Friday, November 26, 2004

Kerry Supporters

Here's another letter to the editor written before the election, not published by the Morning Call. I had to go to C-Span and watch the DNC over again because there were so many things that disturbed me about what the speakers were saying.

To the Kerry-Edwards supporters who have been calling and urging me to vote for Kerry since Nader is no longer on the ballot in Pennsylvania I would like to remind you in the words of some of the speakers at the Democratic National Convention, what John Kerry stands for:

Gen. Wesley Clarke, “John Kerry will join that great pantheon of wartime democrats like…Harry Truman…Bill Clinton who confronted ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia and with a policy backed by force brought peace to a shattered land.”

Senator Joe Lieberman: “People are worried about their jobs, about rising healthcare bills, about their kid’s education, about their retirement and their environment. John Kerry and John Edwards have practical, progressive, sensible plans to relieve those worries, but all of us know that those plans won’t mean much unless we can restore the American peoples sense of security…shattered by Islamist terrorists…fanatics who are as great a threat to our personal security and freedom as the Nazi’s and Communists who we defeated in the last century.”

Madeleine Albright: “I want a President who will lead in the tradition of Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower…We all know that throughout history freedom has been opposed by dictators, aggressors, fascists and communists. In recent years we have seen arise a new and evil tide-terrorism. As President John Kerry will mobilize the full arsenal of American power including the military, intelligence, law enforcement…under his leadership, we will persist until we prevail.”

And Kerry himself: “I defended this country as a young man and I will defend it as President…I will never hesitate to use force…We will add 40,000 active duty troops…double our Special Forces…provide our troops with the newest weapons and technologies…our National Security begins with Homeland Security.”

Ralph Nader may not be a prophet to lead us into the Promised Land. Do we need one?
He may not be building a movement the way some think he should; maybe that’s our job. But he is clearly anti-corporate, while the Democratic Party is the good cop of capitalism.

Remember, those of you who vote for Kerry and Edwards, exactly what principals you supported in this election. Hopefully, organizing and agitation around the real issues of war, poverty, education, healthcare and the environment as they affect the people of the US and the world will continue despite capitalism’s more palatable mask.

Friday, August 27, 2004


Standing beside another human being
laughingly pointing a gun at his naked,
bound and blindfolded body. Hoo-ahh!

“I always wanted to be the first woman torturer
caught on camera.”
See Jane smile.
See her blue-green rubber gloves, thumbs rakishly pointed up!

Don’t you want her for a mommy?
A daughter?
A wife?
A neighbor?
A teacher?
My hero!
“I violated prisoners in my maidenform bra.”
Something for your daughters to aspire to.

New this Christmas!
Barbie in uniform complete with dangling cigarette,
dog collar, working cattle prod and
your choice of Prisoner: Middle Eastern, Asian,
Central/South American, African.
Beefsteak tartar a la Brecht is still on the menu at Mom‘s Diner.
Order yours now!
Avoid the Christmas rush.
Pull the string and hear her say in a real familiar voice,
"I think this is a very hard choice, but the price-we think the price is worth it." *
“We need a common enemy to unite us.” **
“The dove of peace has become the ostrich of complacency.” ***

Equality achieved.
Got that side trip out of your system, girls?

Now, can we get back on the road of liberation?

*Madeleine Albright
**Condoleeza Rice
***Jeanne Kirkpatrick

Monday, August 23, 2004

The recipe for a Land of Opportunity

The recipe for a Land of Opportunity

1. Pour lots of US dollars into tiny, reactionary organizations that exist within a chosen country. (If they don't exist, stir some up.) Make sure they have a well-funded press and many photo opportunities with western journalists. (Toss in some massacre/rape/baby eating stories.)

2. Block all aid to political forces already in power because they are communists. (No documentation necessary. Nor does it matter if the left, communist, coalition government in existence was democratically elected.)

