grassrootspeace.org

November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.

THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.

War on Truth  From Warriors to Resisters
Books of the Month

The War on Truth

From Warriors to Resisters

Army of None

Iraq: the Logic of Withdrawal

In Praise of Kevin Benderman


By Norman Solomon
July 29, 2005

Conscience is not in the chain of command.

“Before being sentenced to 15 months for refusing to return to Iraq
with his Army unit, Sgt. Kevin Benderman told a military judge that he
acted with his conscience, not out of a disregard for duty,” the Associated
Press reports. Benderman, a 40-year-old Army mechanic, “refused to go on a
second combat tour in January, saying the destruction and misery he
witnessed during the 2003 Iraq invasion had turned him against war.”

Three weeks ago, his wife Monica Benderman wrote: “He returned knowing
that war is wrong, the most dehumanizing creation of humanity that exists.
He saw war destroy civilians, innocent men, women and children. He saw war
destroy homes, relationships and a country. He saw this not only in the
country that was invaded, but he saw this happening to the invading country
as well -- and he knew that the only way to save those soldiers was for
people to no longer participate in war. Sgt. Kevin Benderman is a
Conscientious Objector to war, and the Army is mad.”

On Thursday, at his court-martial, Kevin Benderman spoke. “Though some
might take my actions as being against soldiers, I want everyone to be home
and safe and raising their families,” he said. “I don't want anyone to be
hurt in a combat zone.”

But the Pentagon is imposing its power to enforce the unconscionable.
And words that were written by Monica Benderman in early July are now even
more true: “The Army has removed itself so completely from its moral
responsibility, that its representatives are willing to openly demand, in a
court of law, that they be allowed to regain ‘positive control over this
soldier’ by finding him guilty of crimes he did not commit, and put him in
jail -- a prisoner of conscience, for daring to obey a moral law.”

And, she added: “It is ‘hard work’ to face the truth, and it is scary
when people who are not afraid to face it begin to speak out. Someone once
said that my husband’s case is a question of morality over legality. I pray
that this country has not gone so far over the edge that the two are so
distinctly different that we can tell them apart.”

Monica Benderman is correct. Facing truths about the priorities of our
country’s government can be very difficult. During the Vietnam War -- also
based on lies, also methodically murderous -- an extraordinary U.S. senator
made the same basic point. “We’re going to become guilty, in my judgment,
of being the greatest threat to the peace of the world,” Wayne Morse said
at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “It’s an ugly
reality, and we Americans don’t like to face up to it.”

Moments before the Senate hearing adjourned, on February 27, 1968,
Morse said that he did not “intend to put the blood of this war on my
hands.” In the summer of 2005, while the horrors of the Iraq war continue,
not a single United States senator is willing to speak with such moral
clarity.

As an astute cliche says, truth is the first casualty of war. But
another early casualty is conscience, routinely smothered in the national
media echo chamber.

On the TV networks, the voices are usually smooth, and people often
seem to be speaking loudly. In contrast, the human conscience is close to a
whisper. Easily unheard.

Rarely explored in news media, the capacity for conscience makes us
human. Out of all the differences between people and other animals, Darwin
wrote, “the moral sense of conscience is by far the most important.”

And that’s why Kevin Benderman, now in prison, is providing greater
moral leadership than any member of the United States Senate.
________________________________
Norman Solomon is the author of the new book “War Made Easy: How Presidents
and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Excerpts are posted at:
www.WarMadeEasy.com

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