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Kathy Kelly at Cooper Union

Kathy Kelly, via

Kathy Kelly: Witness Against the War
Lecture - Thursday, October 16, 2008 - 7:00 p.m.
Wollman Auditorium - 51 Astor Place - Free

The sheer reactivity of the left over the past eight years is obvious to even the causal observer. Rather than proffer a convincing explanation of the current situation in historical, economic, or cultural terms, the opposition has too frequently been content to simply denounce whatever initiative, plan, or action has been taken by the White House. For a political tendency that, historically, has been overdetermined, theoretically and otherwise, in the extreme, this sudden impoverishment is more than striking, it is depressing.

Nowhere has this tendency been more on display than in the reaction to the Iraq War. Indeed, it is the rare activist who has had the temerity to point out the obvious: that the United States has been at war in Iraq for almost twenty years, and prior to that was hardly neutral. Regardless of the level of the CIA's involvement in actually installing Saddam Hussein, he certainly received significant support from America (and the Soviet Union, actually) in his long and bloody campaign against Iran. The displeasure towards what is really only the most recent chapter in a long and dismal story seems either naively arbitrary, or sadly selfish, when viewed in historical context. We are happy to starve children and bomb wantonly, but an invasion really puts us out.

Kathy Kelly is one of those who has consistently sought to draw attention to this ongoing state of affairs - though another coming immediately to mind, it must be said, is Ward Churchill - whose now infamous polemic On The Justice of Roosting Chickens was actually aimed at US sanctions in Iraq. Kelly, for her part, has worked frequently with Voices in the Wilderness, visiting Iraq over twenty times since 1996, and living there during the invasion of 2003. She is also involved with Voices for Creative Nonviolence, and most recently spent five months working with displaced Iraqi's in Jordan. Tonight she will discuss "ways for ordinary people to campaign on behalf of just and fair US policies toward Iraq."