Toward Peace and Justice, September 2012
Over nine decades of working for peace, the American Friends Service Committee has seen what can happen when a government is allowed to use fear to justify denying basic rights to some vulnerable group—Japanese-Americans, Native Americans, Jews, civil rights advocates, or political dissidents. In 1942, who could defend someone of “foreign enemy ancestry?” In the 1950’s, who dared defend someone accused of being a “communist?” And today, who would speak up for someone labeled a “terrorist?”
AFSC has consistently resisted such attempts to isolate and scapegoat, and we continue to do so— this time, in a lawsuit against the U.S. government.
We are challenging the government’s power to impose arbitrary restrictions on our First Amendment rights to engage in “coordinated advocacy” with Muhammad A. Salah, a U.S. citizen living in Chicago.
He is the only U.S. citizen residing in the United States who is currently labeled a “Specially Designated Terrorist.” Once an individual is so labeled, any person or organization is prohibited from engaging in coordinated speech with him, even if only to raise important questions about the government’s conduct.
AFSC strongly objects to arbitrary limits on our right to raise public awareness about government actions we believe to be unjust.
We brought this case as a last resort, but one we are compelled to undertake, both as a matter of conscience and to protect the practice of speaking truth to power. As this case proceeds, please check for updates at afsc.org/first-amendment.
Budget decisions that serve community needs
One way we speak truth to power is to lift up the moral responsibility our elected officials must face as they wrestle with spending decisions in this continuing economic crisis. We are approaching a critical period to focus on that responsibility between Election Day and the end of the year, when Congress will try to set our country’s spending priorities.
If we want real job creation to be a priority in that process, we need to make our case now, while the spotlight is on the debate. That means we only have a few short weeks to insist on spending decisions that will maximize job creation and serve community needs. Keep your eye out for messages in the coming days that provide you opportunities to support our efforts.
AFSC is working to remind every one of our leaders that one of the most effective—and moral—ways they can spend federal money is on institutions that preserve and create new jobs.
Thank you for supporting us in this call to make our federal spending match the needs of millions of hard-working families.