my relief, obvious. No way would it go forward.

  As the days passed though and the bombing continued, my Washington-based conspirators began working all too seriously to make it real. Soon, a half-dozen rental dump trucks had indeed been lined up; a demolition contractor, happy to avoid landfill fees, had agreed to load them with concrete debris; and a date had already been set -- the last week of January -- for six teams of us to do practice runs. January 30th was then settled on as D (for “Dump”) Day.

  The plan: six dump trucks, each manned by a pair of protesters wearing hard hats and safety vests, would simultaneously roar up to pre-arranged sites. At a synchronized stroke of the clock, the “flag man” would leap out to halt oncoming vehicles at a safe distance, while the driver would flip the tailgate release, raise the bed, and offload several tons of concrete chunks and rubble onto the two key choke-points of the mixing bowl -- enough, that is, to block the entrance ramps to those immense Pentagon parking lots. We would then leap back in the trucks and speed away.

   After making a beeline back to the rental lot and leaving the trucks, we would rendezvous at the Jefferson Memorial. There, we would await the police. A friendly lawyer had already warned us that we could be charged with anything from a misdemeanor civil infraction -- blockage of a public passageway -- to (gulp) criminal conspiracy to commit sabotage in a time of war. The police would know to come for us because we would have scattered copies of our manifesto around the rubble piles and it would include the time and place of our projected surrender. A call would also be made to the Washington Post, explaining that we were the ones who had created the massive traffic jam then spreading across northern Virginia. The manifesto was to be headlined “Stop the Bombing!” All well and good until, that December 29th, the Christmas bombing stopped. But that didn’t stop us: we would simply headline the manifesto, “Stop the war!”

  By the time I was briefed on the latest iteration of the plan by phone, 11 others had already agreed to take part. I swallowed hard, took a deep breath, cleared my calendar for the last week of January, and said I was in.

Peace with Honor?

  But events outran us. By mid-January, peace talks had resumed in Paris between Kissinger and North Vietnam’s Le Duc Tho. On January 23rd, President Nixon went on television to announce that a peace deal had been agreed to. A ceasefire was to take effect at once and U.S. combat operations halted. North Vietnam recognized the legitimacy of the South Vietnamese government in Saigon. That government, in turn, accepted zones of communist control in the south. American prisoners were to be released. The Nixon administration claimed the Christmas bombing -- those days of drummers drumming -- had forced the North Vietnamese back to the negotiating table, a case of ends justifying means if ever there was one.

  In fact, however, that ceasefire would not hold. Savage fighting would continue for two more years until the Communists finally overran Saigon in April 1975. Still, the U.S. would no longer be a direct combatant. Vietnamese suffering would, of course, continue. For Americans, however, it would prove to be the ultimate not-with-a-bang-but-a-whimper ending. Still, an ending it was.

  I recall that moment not as one of joy but of profound relief that the American war was finally over. But I must admit as well that, for me, there was also a sense of deliverance from the coming action at the Pentagon. Only with this turn in the story could I acknowledge to myself the depth of dread into which the prospect of our quixotic plan of faux-sabotage had plunged me.

   After watching Nixon’s peace announcement on television, I called my buddy in Washington and he promptly shocked me to the core. He assured me that the president was, as ever, obviously lying. The deal would never hold. The U.S. would soon gin up its war machine again. “Don’t be a sucker, Jim,” he insisted. And, of course, our dump-demo at the Pentagon was to take place as planned. In fact, the dummy runs with the trucks were about to start. Nonplussed, I pushed back. “Our demand,” I insisted, “is to stop the war. How can we go through with this when that’s exactly what they’ve done?”

  But he wasn’t having it and promptly put his ace on the table. “You signed up, Jim!” he said.
In the end, only three of the original dozen plotters, including that one-time trucker, saw the thing through. The rest of us dropped out and, though concrete rubble was indeed dumped on an access road to the Pentagon, there was but one measly truckload of it left at a potential chokepoint around 7:30 that D-Day morning, a pile far too small to block even that one road. Other drivers simply swung around it, hurling curses at what they took to be an incompetent construction crew. The few manifesto-flyers strewn about were quickly lost in the wind.

