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Orwellian 'Peace' Movement By: David Harsanyi
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, September 17, 2002


For decades, radicals have gobbled up words such as 'peace' and 'progressive' and spit them out as the pillars of anti-American, radical leftist philosophy. Nothing's changed. Pacifists and progressives with the keen ability to convert illogical into something that passes for quixotic idealism litter America's campuses.

One of the leading proselytizing progressive campus groups is the Peace Action Network (PAN). PAN, a fusion of two archaic Cold War 'peace' organizations -- the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) and the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign (FREEZE) -- claims a membership of 85,000, with 27 state affiliates, and over 100 local chapters.

Together with its sister organizations, Peace Action Education Fund (PAEF), the Student Peace Action Network (SPAN), Peace Action Network purports to have the largest membership and activist peace network in the country. And while they allegedly "work for policy changes in Congress, state capitals, city halls and the United Nations," other than the PAN-crafted legislation Arms Trade Code of Conduct, introduced to congress by the infamous Cynthia McKinney and Mark Hatfield in 1994, there is very no evidence of any influential policy work.

The Peace Action Network goal hasn't changed much since its FREEZE/SANE days. Its aim is "the abolition of nuclear weapons" and to initiate something called a "peace-oriented economy." In case you were confused, they mean US unilateral abolition of nuclear weapons and capitalism is not the brand of "peace-oriented economy" they had in mind. PAN strongly favors the collectivist economic model, previously utilized, in among other places, the Ukraine, Ethiopia and Cambodia.

While Peace Action Network hasn't made a dent in American political discourse, its affiliate, Student Peace Action Network, has done an excellent job indoctrinating college students to the radical left. With affiliate organizations in over 100 campuses, SPAN provides students with all their revolutionary needs, including literature and transportation to every anti-American, anti-capitalist and pro-Arab convention, march, sit-in, and meeting held in the United States. SPAN also supplies form letters for the student experiencing difficulty properly articulating 60's revolutionaries into coherent English.

"We organize for an end to physical, social, and economic violence caused by U.S. militarism at home and abroad. We campaign for nuclear abolition, disarmament, and an end to weapons trafficking. We oppose the complex webs of corporate and military power that perpetuate racism, damage the environment, deprive people of basic needs, and violate human rights. War is not inevitable. We push for practical alternatives."

So goes the mission statement. In other words, SPAN tutors students on the despotism of United States policy, and that policy's responsibility for all the troubles of the world -- poverty, famine, war, and especially the threat of nuclear war. They advocate practical alternatives like appeasement and surrender. Carrie Benzschawel, a program associate at Peace Action, for instance, writes that Iraq, North Korea, and even al-Qaeda, shouldn't be our major focus since "the biggest nuclear threat we now face doesn't come from some rogue nation, but from the radical unilateralists within the Bush administration."

And which nation do you think is the second leading menace to world peace? SPAN is markedly anti-Israel, if not patently anti-Semitic, and jointly coordinated the Palestinian Solidarity March on April 20th with numerous radical campus groups. According to the Washington Post some 'peace' protesters showed up "wearing black masks and black military-style uniforms. They had swastikas and shouted anti-Jewish slogans... by afternoon, the more militant forces of the pro-Palestinian movement dominated, with swastikas and anti-Sharon and anti-Bush slogans and banners."

Interestingly, the Washington Post also noted that SPAN members from "the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College said their schools paid most of their expenses because they belong to a campus group, Students Peace Action Network. The schools provided vans for the trip and paid for hotels."

Disturbing as it may be to discover that universities fund the travels of anti-Semites and America haters, it is even more troubling to uncover some of the financiers of Peace Action Network. One of the key backers of PAN is New World Foundation, which was chaired by Hillary Clinton from 1987 to 1988. For the unaware, the Capitol Research Center pegged the New World Foundation as "one of the ten most liberal foundations in the United States" -- which is the mother of all understatements.

During Clinton's tenure, the New World Foundation lavished grants to radical leftist organizations like the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), the National Lawyers Guild and the Christic Institute - these groups are far left of 'liberal.' Clinton, the erstwhile-pro-Palestinian-now-conveniently-pro-Israel Senator from New York, also bestowed a generous grant to the Boston-based Grassroots International, which in turn donated money to two PLO-affiliated terrorist groups in the West Bank. New World Foundation hasn't change its tune since Clinton's term ended, or even after 9/11, and continues to fund organizations that chip away at mainstream American values.

Other sustainers of Peace Action are The Peace Development Fund, a group that offers grants to hundreds of leftist groups, many of them radical, like Prison Activist Resource Center (PARC) and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and a horde of other one-world organizations like the Sisters of St, Joseph of the Third Order of St. Francis, Ploughshares Fund, The Scherman Foundation, The Lifebridge Foundation and The Tides Foundation.

In addition to foundation grants, PAN has always relied on public figures to further their message. At Peace Action 40th Anniversary parties in Boston, New York and Washington DC in 1997, honorees and speakers included an assortment of passé "peace" activists like Tom Harkin, singers Judy Collins and Peter Yarrow, Randall Forsberg, Jane Alexander, the late William Sloane Coffin and, yes, even Cynthia McKinney. Other leftist celebrities and intellectuals who have been associated with either Peace Action or its predecessors include Ed Asner, Harry Belafonte, Martin Buber, Pablo Casals, Jesse Jackson, Jack Lemmon, Arthur Miller, Bertrand Russell, Albert Schweitzer, Ben Shahn and Dr. Spock - just to name a few.

One can only imagine what nonsense most of those celebrities would or do have to say about the imminent war to dethrone Iraqi tyrant dictator Saddam Hussein. Needless to say, PAN's hasn't wasted any time mobilizing to protect the Middle East from American imperialism. And there is no lie big or vicious enough to get that message across.

On September 18, 2001, while the dead in downtown New York were still being counted and the perpetrators largely unidentified, Rania Masri, national board member of Peace Action Network, reflexively protected our enemies, writing that any action against Iraq was unwarranted because the U.S. had perpetrated war crimes during the Gulf War where "the Iraqi victims killed strictly due to the military onslaught were more than 200,000. Clearly, this was not a war- - but a massacre. And the massacre continues… Every day, approximately 150 Iraqi children under the age of 5 die due to the effects of sanctions."

Traditional American liberals may oppose the war for a multitude of reasons, but few of them actually go as far as allying themselves with our most violent enemies. SPAN, on the other hand, sees no dilemma in doing just that. The group has a tentative pro-Iraqi demonstration scheduled for the last weekend in September, where they plan to make stops at the embassies of Egypt, Japan, and Iraq to actually thank them for the opposition to war. Never mind that between them, Egypt and Iraq, have started seven major wars since World War II, PAN says that "staging an action against an Iraq war on this weekend is crucial, and organizers in the anti-globalization and anti-war movements have been meeting in the past few days to figure out how their respective messages can be conveyed without confusion."

It is hard to imagine there can be much confusion about message. SPAN does not organize or campaign for the human rights of Americans, nor does it oppose terror. In fact, the organization hasn't seemed troubled by 3,000 dead U.S. citizens at all. On Sept 11th, 2002, as most Americans paid their respect to the victims, the headline on PAN's web site read "Don't Invade Iraq." As if we didn't have enough proof that SPAN is a perilous organization, their priorities on such a somber day, should give us reason to be weary.


David Harsanyi is an NYC-based writer. Visit his website (http://dharsanyi.blogspot.com/) or email him at david_harsanyi@yahoo.com.


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