Saturday, December 17, 2005

CPTers in Iraq part of a "long and forgotten tradition"


This article was pointed out to me by Kathleen Kern of Christian Peacemaker Teams.  It comes from the History News Network website, and you can find it at

Matt Guynn
On Earth Peace


American Peace Activists in Iraq? Part of a Long and Overlooked Tradition

By Mary Hershberger

Ms. Hershberger is a historian and writer whose most recent book is Jane Fonda's War: A Political Biography of an Antiwar Icon (The New Press, 2005). She has also published Traveling to Vietnam: American Peace Activists and the War and "Mobilizing Women, Anticipating Abolition: The Struggle Against Indian Removal in the 1830s," in the Journal of American History, June 1999 (which won the 2000 Stephenson-Binkley prize for best article in the JAH). She is currently writing a book on the movement to stop Cherokee removal. She can be reached at

When four members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) were taken hostage in Iraq, American mainstream media revealed a near-total ignorance of the group. In accounts that I read, reporters seldom even cited its name correctly. Given that official information about the conduct of the war in Iraq is both misleading and woefully limited, ignorance of CPT�s long-term and carefully documented eyewitness reports out of Iraq raises questions about the media, of course, but more profoundly about the failure of historians to acquaint American citizens of our long history of activism similar to the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Iraq.

For example, during the war in Vietnam, hundreds of Americans went to Hanoi to be eyewitnesses to the war. Mary Clarke and Lorraine Gordon first went to Hanoi in May, 1965, before the antiwar movement had even coalesced. They were followed, over the coming years, by a steady stream of Americans who undertook the dangerous journey to Hanoi to live under their own country�s bombs and report on the war when Americans journalists either couldn�t, or wouldn�t. (Martin Luther King Jr., nearly went to Hanoi in 1967 with German theologian Martin Niemoeller, but was deterred by the real prospect of having his passport confiscated by the State Department).

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