  When, having returned the truck to the rental lot, the three would-be saboteurs called the Washington Post and showed up at the Jefferson Memorial ready to be arrested (or interviewed), neither police nor reporters appeared. Not even the morning radio traffic report mentioned anything out of the ordinary around the Pentagon. When my friend went back to the scene of the crime that afternoon, as he later told me, all evidence had already been swept away.

  To my surprise, I was left feeling guilty and sad -- and so finally acknowledged the obvious to myself, though not to him: the entire project had been ridiculous from the get-go, Mahatma Gandhi meets the Keystone Kops. And doing it after the American war ended would only have emphasized the absurdity of it all (had anyone noticed). That such a mad action was conceived during the penultimate madness of those grim Christmas bombing days laid bare the madness with which, by then, that war had infected us all.

The War That Began With a Lie Ended With a Lie

In reality, the terms Hanoi agreed to that January were identical to those it had accepted in Paris in October (except for certain sticking points on which the Americans, not the North Vietnamese, gave way). As American negotiator John Negroponte later reportedly put it, we bombed them “into accepting our concessions.”

  If the Christmas bombing had any purpose at all, it was, by means of such a brutal display, to pressure U.S. ally and South Vietnamese leader Nguyen Van Thieu into accepting a peace treaty he had not been party to. In other words, the American war in Vietnam, which had begun with a lie, was now ending with a lie. President Nixon had promised “peace with honor.” Now, the Paris agreement was going to deliver a final betrayal of the country’s South Vietnamese allies, who would soon enough be crushed.

  In the end, however, the Christmas bombing’s true purpose wasn’t to change the North or even convince Thieu to sanction the deal. It was simply to deliver 12 days of unprecedented violence, a pure spasm of hate and vengeance, a summary act of mass murder directed at an enemy that had refused to be defeated -- simply because it refused to be defeated.

  As I recall all of this now, so many decades later, feelings of guilt and sadness swamp me once again, especially as, in the wake of that Christmas-tide spasm of bombing, my friendship with my Washington buddy would never be the same again.

The Last Antiwar Action, à la Doonesbury

  If the Christmas bombing was the last direct American military action of the Vietnam War, it is likely that the overlooked single rubble-dump on that road near the Pentagon was the final antiwar protest of that era. And if its memory haunts me, it’s undoubtedly because I can finally see that I was wrong not to join that foolish act of fake sabotage. After so many years of mass antiwar actions that were truly meaningful, even those six dump trucks -- those six geese a-laying their concrete debris on those access roads that morning -- would undoubtedly have had little more impact than that one pathetic dump did. Had the Christmas bombings been ongoing, the Pentagon engine of violence, generally on a kind of autopilot in those years, would surely have continued to purr along. The last anti-war action, if noticed at all, would, at best, have been laughed at. If the Washington Post had taken notice, it would have been in Doonesbury.

   The difference would have been in me. I would have actively refused to accept at face value the Vietnam War’s last lie: that those B-52s had brought home a victory of any kind. If I feel differently now, it’s because of the nearly 50 years that have passed since that moment, the equivalent of a cumulative song whose lyrics would have been one lie a-laying after another: that, even with the Soviet Union gone, the U.S. still needed a hair-trigger nuclear arsenal; that NATO must expand, encroaching on Russia; that the threat of terror after 9/11 was existential and endless; that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction (or even a program to produce them); that there’s no alternative to a new Cold War with China; and most recently, that the Iranians, thanks to their threatening actions, are bringing us to the edge of another incipient conflict.

  To engage in a futile act of war protest, as my friend did then, was still to have refused to be fooled. It was to have done something. As he steered a lumbering dump truck into that Pentagon mixing bowl, I and countless others like me, whether out of hope, fear, or mere exhaustion, were busy detaching ourselves from an unfinished business, an unfinished duty: to actively resist the unjust violence being perpetrated or threatened in our names (and not just in Vietnam either).

