This Saturday, join me at the CODEPINK Mother’s Day Peace Festival in front of the White House.
Ten years ago I participated in the 24-hour Mother’s Day vigil in front of the White House to show opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, since then the United States has not ended its aggression there and has expanded its attacks to include Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, among others. The US also destroyed Libya turning a functioning country into a failed state. And, the US is now providing record levels of support to the Israeli military despite its crimes against humanity as it commits genocide against the Palestinian people.
In addition to war, the US has been involved in multiple regime change operations. The US supported coups in the Honduras and Ukraine that have caused increased violence in those countries and is working to undermine the governments of Venezuela and Brazil.
The US is also antagonizing China through the Asia Pivot and Russia by surrounding it with NATO troops and weapons. These efforts are forcing US military expansions in South Korea, Vietnam, Japan, including Okinawa, and the Philippines as well as in former Soviet Union nations. In many of these countries, there are protests against US militarism in their nations.
The purpose of these expansions is to protect US hegemony so that western corporations will have access to resources, particularly oil and gas. Militarism and regime change are not, as we are told, to build democracy or security. They accomplish the opposite, often overthrowing elected governments, which leads to chaos and foments greater hatred of the United States.
The Obama administration’s trade agenda, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, works hand-in- hand with military expansion as a form of economic colonialism that provides access to cheap labor, rare metals and other resources. Corporate trade agreements are driving a global race to the bottom in wages and worker protections that hurts workers and their families in the US and fuels an economic draft into the military for our youth. They are putting transnational corporate profits ahead of protecting the planet at a time of multiple environmental crises, including climate change, destruction of the oceans and the sixth great extinction.
While the Military Industrial Complex and transnational corporations profit greatly from unending war and global financial domination, it is our young men and women who pay the price with their lives. Thousands of US soldiers have died since we attacked Afghanistan in 2001. Tens of thousands more have permanent injuries, both physical and mental. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day. The devastation is even greater in the countries subjected to US attacks.
The Mother’s Day Peace Festival brings us back to the roots of Mother’s Day. It began as an effort by Anna Jarvis from Appalachia to educate and organize mothers to work for health and peace. In 1870, Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation, which read in part:
“Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts, whether our baptism be that of water or of fears! Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says ‘Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
In 1872, Julia Ward Howe organized the first Mother’s Day as an anti-war rally in New York. In 1914, the US adopted Mother’s Day as an official holiday, but its anti-war roots have been lost. Instead, Mother’s Day has been commercialized, a development which Anna Jarvis fought until her death.
Please join me at the CODEPINK Peace Festival on Saturday, May 7, from 2 pm to 8 pm in Lafayette Square Park in front of the White House. I am scheduled to speak between 4:30 and 5:30.
Let’s honor the history and spirit of Mother’s Day and loudly call for an end to war.