It was a well-used music room in a slightly beat-up ancient school--the Brooklyn Collaborative School. Approximately 20 kids piled in. They appeared to be all Latino and African-American. They were seniors about to graduate. We were told by their teacher, Stephen, that every single one was going on to college, some with full scholarships.
We were invited guests for a special occasion on June 2 -- Carol Huston, an active member of the Granny Peace Brigade; Alicia Godsberg, currently Executive Director of Peace Action New York State; Hugh Bruce, a Vietnam veteran member of Veterans for Peace, and me, founder of Grandmothers Against the War.
We were there to witness the reading of several essays the kids had written on the question: Was the Iraq war a just war? Unbelievably, Stephen had made this the primary focus of his Social Economics class. We wondered if there were any other teachers in the United States who were daring and RESPONSIBLE enough to introduce this inflammatory topic to their students. We would like to think so, of course, but given the general aura of apathy about these illegal and misguided wars, we figured it was an unmentionable subject in the temples of education.
What could we expect from this bunch of chattering school kids? The giggling girls, the high-fiving brash boys slumping toward their seats? Looking at them, you'd figure they were most likely thinking about the latest rap record, or maybe the new movie, "Thor," or probably some were ruminating about the coming prom. They couldn't be seriously thinking about our disastrous wars in Iraq and Afghanistan....or could they?
After a brief speech by Ms. Godberg, in which she told them all the things that the huge amounts of money wasted on the war could do for their community. the first student, a slim young man calling himself Fran, got up and read his paper. He argued that the rules of war were broken by the very nature of why the war was waged -- not for defense of a people or nation or safety, just business.
Five others followed. They talked of the illegality of invading a sovereign country that had not attacked us. They talked of the fact that Congress had not authorized our invasion. They discussed the catastrophic economic ramifications of our spending a trillion dollars to wage these conflicts. They discussed our defiance of the Geneva Convention with our illegal torture and imprisonment.
In short, all the billions of words we Progressives have read over the years by professors, experts, pundits in the annals of Online publications such as this one were intelligently summarized by these youngsters in one hour.
What did these amazing children conclude? Each made the firm determination that the war in Iraq was definitely an unjust war. They also determined that we had no business in Afghanistan, either, and we should get out....Now!
Hey, there's hope after all for the new generation, especially with hero teachers like Stephen to guide them. Teachers like him should get quadruple their salaries....but, then, that's the subject of another article