   During these last 18 years of forever war across significant parts of the planet, such detachment has, in fact, been a striking mark of American life, while policies conceived in, and pursued from, the Pentagon have again and again unleashed havoc -- both in an increasingly rubble-strewn Greater Middle East (and North Africa) and in a Europe increasingly overrun by the desperate refugees from our wars. As American military leaders have failed even to come close to winning those wars (mission accomplished!), our politicians, right to left, have similarly failed to stop them -- have, in fact, often only encouraged them -- even as the wicked futility of such eternal violence has become ever plainer.

  Yes, many Americans have come to disapprove of those forever wars, but what have we citizens actually done about them? Have we been waiting all this time for a mode of prudent protest to emerge? Looking for a reasonable way to object, for a realistic method of civic dissent to miraculously appear? Or have we merely been so many swans a-swimming, not caring enough, paying enough attention, to have become half-crazed, as my old friend was so long ago by the ongoing madness of the acts of our government?

  Now, those ancient, ghostly B-52s are threatening to fly in yet another possible war in the Middle East, even as the Pentagon’s lies keep coming. Yes, that building has five rings, but they’re hardly golden (as that Christmas song has it). The U.S. war machine keeps chugging along, spitting lead. What can stop it? I ask this, regretting the day I had a chance, however laughable, to lend a hand in putting an obstacle -- if only a bit of rubble, if only for an hour -- in its way.

  My three friends -- those three French hens of that Christmas moment -- acted. I declined to do so when still a young man, because it seemed too absurd to me at time. Here’s something far more absurd, so many years later when I’ve become an old man: America’s unending crimes of war have come to feel utterly routine. In our moment, John Bolton’s bloody mischief continues to unfold and even a peep of actual public protest is missing in action.

  My foolish friend died long ago. Otherwise, I would call my former fellow turtle dove this very moment and assure him that he was right, that I was wrong, and I would fervently apologize.

James Carroll, TomDispatch regular and former Boston Globe columnist, is the author of 20 books, most recently the novel The Cloister. His history of the Pentagon, House of War, won the PEN-Galbraith Award. His Vietnam War memoir, An American Requiem, won the National Book Award. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook.

Copyright 2019 James Carroll

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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

Baltimore Activist Alert -- May 29 - 30, 2019

28] Food Rescue – May 29
29] What is the Cost of a Healthy Diet?  – May 29
30] School of Food and Food Rescue Baltimore – May 29
31] Demand a moral budget in Baltimore May 29
32] Canton Prayer Walk – May 29
33] Truth Ain’t Popular – May 29
34] Race N Justice Town Hall Meeting – May 29
35] "The Lines Between Us" – May 29
36] What Next for the Korean Peninsula? – May 30
37] ERA Senate Lobby Day – May 30
38] The Korean Peninsula Issues – May 30
39] Medicare For All – May 30
40] Marching for Peace – May 30
41] “The Color of Law” – May 30
42] Town Hall on the Central Maryland Transit Plan – May 30
43] Wear Orange Planning Meeting – May 30
28] -- Wednesdays at the Free Farm, 3510 Ash St., Baltimore 21211 by Food Rescue Baltimore continue on Wed., May 29 from noon to 1 PM. Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. See

29] -- On Wed., May 29 from 12:15 to 1:45 PM, What is the Cost of a Healthy Diet?  This event is hosted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), 1201 I St., WDC 20005.  Lunch will be available starting at 11:45 AM. The new Price Indexes Reveal Changes in Affordability of Nutritious Foods." Interventions and innovation can lower the price of individual foods, but healthy eating depends on access to a mix of foods from diverse sources. How has the overall cost of meeting dietary needs changed over time worldwide, and in Africa and South Asia specifically? What determines the cost of a healthy diet? And how does affordability affect dietary intake and health status in different locales?

