Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Baker Peace Conference in Name Only

Letter to the Editors of The Post and The Athens News

To the Editor: I must say that as a member of the OU and Athens peace and justice community, I am very disappointed with the theme and speakers of this year's Baker Peace Conference (held last week). Having a peace conference featuring mostly men and representatives and proponents of the military and defense industry is ironic at best and dangerous at worst. Where are the nonviolent peacemakers in your conference line-up? We are out there (and here and everywhere), and the Contemporary History Institute missed yet another opportunity to seriously, and with integrity, promote values and real nonviolent strategies for peace and justice.

You have been given a great opportunity (and the resources) to put on a conference that could work toward undoing militarism and violence and domination, yet you choose to support it through the very themes and voices you chose to showcase. We should be able to look to the annual Baker Peace Conference as a venue for serious academic theory and activist praxis for peace and justice, and sadly this has not been the case. This should be a conference which promotes critical engagement with racism, militarism, sexism, colonization and other oppressive systems so that participants may further our understanding of the roots of conflict and how we might undo these systems at a personal as well as national and global levels.

I hope that the Contemporary History Institute will seriously reflect on their responsibility to the OU and Athens communities and not allow this Orwellian "war is peace" doublethink/speak to continue to dominate the annual Baker Peace Conference. As for me, I ain't gonna study war no more.

Melissa Wales
Executive Director
United Campus Ministry (UCM: Center for Spiritual Growth & Social Justice)

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