Category Archives: Social Justice

Gorsuch Defended Torture: That should END His Nomination

Today I sent the following FAX to the U.S. Senators from North Carolina:

Dear Senators,

Today is the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech denouncing the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City. I was honored to be present then. In the speech, Dr. King prophesied a future of continuing immoral American wars. That prophecy has alas come true, in spades.

In the Iraq War which was launched in 2003, one of the worst of its many horrors was the use of torture. I have protested that practice for more than ten years, calling for ACCOUNTABILITY for those who created, justified and/or carried out that program.

(During the early years of the Iraq war, I gave away hundreds of these bumperstickers.) 

This week you have the chance to HOLD ACCOUNTABLE one of those who justified official torture: NEIL GORSUCH. As reported by your colleague Senator Dianne Feinstein, as a white House lawyer Gorsuch justified torture and advised on ways officials could evade accountability for it. (Details here: http://bit.ly/2nYHgUZ )

 

This is but one of many reasons to oppose his nomination to the Supreme Court. For me, and no doubt it would be for Dr. King, this shameful record is a major one. VOTE NO ON GORSUCH.

Thank you.

Charles Fager

Durham NC

This FAX is online here in PDF form.

 

Ringing Spring’s Bell for Continued Quaker Resistance

When Friends pulled the rope on the bell atop Spring Friends Meeting, the ringing convened the Carolina Friends Emergency Consultation on March 25. And its session began with cheers & applause.

Pull the rope, ring the bell for victory over the AHCA, and to call for continued resistance.

That’s because there was a major success to celebrate: the abrupt, inglorious end of the so-called “American Health Care Act” the day before. Continue reading Ringing Spring’s Bell for Continued Quaker Resistance

The Carolina Friends Emergency Consultation – March 25, 2017

The Carolina Friends Emergency Consultation – March 25, 2017
Spring Friends Meeting, Snow Camp NC
(For Directions, click here)

The Consultation Schedule:
Continue reading The Carolina Friends Emergency Consultation – March 25, 2017

For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16

Two Nights & a Lifetime with Dr. King

Next Monday will be devoted to the work and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It was my good fortune to work under Dr. King in the great voting rights campaign he led with others in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Besides being historic for America, that experience was formative for me. It led me to jail, to a repudiation of war, and even to Quakers.

Monday evening at Pendle Hill, starting at 7:30 PM, as part of this remembrance, I’ll be talking about that experience, and you’re invited. Details are here, and it’s free.

In December 1964, I joined the staff of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter I was sent by SCLC to Selma, Alabama, where I worked in the Voting Rights Movement organized by Dr. King and SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Continue reading For MLK Day: Stories from Selma, January 16

A family story for today: “I Hate Dill Pickles”

Spring 2018; or maybe tomorrow

Sara Rahman was my best friend then. “BFFs, Amber,” she often said to me.  And some of the best times we had were while walking home from school.

We joked and laughed about everything – stuff in school, books she was reading, her dorky big brother Ahmed, even some of the sillier songs from “American Idol.”

Maybe we were having too much fun. Maybe we shouldn’t have gone running up to the ice cream truck that came jangling by and pulled over to the curb.

But it was a warm spring Thursday, and Sara had five dollars in her pocket, a pre-birthday present from her aunt, and she loved ice cream.

“Especially butter pecan,” she said. “That’s my very favorite.” So we did stop at the ice cream truck. No butter pecan, but they did have big cones of cookies and cream, so Sara got one of those, and bought me an Eskimo pie. Continue reading A family story for today: “I Hate Dill Pickles”

The Rainbow Toilet vs. HB2: Wiped from The Headlines in NC

The Rainbow Toilet vs. HB2: Wiped from The Headlines in NC

Law & Order’s Special Victims Unit had nothing on Genevieve “Gigi” Burkhalter of Durham NC; but that wasn’t going to stop the North Carolina state troopers who do security at the governor’s mansion in Raleigh. The mansion is currently occupied by governor Pat McCrory, known worldwide as the face of HB2, Carolina’s trans-hostile Bathroom Law.

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Governor’s mansion, Raleigh North Carolina.

The troopers were sure they saw a crime being committed there under cover of darkness on April 15,  2016, and when they followed up what they saw on a security videocam, there it was, on the green lawn near the mansion.

A bomb? A corpse? A cache of erased State Department emails? No, wait — it was a toilet. Continue reading The Rainbow Toilet vs. HB2: Wiped from The Headlines in NC

A Concentration Camp in California: The Past Haunts the present.