To answer these questions, Changing Access to Nutritious Diets in Africa and South Asia (CANDASA), a Tufts-IFPRI project funded by UKAid and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been using new food price indexes that account for food substitutions to meet nutritional needs to evaluate #foodsystems all over the world, including in Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Malawi, and Tanzania.  This seminar will present the outcomes of CANDASA’s work to date, with a panel discussion featuring field researchers from each country to discuss the local and global implications of their results. Get tickets directly on Facebook -

30] – On Wed., May 29 at 2 PM, and every Wednesday until July 24, 2019, School of Food and Food Rescue Baltimore will give out food at 1412 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore 21213. Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. See

31] – Communities United is committed to supporting its members in raising voices loud and clear for a moral budget in Baltimore. This is an important moment as this year's budget is finalized. Come out on City Council Taxpayer Night on Wed., May 29 at 5 PM at City Hall, 100 Holliday St., 4th floorYou need a photo ID to get into City Hall, Contact Rebecca at

32] –  On Wed., May 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM, join the Canton Prayer Walk, hosted by St. Casimir Church, 2736 O’Donnell St., Baltimore 21224.  Bishop Madden will lead a prayer walk through Canton beginning at St. Casimir Church. Begin with a light meal in the parish hall and proceed to the church at 6 PM for opening prayers and to begin the walk. Walk together and pray for victims of crime as well as for peace and safety in the neighborhood. Contact the parish office at 410/276-1981.  Go to

33] – On Wed., May 29 from 6 to 8:30 PM, catch the show Truth Ain't Popular: Life and Times of a Radical Artist, hosted by Ron Kipling Williams at the Patricia & Arthur Modell Performing Arts Center at the Lyric, 140 West Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore 21201. Ron takes you on a journey in an explosive set of spoken word artistry and activism. Featured are his friends and special guest artists Femi the DriFish, Slangston Hughes, Olu Butterfly Woods, Son of Nun and Chuck the Madd Ox. There will also be a special tribute to the legendary Abu the Flute Maker. The event is hosted by Fanon Hill, co-founder and Executive Director of the Youth Resiliency Institute.

Williams uses art, media, performance, and education to break down walls, facilitate open and honest conversations, and build community. He has generated a reputation for being authentic in tackling issues of race, class, and identity, and has influenced a generation of Baltimore regional artists and social change agents. He is the author of an autobiographical book of poetry and memoir entitled Black Freak Mosh Heaven" and is the creator/performer of a third solo show, Dreadlocks, Rock & Roll and Human Rights.  This event is free and open to the public. An RSVP is strongly encouraged. See

34] – On Wed., May 29 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, attend a Race N Justice Town Hall Meeting, hosted by Commissioner Salim Adofo and NAACP DC Branch at the Reeves Center Municipal Building, 2000 14th St. NW, WDC 20009. Are you concerned with the treatment of people of color by the judiciary system in the District of Columbia, especially as it pertains to young people?  Have you or your family been impacted by mass incarceration?  Do you want to get involved and learn how we can address many of the socio-economic problems that plagues communities of color?  Local elected and appointed officials, community leaders, educators and organizers. Public transportation is highly encouraged. The closest Metro stop is the African American Civil War Memorial/U Street stop on the Green Line.  Check out

35] – On Wed., May 29 from 7 to 9 PM, Lawrence Lanahan presents "The Lines Between Us" at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 1225 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21201.  Tickets are at Lanahan will be in conversation with Lisa Snowden-McCray of the Baltimore Beat!  Mark Lange and Nicole Smith have never met, but if they make the moves they are contemplating—Mark, a white suburbanite, to West Baltimore, and Nicole, a black woman from a poor city neighborhood, to a prosperous suburb—it will defy the way the Baltimore region has been programmed for a century. It is one region, but separate worlds. And it was designed to be that way.

