A poison is circulating in the United States, distributed via the Internet and television, packaged with the gleeful promise of curing a sick society.
Perhaps you have had a dose of one of these products:
“White people are the target of a political plot that would replace them with people of color.”
“Immigration policies and immigrants are major drivers of drugs, crime and disease.”
“The answer to gun violence is to arm more people with guns.”
The Buffalo Carnage was planned and executed under the influence of a poisoned spirit. Now we see even more madness in Uvalde, Texas. In this horrific moment, Veterans For Peace reaffirms a total rejection of the carefully concocted and carelessly distributed poisons that fuel fear and division.
In August 2014, a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed 18-year-old black man in Ferguson, Missouri, in the St. Louis area. The incident sparked outrage and pushed the city to the brink of mass violence. With our national headquarters in St. Louis, Veterans for Peace found itself in the eye of a storm.
Our then-executive director, Michael McPhearson, himself a black veteran, was asked to co-chair an ad hoc coalition to foster dialogue aimed at preventing the community’s descent into violence.
The Ferguson incident has shed new light on the importance of our work as a veteran-led peace organization. We have recognized that world peace is impossible if the communities where we live are at war within. We have therefore adopted “Peace at home, peace abroad” as a corollary of our objective. It provides a point of contact to talk to people about how the interplay of domestic and foreign issues plays out in a culture of militarism.
Among the poisons that feed hatred and violence, fear of the “other” occupies the first place. This poison is not innate; it is fed with the intention that people be exploited to fight and kill.
It depicts the epic tragedy of a nation founded on land seized from indigenous peoples and developed in the sweat of slaves; a nation where the rhetoric of white supremacy still pollutes the thinking of citizens. The same poison is used in military adventures; the dehumanization of enemies is at the heart of war.
Although Veterans for Peace does not lead the fight against racism, we share the responsibility of confronting it, as does any organization that works to defend humanity. We denounce lies that drive divisions based on race, religion and gender.
They are rotting the foundations of the country for which we and countless others have given limbs and lives to defend. They push people towards the precipice of despair and violence. And if clear minds do not call them out for what they are, they will inevitably lead to more violence, militarization and war.
Gary May, Evansville