3. Place an embargo on the chosen country cutting off all export/import of necessary items including food and medicine. (Pressure Cooker effect)

4. Make sure plenty of guns, butter and cash get through to the reactionaries. Simmer. Add US troops to taste.

5. The pot will begin to bubble. The side with the most guns, butter and PR wins. (Your tax dollars at work.)

6. Pause to wave the flag.

7. After the dust settles and the blood dries, you have a perfect base for the business community to commit humanitarian deeds so the workers are not starving out on the street and to lay the foundation for future prosperity - for itself.

Note: Recipe can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled as needed.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Vote for Nader, Register your Discontent

I can see why the Democratic Party is upset by Ralph Nader's candidacy.

If it weren't for Nader we would be faced with another year of either not voting or holding our noses and voting for a more palatable though not lesser of two evils.

If they lose, the Democrats could dismiss us as apathetic or if they win point to their success as proof that they were right to support god, the expansion of the military and the strengthening of Homeland Security while fondly reminiscing about their youthful fervor for peace and justice.

For those of us who know that war, poverty outsourcing and other iinjustice existed before Bush took office; for those of us who watched an international wave of anti-corporate, anti-war movements grow and spread only to be sandbagged by the nationalist backlash after 9/11, voting for the Democratic Party and the Kerry/Edwards ticket is tantamount to waving a white flag.

In the Election 2004 article on Nader in August 3rd's Morning Call, State House Minority Leader and Democrat H. William DeWeese said, “...we are going to do everything humanly possible to intercede against Mr. Nader.” This is the pathetic strategy the “party of the people” has for beating one of the most publically inept political figures of the century. To use Al Sharpton's analogy, this donkey has taken us for a ride long enough.

We don't want the military expanded. We want national health care. We want free education. We want affordable well constructed housing. We want living wage jobs in industries that meet human needs. We want Social Security to be expanded. We want debt forgiveness for student loans.

We don't want the Department of Homeland Security. We want no interference in the internal workings of sovereign governments or grassroots organizations. We don't want a new Cold War around the world or at home paid for with our tax dollars.

We want an end to corporate welfare. We want an end to subsidies to industries that threaten the future of the planet. We want corporations that outsource jobs at slave wages to be heavily taxed. If any military interventions are required to keep the wages low in their chosen lands of opportunity, they should strap on their 6 guns and pray.

We don't need the kind of empty hope that John Edwards promised was “on the way.” We don't

need the kind of trickle down, drop in the bucket help that John Kerry promised “is on the way.”

Behind the razor wire surrounding the Fleet Center, wrapped in red white and blue, produced by

Spielberg, serenaded by Carole King a wolf in sheep's clothing is still a wolf.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

More than 2 Evils at the DNC

With the exception of Rev. Al Sharpton, the performances at Wednesday nights Democratic National Convention were a cross between a Simpsons Halloween Special and Saturday Night Live in its heyday. The fascist Barbie Governor of Michigan and John Edward's lizard like tongue movements punctuated by a nano-second Jimmy Carter Grin offer fertile fodder for any moderately talented comedian. Unfortunately the future of our country and the planet are not laughing matters.

After hearing over and over again of Kerry's military record and promises to expand the military and the "Homeland Security" budget can anyone honestly say that a vote for Kerry is the lesser of 2 evils?

Tear gas, batons, riot gear, bullets, bullet proof vests,K-Rations(or whatever letter they're up to) bombs, planes, surveillance equipment all make a lot of money for a lot of people.
Around the world these products maintain a world order that makes it safe for people to work for a pittance. A world order that makes it safe for people to die of diseases that are preventable and curable. A world order that makes it safe for American corporations to murder those who organize for decent pay and working conditions. A world order that makes drug use-legal and illegal commonplace "in the greatest country in the world in the best of all possible times." A world order that gives young people a choice of war or prison.

