Letters and Politics

Berkeley Rallies and Dorothy Day’s Life

On today’s show we begin with guest Mike Kohn, Reporter with KPFA News that does a report on Berkeley Rallies. Saturday April the 15th a “Patriot day” was organised by the Liberty Revival Alliance to enhance the right to free speech which garnered attention from Antifa.

Then, we speak to Kate Hennessy, she is the granddaughter of Dorothy Day and wrote a book about her grandmother’s life called: Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty.

Dorothy day 1961

Source Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimforest/23367164331


  • David Eberhardt

    Re Dorothy Day and to Kate Hennessey after reading the book and listening to her re her grandmother on KPFA –(“The World Will be Savwd By Beauty”) an interview. Below is a relevant exerpt from my book just out on the draft actions and Phil Berrigan .
    Naturally I find Kate Hennessey’;s words illuminating, She entitles her book: “The world will be saved by beauty” which she attributes to Doestoevsky, Beethoven expressed this sentiment long before, whether Doestoevsky knew of it or not.
    After we have found the right tactic to save the world- I’m sure we will find it beautiful. Let’s not be polly annas (and Kate mentions this).
    We need to be, in my op;nion, more direct with the violence/non violence curx. Jesus’ admonitions about this- or forgiveness or loving your enemy- as said below- what about Bonhoeffer or Count von Shaffenburg? (who were not pacifists)
    I note that Elie Wiesel agrees with Ms Day – “Violence is not the answer” (from his Nobel Prize zcceptance speech).
    What would you do if a Nazi was raping and killing your mother (a favorite question for conscientious objectors). My answer, since it is a hypothetical question, is to give a hypothetical answer- I would pull out my light sword and kill the Nazi!
    Don’t give me hypotheticals.
    Simply we need less nostrums and more tactics that can actually bring peace and non violence about!

    Ms Day was a bit troubled by the Catonsville 9 burning draft files; she thought that the other side might use similar tactics (which is all they do do)..
    Certainly we draft action actors argue we HAD to act, if only for our own consciences. But others might say that working within the structure– running Green Party candidates, for example– could be MORE effective. To me, we get a little lost in the romanticism of our tactics, and there is a danger of “holier than thou” or adopting martyrdom operations, on behalf of non-violence, that may not budge the odometer forward.
    On the other hand, I think these actions are beautiful in the same fashion as is ballet. This side of my thinking, the Christian pacifist side, does not reconcile with my Marxist revolutionary side. And yet you’d be surprised at how close I come to a reconciliation, mainly with the help of Howard Zinn.
    Protest is about philosophy and tactics. I have described non-violent protests that put forth a variety of tactics, but, as Dorothy Day put it, “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.” The system is capitalism and our tactics should reflect that fact: support far left groups, as well as saintly leaders.
    Most of the left groups seem open to violence. Myself, I cannot be a strict pacifist. I think of Bonhoeffer and Count von Staffenberg, who were willing to use violence versus the Nazis. See the movie Valkure with Tom Cruise. Non-violent remedies seem never exhausted, and while tried at first, seem quickly abandoned. But, like driving on a turnpike, things are, in the main, peaceful with drivers zooming close to each other at high speeds. It’s the accidents, i.e. the wars and violence that are abhorrent and aberrant. BUT they get all the attention. Always the war-mongers’ say: “We want violence as a last resort,” while the government funds arms race after arms race. Military men who have been in battle are the first to say that they don’t like violence. Next they say, “Thank you for your service.” They will never turn down a parade.
    Non-violence looks for the good in the enemy. It is the right, if not the male, response.
    Certainly, at the time of this publication with Trump as president, direct militant physical action is required. Rallies and marches and teach-ins are fine, but only if they lead to direct action.
    From my involvement in CORE and the civil rights movement onwards I have seen the value of grass roots organizing… the value of calling out the two gorillas in the room– racism and capitalism.

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