Thursday, February 19, 2004

Peace without reason 

On February 21st, there will be a teach-in at St. Olaf College to discuss "appeasement". St. Olaf is having a Nobel Peace Prize Forum on the 20th and 21st, but apparently not all are invited.
The forum -- entitled �Striving for Peace, Roots of Change� -- will feature former president Jimmy Carter, along with 50 seminars and �peace skills workshops.� The forum (sponsored by five Lutheran colleges) will draw hundreds of students from across the Midwest. The Nobel forum presents views from the far left of the political spectrum, excludes dissenting perspectives, and then issues repeated �calls to action� to students, many of whom will know little about international affairs but what they�ve heard at the conference.

Forum organizers have refused to allow any speaker to raise the vital question of whether pacifism actually promotes peace. Scott Johnson, a Twin Cities lawyer and adjunct professor, proposed a seminar entitled �Facts Are Better than Dreams: The Statesmanship of Winston Churchill in the 1930�s.� The program committee rejected his proposal, on grounds that it did not fit the forum�s �guiding spirit.�

Instead, the forum will feature seminars like the following:

  • �Being Peace,� a dance seminar: �Understanding peacefulness requires, in part, having experienced it oneself. This session will explore a variety of body-mind activities geared toward generating an inner state of peace. We will work with the movement principle of �yield,�� which propel adults toward physical, mental emotional and spiritual change.�
  • �Making Music, Making Peace: Common Purposes and Shared Skills�, a choral workshop: �Many of the skills essential to peace-making are also essential to music-making: listening, envisioning, mutual trust, repair, cooperation, collaboration. People who build their capacities as music-makers are also building their capacities for grassroots peace-making.�
  • �Peace and Change through Public Art�: This project �imagines a fictitious and yet believable National Historic Site sparking both controversy and healing. Amid a massacre site it tells the 500-year story from the perspective of native peoples and culminates with an apology�.�
The list goes on: �Peace-Making and Eco-Justice,� Fair trade Coffee and You,� ... During the conference, the St. Olaf food service will provide an �all-vegetarian menu.� (How meatless dining will stop Osama bin Laden is not explained.)
The teach-in is sponsored by the Students of St. Olaf Committee for Intellectual Diversity, a group that appears dearly needed on the campus in Northfield to work on its "guiding spirit". Reporters, photographers and those interested in viewpoint diversity on our college campuses in the area are encouraged to attend. There will be at least one member of the Northern Alliance in attendance.