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Archive for the ‘Jerry Elmer’

Excuses and Reasons

January 03, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Jerry Elmer, Politics

Remembering History’s Lessons on War and Peace

by Jerry Elmer

It is 2014, the centenary of the beginning of World War I, and the world is in for four years of hundredth-anniversary observances. In 2016, we’ll hear all about the Battle of Verdun, the longest battle of the war (and one of the longest in the history of warfare, from February through December 1916). On November 11, 2018, we’ll mark the one hundredth anniversary of the armistice that ended the fighting at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

And this year, on June 28, we will all be reminded of the assassination in Sarajevo, Bosnia, of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie at the hands of a Serbian nationalist. The long-forgotten name of Gavrilo Princep, the Archduke’s assassin, will be suddenly remembered and talked about. And it will be glibly repeated that this assassination caused the war. (more…)

Celebrating Peace in Hanoi

February 04, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Marking 40 Years Since the Paris Agreement Ended the War in Vietnam

by Jerry Elmer

HANOI, Vietnam – January 27, 2013 was the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement on Ending the War and Restoring Peace in Viet Nam (Paris Agreement). Probably not one American in a thousand is aware of the occasion.

But here in Vietnam this anniversary is hugely important and is being marked with much pomp and festivities. The main event was an official commemoration ceremony in the National Conventional Center. Vietnam’s President, Truong Tan San, important cabinet members, and leading Communist Party officials all attended, as did ambassadors from many countries and delegations from around the world. The program included a multimedia performance that included dance and music; and the President awarded a medal to the now-elderly Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, the lead negotiator in Paris for the Provisional Revolutionary Government, or PRG (referred to in the United States pejoratively, and inaccurately, as the Viet Cong). (more…)

Ordinary Evil

January 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Vietnam’s History Reveals the Banality of Systemic Violence

by Jerry Elmer

MY LAI, Vietnam — My Lai is known to Americans as the site of a massacre of Vietnamese civilians by American troops. On the morning of March 16, 1968, American forces entered the village and gathered up all living things: elderly men and women, infants in mothers’ arms, pigs, chickens, and water buffalo. Then, the Americans proceeded to kill them all, slowly, carefully, methodically. It took four hours (this was no sudden outburst of passion), until all 504 people and all the animals were massacred. Fifty-six of the people killed were under seven years old; some of the infants were bayoneted to death. Women were raped before being shot.

After the killing orgy, two of the American soldiers (one a religious Mormon) sat down to lunch nearby. Unfortunately, their meal was interrupted by the moans of a few villagers shot and left for dead, but not yet fully dead. The two soldiers, disturbed by the interruption, finished off the few villagers still alive, and then went placidly back to their meal. (more…)

Christmas Past

December 18, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

After Sorrow Comes Happiness…

by Jerry Elmer 

Today, December 18, 2012, is the fortieth anniversary of the notorious “Christmas bombing” of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), pejoratively (and inaccurately) referred to at the time by U.S. leaders (and the U.S. media) as “North Vietnam.” This coming January 27, 2013, will be the fortieth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement that ended direct U.S. involvement in the war; I will be in Vietnam observing and participating in the commemoration of that anniversary. But today it is time to remember the Christmas bombing that started on this date in 1972.

First, a word about the context. The 1972 presidential election was a race between peace candidate Sen. George McGovern (D-S.D.) and the incumbent President, Richard Nixon, who had continued and escalated the Vietnam War throughout his first four years in office. (more…)

Progress, Not Commerce

May 21, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Economy, Jerry Elmer, Politics

Human Rights and Dignity Are Larger than the ‘Jobs Issue’

by Jerry Elmer

On May 7, North Carolina voters, by a margin of over 20 percentage points, approved an amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-gender marriages. In the days leading up to the vote, former President Bill Clinton recorded a robocall to North Carolina voters, urging voters to vote against the proposed constitutional ban. Clinton’s message said, in relevant part, “I’m calling to urge you to vote against Amendment 1 on Tuesday, May 8…. What it will change is North Carolina’s ability to keep good businesses, attract new jobs, and attract and keep talented entrepreneurs. If it passes, your ability to keep those businesses, get those jobs, and get those talented entrepreneurs will be weakened.”

I understand completely why President Clinton framed his argument in terms of jobs. Clinton was trying to think of an argument that would be persuasive, and in today’s economy, economic arguments have weight. Moreover, Clinton’s argument had the added benefit of being factually accurate; states that have enacted marriage equality, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, are benefiting economically from an upswing in marriage tourism. So, Clinton is making a sincere effort to be politically persuasive on a controversial issue — and he is doing so by telling the truth. I get it. (more…)

Martyrs for Justice

April 27, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Jerry Elmer, Politics

The Haymarket Affair and the Origins of May Day

by Jerry Elmer 

May 1st is May Day, the international workers’ holiday honoring the labor movement. May Day is celebrated in at least 80 countries worldwide, from Argentina to Vietnam, but not in the United States. Here, our “Labor Day” was carefully put into September – by President Grover Cleveland in 1894 – specifically so that we would not observe May Day, with all of its radical roots in syndicalist labor history. This is deeply ironic, for the event that gave rise to May Day observances the world over occurred right here in the United States: the bombing at Haymarket Square, Chicago, on May 4, 1886, during a labor rally.

The context for the Haymarket riot in 1886 was the movement for the eight-hour work day. The movement had started at least as early as 1877, when the Workingmen’s Party in Chicago called a general strike beginning July 25 in support of the eight-hour movement. The next day, on July 26, 1877, thousands of strikers were attacked and beaten into submission by police and U.S. Army infantrymen with fixed bayonets. Thirty strikers, including a number of children, were murdered by the police and federal troops. During that strike, typesetter Albert Parsons, later one of the Haymarket martyrs, was fired from his job because of a speech he had given during the strike. The bloody suppression of the 1877 strike caused another of the Haymarket martyrs, upholsterer August Spies, to join an armed worker’s self-defense organization. (more…)

Remembering the Lawrence Strike

January 09, 2012 By: NCVeditor Category: Economy, Jerry Elmer, Politics

On the Centennial of a Nonviolent and Decisive Workers’ Victory

by Jerry Elmer

January 12, 2012 is the one hundredth anniversary of the commencement of one of the most important labor strikes in American history – the bloody 1912 Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile strike that lasted 63 days. The strike represented the organizing apogee of the radical, syndicalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or Wobblies); the strike has also become associated (albeit erroneously) in popular lore with the slogan “Bread and Roses” (the phrase originated in a poem by James Oppenheim published in 1911, but was apparently never used by the Lawrence strikers in 1912).

On January 1, 1912, a new Massachusetts law had gone into effect that cut the maximum work week to 54 hours. Mill workers’ pay was given out on Fridays, not for the week just ended but for the previous week; thus, on Friday afternoon, January 12, 1912, workers received their pay for the work week of Monday, January 1 through Saturday, January 6. Workers found their pay to be an average of 32¢ short, representing the fewer hours that the mill workers had toiled. (more…)