"For the marginalized, I have protested in Las Vegas, in Omaha, Hunger March in C.C., for gay rights and against the bombing of Iraq. My Maryknoll missioner brother spent 34 years in Central America. He was a friend of Archbishop Romero, the four religious women, and the Jesuits all killed by graduates of the School of the Americas, Fort Benning, Georgia. If I need to go to prison now, I will count on God's grace continuing. " -- Biography of Dorothy Marie Hennessey, one of the SOA 26
Dorothy wrote this to Mary Benson, the local "Activist Mom," another of the 26 indicted facing trial and possible imprisonment for a non-violent protest to close the SOA.
Protesting takes the range of belly-aching to prison time. In this case, I protest the SOA and I protest the harsh consequences of non-violent actions in hopes you will protest, too.
In my definition of democracy, one must first be well-informed and then, have a protected venue for communication. From my reading, research and working with Central American refugees in the 1980s, I came to the conclusion that the SOA must be closed! But don't take my word for it. Inform yourself. Try these:
www.soaw.org for updates, the SOA 's history, a list of the graduates, how your congressman voted, etc.
email: email@example.com for a Minnesota contact
www.americas.org for Minneapolis based Resource Center of the Americas
Visit the CLC Library (RCCLA center) or call 855-8183 for materials
Check the government-military documents (a variety of viewpoints are important!)
Once you have an informed opinion, use your democratic voice. Spread your concern with friends, call or write your politicians, start a petition and walk it around the block, invite a speaker to your group, and from there you might chose and one day, to march, to fast, to "cross the line" in a mock funeral procession giving voice to one that was murdered, hoping that "your " democracy will listen and allow your voice.
And, I hope that our democracy will listen, be informed and not need to put you into prison, but send you back to your hometown for six months of community service and which you are probably already doing! A win-win situation for democracy. (The SOA vote is expected in Congress within the month!)
(Kurtz is an instructor of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Central Lakes College.)
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