I'm curious to find out what the Quaker, Quaker community thinks of my current post here....


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I've decided that the naval commander's accusation in the New York Times article about Michael Izbicki and Quakers must be answered. The Times insists that letters to the editor can be no longer than 150 words. I've boiled my blog entry down to that limit. Here's what sent to the Times. Of course, it may or may not be printed.


In “Naval Academy Graduate Wins Conscientious Objector Bid,” 2/22/11, an anonymous naval commander compares Quakers to the infamous Jonestown “suicide cult.”

The commander’s rationale isn’t presented, but it likely goes like this: Because Quakers refrain from and oppose war, they are, in effect, committing suicide at the enemy’s hands.

The commander should know that suicide is death at one’s own hands. When one knowingly chooses to die at someone else’s hands, for a greater good, it is often called “martyrdom.”

The military wants us believe its members are potential martyrs to such good.  Michael Izbicki, the subject of the story, questioned that, especially after being told he might be ordered to launch nuclear missiles at innocent civilians.

The sad irony is that military personnel and veterans themselves are committing suicide in shocking numbers. Before accusing others of being in “suicide cults,” the commander should look at his own actions.

Rick Seifert
Portland, Oregon

Follow-up: How can Friends explain why they would be opposed to humanitarian military intervention in Libya, now that Kadhafi is brutally cracking down on his own people?

@Nikolas -- Friends have to make ethical decisions concerning the limits of the peace testimony whenever considering  the controlled violence of a police force.  The saying "First of all, do no harm" is impossible for a physician to follow if surgery is necessary.


Limits are tough though -- the police attempt to use (traditionally) just means... armies do not.

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