More Eyes Wide Open

Hat Tip to Ankarlo for this one on

There were about 50 protesters out today at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit. They were there because they were under the mistaken impression that the AFSC wants all soldiers serving in Iraq prosecuted for war crimes. That would make me mad, also: if it were true. Most of our children in harm’s way are just trying to save their lives and the lives of their buddies. But this notion about the AFSC is totally absurd and false. How did these otherwise, seemingly intelligent protestors get such a whacky idea?? Well, the protesters were told that this was true by a hate-mongering radio talk show host named Darell Ankarlo. He told his listeners: “Eyes Wide Open is in actuality anti-war/anti-American/anti-troops display suggesting that our military ‘be brought to justice’ for crimes against humanity.” Ankarlo also told his listeners that this statement was on the AFSC website.

Of course, this is not on the AFSC website. But don’t take my word for it. Do something that Ankarlo’s listeners did not: check it out yourself.

Okey-dokey. How about this?

We must hold our government to the principles of international law–of Geneva, the Hague, Nuremberg–and to the jurisdiction of the World Court. We must listen to tribunals that have denounced US war crimes on the basis of international law.

We must not make heroes out of pilots who bomb noncombatants indiscriminately and then deny it happened through a code and language of warrior masculinity.

Particularly, we must beware men and women untouched by concern for the moral consequences of their acts, for they will make even mothers unable to see, hear, or feel dreadful slaughter. [My emphasis — P]

Or how about the one that Ankarlo quoted?

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Abour, has voiced deep concern for the citizens of Fallujah and stated that all those guilty of violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws must be brought to justice. These violations include:

  • targeting civilians
  • indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks
  • killing injured persons
  • use of human shields

How about the ASFC “Essential Steps Toward Peace and Security?

IV. Hold the U.S. Accountable to International Standards and Basic Principles of Fairness. Hold the U.S. government and military accountable to recognized international standards for the conduct of war and occupation for both its past and future actions in Iraq and ensure that basic principles of fairness guide future actions there.

B. Uphold International Standards. U.S. actions, including acts of aggression, are not exempt from international standards. Crimes of aggression were the most serious crimes for which the belligerent powers were held accountable at the Nuremberg and Tokyo Tribunals of World War II. The legacy of sanctions and war must be addressed in this context. [my emphasis — P]


  1. Keith says:

    “The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Abour, has voiced deep concern for the citizens of Fallujah and stated that all those guilty of violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws must be brought to justice. ”

    But not for the citizens of Darfur or for the citizens who have been raped and exploited by U.N. “peacekeepers” in various countries, of course….

    The ASFC are either bunch of utter morons who simply don’t understand the world or they’re traitors. No bloody wonder they quote the U.N.–they’re on the same moral plane.

  2. guy in the UNLV Jacket says:

    “ensure that basic principles of fairness” that line in and of itself is classic,

  3. Is the UN building near the ocean? I mean, like, can’t we get a buch of giant Tonka toys and just push them into the water with bulldozers? Then they could all get on boats and float to Cuba.

  4. The "D" says:

    I have been reading deeper into news articles becuz of you. Thanks! I find that the last 6 years I have been news ignorant. This blogging stuff is good for the soul.

  5. Cam says:

    I couldn’t figure out how to start a new thread, so I hope that the parties who posted on my last comment can find this:

    Again, thank you everyone for putting thought into your answers. It is much appreciated.

    Let me try to address a few of your responses, but please bear in mind that all of these are merely from my perspective, and do not reflect any official views. In many respects I am as ill-informed as the rest of you. Also, I am a little bit outnumbered here, so forgive me if I lump different postings together; I will try to keep them distinct.

    Responding to Mr. Fleming:

    1. My accusations about racist comments are absolutely true, and came from multiple protesters (I believe from the Protest Warriors, but cannot be sure.) Certainly I am not accusing any of the ORGANIZATIONS present of racism; I just thought it was an ugly detraction from both the exhibit and the protest, and represented our country terribly to a foreign teenager. That kind of behavior should be actively countered no matter what the organization.

    Again, the racial taunts raise the broader question of Iraqi deaths. American bombings have killed thousands of innocent civilians. Modern war requires winning “hearts and minds” while also killing guerillas masquerading as civilians, which leads to many tragic accidents. How are we to react to that? Do we vilify average Iraqis (some of whom are, after all, killing our boys) or lionize them as democratic trailblazers? Apparently, many Americans are still struggling to negotiate the distinction. Civilian deaths might be a necessary sacrifice for the country’s liberation; no doubt some of those killed were hostile to America; but since we are there (ostensibly) to help these people, mustn’t we recognize, mourn, and address our mistakes? Or at least do so more respectfully than brazenly taunting that the families listed at our exhibit were “killed by their own people,” “killed by the terrorists,” or “killed by [my partner’s] A-rab friends”?

    2. Thank you for clarifying your “We Are The Church” posting, which has nothing to do with the American Society of Friends, and therefore confused me.