In this deeply reported, revelatory story, duPont Award–winning journalist Lawrence Lanahan chronicles how the region became so highly segregated and why its fault lines persist today. Mark and Nicole personify the enormous disparities in access to safe housing, educational opportunities, and decent jobs. As they eventually pack up their lives and change places, bold advocates and activists—in the courts and in the streets—struggle to figure out what it will take to save our cities and communities: Put money into poor, segregated neighborhoods? Make it possible for families to move into areas with more opportunity? See

36] – On Thurs., May 30 from 10 to 11:30 AM, check out What Next for the Korean Peninsula? - Negotiating Towards Denuclearization and Peace at the Center for a New American Security, 1152 15th St. NW, Suite 950, WDC 20005.  This is a Panel Discussion with Jung H. Pak, Brookings Institution, Mary Beth Nikitin, Specialist in Nonproliferation, Congressional Research Service and Richard Johnson, Nuclear Threat Initiative.  See or

37] – Join the ERA Senate Lobby Day on Thurs., May 30 at 1:30 PM by meeting in the Dirksen Senate Cafeteria, Dirksen Senate Office Building, 50 Constitution Ave. NE, WDC 20002.  Email RSVP at

38] –  On Thurs., May 30 from 1:30 to 5:30 AM, there is a Spring Symposium: The Korean Peninsula Issues and United States National Security at the Capitol Visitors Center, Congressional Auditorium and Atrium, CVC-200, First St. NE,  WDC 20515.  Some of the speakers are from the Institute for Corean-American Studies, Dov Zakheim, Center for Strategic and International Studies and others. Visit

39] –   Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) is mobilizing for Medicare For All with Our Revolution, National Nurses United, as well as Progressive Maryland and others to pressure the three Maryland House Democrats who haven’t yet cosponsored the Medicare For All Act.  There will be events in David Trone’s, Steny Hoyer’s, and Dutch Rupersberger’s districts to get them on board with the most comprehensive, life-saving, and economical healthcare legislation in U.S. History. The first event will be on Thurs., May 30 at 5:30 PM at Gaithersburg high school, 100 Education Drive.  Rep. David Trone will be at the high school that evening for a different event. Bring the heat to his seat and let him know that we want every Democratic Member of Congress on board in support of Medicare for All!!!

The featured speakers at the rally will all be members of our local chapter. Can you add your voice as well? Do you have a personal story that underscores the need for Medicare for All? Have you or your loved ones, like so many Americans, experienced the personal impact of skyrocketing drug prices, deductibles, unaffordable or inadequate coverage, gaps in coverage, and medical debt? Our Revolution would like to hear about your experience. Tell us your story by sending an email to

40] – On Thurs., May 30, Memorial Day in Wilmington, join Pacem in Terris Marching for Peace.  The Memorial Day Parade has been running for 152 years. Meet at Delaware Ave. & Woodlawn Ave. at 5:45 PM. Call 302-656-2721 or email

41] - On Thurs., May 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, meet the author Richard Rothstein of “The Color of Law,” hosted by Choose Civility, 9411 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City 21042.  Tickets are at The complete title of the book is A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America.  This is a result of explicit government policies at the local, state, and federal levels.  Rothstein is a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  Books will be available for purchase and to be signed. Register at or call 410.313.1950. Look at

42] – On Thurs., May 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 PM, get over to a Grassroots Town Hall on the Central Maryland Transit Plan, hosted by Sierra Club Maryland Chapter at the Impact Hub Baltimore, 10 E. North Ave., Baltimore 21202. You can help shape the Baltimore region's first comprehensive transit plan in decades! Do you want more reliable and accessible transit to get to the places where you live, work, study, and recreate? Visit  Transit Options to get to Impact Hub are as follows CityLink Gold, Green, and Silver, LocalLink51, 53, 94, 95, Express BusLink 103, and Charm City Circulator Purple Route.  See

43] – On Thurs., May 30 from 7 to 9 PM, get over to the Wear Orange Planning Meeting, hosted by Moms Demand Action at Whole Foods Market, 10275 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia 21044.  Tickets are at Help finalize plans for the Wear Orange event. RSVP at, and look at

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"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