Resisted War, Resisted Racism, Resisted Silence: George Houser

Ninety Nine years is only the last accomplishment of George Houser’s amazing life:

  • WW II conscientious objector, 1940
  • Co-founder of the Congress of Racial Equality, 1942
  • Bus rider with Bayard Rustin into the segregated south, 1948
  • South African anti-apartheid organizer, 1952

The New York Times has an obituary.  How can we absorb his conscientious humanity?

“Deeply influenced by the work of Henry David Thoreau and Gandhi, Mr. Houser joined the Fellowship of Reconciliation in 1938, while a student there.

In 1940, he and a group of classmates, including David Dellinger, who went on to become a member of the Chicago Seven, refused to register for the draft as mandated by the Selective Training and Service Act. The act had been signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt that year.

“As theological students, we had an automatic exemption,” Mr. Houser explained in a 2002 interview with The Journal News of Westchester County, N.Y. “But we wanted to protest peacetime conscription.”

Mr. Houser, Mr. Dellinger and six fellow students were sentenced to prison in November 1940. Their story was the subject of a 2000 PBS documentary, “The Good War and Those Who Refused to Fight It.”

After serving a year in the federal prison at Danbury, Conn., Mr. Houser joined the staff of the Fellowship of Reconciliation as its youth secretary. He later moved to Chicago, where he completed his divinity degree at the Chicago Theological Seminary and received ordination.

In 1942, after Mr. Houser and his friend [James] Farmer were denied service at a Chicago restaurant, they, [Bayard] Rustin and others established what became CORE. Mr. Houser served as the group’s first executive secretary.

Bayard Rustin and George Houser, undated, sitting in at Cleveland restaurant

Bayard Rustin and George Houser, undated, sitting in at Cleveland restaurant

CORE soon became a national organization, enrolling tens of thousands of members in dozens of chapters within its first few years. Endorsing nonviolent protest, it convened sit-ins in public accommodations around the country.

In 1946, ruling in a landmark case, Irene Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia, the Supreme Court held that segregation on interstate transit was unconstitutional.

The next year, to test the ruling, Mr. Houser and Mr. Rustin, CORE’s first field secretary, organized the Journey of Reconciliation. They convened a team of 16 men — eight black and eight white — to ride interstate buses through the South.

[Cross posted at All In One Boat]

Moms Clean Air Force Goes to D.C.

Climate Moms Clean Air Force

Saving Water

Water ConservationA good page at SFWater.ORG with some ideas about water saving.  Clearly, home use of water is a small part of the problem.  Psychologically, however, doing everything we small users can do helps organize the necessary pressure against the big wasters.


Dutch Government Taken to Court over CO2

From the BBC,  here’s an idea that might catch on:

Campaigners in the Netherlands are taking the government to court for allegedly failing to protect its citizens from climate change.

The class action lawsuit, involving almost 900 citizens, aims to force the government to cut emissions faster.

It is said to be the first time in Europe that citizens have tried to hold a state responsible for alleged inaction on climate change.

It is also believed to be the first case in the world in which human rights are used – alongside domestic law – as a legal basis to protect citizens against climate change.

NASA’s James Hansen, among the earliest to sound the alarm, is part of the suit.

Famed Japanese Flying Ace Warns Against War

Kaname Harada is ninety eight years old and still making the case.

“Nothing is as terrifying as war,” he began, before spending the next 90 minutes recounting his role in battles, from Japan’s early triumph at Pearl Harbor to its disastrous reversals at Midway and Guadalcanal.

“I want to tell you my experiences in war so that younger generations don’t have to go through the same horrors that I did.”

Japanese Torpedo Bomber  Going Down (US Navy photo)

Japanese Torpedo Bomber Going Down (US Navy photo)

… “I fought the war from the cockpit of a Zero, and can still remember the faces of those I killed,” said Mr. Harada, who said he was able to meet and befriend some of his foes who survived the war. “They were fathers and sons, too. I didn’t hate them or even know them.”

“That is how war robs you of your humanity,” he added, “by putting you in a situation where you must either kill perfect strangers or be killed by them.”

For years he was plagued by nightmares, seeing the faces of the young American pilots as he closed in for the kill.  They didn’t end until 1965, when he opened a kindergarten and began talking to the children about the importance of peace.

NY Times

South East Asia Travel Tips

These notes from responsibletravel dot com are about Myanmar/Burma but could well be applied most anywhere, especially the neighbors in South East Asia.

“Tourism must tread very carefully in Burma;’s 2 minute travel guide ( explains why:

It does not bode well for tourism that it values highly the places where it has had the least impact. Burma is essentially an untouched, tourism clean slate and care must be taken to ensure the industry sets out on the right, sensitive and responsible foot.