    Addressing other responses to my religious comments:

    I didn’t mean to suggest that Quakers have a monopoly on Truth, or that their interpretation of the Bible is superior to anyone else’s. It just surprised me that an organization could be so maligned for believing in pacifism (indisputably a Christian value, and ethically tenable by any standard), especially when the exhibit was not a protest, had no political statement, and was not even a “pacifist exhibit.” The AFSC is a political group (Ms. Cariotis compared it to a PAC), but its mission is to advocate for social causes in accordance with the values of the Religious Society of Friends. You might support the war, or you might have particular qualms with the exhibit (discussed later), but I don’t understand why anyone would so lividly accuse any religious organization of hatred (“hating America,” “hating the troops,” etc.), or its volunteers of “abusing” their freedoms of religion and speech for taking a moral stand against war.

    3. Your collusion of the AFSC with the NION movement (“Not In Our Name”), RCYB (“Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade”–not living in Chicago I had to look that one up), and “other anarchist groups” seems a little bit misleading. I have read nothing showing official relationships between any of these groups (if you have any specifics, please send them along!), but characterizing them all as violent, anti-American vandals is wrong, as is asserting that the AFSC in any way condones violence by others. NION is merely a political movement trying to end the war through peaceful, democratic means. From what I have seen, RCYB is pursuing the same ends (as well as several other standard Leftist causes) through more “mischievous” means. (I am not trying to be trite with that comment, but having done lots of writing and research on American Communism in the 1930’s, I am shocked both that any group could still subscribe to Marxist-Leninism, and that one claiming to do so could be so doctrinally/politically mild as the RCYB. “Vandalism,” while reprehensible, hardly qualifies as “revolution.” I think Lenin would dismiss this group as contemptuously as the rest of us do.) However, Quakers oppose violence and destruction for any political cause. So, while they may be on the same side of the Iraq situation, the AFSC would never condone “anti-American” violence or anarchist programs, as you suggest. (Again, I’d like to see specifically what you are referring to.)

    Responding to Phelps:

    4. You claim that no one has been able to substantiate any “distortions and lies” against the exhibit. I listed several in my first posting, the most common being the claim that the AFSC website called the American forces “war criminals,” which was loudly proclaimed by KILF talk-host Darrell Ankarlo, and resounded by many of the protesters. The site never said anything of the kind, yet I saw several signs saying MY SON ISN’T A “WAR CRIMINAL”…certainly a different tint than MY SON DOESN’T “ADHERE TO THE GENEVA CONVENTIONS,” which would more accurately reflect the AFSC statement.

    While you might oppose the exhibit, please explain to me how the “war criminal” assertion (which so greatly animated the protesters) has any merit. It is a lie, and fed many of the other misconceptions about the exhibit and the organization. Reasonable people can heartily disagree with the purpose of the exhibit. Those disagreements should be made in clear, cogent, and truthful statements to the public, not with oversimplified screams, chants, and posterboards, and not with misrepresentations of either side.

    5. You raised the issue of using soldiers’ names for the exhibit, specifically saying that the AFSC does not honor its policy of removing names at the request of the next-of-kin. Again, I cannot speak to any of the specific instances to which you allude. We removed several names while I worked in Dallas, all of them willingly and immediately after receiving the family’s request. As I mentioned in my first posting, we did not do a good job publicizing the policy, but this was not out of any malicious or self-serving intentions. I saw no violation or suppression of the policy.

    However, I did see two problems that need to be discussed.

    o First, some people petitioned to remove particular soldiers’ names when they were not the next of kin. For obvious reasons, I think that the AFSC is right in its current protocol in these cases.

    o Second, there is the issue of who IS the “next of kin,” and how to best honor the family’s wishes. From what my fiancée (who helped organize the event) told me, the most outspoken Gold Star Mother, who claimed that her son’s name was used “without her consent,” was telling the truth, but was not explaining the whole situation. Apparently, while she opposed “Eyes Wide Open,” the rest of her family supported the son’s inclusion, going so far as to provide the exhibit with photographs and his real boots (which I laid out that night.) This seems like a child custody issue, where both sides have legitimate claims, and I am not sure how the AFSC should handle such situations. Unanimous consent? A family vote? Just the parents’ wishes? Just the mother’s?

    Please write to the AFSC with your thoughts on this issue, ESPECIALLY IF YOU THINK THERE HAVE BEEN VIOLATIONS OF THE POLICY. I will be doing the same, if you could give me any specific names to reference.

    6. “Why is it so difficult to accept that good, moral, intelligent people can honestly disagree with you?” What I experienced at City Hall was an immoral, unintelligent protest based on misinformation. I was looking for intelligent people to talk with, but was generally interrupted by someone screaming that I was a troop-hating, anti-American traitor. I am not so conceited as to think that everyone who disagrees with me (being most people) is less moral or intelligent than I am, and really do want to hear well-reasoned criticisms of the exhibit, which is what prompted my first posting and is fueling this response. From some of the postings on this site, it seems that lots of the protesters did have valid reasons for being there; I just wish that our differences could have been more respectfully expressed than they were. Knowing that we are both reasonable groups of people, trying to influence other reasonable people in the public sphere, it seems that a clear explanation would allow the truth (relative though it might be) to emerge, or at least clearly set the points on which we legitimately disagree. (The debate about family notification would qualify here; setting the sides as “pro-America” versus “anti-America” would not.)

