In 1982, the War Resisters League initiated a “Blockade the Bombmakers” series of mass actions in New York City at the UN Missions of the five nuclear powers of the time. It was day one of the UN Special Session on Disarmament, and nearly 1,700 people were arrested in the blockades. The day before, one million people crowded into Manhattan to press for nuclear disarmament.
Times have changed…. alot.
Most people don’t know that 27,000 nuclear warheads still menace the world. Most (95%) are held by the United States and Russia. If they do know, they think they are some distant issue that does not affect daily life.
But for 2011, President Obama is proposing $8 billion in nuclear weapons research and development funding while schools and hospitals are closing or cutting staff, roads and bridges crumble and public services are desperate for money.
Even more alarming, the United States maintains that nuclear weapons play an “essential” role in U.S. national security and the Obama administration has not ruled out “first use” of nuclear weapons. This “right” allows the United States to drop the first bomb in an atomic war, thus leaving U.S. global dominance through military power unchallenged and unchecked. Another key Pentagon document, the Quadrennial Defense Review, suggests that as nuclear reductions are completed, more powerful conventional (i.e. non-nuclear) weapons capabilities — called “Prompt Global Strike” — will be necessary.
So, we might not have a million in the streets, but that does not mean we can be passive and complacent! On May 2, the “Disarm Now: For Peace and Human Needs” march across 42nd St. will bring the world’s message of disarmament to the UN.
The War Resisters League, a secular pacifist organization founded in 1923, invites everyone to Grand Central Station to declare NYC a “nuclear weapons free zone,” and imagine what our city would look like without the billions spent on nuclear weapons and the terrorism of the nuclear threat.
When diaspora Jews and those living in Israel join with Palestinians, they forge a more powerful and just movement to end the occupation.
From grassroots movements to presidential hopefuls, the importance of creating visionary plans for change is no longer being ignored.
By appealing to the hearts and minds of their white neighbors, Native Americans are carving out common ground and building unity through diversity.