Radical History Quiz

In remembrance of Larry Gara As many readers know, we date the “modern war tax resistance movement” to World War II, when hundreds of amazing people refused to participate with their bodies and/or their taxes. These resisters tended to be committed pacifists, many of them already involved with War Resisters League or the Fellowship of Reconciliation or members of peace churches, such as the Society of Friends. Larry Gara was one of them. I knew and worked with him during my time on staff at the War Resisters League and was sad to learn of his death at age 97 on November 23. After the war years he became a history professor and retired in 2002 from 40 years of […]

Georgia on My Mind

Close the School of the Americas banner with woman and man on both sides

A rare event occurred in my life that I found myself traveling to Georgia for two important events in peacemaking recently. The first event was for the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 trial in Brunswick and the second was the 30th Anniversary Commemorative Gathering at Fort Benning with the School of the Americas Watch. Both events were heavily populated with War Tax Resisters as well as potential War Tax Resisters.  The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 (KBP7) action took place in the home of long time War Tax Resister (WTR) Robert Randall who helped organize many of the events around the trial as well as bringing attention to the Trident nuclear weapons for many decades. Like many WTRs, he had focused on […]

Jewish Motivations on WTR at Yom Kippur

dark hands releasing a red heart with a white dove within it

In the tradtion of Yom Kippur and the emphasis on reflection we wanted to share a previous post concerning WTR from a Jewish perspective. Devar Tikkun, A Talk on Social Justice October 24th, 2013 | Personal motivations,Real Life Stories Post by Lawrence Rosenwald, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of English, Co-Director, Program in Peace & Justice Studies, Wellesley College I gave this talk Friday night, October 18th, in the context of a joyous shabbat service shared between the Moishe Kavod House and my congregation Havurat Shalom. It’s the tradition of MKH to have what they call a “devar tikkun,” a talk about social justice, and I was invited to give the devar tikkun on this occasion, which fact will explain some of the traits of the talk, […]

Know the Earth…Share the Way…Understand the World

Flag of International Atomic Energy Agency with blue background, atomic particle surrounded by oak leaf branches

Last week I joined with others who had participated in a tax day action earlier in the year to raise awareness about nuclear weapons on the UN designated day to eliminate the most potent weapon ever created.  We set out seeking midday crowds in a boldly painted vehicle with messages of nuclear disarmament and “armed” with materials including the Warheads to Windmills literature. The program provides a framework of how we could invest the $61 billion for nuclear weapons (in 2018) into programs that could counter climate catastrophe including the Green New Deal. While we traveled around the city I had to put some of my organizing instincts on hold and focus on what underlies all of this work, building […]

Confessions of an Anonymous War Tax Refuser

I grew up in a constant shadow of wars—from bomb shelters when I was a child, through Vietnam, the “cold war,” and ceaseless hot ones since then. When I discovered in my 30s that besides what we directly participated in, our government was also fomenting wars all over the world and supplying the arms for them, sometimes to both sides, I vowed myself to peace. That meant I would not help war efforts in any way, including paying for them or for weapons, buying products from companies which profited from war, and every other way that came to my attention. The only way I felt comfortable resisting taxes (other than the phone tax resistance during Vietnam) was to keep my […]

Loving Life on the Margins: An Interview with Suzanne Belote Shanley & Brayton Shanley

Earlier this year, Suzanne Belote Shanley & Brayton Shanley published a book about the history of the Agape Community, which they cofounded in 1982 in Ware, Massachusetts. The community is dedicated to prayer, voluntary simplicity, and gospel-centered nonviolent witness. War tax resistance has been a core aspect of the community from its founding. The book, Loving Life on the Margins, is not only a history of the community, but also the autobiography of Suzanne & Brayton. They were kind enough to be interviewed by NWTRCC to discuss their lives and the Agape Community.   What was your initial motivation for becoming war tax resisters? We were becoming an active part of the peace movement of the late 1970’s which was […]

Demand Divestment — them and us

Outside a fancy hotel in Midtown Manhattan a crowd of us held “Divest from the War Machine” signs to greet shareholders of BlackRock, who were arriving for their annual meeting. The demonstration was organized by CodePink NYC in conjunction with CodePink’s national divest campaign; there were actions in other cities too. BlackRock is some kind of big investment company that most of us probably don’t deal with directly, but they influence our lives. CodePink has targeted them as the top investor in weapons manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics. We were there to remind shareholders that their choices underpin the production of weapons used in military strikes around the world, resulting in the deaths […]

Terrible Taxes in History

Tax Day in the United States is Monday April 15 in most states (April 17 in Maine & Massachusetts). So I thought a post on terrible taxes in history would be appropriate. Back in December, HistoryExtra.com published an article about ten terrible taxes. (HistoryExtra is the official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC World Histories Magazine.) One downside of the article from an American perspective is that all of the taxes listed were English-enforced, but it’s still interesting and has some parallels with American taxes today. Here are a few of the unpopular taxes from their list: (1) The poll tax became more common in England at the end of the fourteenth century. It charged a flat tax per […]

King’s Bay Plowshares/ MLK Anniversary

7 activists hold a sign that reads "The ultimate logic of racism is genocide"

TODAY is April 4th, the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.      It is also the first anniversary of the action of 7 Catholic peace activists to symbolically disarm nuclear weapons at the Trident Submarine Base at Kings Bay, Georgia.  Most, if not all, of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7, as Catholic Workers, are also by default war tax resisters, since they live below a taxable income.  Not paying taxes for war is a baseline value for the movement founded by Dorothy Day.  One of the KBP7, Martha Hennessy, is Dorothy Day’s granddaughter.      The seven activists chose April 4th, 2018, as the day for their action at Kings Bay precisely because it […]

RIP Joffre: A tireless resister — who could try patience

Joffre Stewart died in his hometown Chicago at age 93 on March 12. He became a dedicated nonviolent resister to war and injustice out of a short stint in the military during WWII when he went to prison for going AWOL. Early on he found his political home with the revolutionary pacifism and direct action of Peacemakers, a group founded in the late 1940s by Ernest and Marion Bromley and Juanita and Wally Nelson. He carried his anarchist-pacifist politics with him for the rest of his life, although Joffre was not someone who fit easily into a group. He was a poet and might have known every open mic poetry night in Chicago; he had a great voice for recitation, […]

The Continual Crossroads of Nuclear Weapons

People of Bikini Atoll carry their possessions to ships as part of forced relocation

History of the Nuclear Testing in the Marshall Islands After World War II the United States seized the Marshall Islands, a 1,800 mile chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean. Prior to that the Japanese had occupied the territory as an outpost for their military interventions. One Sunday in February 1946, the island’s US military governor asked the locals if they would be willing to temporarily relocate for “the good of mankind and to end all world wars.”  Operation Crossroads began on July 1, 1946 to determine how nuclear detonations would impact warships. The operation was terminated after many ships were destroyed and a 94 foot tsunami coated everything with radioactive water.  Many of the veterans who were ordered into […]

Trump’s State of Emergency Lies Like a Loaded Weapon

A poster issued on April 1, 1942 detailing requirements of Japanese Americans

77 years ago on February 19th 1942, Executive Order 9066 was issued. The Order directed the army to create military zones and to remove all residents of Japanese ancestry during  World War II. It also created the War Relocation Authority which forcibly relocated over 110,000 citizens to internment camps. Last week,, the president declared a State of Emergency in order to get funding for the wall along the Southern US border with Mexico. Although there are over 30 emergency declarations in place at present, Trump’s action  is unprecedented. There were only two times that the Executive branch has taken money from the military under a State of Emergency. The first was when George H W Bush began the Gulf War […]