This post was drafted in 2016, after an accidental visit to Manzanar.  I was riding through the vast  flat openness of  east central California, with family. The Sierra Nevada peaks rimmed this area. The  mountains and the sky were brilliant; but they were far away. The land was tundra that seemed to stretch on forever.

We were on the way to either Reno or Yosemite, or maybe both. I knew vaguely that Manzanar was out here somewhere; but there’s so much “somewhere”/nowhere here, I wasn’t expecting to see it.

I was half-dozing; we’d been driving for several hours, with several more to go.

But then this sign flashed by, out of the blue. And as soon as I saw it, I sat up, wide awake, and demanded that we stop.

So we did. And it was an amazing, too short visit. Here are some glimpses of what we found there; Manzanar is now a national historic site, to preserve the memory of a shameful story that at least two presidents, Gerald Ford in 1976, and George H.W. Bush in 1991, declared was a horrible injustice and “will never be repeated.”

Their vow was backed up by payment of several billion dollars in reparations. Thousands of families had been rounded up and penned in here and ten other sites, held prisoner without having been charged or convicted of any crime.

But these presidents, however sincere, were wrong in their predictions. Something very like it is happening again. Which makes this visit more than history. I look at it from the standpoint of a Quaker, for reasons that will soon be clear enough; but Manzanar is a matter for all Americans.

Let’s Salute the Flag & Stand for the Anthem — Oh, Wait!

manzanar-with-snow

This flag was flying over the Manzanar relocation camp in California in 1942. Manzanar, as well as nine other camps were packed with more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans, who were taken from their homes shortly after the U.S. entered World War Two against Japan & Germany. Most lost everything they had owned.

Manzanar is now a National Historic Park. And it’s one that Quakers have a lot invested in, though not many of us know that.

Continue reading A Concentration Camp in California: The Past Haunts the present.

Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism

Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism

    Friend Jim Corbett, of Pima Meeting in Tucson, died on his Arizona ranch August 2, 2001 after a short illness. He was 67.

    With his passing a quiet Quaker giant departed.

    I for one am grateful to have lived in the same two centuries as he. For those who become familiar with the important strands of Quaker thought and action of our time, I believe Jim’s life and work will loom even larger with time.

Sanctuary-Corbett-FGC-1986
Jim Corbett, speaking at Friends General Conference in 1986, not long after he escaped conviction on charges of illegally aiding refugees fleeing Central American wars.

    Not that we’ll see a lot of monuments to him; he deserves them, but that wasn’t his way, and Quakers aren’t much for it.

    But a tribute is due, and here’s mine. It’s an adaptation of a profile of Jim that was part of my book, Without Apology.  Continue reading Dog Days Profile: Jim Corbett, Sanctuary Prophet of Post-Desert Quakerism

Carolina Quakers (A Few, at Least) Speak On HB2

The political purpose behind the notorious North Carolina “Bathroom Bill” or HB2, has never been hard to figure out: it is carefully aimed to stir up sexual anxiety among many in the state’s Republican base, and thus to maximize turnout in this fall’s election.

imageA similar ploy, to put a ban on same sex marriage (which was already illegal) into the state constitution was tried in 2012. Silly alarmist rhetoric was rolled out, about churches being invaded and ministers jailed, and the ban passed. Though soon struck down in court, the maneuver worked quite well politically: very conservative candidates swept the North Carolina legislature.

This year, a new panic was ginned up over mythical hordes of hulking male predators scheming to masquerade as transgender women so they could invade bathrooms and assault “little girls”. The idea is absurd (& such assaults are already illegal) but could well maximize conservative turnout again, and cement the right’s power base here.

For that matter, HB2’s bathroom provision was a very effective cover for the law’s other, more substantive provisions, which did very real harm, by stripping the state’s cities and citizens of several other rights, including some unrelated to gender, but very much to do with advantages to some greedy corporate interests. Continue reading Carolina Quakers (A Few, at Least) Speak On HB2

The Original Quaker On (Authentic) Religious Liberty Day!

Religious Liberty? A New Quaker Idea, or an Old One?

Old enough to be foundational, not just for Friends, but (should be) for all for Christianity. (And NEW enough to be sending concerned people into the streets — in Alabama, Missouri, Georgia, many other states, and to the steps of Congress  & the Supreme Court.) Let’s hear the ringing endorsement it received from The Original Quaker:

He was reading aloud a passage from the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1).

 But Jesus did more than that. He identified it as his mission; he finished by saying, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21)

Continue reading The Original Quaker On (Authentic) Religious Liberty Day!