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Tag: Daniel Berrigan

Where the Tortured and the Torturer Shook Hands

How many of our most famous novelists, for instance, have bothered to take the two-and-a-half hour flight from Miami and see for themselves what’s going on here?
—Lawrence Ferlinghetti

 

I first read Seven Days in Nicaragua Libre in the mid-eighties; Ferlinghetti and I had both visited Nicaragua in 1984 (I on a Kentucky Witness for Peace delegation). I looked at the book again ten years ago, when Becca Gorley and I were reading from the City Lights Pocket Poets series. At that time, I was, still, trying to write something about our times in the West Bank and Gaza, and Ferlinghetti’s account was one of several books I read for provocation and inspiration. Many things, you can’t force; Dear Layla Welcome to Palestine was self-published in summer 2015.

A man of the Left, Ferlinghetti saw Nicaraguan history this way: “What has happened here, rather, is the overthrow of a tyrant (Somoza) supported by the U.S., and the attempt to overthrow the economic tyrant of colonialism in which Latin America has been for centuries the cheap labor market for North American and multinational business.” Many U.S. citizens may suffer amnesia about this appalling history but Latin Americans have a long memory. Read the rest of this entry »

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“Why Must the Poet’s Mouth Be Bloodied, His Teeth Caved in?”

More than a decade ago, octogenarian  Jesuit felon Daniel Berrigan  spoke at the local Jesuit university (in the auditorium of the business school, no less).  During the Q & A, a friend of mine asked him this question, “Dan, what have you been reading these days?”  His response:  “The Gospels and the poets.” Read the rest of this entry »

Trying To Stop the War

Shawn Francis Peters, The Catonsville Nine: A Story of Faith and Resistance in the Vietnam Era

Johanna Hamilton, 1971: On the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI

Shawn Francis Peters’ 2012 book is an account of the Catholic activists in May 1968 who burned draft files in Catonsville, Maryland. Johanna Hamilton’s 2014 film examines some of the men and women who stole FBI files from an office in Media, Pennsylvania, and shared them with newspapers, including the Washington Post even before Daniel Ellsberg leaked the “Pentagon Papers” to Katherine Graham’s paper. Hoping to play a role in stopping a hideous war against Vietnam, both groups of citizens felt compelled to act, even if it meant arrest, trial, and long prison sentences.

Read the rest of this entry »

On Daniel Berrigan

1.

Some of Daniel Berrigan’s Whitmanian multitudes:  Brother, uncle, jailbird, correspondent, chef, Jesuit, retreat master, playwright poet, peacemaker, mentor,  reader, teacher, prophet, son, friend, logophile.

2.

In our age they they talk about the importance of presenting Christianity simply, not elaborately and grandiloquently. And about this subject they write books, it becomes a science, perhaps one may even make a living of it or become a professor. But they forget or ignore the fact that the truly simple way of presenting Christianity is—to do it. — Soren Kierkegaard Read the rest of this entry »

Hearts and Minds, Revisited by Mark Chmiel and Andrew Wimmer

This article was first published at Counterpunch, January 12, 2005.

 

The ultimate victory will depend on the hearts and minds
of the people who actually live out there.

–Lyndon Johnson, on Vietnam

There is no peace because there are no peacemakers. There are no makers of peace because the making of peace is at least as costly as the making of war ­ as least as exigent, at least as disruptive, at least as liable to bring disgrace and prison and death in its wake.

–Daniel Berrigan, on the peace movement

In the months before the election, there was a lot of talk about the Vietnam War, some concerning where George W. Bush had been during that time, some dealing with what John Kerry had done, both in Vietnam and back at home. At the Democratic Convention, John Kerry declared himself proud to have served in Vietnam-consigning to Orwell’s memory hole his post-war activism against the war. In a campaign where he had to be seen as strong to rival Bush’s macho (yet fumbling) discourse, Kerry conveniently let that conscientious part of his own past slip away. (That “forgetting” is at least congruent with his support of the current war in Iraq and his enthusiasm not to withdraw but to stay and win.) And, of course, Kerry uttered the infamous non sequitor that even if he had known there were no WMD beforehand, he would still have gone into Iraq had he been President.

Gore Vidal’s apt subtitle for his latest book is “Reflections on the United States of Amnesia.” John Kerry wanted to be the Commander in Chief of this land of Amnesiacs, and he certainly offered himself as role model for abject forgetting.

Much nonsense was spewed forth at both ends of the political spectrum with each trying to trump the other when it came to proving militarist bona fides. The press can never resist a good martial tune, and so we all pretended, for what we told ourselves would be just a moment, that an illegal invasion and immoral occupation could be set right by a few more troops and better armor on the Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The price we will pay for this collective amnesia will be enormous, though we have only begun to see the faint outline of its contours.

A stirring antidote to such amnesia is the 1974 Oscar-winning documentary by director Peter Davis, Hearts and Minds. Each semester in his Social Justice theology course at Saint Louis University Mark shows his students this film, which has been recently reissued in the Criterion series on DVD. Some students, in their early twenties, share observations of how hard it is for their relatives ­ fathers and uncles, mostly ­ to speak about their experience in Vietnam. Some have testified that these men, now in their fifties and sixties, are still suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. For them, and their families, the Vietnam War is not yet over, there is not yet healing. The war lives on, enfleshed yet mostly mute, and still dreadful, with a new generation.

