I watched over the weekend, as I imagine many of you did as well, as the US left Afghanistan, leaving behind chaos, devastation and despair. Rachel, the RFC’s new communications manager, contacted me Monday morning to suggest we postpone a scheduled “feel good” social media post in light of the grim developments.
She emailed me again the next morning with the following idea:
I've been reading up on the war(s) in Afghanistan and keeping an eye out for relevant articles that we might think about posting to our social media. But given how complicated the history is, and my admitted serious lack of expertise in that history, I'm hesitant to post something without being really thoughtful about it, so as to avoid sharing misinformation by mistake.
One angle I thought about that may be a good fit is post-9/11 anti-war activism. I read there were many thousands who marched and rallied ahead of the US's decision to go to war in 2001, including surviving family members of 9/11. I wondered whether the RFC was providing grants to anti-war activists from that time and whether there may be any old photos, articles/blogs, or stories that we may be able to share from that time, without ascribing names [to protect our grantees’ privacy].
I thought this was an excellent suggestion. I joined the RFC as the granting coordinator in June of 2007 and a number of our grants in the ensuing 14-plus years I've spent at the RFC went to the children of anti-war activists. I ran a quick search on our website and immediately was scrolling through pages of links to newsletter articles and blog posts highlighting the many children we supported after their parents faced harassment, arrest, injury or imprisonment for their efforts to first prevent and then end US post-9/11 interventions to stop “terrorists” in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere.
It was nostalgic to read the stories of so many wonderful parents and kids whom I got to know through their anti-war activism. And I was enraged and so saddened to remember how much they suffered trying to prevent the disaster we all watched unfold over the last two plus decades. Here are some of their stories:
- One of the activists who resisted the Iraq War, Camilo Mejia, told his story at Celebrate the Children of Resistance program we held in Boston on June 19, 2007. Here's the video of him sharing his story (introduced by the dearly missed Howard Zinn)
- A blog from 2012 sharing a comment from a donor on the war and the importance of vocabulary/naming things
- A blog from 2013 included the story of children whose activist mom was targeted (and imprisoned) for her resistance to the Iraq War
- A newsletter article from 2017 that features stories of several anti-war activist grantee families
- A blog from 2012 on the impact in US communities (including liberal ones in the northeast) of the ongoing war and militarization of police departments, including the hiring of veterans of recent wars
- My father’s Executive Director's Report from the Fall of 2008 (!), which partially focused on our support of Iraq War resisters
- A blog from 2009 reporting on one of the 20th anniversary parties we held in Rochester, NY amidst strong anti-war organizing and targeting
We share these stories about some of our anti-war grantees in gratitude for the activists who risked so much to try to warn us and in the hope that it helps us all recommit to doing everything in our power to prevent future senseless wars.