    Responding to Ms. Cariotis:

    7. “I guess you don’t understand, and I guess you never will understand, the desire of our Marines to serve, fight, and yes die for a cause.”

    I have had family and close friends in the Marines, Army (infantry, Rangers, and chaplaincy), Navy, and National Guard, so please do not think me either inexperienced with military service or unfamiliar with the desire to serve. There are many causes that I would be willing to die for (though I don’t know of any I would kill for), and I have always supported peaceful civil/national service programs like Americorps or the Peace Corps, which seem much less politically ensnared than morally ambiguous wars that we enter under murky pretenses. This is not a potshot at President Bush: every war inherently encourages political posturing, profiteering, pointless sacrifice, corruption, massacres, racism, propaganda, etc. Upon this backdrop, wars also highlight examples of great patriotism, opportunity, sacrifice, and valor. Perhaps you think that the latter tip the balance in Iraq, and it is a “just war.” I disagree, and think that all of those noble qualities can be achieved through non-violent means.

    8. I agree wholeheartedly about the media’s distortion of the war, from both of our perspectives. What I see on television rarely seems realistic. While I thought much of M. Moore’s “Farenheight 9/11” contrived and paranoid, I appreciated his Iraq footage, if only because it showed how incredibly young and scared so many of our troops are-a more credible view than the higher-ranking professionals you see interviewed at the Pentagon and on nightly news shows. Likewise, much of the rebuilding, peacekeeping, and election organizing has gone under- or unreported because it does not play as well as variations of “Iraq: Chaotic Anarchy” on those same news shows. These sensationalist swings do neither side justice, nor do they serve the public good in our country.

    9. Thank you for distancing yourself and the Marine Moms from the Protest Warriors. The divide wasn’t clear to me at first, but my fiancée said that you all were much more civil than they were, and that many mothers came back the next day to apologize for all of Monday’s chaos. I GREATLY RESPECT AND WELCOME INFORMED DISSENT, AND CERTAINLY RESPECT YOUR GROUP’S EMOTIONAL INVESTMENT IN THIS ISSUE. As I mentioned earlier, please have your organization write to the AFSC with your concerns and questions, and let me know what responses you get. Well-intentioned people approaching each other as such are bound to learn and accomplish more than those walled off by prejudice and contempt.

  6. Phelps says:

    It just surprised me that an organization could be so maligned for believing in pacifism (indisputably a Christian value, and ethically tenable by any standard)

    This jumped out at me, and I think is at the heart of this. The bottom line is that pacifism is a morally bankrupt philosophy. Pacifism is the approval of evil, in that all is required for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing. One who stands by idly while another murders in front of him is an accomplice to that murder.

    God first commandment was “Go forth and be fruitful.” This is the commandment of life. Pacifism is the embracing of death, and cannot abide it.

  7. Cam says:

    Maybe there is some confusion between active and inactive pacifism.

    (Mr.?) Phelps, you have made several detractory statements about the United Nations, which I think oversimplified and inaccurate (perhaps a debate for another time; I can’t keep doing these long postings), but your core complaint about the U.N. is spot on. Many members intentionally dilute or muddle the organizations action, using it as a benign cover for more sinister ends. Hence, “pacifism” is morally bankrupt if used to veil political/economic complicity. Europe’s current hesitance to threaten Iran would be a good example; the motives of many French politicians before our Iraq invasion were likewise self-serving, “appeasement” rather than “pacifism.”

    Peaceful intervention/confrontation–of Mandela, King, Ghandi, etc.–is in no way morally bankrupt, or any less morally tenable than it was ten years ago. Oppressive forces often use violence to gain power–whether Western imperialist regimes like the British Raj, Latin American juntas, etc., or “anti-imperialist” demagogues like Qadaffi and Castro–and must use violence for self-preservation (massacres, lynchings, political prisoners, police states, etc.). The way to end these unjust regimes democratically is not through war, which typically yields corruption and a “circle of violence,” but through peaceful demonstrations (the Velvet Revolution, the March to Selma, and, God-willing, the current Lebanese actions.)

    The classic criticism of pacifism is the “just war” argument, for which people always cite World War II (as a historian, I struggle to think of a single other possibility), but even that does not discredit the pacifist theory. When asked “would you have let Hitler go unchecked,” my answer is no. The only reason that Hitler ascended to such dangerous heights in the first place was because of many smaller acts of cowardice and appeasement. If more people had vocally questioned him earlier; if the Allies had maintained unity in their foreign policy; if average people had showed the courage to go out and actively oppose him, World War II would not have happened. A passive pacifist is a hypocriite, meekly demurring to belligerence rather than speaking in opposition.

    Whether this method is historically tenable (could it have really worked before WWII?) depends on your views of human nature; whether it is ethically tenable seems beyond question.

    I am not sure whether you wanted to make this a political or theological argument, but I do not think that Jesus’ message of “turning the other cheek” is any less applicable today than it ever was.