United National Antiwar Conference to be Held in Albany

an editorial by Lynne Jackson

United National Peace Conference

And, on Sunday, July 25, join the Rally & March at 1:00

A National Conference to Bring the Troops Home NOW! is being held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, State and Lodge Streets, in Albany, NY from July 23 to July 25.

I believe all members and supporters of Save the Pine Bush need to attend this important conference.

Why, you ask, should environmentalists get involved with an anitwar conference? What does war have to do with protecting the globally-rare Pine Bush?

According to the National Priorities website, costofwar.com, as of July, 2010, the United States has spent about $ 1,013,517,950,000 on the Iraq and Afghan wars. For residents of the City of Albany alone, we have paid $317, 294, 800 on the wars. For all that money, we could have bought all of the remainder of the privately-owned Pine Bush and added it to the preserve — fourteen times over (estimating that the cost to purchase all of the remaining Pine Bush at $23 million).

The financial cost of these wars is devastating the budgets of New York State and our local municipalities. The federal government has poured so much of our national treasure into war, that there is little left for the needs of the people in the United States, such as, clean air, clean water, and, of course, preserving our precious and irreplaceable ecosystems, like the Pine Bush.

The human cost of war is outrageous. Thousands of American soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan not to mention the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi and Afghani civilians.

Of course, to keep the wars going overseas, our government needs to keep us afraid here. We have been told that we should be afraid of “domestic terrorists.” To create these terrorists, the FBI has targeted a minority here (Muslims) and has created a program of “preemptive prosecution” or of prosecuting Muslims because the FBI thinks the Muslims may have thoughts about committing crimes (note, no one can read another person’s thoughts and there are no actual crimes committed).

In Albany, many citizens remember very well how the FBI entrapped two Muslims, Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain. In the Aref/Hossain case, William Pericek, the prosecuting attorney, explained preemptive prosecution at a March 8, 2007 press conference: “Well again you [ask] was [Aref] a terrorist? Well, I think he had that ideology. . . Did he actually himself engage in terrorist acts? We didn’t have the evidence of that but he had the ideology . . . ”.

Why should we in Save the Pine Bush care about the fate of Yassin Aref and other preemptively prosecuted Muslims? We are Americans. We know what injustice looks like. We forced people of Japanese ancestry into concentration camps because of their ethnicity. We persecuted people under McCarthy because of their political beliefs. We Americans have a special responsibility to see that these abuses never happen again. We have no right to persecute people based solely on their religion. As long as the targeting of Muslims continues here, the wars will continue overseas.

This is the first time a national peace conference convention has ever come to Albany. Let us all welcome the attendees, and show what a friendly place Albany is!

The conference organizers invite us to “Come to a conference where peace, social justice and environmental activists will come together to discuss the major concerns we face and to hammer out an ambitious program of action.”

A workshop will be held regarding the preemptive prosecution of Muslims, and the Saturday lunch will feature speakers on the targeting of Muslims.

Also, at the conference, there will be at least two workshops on global climate change. Save the Pine Bush is a local sponsor of the Conference. It would be great to have a table for Save the Pine Bush; please email me at lynnejackson@mac.com if you are able to volunteer to table.

Register for the conference online at http://www.nationalpeaceconference.org

I plan to attend the entire conference, including the rally and march for preemptively prosecuted Muslims at the Capitol on Sunday, July 25 at 1:00 pm. I hope to see everyone there!

We need to remember the quote from Pastor Martin Niemöller: In Germany they first came for the Communists, but I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then the came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.(from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.)



Published in July/August Newsletter 2010