Strengthen homeland security-more women being forced to drink their own breast milk before they're allowed to board an airplane? More hollywood hotties forced to bear their chests to show their nipple rings? More easily recognizable actors made to take their shoes off to show they have no weapons? More men with guns at the entrance to parking lots, bridges and tunnels as we drive around this "free" country?

The war that John Kerry fought in was a war against the tiny country of Vietnam. this is a country that fought the Japanese, then the French before the US came. Already devastated from years of war, they did not have fancy weapons. They didn't travel halfway across the world to bring communism to our shores. They were invaded by the most powerful military machine the world has ever seen and they won anyway. Men, women and children fought against the invaders who raped, mutilated and burned their way across their land. Since when is that something to be proud of? The DNC has loads of veterans telling of their support for John Kerry. Where are the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW?) Outside most likely.
When they played, "Dancing in the Streets" they didn't segue to the "free speech zone."
Which brings me to the musical part of the Convention. Let's start with:

Jackson Brownes, "Lives in the Balance"-
"They sell us the President the same way they sell us our clothes and our cars. They sell us everything from youth to religion the same time they sell us our wars."

Well I guess we'll buy anything.

Al Sharpton made a great speech. He ended by saying something like, we never got our 40 acres and a mule, but we're going to ride this donkey as far as it will take us.

I don't think that's the right way to go right now. Maybe it's because I'm 50. I remember going to see Mc Govern speak in Elizabeth NJ in 1972. I remember that I disliked Nixon, but I did not feel that McGovern was enough. Later, I succumbed to the lesser of 2 evils argument and voted for Carter. In all that time, which way has the world gone? Since Vietnam and Chile, Newark and Detroit, Kent and Jackson State, the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, El Salvador and Nicaragua, Cointelpro, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, the Patriot Act and Iraq again when is it going to stop?

Get off the donkey. Give it a whack on the rearend and send it packing. John Edwards was saying last night, "Hope is on the way." Well hope as been on the way for more than 200 years. When's it gonna get here? And what will it do when it does. Do we really need more hope? You can't eat hope. Hope can't shelter you or clothe you or give you medical care education clean air and water, a sustainable environment or peace. It takes more than hope for that. It takes action.

Those of us who have fought in whatever small way for justice and democracy know what acting means. We stand with the Americans who fought for decent and safe working conditions; who organized labor before it was legal;

Song: Solidarity Forever
"They have taken untold power that they never toiled to earn.
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn.
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn,
the union makes us strong."Sub: In union we are strong.

Who fought for civil rights
Song: Aint Gonna let nobody turn me 'round
Turn me round, turn me round.
Ain't gonna let nobody tun me 'round.
I'm gonna keep on walking, keep on talking
Marching toward freedom land.

For womens rights
Song: Bread and Roses
"As we go marching marching.
We bring the greater day.
The rising of the women
means the rising of the race.
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil while one reposes.
But a sharing of lifes glory
Bread and Roses, Bread and Roses."

Who fought to keep schools and firehouses and libraries open in our communities.
Song: It Isn't Nice
It isn't nice to block the doorways.
It isn't nice to go to jail.
There are nicer ways to do things.
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn't nice, it isn't nice.
You told us once, you told us twice,
but if that is freedoms price, we don't mind."

Who fought so no husband, father, son mother, wife or daughter would have to die halfway across the world "hanging on the barbed wire, crying out for water."
Song: Masters of War
Well what do I know to talk out of turn?
You might say that I'm young.
You might say I'm unlearned.
There's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you:
Even Jesus could never forgive what you do."

It's past time to part company with the donkey. We can walk together forward "in a column that's a century-wide. It's still a long and a hard and a bloody ride" in 2004.

