Monday, July 26, 2010

Who are the public peace intellectuals?

Three exemplars of what it means to be an engaged public peace intellectual:

Winslow Myers is a retired schoolteacher who has found a new career as a volunteer. He is an active public peace intellectual living in Jamaica Plain, MA, whose commonsense, retired-teacher writing style resonates well with mainstream American editors. He wrote Beyond war, a small book that has been used by many discussion groups for several years, primarily in churches and local peace groups in the US. Since his writing is so accessible to mainstream Americans, his message that we are going to have to end war if we hope to survive and progress as a country and as a species seems eminently sensible and like a doable public duty. In his quiet everyday fashion, Myers has become an outstandingly effective public peace intellectual. To learn more:

Russell Vandenbroucke, Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts at the University of Louisville, is the author of Atomic Bombers, a play broadcast on public radio to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Hiroshima. Dr. Vandenbroucke became a Conscientious Objector to war during his military service in the 1960s and has been exploring the questions ever since. His public expressions of his peace analysis are often in the plays he writes, and his op-ed writing is often related to those topics about which he’s done particularly strong research, including the myths and facts surrounding the decision to bomb two cities full of civilians with the new weapon of mass destruction, atomic bombs, at the end of World War II. He debunks the myths that it helped end the war, that it saved any lives, and that is was a necessary evil. Indeed, since the US had full knowledge that Emperor Hirohito had already decided to intervene to stop the war and to surrender without any significant conditions, that bombing was simply evil and unnecessary. It is long past time for America to stop thinking that an atomic bomb saved any American lives; indeed, since the intercepted cable announcing Hirohito’s decision was from 12 July 1945, the decision to delay seeking peace until after the use of the atomic bombs actually cost American lives.

Lawrence S. Wittner is a historian with the State University of New York at Albany. He is one of the most published and prolific public peace intellectuals in US history. His impeccable credentials and professorial writing style make him both unassailable and widely published. Never shrill nor hyperbolic, he demonstrates the discipline to calmly explain academic research and explicate problems in a way that mainstream media editors find appealing and their readers appreciate. Wittner has arguably done more to straighten out historical misperceptions about peace movements, nuclear weapons issues and the effects of peaceful struggle than anyone. His ‘just the facts, Ma’am’ approach is manifestly credible and therefore acceptable, even when his message is quite opposed to the entire war system.

There are more dedicated public peace scholars and we hope we see many more undertake this work.

No comments: