Category Archives: Karen Porter

The shooting at Umpqua Community College

by Karen Porter

One more. I am doing my usual fall semester teaching American law in Russia, and I find it impossible to explain to my students why this happens in America. People all over the world, including Russians here in Moscow, have for decades looked to the U. S. with hope as the place the world should be — but how can they now revere our country as these killings multiply? I find I am deeply ashamed. I was teaching young lawyers here in Russia when Sandy Hook happened – we held a moment of tearful silence, and my students wept with me. I find it hard to face them again in these inexplicable circumstances… and again… and again.

I am sad but also ashamed that the great democracy I teach them about year in and year out can’t solve this tragic problem. Americans don’t know how much these tragedies hurt everyone else in this world. If Americans can’t solve this problem, how can they have hope?

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime, Karen Porter

A personal plea in memory of Kayla Mueller

I urge you to please donate to Kayla’s Hands, the organization established by Kayla Mueller’s family to fulfill her dreams, cut short when she was kidnapped and killed by ISIS. Kayla was a wonderful young woman whose story touched me so deeply. I want to do everything possible to make sure her life’s purpose is continued. Evil cannot end the beauty of this young woman.

Recently, several young Yazidi women who were also kidnapped, raped repeatedly, and brutalized by ISIS have informed the world of Kayla’s courage while they endured the worst one can suffer together. They said she tried not to cry or be weak in their presence, so as to give them courage. Recently, the news has come out that Kayla did not die in a bomb attack as previously reported – but at the brutal hands of her captors and rapists. Those Yazidi women who survived are telling her story now.

See www.kaylashands.org and in particular watch this video of Kayla so you’ll get to know her.

Kayla gives me courage. I hope all of you will help carry out her work by donating to the organization her family has established in her memory. Please donate generously now. We all look for places to “make a difference” – this is where you can. And, again, watch the video.

Karen Porter
The Chester County Peace Movement

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Filed under Iraq, Karen Porter

Free speech means free for all

Letter from Karen Porter, Daily Local News, 9/1/15 (not online at their site)

I probably disagree with Lincoln University’s Prof. Kaukab Siddique on most issues. In fact, his publicized opinions on many issues are odious to me.

However, I disagree just as much with State Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams’ call for Lincoln University to discipline Prof. Siddique. Sen. Williams’ words are just as dangerous as Prof. Siddique’s opinions. We can dismiss the professor’s opinions as absurd. However, Sen. Williams is a public official elected to a position of public trust and a position in which he should protect our freedoms, not try to take them away.

We live in the United States, not some totalitarian country with no civil or human rights. Sen. Williams’ call for discipline of this professor frightens me more than Prof. Siddique’s often absurd easily dismissible opinions. For a public official to call for squelching anyone’s First Amendment freedom – a freedom so many have fought and died for – is a travesty and a disservice to the senator’s constituents. I teach a graduate course in International Communications Law (and I have taught it both here and in Russia), and a huge part of that course is First Amendment freedom – and the lack thereof in many parts of the world. Sen. Williams would do well to take my course.

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Filed under Karen Porter, Rights, Justice, Law

The situation in Ukraine

The situation in Ukraine poses the most serious crisis in Europe since the demise of the Soviet Union, reviving, to many, memories of the old Cold War between “the West” and the former Soviet Union. The Russian Federation’s incursion into the Crimean peninsula in violation of Ukrainian sovereignty has created a frightening threat to peace worldwide. Having grown up in the Cold War, I can say with some legitimacy that we do not want to “go there” again and must avoid a new Cold (or hot) War at any cost.

In both the West and in the Russian Federation, politicians and the media are too often engaging in an onslaught of nationalist propaganda, building up public emotions with the drumbeats of war.  Sunday morning talk shows and the 24-hour news channels, including the Russian media, feature the “usual suspects” trying to work up “war fervor” on both sides. Cooler heads need to prevail.

War is hell, no matter for what reason, no matter where it is. War must be avoided by every means available. What can “locals” here in Chester County do? They can appeal to the two U.S. Senators, Casey and Toomey, as well as to their Congressional representatives, to work to bring peace to this situation by diplomacy.

However, with the brand-new fledgling Ukrainian government, in a disastrous financial situation, diplomacy will not be enough. What is needed in the Ukraine is a “Marshall Plan” – an enormous influx of cold, hard cash – not hot, hard war. That government is facing emergencies on all fronts that could lead to a cataclysmic situation. Our government, with President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry in the lead, appears to be attempting to lead efforts to get that financial assistance to Ukraine post haste – and they will require unified support in those efforts from the American people.

This situation did not arise overnight. I was in Moscow in the fall when the Ukrainian situation was “top news” before it had even registered on the U.S. public radar screen. Reading and watching both the international and Russian media daily, I then saw unfolding a potential horror show that just did not seem to register with the American public – until now. The mistakes that have led to this crisis were occurring then, the emergency situation rapidly escalating into disaster. One of the real problems leading to the current crisis was Ukraine’s desperate need for economic help. In the fall, the Russian Federation “won” temporarily by stepping in with promised emergency assistance when the European Union was vacillating and promising very little in terms of desperately needed help. The EU was promising “European values,” which I think most Ukrainians want to aspire to, while Russia was promising cold, hard cash – which Ukrainians needed desperately. Ukraine’s leadership took the help where it could get it. The EU simply lost the “blackmail” game in the fall. At one point, Russia proposed tripartite (EU, Ukraine, Russia) negotiations, and the EU refused – that’s when I started getting worried, as did many others. Negotiations should have started then, back in October and November; but they did not – and here we are.

But back to the present: It is what it is. Playing politics here in the U.S. simply does not help. The more politicians and the media ramp up war talk, the more they hurt the Ukrainian people by limiting solutions. The valiant Maidan protestors cannot appear to be stooges of “the West.” Their independence and their sovereignty must be respected. However, they do need a huge influx of western aid – cash now.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), whose Ukrainian background and affiliations give her a strong motivation to do what is best for the Ukrainian people, and who has traveled to that country more than any other member of the U.S. Congress, is the kind of voice we should all be listening to. She realizes that, while Russia has legitimate historical and geopolitical interests in Crimea and eastern Ukraine (which we simply cannot and must not cavalierly dismiss) we must support the Ukrainian people with the full forces of diplomacy and substantial economic assistance. Rep. Kaptur is the kind of voice Americans should listen to – not the political- and media-driven drumbeats of war. She is telling the American public what it needs to hear.

Again, what can people here in Chester County do? They can let their elected representatives know with phone calls, e-mails, and letters that they support diplomatic efforts and emergency economic assistance for Ukraine. They can also inform themselves by listening to and reading information from many sources – not just the 24-hour media (either U.S. or Russian). It takes time to be informed, but we are fortunate to live in a country were we can be informed and have a duty in such difficult times to make our own judgments and not be swayed by emotional nationalistic appeals from any side. I read and watch U.S., Russian, and European media – all of which can be propaganda-filled and can misinform. However, we have other news sources – online, in print, and broadcast media from around the world. Democracy and our democratic responsibilities can be time-consuming, but we are fortunate to have access to many points of view so that we do not have to respond to situations like this one with nothing but emotion and misinformation.

The stakes are simply too high.

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Filed under Karen Porter, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War