More tomorrow.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Unnecessary Illusions

…”two women hanged from a tree by their hair
with their breasts cut off and their faces painted red.”
page 236 Necessary Illusions Noam Chomsky

Nationalism mutates into Fascism.
Extreme violence becomes commonplace.
Capitalism, continues its long slow death
Eroding, decaying, putrefying with
Sanguinary results. We read of
Slipping, sliding hands grasping the edge of a red riverbank.
Against a wall, ten people are lined up and shot for no reason, but
Reaction lessens as the horror spreads more and more
Year after bloody year.

Infused with stale yellow and sulfur
Lies hang in the air like slime
Linger around the ears like wasps disguised as butterflies.
Uneasy peace. Behind my eyes, a door slides softly closed.
Slumber is restless, broken by
Images of bodies swinging by the hair.
Obfuscated by news of negotiations the murders continue.
No excuse, except the phrase that pays-Fight Communism!
Silence thunders, black, empty, echoing no hope, no hope.

No time for confusion or endless debate
Elusive as a vision of the future is
Capitulation to what exists cannot be
Entertained. The choice is still barbarism or
Socialism. Don’t we know that at least?
So raise your heads and the scarlet banner high
And give this world a chance at life.
Resistance is essential.
Yet we wander, lost in the fog, haunted by Stalin’s ghost.

Incomplete though our plans may be,
Let’s at least begin, motivated not only by hatred of what exists but by
Love for the ones who suffer. Won’t it be a relief to concentrate not on
Ugliness, or personal unhappiness, but on building a better world,
Seeds of which were planted when we crawled out of the slime?
If we try, what can we accomplish? We have
Only to face the mistakes of the past, shed our not so
Necessary illusions and
Step into the fray.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Hearing the cello-sad music
violins screaming in pain
over black and white pictures
of faces from every country
my ears cannot shut out the babble
of too many tongues.

I sit trying not to listen
my head protected by cotton candy news
that despite its sweet softness
cannot block the noise.

All around me people smile
walk, talk, work
not hearing the sounds of suffering
that beat like the telltale heart
through the walls and floor.

It is time to remove the costume of normality
to cleanse ourselves with tears
for those who have fought and are fighting still
and when we have cried ourselves dry,
to look at ourselves naked in the mirror
before we dress for the battle that is to come.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Anti-abortion activists

On my way to work last Thursday I passed 3 anti-abortion activists standing on Hamilton St. on the sidewalk in front of Cedar Beach. They were standing behind large posters of the same aborted fetus. Two of the signs said, Abortion and the third had an arrow pointing to an office building across the street and had the word, "abortionist" written on it.

Just a few days before I happened upon a documentary on FSTV or LINK about bomblets in Laos and how young children, particularly boys are still being injured by the crap left behind from a war that ended nearly 30 years ago.

Where are the blown up color pictures of those dead and injured actually existing children? Where are the pictures of people starving and dying of diseases spread by war? Why aren't the "pro-lifers" out there demanding food, clothing, shelter, medicine and education for the undead-aka the living?

I had a vision of the Scarlet Letter burned on their chests underneath their neat, conventional clothing. I wondered what terrible sin each of them was hiding.

They were only there for one day thank goodness. It doesn't bother me to look at those pictures. It makes me angry that the pictures I saw on Al Jazeera of the child swathed in bandages or the one dead with a part of his skull missing aren't being carried on the street. It makes me angry that the pictures of the victims of cluster bombs in Yugoslavia and the diaries of the doctors trying to deal with the shredded limbs there was no way to save weren't read on the air every night.

Abortion is not about the fetus. Abortion is about a woman's right to control one teeny tiny part of her body. We are all assaulted daily by propaganda-men and women, but does a man have to walk into a mall and see a Victor's Secret shop where he can buy all manner of costumes that lift and seperate, reveal and conceal in all the right places? Do men wear wonder jocks to fill them out and plump them up? Would any of this make them more appealing to women? Think of it that way and you have to laugh.

