Susan McKeon Steinmann: A Long Island view of Civil Disobedience

May 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm 1 comment

This war…damages our reputation in the world, erodes our moral fiber, kills innocent people and bankrupts our economy. Changing this situation is of a higher moral order than a pleasant shopping environment.

Statement on Arrest at Smith Haven Mall
by Susan McKeon Steinmann

Since the demonstration at Smith Haven Mall protesting the war on the occasion of the 4,000th death of an American soldier almost 100 more troops have been killed.

That means 100 more families will have to live their lives with grief at the death of a husband, father, wife, mother, son or daughter. Each of these individuals was precious to their families.

Each of this individuals had smiles and potential, enjoyment in life and dreams that are now gone for them and their loved ones. The machine of war has taken them. I might add that it is a war whose rationale has changed numerous times often after the perpetrators of this war have been caught in yet another lie.

In American history there have been times when injustice has had to be struggled against by non-violent civil disobedience. Without the citizens of this country getting involved in changing policies and laws we would still have segregation, women would still not be voting and unions would still be outlawed in most places. That is because we were conceived of by the founders as a democracy. The democracy was exclusionary yes, but the history of our country has always been the people working to push the boundaries back and extend the democracy.

We are at a time where an elective war is being fought by private contracting companies making millions, and soldiers who are treated with much less concern. Some have been stop-lossed two and three times. They have been put in the middle of an unwinnable war which hurts our nation and makes us less safe. In many cases they are denied the medical care and benefits they need when they come back. If they get wounded and cannot complete their contract, they must pay education money back.

While this goes on, most of our country’s citizens make no sacrifice, but go shopping and struggle with a faltering economy to do so. It is ironic that the mall personnel told me that they wanted to create a “pleasant shopping environment” for their customers. It is immoral that I was arrested for reading the names of the dead publicly aloud in the mall. Does society want to shove this horrendous loss under the rug while we all go about our business.

This war needs to be brought to a speedy end. It damages our reputation in the world, erodes
our moral fiber, kills innocent people and bankrupts our economy. Changing this situation is of a higher moral order than a pleasant shopping environment.

The Iraqis did nothing to deserve this war. They were innocent of 9/11. Hundreds of thousands are dead, wounded, millions refugees, and yet day by day we ignore it and do not express our outrage at this loss of precious human life.

Sometimes there is a higher law. I think saving human life is a higher law. We must bring this war to an end. We must speak out. We must resist going along when we know the path is a wrong one.

Many of these soldiers and Iraqi citizens will have their whole lives irretrievably destroyed because of these unwise, callous, and evil decisions. As an American citizen, and as a person who truly believes in the sanctity of human life, I chose to speak out. Reading the names of the dead should be a moral duty so that going to war becomes not an adventure or political football, but something that is not even considered as an elective theory to reshape other countries.

Memorial Day is coming up. What better way to remember the dead in this war than to publicly say their names. They existed, they sacrificed for what they thought was right for them. Can we do any less to stop the pointless loss of life? There is a current song that says it well “Who will be the last to die for a mistake.”

Susan McKeon Steinmann


Entry filed under: PeaceSmiths Calendar.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • […] On that day, two people were arrested at the mall. One person was Don Zirkel, who was wearing the 4,000 soldiers killed t-shirt, while eating at the food court. Don is an 80 year-old church deacon. In another corner of the mall, Susan McKeon Steinmann was arrested for refusing to stop reading the names of the fallen soldiers. (Susan is in this photo from a festival in Patchogue, she is on the right, looking down.) Susan McKeon has written a statement about civil disobedience, which is on the “more” section of this post, and also here. […]

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