"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Quebec student protests and Nuns on a Bus!

Two exciting developments written up in the New York Times.

1. Quebec: Chude Allen, civil rights veteran,  argued one day in my class: "we had to be nonviolent in order to show who the real savages are." It seems that the Quebec students have successfully provoked the system to reveal its true colors, thereby generating the sympathy and participation of a wider audience.  It remains to be seen, however, if the students can offer a variety of means for this larger group to participate.  If they do, then they will truly have created movement.  No social movement can be sustained without movement, eh?

2. Nuns on a Bus: So reminiscent of the 1961-63 Freedom Rides.  In 1961, CORE organized the Freedom Rides to provoke a crisis to force federal intervention in the South (to enforce the Supreme Court Rulings of Morgan v Virginia, 1947 and Boyton v. Virginia, 1961).  The Rides were dramatically successful in dramatizing the flagrant violation of black civil rights to the world stage, embarrassing the Kennedys into intervening on the side of civil rights.  Hopefully, the Nuns will continue to expose the hypocrisy of the Vatican and the Republican-Ryan budget on the national, if not world stage.  The Nuns have certainly provoked the Vatican to expose its hypocrisy.

Emergency Law Broadens Canada’s Sympathy for Quebec Protests
Until recently, the daily student protests that have clogged the streets of Montreal since late February did little to win public support for their cause. But when the provincial government of Quebec tried to end the demonstrations by arresting more than 2,500 people and passing an emergency law that some Canadian lawyers consider heavy-handed and perhaps unconstitutional, it helped turn what had been a narrowly focused student strike against increases in college and university costs into a battle over a broader set of grievances that has introduced some of the greatest political turmoil Canada has seen in decades. 

The collapse of negotiations between the provincial government and the protesters late last week has led to fears that further turmoil could scare visitors away from Montreal, and Quebec in general, just as a series of summer festivals and events are about to get under way. 

Anger over its provisions swiftly added a new group of demonstrators of all ages to the marches. The protesters, called themselves “casseroles,” adopting a technique pioneered in Chile in banging spoons on pots and pans as they marched through Montreal’s streets. 

Ms. Des Rosiers said that the general desire for order has contributed to what she considered an erosion of free speech. But the atmosphere in Quebec, she said, may be about to change. “For the most part you had an apathetic population,” she said. “Now you have a social movement.”

Nuns, Rebuked by Rome, Plan Road Trip to Spotlight Social Issues
The bus tour is a response to a blistering critique of American nuns released in April by the Vatican’s doctrinal office. . . . The sisters plan to use the tour also to protest cuts in programs for the poor and working families in the federal budget that was passed by the House of Representatives and proposed by Representative Paul D. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who cited his Catholic faith to justify the cuts.
“We’re doing this because these are life issues,” said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a liberal social justice lobby in Washington. “And by lifting up the work of Catholic sisters, we will demonstrate the very programs and services that will be decimated by the House budget.”
The bus tour is to begin on June 18 in Iowa and end on July 2 in Virginia. The dates overlap with the “Fortnight for Freedom,” events announced by Catholic bishops to rally opposition to what they see as the Obama administration’s violations of religious freedom. The bishops object in particular to a mandate in the health care overhaul to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to offer their employees coverage for birth control in their insurance plans.

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