I wish they would re-run the 1970's TV show, "All that Glitters" on Nick at Night. I don't remember all of it-It was on right before or right after "Mary Hartman." Chuck McCann, Anita Gillete, Linda Grey, David Duke, Marilyn Sokol and that guy from WKRP in Cincinatti-not Howard Hesseman, the young guy-Gary somone. It reversed the roles of men and women, but it kept the society the same. It really made you see how ridiculous conventional roles are. I remember Chuck Mc Cann crying and wearing an apron and David Duke being in love with Linda Grey who had a sex change operation and was really a man and Marilyn Sokol was a sheik(ess) with a harem. I wish we had something like that now. Satire, I mean. But as Tom Lehrer said, "Political satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize."

This is disorganized and rambling, but it's all related somehow.
And I cannot believe that women are calling each OTHER "Chicks."
Please don't tell me it's the same thing as gay people calling themselves queer because it certainly doesn't feel like it. I mean "Chick Nation" doesn't have the same ring to it. I suppose at the root of it is the fact that we don't learn our own history-the movements of the '60's are seen as an aberration, not a continuation- a little spurt here, a little spurt there, not a wave that swept over the world. Maybe the tide is out, but the water's still here.

I'll leave that for another day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


In your hands,
a piece of wood becomes a chair
a pile of thread becomes a bolt of cloth
a chunk of ore becomes a steel girder
an empty field becomes a crop of corn.

One of many bodies, no name, no face
you accept the uneven split of wages and profits
reciting the catechism of popular economics.

In your hands
a piece of steel becomes a box of screws
a crop of wheat becomes a loaf of bread
a hunk of clay becomes a set of bowls
a pile of wood becomes a house.

The objects you create stand beside you.
You are smaller in their presence.
They are larger in your presence.

In your hands,
a pile of stones becomes a fireplace,
a load of concrete becomes a sidewalk
a skein of wool becomes a hat,
a nugget of silver becomes a ring.

Some of the money you earn in the uneven exchange
will buy the object you produce
for while in making a car or a chair there is no status
in owning one status is attained.

In your hands,
strength has become weakness.
your creation has become your master,
our history has been rendered over:
granite obscured by a garish coat of red, white and blue.

Why War?

Wars have never been fought for ideals or ideas. Wars are not fought “to end all wars” or “to make the world safe for democracy.” They are fought over natural resources and for economic and political domination and they make a lot of people a lot of money.

Sadaam Hussein was not a good person. That is not why the US invaded Iraq. If the US government were concerned with “evil” it would not be supporting brutal regimes in Turkey or Indonesia. It would not have subverted the governments of Chile or Nicaragua to name a few. It would not have invaded Grenada. It would not have bombed Yugoslavia.

After September 11 the people of the United States had a chance to look closely at and reevaluate our government and it’s foreign and domestic policies. We had a chance to ask ourselves, “Do we want more money for weapons of mass destruction, more young men and women deployed across the world for war and armed “peacekeeping?” Do we re-prioritize in favor of national health care, more money for education, mass transit, more concern for the environmental destruction that is picking up more and more speed, more time to participate in this democracy?”

The majority of people have decided in favor of the latter, but this doesn’t make billions and billions of dollars for the people who make everything from the weapons to the body bags to the K-rations. When we speak about the military budget we should remember that the money taken from the public coffers, money earned by generations of working people, goes to the corporations who make the weapons that kill people and the planet itself. In spite of their patriotism they do not sell to the government at cost.

The Bush organizations “war on terrorism” has already stripped us of the few democratic rights we have. Oh we still have the right to buy several different models of gas guzzling, mega-polluting SUV’s. We still have the right to shop at the Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club of our choice, but not the unionized Shop Rite or Laneco. We still have the right to send our children into the military gambling that they’ll survive long enough to use their GI benefits to further their educations. We still have the right to work until we drop so we can afford housing, healthcare and contaminated food.

