Wheels of Justice barred from five schools
Dear Editor:As the volunteer coordinator for the Wheels of Justice Tour’s visit to the Roaring Fork Valley, I feel compelled to respond to Doug Weiser’s letter (Aspen Times, Nov. 21) voicing concern over exposing the community’s children to the organization’s doctrine of peace, justice and human rights (www.justicewheels.org).The accusation that the organization presents “an anti-Israel view of the Middle East” or that it is “closely aligned with several organizations that justify terrorism” is totally unfounded. In fact, the Wheels of Justice Tour promotes adherence to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by all nations and people, and is devoted to teaching nonviolence.Mr. Weiser claims that “students require guidance … to distinguish fact from opinion.” Rather than just voicing opinion, the men and women traveling across America on the Wheels of Justice bus give their own accounts of real life situations encountered while living among people in the occupied regions of Palestine and Iraq, from which the students can draw their own conclusions.The real concern of parents should be, why did only two out of seven schools extend an invitation to the Wheels of Justice? Parents of students in the other five schools should ask why their children weren’t given the opportunity to hear the perspective of these eyewitnesses to war and occupation.The study of world conflicts isn’t just about military strategies or which general led what battle. The inevitable result of war, occupation and apartheid is a fragmented and devastated civilian populace. When students learn about Germany’s invasion and occupation of Europe, the suffering of civilians, especially the Jewish people, is of primary importance. The injustices toward the black population under apartheid in South Africa is integral to studying the history of that conflict.The condition of people living in Israel-occupied Palestine and U.S.-occupied Iraq are not currently being conveyed by mainstream media, and I doubt if it gets much mention in the classroom either. This is the missing piece of information about these conflicts that our children have little chance to learn about, except through the efforts of individuals like the volunteers for Wheels of Justice.When Mr. Weiser writes that “young minds confer legitimacy on any speaker or organization given access to the campus,” he unwittingly includes U.S. military recruiters, who are given the same sort of access to schools that Wheels of Justice had. Perhaps he will concede the possibility that the military’s promises of monetary gain and personal glory for the privilege of learning how to resolve conflict with battle techniques will counter any detrimental effects that the advocacy for compassion, justice and nonviolence might have had on those impressionable young minds.Sue GrayCarbondale
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