Burma still has a non-democratically elected government and human rights abuses continue. Tourists and tourism organisations should be aware and do all they can to ensure they are supporting the military junta as little as possible, but as all locally run guesthouses and restaurants etc pay taxes it is impossible not to fund the government in some way. Extra care therefore must be taken to ensure as much tourism money as possible ends up in local hands.

Bad tourism practises will take hold quickly if unchecked. Already Kayan women, famed for their elongated neck, are migrating to popular Inle Lake to earn a living from tourism, where they are photographed in a form of human zoo.

Even the most seasoned traveller will need to remind themselves that they are in a country unused to Western tourists, and the impact of an incorrectly calculated tip, a bare shoulder or refusal of food will be much greater than Burma’s more tourism-weary neighbours.

It may be depicted as a pristine wilderness but deforestation is a huge problem in Burma. Responsibly run tourism projects can offer a sustainable alternative to logging and poaching. It is important these are set up carefully and are well supported.

Read more:

Thailand: And the Junta Acts as Juntas Do

From Financial Times, Asia

A political struggle over Thailand’s coup is growing beneath the country’s surface calm, as military rulers crush dissent, opposition forces mobilise in exile and western powers warn that the generals could be here to stay.

The month-old junta is now detaining people even over emblematic acts such as carrying sandwiches or reading George Orwell in public, while its enemies have set up a movement abroad modelled on the country’s second world war underground resistance.

Arrested for Reading 1984 in Public

Arrested for Reading 1984 in Public

A senior US official has warned that the latest Thai military takeover is “both more repressive and likely to last longer” than the previous one in 2006, as the generals try to quash criticism and stamp their conservative vision on politics and business.

Panels to monitor the media are being set up:

“There will be five committees set up to monitor local and international media that will report to the military daily,” Adul, a former national police chief, told Reuters by telephone. “Police will not pursue legal action against media so long as journalists are cooperative and help share news that is constructive and true. Those that spread inappropriate content may face criminal charges.”

And the police are all over any breath of protest:

Eating a sandwich: Since early June, student pro-democracy activists have handed out free sandwiches and staged quiet picnics in lieu of holding protests. Surely, the junta can’t arrest them for eating sandwiches, right?

Wrong. The sandwich activists announced a “picnic” on June 22 outside a glitzy Bangkok mall. On cue, a young Thai man showed up that afternoon. He pulled out a sandwich with trembling fingers and ate it in silence.

He was promptly surrounded by authorities and hauled off. Six others, according to the BBC, were also detained. Their offense? Possessing sandwiches with ill intent. Officers have previously thwarted “sandwich parties” in advance. Thai headlines have even warned that eating sandwiches with anti-coup intent is a criminal act.

Rice’s Role in Iraq Invasion Returns to Bite Her

Donald Sterling utters racial comments to his girlfriend and is shamed and punished.  Why is it that those whose actions are far more heinous — Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger– are feted and lionized?

Not so much at Rutgers, where students took to the halls to protest an invitation and $35,000 fee to Condoleezza Rice for a graduation speech, forcing her to withdraw.

Students sit in @ President Barchis office to protest invitation to Rice

Students sit in @ President Barchis office to protest invitation to Rice

Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state and adviser to President George W. Bush, has withdrawn her decision to deliver the commencement address at Rutgers University on May 18 because of protests from students and teaching staff objecting to her role in the Iraq War.

“No honors for war criminals,” “War criminals out” and “RU 4 Humanity?”

After the protests began, university officials declined to withdraw the invitation to Rice, who is now a professor of political science at Stanford University. Rutgers officials had defended the decision to invite Rice and pay her a $35,000 speaking fee, saying the university is a place of debate. WaPo

More and More and

Racism and homophobia have been rolled back significantly in recent years.  War mongering, not so much.  Let the education go on….

Goldman Environmental Prize Winners 2014

What a great bunch of people!  Doing what needs to be done.

Goldman Prize 2104


Park Named for Buddha’s Birthplace hosts Bangkok Protesters

The giant street protests that have choked Bangkok’s city core for months have subsided lately.  Shootings and deaths have re-arranged the order of battle.  Suthep Thaugsuban, one of the main leaders of the opposition to the elected, but widely perceived to be corrupt, prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, asked his followers to leave the streets but to maintain a presence at Lumphini Park, Bangkok’s main green lung — and as it turns out the first place I spent a few hours at while in Thailand a year ago.  Daily Mail UK

The city's Lumpini Park has become a makeshift camp as protesters continue to demonstrate against the government

The city’s Lumpini Park has become a makeshift camp as protesters continue to demonstrate against the government

The opposition has vowed to keep the pressure on the government.  A very recent decision to look into corruption in a rice subvention program she was connected with may have an effect  both in encouraging her opponents and in peeling away some of her supporters, poorer rice-growers in the north and east who should have benefited by the program, if properly run.