November 7, 2008
A Message from Pablo Paredes
I first heard about the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute when I was speaking to students in high schools in Hawaii in September of 2006. My classroom visits, organized by a local Hawaiian group called Truth 2 Youth, were made possible by a grant from the Muste Institute’s brand-new Counter Recruitment Fund.
After I was invited to join the advisory committee for this fund, I realized that for more than three decades the Muste Institute has been sustaining the anti-war movement—the same movement which stepped up to defend me in October 2004 when as a Naval petty officer I chose to declare my conscientious objection to war, and which supported me during my court martial for resisting deployment to Iraq. Since then I have become immersed in this movement, and especially in counter recruitment work, which I feel is ultimately my calling.
Thanks to the Muste Institute’s support for grassroots counter recruitment efforts, young people now have more opportunities to learn—before they sign up— about the reality of the military and the alternatives that exist for them. Just one example is a project which has reached more than 100,000 students in the Los Angeles area with screenings of the powerful film “Arlington West,” followed by discussions with Iraq war veterans and military families who oppose the war. After seeing the presentation at her school, one student who was already enrolled in the Junior ROTC program backed out of her military pre-enlistment agreement and now speaks to her fellow students about their options. Muste Institute grants to this project have allowed the organizers to hand out free DVD copies of the film to students, so they can show it to their families and friends.
Your generous donations to the Muste Institute are helping young people make better choices, and giving them the opportunity to become nonviolent activists and peer educators. Please make the largest contribution you can. By renewing your commitment to the Muste Institute today, you are paving the way for these new activists to put an end to war over the coming years.
P.S. Please scroll down to read Thea’s letter. You can donate to the Muste Institute online (through JustGive's secure site) by clicking here, or mail your check payable to the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute, 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012. As always, your contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
A Message from Thea Riofrancos
As a youth organizer in the movement to resist military recruitment, I’m honored to be part of a great group of activists advising the A.J. Muste Memorial Institute’s Counter Recruitment Fund. In the past two years I have seen this project grow into a vital tool for organized resistance to militarism, with funding decisions made by activists for activists.
Thanks to your generous contributions to the Muste Institute, grassroots efforts to expose the truth about militarism and military recruitment is gaining momentum all over the country—rural areas of Appalachia and the South, military communities in North Carolina and Colorado, and economically-depressed neighborhoods in Detroit, Memphis and Baltimore.
I’m passionate about this project, yet what excites me most is the way the Muste Institute integrates it into a broader approach to countering militarism. My first experiences in activism involved Latin America solidarity work: resisting US economic and military intervention; opposing free trade agreements; supporting indigenous, environmental and labor movements; and connecting struggles abroad to the struggles of immigrant and working class communities at home. These interconnections have always informed my activism, and are the reason I find the Muste Institute’s programs so compelling.
While keeping young people here at home informed about the reality of war so they don’t end up killing people or dying overseas, the Muste Institute helps indigenous and grassroots activists in Latin America travel to regional gatherings to develop shared strategies against militarization. As it supports anti-war protests in Kansas, nonviolence trainings in Palestine and Africa, and immigrant labor organizing in New York, the Muste Institute sponsors groups like School of the Americas Watch, which for nearly two decades has worked to stop the U.S. military from training Latin American officers to be torturers and human rights violators, and the War Resisters League, which has been working to end war since 1923.
The Muste Institute is able to do all this and more for one reason: because we can count on you to understand the importance of these efforts and to support them. The Muste Institute’s backing comes from you and from others like you, ordinary and extraordinary people, activists and concerned global citizens who share a common commitment to nonviolent action for social justice.
The change coming to the White House means new opportunities to have our voices heard. As activists we have to put renewed energy into organizing and mobilizing to stop the war, guarantee health care for all, rescue our environment, transform the criminal justice system and win equality and fairness for marginalized communities at home and abroad.
I urge you to join us in making real change possible by contributing to the Muste Institute today. Please use the enclosed envelope to send the most generous gift you can make. After you donate, please pass this letter and the enclosed newsletter on to a friend, neighbor or co-worker who doesn’t yet know about the Muste Institute’s important work sustaining grassroots movements for peace and justice.