U.S. Congress, You Can’t Hide! We Charge You With Genocide

Photo credit for Golden’s office pics: Lawrence Reichard

But try to hide our “representatives” will. My representative Jared Golden was not present in his Bangor office this week when eight people were arrested trying to deliver a letter demanding he support a ceasefire in Gaza. And plans for a second group to try again were thwarted when staff closed his Bangor office early on Friday. 

Photo credit: DSA Maine

Maine’s 1st district rep Chellie Pingree was not present in her Portland office last week when Jewish organizers with If Not Now turned out 200 or so. A handful of them were led out in zip ties after office staff refused to accept the letter they were trying to deliver.

I consider several people who took part in these actions friends, and I got to speak with one of them about his experiences in Bangor. Rob Shetterly, who has worked in refugee camps in the West Bank on trips sponsored by Veterans for Peace, reported:  “We wanted to do our little piece of the international actions to support the Palestinians and stop the genocidal actions continuing in Gaza. And to encourage other people to take a stand.” 

The group failed to disperse after being blocked from delivering a message that said in part:

As residents of Maine, we are here today to demand that Rep. Jared Golden and all of Maine’s congressional delegation support House Resolution 786, a congressional resolution that calls for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine.

Calling for a cease-fire is not support for Hamas, and criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitism. As Mainers, we can no longer stand by and idly bear witness to this slaughter of innocent civilians. 

We would no more bomb our beloved brothers and sisters in Palestine for the actions of some than we would bomb our beloved friends and neighbors in Lewiston for the actions of one man. Enough. Stop the killing. Stop it now.

Shetterly told me, 

Just before we went in we got the news about the censuring of Rashida Tlaib which affected me more strongly than Golden’s support for bombing. To pick out a Palestinian person in our Congress who’s simply speaking out on behalf of humanity reminds me of collective dehumanization like the Nazis did to Jews or like White Americans do to Black Africans or Native people.

A person in a position power has a particular responsibility to know the history of the things they talk about. A whole series of genocidal actions are taking place on the basis of wildly false information. There’s a history here of ethnic cleansing and violent military occupation that was inevitably going to lead to resistance.

He said that he plans to reach out to Tlaib to see if she will agree to be painted as he would like to add her portrait to his ongoing series Americans Who Tell The Truth

Shetterly and the others were released on their own recognizance after paying a bail bondsman $60 each to process their paperwork. If they did not pay, they were told that they would be jailed over the four day weekend. Their arraignment date is January 10.

I’m old enough to remember when our elected representatives in Maine at least pretended to hear from constituents. They held town halls and would also schedule time for constituents to call on them when they were back in district. 

These days the only way to get their attention seems to be civil disobedience. Thus more than 100 congressional staffers walked off the job last week to protest U.S. support for genocide in Gaza. Many of them are undoubtedly the young voices we hear when we call to express our opinions. I’m always courteous because the staffers are in a tough place and possibly on the verge of their own awakening from the delusion of American exceptionalism. One young woman in Sen. Angus King’s office sounded on the verge of tears as she responded to my call, “I hear you, Lisa.”

Students walked out of classes and then blocked the front entrance of the New York Public Library on Thursday Nov 9.

In related actions last week, writers occupied the New York Times demanding truthful reporting on Palestine following writer Jazmine Hughes being forced to resign after signing a letter of support for Palestine; and both Brandeis and Columbia suspended the group Students for Justice in Palestine. Columbia also suspended Jewish Voice for Peace.

Brown University in Providence had student protesters arrested.

Bottom line: the people aren’t having it, especially young Jewish people. And you cannot hide from an idea whose time has come.

Alleged Peace Voter 2022 Campaign Endorses Warmongering Democratic Congresswoman Pingree

A peace advocacy organization that I used to be part of — and that used to actually advocate for peace — has endorsed Rep. Chellie Pingree for re-election. The organization explained in its November newsletter:

Peace Action Maine is a proud affiliate of Peace Action and supporter of their PeaceVoter2022 Campaign. Again, as in the past, PA has endorsed Rep. Pingree . Today PAM (a c4) announces: “Rep. Chellie Pingree is an experienced, thoughtful, and effective legislator who knows how to speak and act clearly and precisely on the issues facing our district and the nation as a whole. Among her colleagues in Congress, her track record on questions of war and peace, programs of social and economic uplift, and environmental protection is especially good. For those reasons, Peace Action Maine gladly supports her bid for re-election.”

“Especially good” in this context means that Pingree:

Signed the Progressive Caucus letter to President Biden suggesting negotiations with Russia commence immediately — and then retracted it!

* Voted yes on every bill sending billions in weapons to Ukraine at U.S. taxpayer expense. Many of these weapons have gone to neo-Nazi miltias allied with the Ukranian government, and many have found their way from Ukraine onto the black market.

Source: https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/6586/chellie-pingree/89/foreign-aid

* Voted yes on recent gargantuan funding bills for the Pentagon and its other wars, including Space Force, and NSA spying programs.

Source: https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/6586/chellie-pingree/89/defense/

In what sense is this candidate a peace candidate?

She isn’t. But she’s a Democrat, and that’s what matters to the millions who only oppose U.S. wars when a Republican is in the White House.

My photo of Maine peace lobbyists meeting with Rep. Chellie Pingree in Portland during her first term of office, 2009.

I’ve birddogged Pingree on her support for military spending for years. You can see some examples here and here.

My attempts to reach out to Peace Action Maine’s leadership to engage on the topic of their support for Pingree and, previously, support for the U.S./NATO proxy war on Russia via Ukraine, have met with silence.

I’m going to be returning the two PeaceWorker awards I’ve received from Peace Action Maine in years gone by, most recently for writing this blog. 

It is embarrassing to be called a PeaceWorker alongside the likes of Chellie Pingree. 

And it is extremely dangerous to be so beholden to weapons manufacturers that you obediently go along with the party line (“No negotiations! More weapons!”) as we teeter on the brink of a nuclear WW3.