What makes a terrorist? Hopelessness and desperation. What makes terrorists target America? Some people say it’s because they are jealous of our “freedom” and our lifestyle. Americans work longer and harder than their counterparts in other industrialized nations. We are more productive as well, but we receive less and less compensation for that achievement. Where does the money go? 40% of the wealth in America is owned by 1% of the people. Our lifestyles reflect this as more and more people work more than one job just to keep their heads above water, retirees are forced to go back to work and even families with 2 full time working parents earn incomes that are below the poverty line. In the meantime the tax dollars we work until May to pay are used to shore up anti-democratic leaders in El Salvador, Turkey, Columbia and Indonesia to name a few. They are used to develop and produce some of the most horrendous weapons of our time-cluster bombs and nuclear waste “bullets” that have brought horrible death and destruction to the people of Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The priorities of the people who manufacture arms, who own oil companies and who already own most of the wealth created in America are not the same as mine. I do not support an invasion of Iraq or any other country.

What To Do

I think we need to raise the issues that are affecting people in their daily lives, keep these issues in the forefront as the military budget drains the public coffers. What are you terrified of more-Al Quaeda or not having food, clothing, shelter, a living wage, access to medical care and decent education? We need to say that we are not human resources; we are human beings. We need to stop accepting the voting booth as our only legitimate means of expression.

I have been extremely depressed since the recent elections. I am beginning to snap out of it because I realized that once again, I allowed myself to have faith in the electoral process. I have not always voted. I used to vote when I felt I needed to for the lesser of 2 evils. I voted for Carter when he lost. I voted for a republican governor in Pennsylvania because she was pro-choice. I felt very bad about that and I really didn’t want to do it. She was for 1 issue that I felt very strongly about and against 99 other ones that I also felt strongly about. Voting is a very unsatisfying experience. It’s like having one lick of lemon ice on a really hot summer day and then being told you can’t have any more.

In 1992, I wrote an article for Regeneration, A Magazine of Left Green Social Thought. The focus of Regeneration 4 was Green Electoral Politics, The 1992 debates. One of the things I said was, “As activists, our primary activity not to educate, but coordinate the … anger and frustration that we all feel; to encourage people to see that we can live in a human way and to point out that the capitalist system is stopping us from saving ourselves and the world. Whether we win or lose a particular struggle, the struggle itself is important because involvement in it is a step away from passivity and isolation and a step toward humanity and community. It’s important for people to stand up and say that our lives matter more than their profits and that a system that recognizes capitalism’s right to profit over our right to live must end. Do people come to that realization through electoral activity?”

I feel the same way today. I think for me the problem is in finding a community. There are faith-based groups and race based groups, student groups. There the Labor Party such as it is. But for people working in a non-union office environment in an industrial park, not religious and with anti-capitalist politics, there’s not much community or hope for one.

I don’t know if anyone saw the article in the January 2002 issue of Monthly Review, “Left Politics in the Age of Transition,” an exchange between Immanuel Wallerstein and the Editor’s of Monthly Review, but Wallerstein said some interesting things.

One of the things he said is “Use defensive electoral tactics…Once we don’t think of obtaining state power as a mode of transforming the world, they (elections) are always a matter of the lesser evil, and the decision of what is the lesser evil has to be made case-by-case and moment-by moment.”

The entire article is very good and I think worth reading for everyone here, but let me just summarize his alternative strategy:
“1. Expand the spirit of Porto Allegre-What is this spirit? The coming together in a non-hierarchical fashion of the world family of antisystemic movements to push for a) intellectual clarity b) militant actions based on popular mobilization that can be seen as immediately useful in people’s lives and c) attempts to argue for long term fundamental changes.
2. Use defensive electoral tactics.
3.Push democratization unceasingly. The most popular demand on the states everywhere is “more”- more education, more health, more guaranteed lifetime income.
4. Make the liberal center fulfill its theoretical preferences. This is otherwise known as forcing the pace of liberalism. The liberal center notably seldom means what it says or practices what it preaches.
5. Make anti-racism the defining measure of democracy. Democracy is about treating all people equally-in terms of power, in terms of distribution, in terms of opportunity for personal fulfillment…Racism is not a secondary issue either on a national or a world scale.
6. Move towards decommodification…instead of turning universities and hospitals into profit making institutions we should be thinking of how we can transform steel factories into non-profit institutions…
7. Remember always that we are living in the era of transition from our existing world system to something different. We should not be taken in by the rhetoric of globalization or the inferences about TINA. Not only do alternatives exist, but the only alternative that doesn’t exist is continuing with our present structure.

