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Solidarity with Viva House

As president of a group of performance artists and performance poets who do fundraising/consciousness-raising for the homeless and the shelters that serve them, I am publicly instructing all members in good standing of Gimme Shelter Productions to act in unity with our sisters and brothers of Viva House (“Anti-Terrorism Begins at Home,” Mobtown Beat, Jan. 19). That means no member of Gimme Shelter Productions is to sign any statement or make any public statement that members of Viva House wouldn’t sign or make. As of today, Jan. 19, 2011, no member of Gimme Shelter will sign any statement that is in fact a loyalty oath in order to receive any funding of any kind. Our First Amendment rights are more important than the 30 pieces of silver these charitable institutions may offer us. If anyone needs to renounce terrorism, let it be the ones that wage wars of terror all over this globe. Four days after the birthday of Martin Luther King [Jr.] who said that this government was the biggest terrorist the world has seen, let us join hands in unity with the peacemakers of Viva House to denounce this resurrection of McCarthyite thought control.

Alan Barysh
Baltimore

Since the Maryland State Police labeled me a terrorist, I have to comment on “Anti-Terrorism Begins at Home” by Edward Ericson Jr. I was surprised to discover that the United Way is involved in this bogus war on terror in which exorbitant amounts of tax dollars are wasted. Not surprisingly, though, the war has moved to one of Baltimore’s soup kitchens. I applaud my friends Willa Bickham and Brendan Walsh for refusing to play this silly game. If the government was serious about preventing terrorism, it would ask taxpayers to withhold payment owed until the Pentagon stops killing civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Yemen. Each drone strike, in my opinion, is illegal for a variety of reasons. And the killing of civilians and the occupation of lands in the Middle East is sure to generate a response.  

As Greg Mortenson pointed out in Three Cups of Tea, you must know the people, you must listen to the people, and you must not provide assistance while carrying a weapon. Mortenson has succeeded in Afghanistan and Pakistan in building schools, even for girls, and health clinics, because he is not there to exploit the people or to occupy their land.

Sweden was not attacked on Sept. 11. The United States was because of our government’s misguided polices of war and occupation in the Middle East and its support for most every dictator in that region. In return, thousands of innocent people died here from the terrorist attacks.

It is my understanding that no legislator read the legislation before voting for the misnamed PATRIOT Act. And today we continue to suffer from the legislation and the shredding of the Bill of Rights. It is poppycock to ask soup kitchens to sign an anti-terrorism document. This is hypocritical because our government engages in terrorist activities.  

A loyalty oath in the 1950s or in the 21st century is pure and applied McCarthyism. If the government labels a group as terrorist, then, as the Supreme Court ruled, I can’t go and teach nonviolence to that group. The nonsense will continue until more brave people say no. Thank you Brendan and Willa.

Max Obuszewski
Baltimore

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