(John Andrews in the Denver Post, Oct. 1) Someone needs to say it: PeaceJam was a scam. The goal, a world less riven by aggression and oppression, is laudable. But that outcome is only set back by such utopian lovefests as last month’s big Denver conference. The 3000 young people who gathered from 31 countries, at a time when Islamofascists seek a new global caliphate enforced with nukes, deserved better than Buddhist platitudes about “inner disarmament” (the Dalai Lama), daydreams about the US answering 9/11 by building schools in Afghanistan (Shirin Ebadi of Iran), and leftist lies about Guantanamo (Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland).
The PeaceJam organization, founded ten years ago by Ivan Suvanjieff of Arvada, has shown imagination in brokering idealistic kids together with self-important Nobel Peace laureates for its annual rallies. And it’s hit promotional paydirt with massive, gooey media coverage.
PeaceJam’s premise is fatally flawed, however. Its hoary ‘60s mantra of (start italic) Think positive, be nice, hug each other (end italic) is powerless against aggressive evil. By seducing impressionable teens away from the tough realism needed to defend humane values in a dangerous world, it actually imperils peace and invites war.
The high-sounding curriculum posted at PeaceJam.org is a cover for educational malpractice being perpetrated on naïve students. Take for example the September 17 conference journal published online at the Denver Post Bloghouse by East High senior Rose Green. This bright, earnest girl seems like someone you’d want for a daughter. But a responsible parent or teacher would warn Rose against uncritically swallowing the PeaceJam message, which she sums up this way:
“We are all brothers and sisters…. We are all interconnected…. We all should give and must have compassion and love…. We should all be happy…. All religions practice tolerance, love, peace, nonviolence, and self-discipline. We must accept all religions and simply try and focus on those elements instead of anger and extremism…. America is incredibly guarded from reality…. Bombs do not secure a country, people do.”
Rose Green probably excels as a varsity debater for East, and there are a lot worse things her classmates could be doing than participate in the PeaceJam club she founded. But club members are ill-prepared as future American citizens and global peacemakers if they agree with Nobelist Mairead Maguire that the corrupt, despot-dominated United Nations is a better model for the future than our own United States.
Or if their standard for truth comes from Nobelist Rigoberta Menchu Tum of Guatemala, whose revolutionary autobiography was found by the New York Times to have been “fabricated or seriously exaggerated (in) many of the main episodes.” Or if their idea of tolerance matches that of Argentine Nobelist Adolfo Esquivel, who told the Denver conference, “God covers up his ears when George Bush prays.” Or if their exemplar for nonviolence is Irish Nobelist Betty Williams, who said in a recent interview, “I would love to kill George Bush.”
In thousands of words about PeaceJam in both Denver papers, there was only one passing mention of freedom, the value prized higher than peace by most Americans – and by most people anywhere who have any backbone. It came from Nobelist Aung San Suu Kyi, speaking by videotape from house arrest in her native Myanmar. The conference seems to have omitted any consideration of liberty and the other precious things that are worth fighting and dying for. Peace at any price was the assumption. What a crime.
Did Maestro Suvanjieff’s peace symphony contain any note of praise for those nations such as the United States, Britain, Australia, Israel, Poland, Taiwan, Japan, and India that are the world’s true force for peace because of their success with democratic capitalism and their courage in defending it? Apparently not.
Was there any tribute to the brave statesmen who promote genuine peace by standing against the barbaric warmongers, political leaders like al-Maliki of Iraq and Karzai of Afghanistan, or spiritual leaders like Pope Benedict XVI? Again, sadly no.
“Second to agriculture, humbug is the biggest industry of our age,” said Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and founder of the prizes. Though microchips now outsell cow chips, PeaceJam proves that humbug still sells.