…The key problem is lucidity. The forces who wish to change the system so that nothing changes…have money, energy and intelligence at their disposal…only careful analysis will keep us from falling into their many traps.”

Sounds good to me. I just don’t know how and if we can do it. I think it was Ted Glick of IPPN that sent out an e-mail saying that we should hold Town Meetings in every community. This at least gives people a chance to get to know each other and communicate. I suppose we could try to hold town meetings on specific issues that are not necessarily seen as local issues-like healthcare- and see what people think, what the problems are in our area. It’s difficult to do anything that involves regular people though without the local honcho’s getting involved. A few years ago in Allentown some women tried to organize a group of people to discuss what the problems were with the downtown area and local political people were all over the meetings trying to co-opt the issues.

Guernica vs. Terrorism in Spain

This letter is in response to the misuse of Picasso’s Geurnica in the Tuesday March 16th Morning Call. The only relationship the bombing of Geurnica has to the terrorist bombing in Madrid is that perhaps, if the leftist government of Spain in the 1930’s and the spirit of international cooperation that supported it had been allowed to flourish instead of being brutally destroyed with the complicity of “democratic” governments and the Catholic Church, there would not have been a 2004 bombing in Madrid.

The Luftwaffe bombed the town of Guernica in the Basque region of Spain on market day April 26, 1937 in support of the fascist General Franco. For 3 hours, they dropped bombs and strafed the surrounding countryside, killing about 1600 of the towns 5000 men women and children. The outrage of this massacre is what Picasso’s Guernica represents.

The deaths that occurred in Madrid in 2004 were the result of a group of misdirected fundamentalists who do not hold state power. In contrast, with the bombing of Guernica the killing of civilians became a socially and politically acceptable act by governments during World War II, culminating in the horrific atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. To this day, the brutality of aerial “warfare” continues on a regular basis as we have seen from the use of cluster bombs in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States government and other major democracies maintained an official non-interventionist position during the Spanish Civil War that resulted in Franco’s forces getting plenty of guns, money and oil eventually ensuring the defeat of the elected leftist government. Before the government fell under the relentless barrage of well-funded fascists, more than 50,000 International Brigade members volunteered to fight for Spanish freedom. They came from Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Poland, the Ukraine, England, Ireland, USSR, Yugoslavia, Scandinavia, Canada, Hungary and of course from the United States. Republican Spain represented hope to people living in poverty and despair through a worldwide economic depression; hope to people who found a chance to fight in Spain against the same fascist enemy that was crushing them at home. Among the many who died there was the first black man to lead an integrated American military force, Oliver Law, a commander in the American Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Upon returning to the United States, survivors were labeled “premature antifascists” because their cause was not tied to nationalism but to internationalism and to the belief that all the people of the world deserve to be free.

A few years ago the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University hosted an exhibit called, Shouts from the Wall Posters and Photographs Brought Home From the War by American Volunteers. The introduction to the exhibit quoted the writer and film maker, John Sayles, “They fought when they didn’t have to fight, fought when it brought no public glory in their home towns, fought to put a lie to the cynicism that keeps people in darkness…for a republic that was mostly a belief in what people could be, in how they could live together…in a time when caring about someone you’ve never met is seen as weakness or treachery how much strength have we taken from the thought of them…”
There are many sources for more information about the Spanish Civil War. One of these is the website of ALBA – The Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at