And yet hardly a week goes by that we don’t come across-in newscasts, on the Internet, in newspapers-a pious invocation of our efforts to win Iraqi “hearts and minds,” harking back to Vietnam, and willfully forgetting that our military efforts there (where we learned to “destroy the village in order to save it”) killed 3.5 million Vietnamese before they came to an end.

Read the rest of this entry »

From One of Jesus’ Students in the United States of Amnesia

We are not to forget, to lose our hold upon the word of God as to our vocation (which is in effect much akin to the vocation of the prophet). To forget in this sense has the most serious moral consequence. Shortly or in the long run, the amnesiac falls in line. He is seduced and enlisted as votary of this or that illusion, ideology, hoax, of whatever empire. The latest war is “just,” the latest evil is the “lesser,” the current candidate of the political Olympus at long last will bring “change.”

–Daniel Berrigan, SJ; Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears

berrigan-maryknoll

Worth Reading

Dear Irina,

Here are some books that may speak to a few of your questions, interests,  and enthusiasms.  I’ll send more later on if you want….

Mark

 

Daniel Berrigan, Isaiah: Spirit of Courage, Gift of Tears. This Jesuit priest was a formative influence on me my senior year in college. His commentary on the biblical prophet Isaiah has many lines worthy of meditation, like this: “It cannot be said too often that the works of justice, the vocation of the Servant, are the preeminent form of honoring and glorifying God. They are true worship.”

Pema Chödrön, The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. Buddhist teacher’s practical wisdom for working with fear and developing compassion. She observes, “Just as alchemy changes any metal into gold, Bodhicitta [awakened heart] can, if we let it, transform any activity, word, or thought into a vehicle for awakening our compassion.”

James Cone, Martin, Malcolm and America: A Dream or a Nightmare? Comparative study of two African-American leaders in the freedom struggle. In this riveting study, Cone stresses, “We should never pit them against each other. Anyone, therefore, who claims to be for one and not the other does not understand their significance for the black community, for America, or for the world. We need both of them and we need them together. Malcolm keeps Martin from being turned into a harmless American hero. Martin keeps Malcolm from being an ostracized black hero. Both leaders make important contributions to the identity of African-Americans and also, and just as importantly, to white America and Americans in general.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Way It Looked in 1976

Thus goes the fate of Israel. Tragedy upon tragedy, folly on folly. Foreign “advisers” dumping their witless plans on its benighted leaders, its people increasingly helpless and isolated, embittered, at sea, denied world sympathy, urged on to a hapless heroism by compatriots elsewhere, paramilitarized, taxed to exhaustion, under permanent marching orders, forced to witness in silence the moral outrage once inflicted on its own (now inflicted within its borders by its own authorities, on a people helpless and homeless, as its once were)—what catastrophe!

–Daniel Berrigan, S.J., “Israel, as Presently Constituted, in Michael True’s Daniel Berrigan: Poetry, Drama, Prose, p. 163.

Yibneh, Gaza, Palestine; November 2003

Yibneh, Gaza, Palestine; November 2003

how to manufacture consent by Rob Trousdale

The New York Times
April 30, 2016

the lead

all laughs
at WHCD
with

Michelle Obama
in
Givenchy Haute Couture gown

Kendall Jenner
in
Viviene Westood

Kerry Washington
in
Victoria Beckham
Read the rest of this entry »

His Memory Always a Blessing

From Rabbi Michael Lerner:

Daniel Berrigan was one of the most inspiring figures of the anti-war and social justice movements of the past fifty years. He died on Saturday, April 30, 2016, and will be sorely missed by all of us who knew him. I was first introduced to him by my mentor Abraham Joshua Heschel in 1968 when he and Heschel and Martin Luther King had become prominent voices in the Clergy and Laity Against the War in Vietnam. He told me that he had been inspired by the civil disobedience and militant demonstrations that were sweeping the country in 1966-68, many of them led by Students for a Democratic Society (at the time I was chair of the University of California Berkeley chapter). Over the course of the ensuing 48 years I was inspired by his activism and grateful for his support for Tikkun magazine. Heschel told me how very important Dan was for him–particularly in the dark days after Nixon had been elected and escalated the bombings in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Those of us who were activists were particularly heartened by his willingness to publicly challenge the chicken-heartedness and moral obtuseness of religious leaders in the Catholic, Protestant and Jewish world who privately understood that the Vietnam war was immoral but who would not publicly condemn it and instead condemned the nonviolent activism of the anti-war movement because we were disobeying the law, burning our draft cards, disrupting the campus recruitment into the CIA and the ROTC, and blocking entrance into army recruitment centers and the Pentagon!

We at Tikkun magazine, the voice of Jewish progressives, liberals, radicals and anti-capitalist non-violent revolutionaries, will deeply mourn the loss of our brother Daniel Berrigan. His memory will always be a blessing (zeycher tzadik liv’racha).