PsySR Calls on U.S. to Support Democratic Change

In light of unfolding events in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere in the Middle East, Northern Africa, and beyond, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) has issued the statement below calling on leaders of the United States to stand firmly in support of democratic change. This statement is also available on the PsySR website.

PsySR Calls on U.S. to Support Democratic Change in the Middle East

The rapidly unfolding events in Egypt and Tunisia have stunned and engaged the world. The governments of these countries have long been criticized for their widespread human rights violations, including restrictions on freedom of expression and association, the abuse of state of emergency powers, the imprisonment of dissidents, the use of torture, and the persecution of journalists and human rights defenders. But today we are witnesses to the extraordinary power manifest when ordinary people join together and challenge undemocratic rulers, expressing the seemingly timeless human aspiration to be free of tyranny, oppression, and exploitation.

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Reflections on Kent State and Jackson State–40 Years Ago

May 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of the tragic violence at Kent State and Jackson State. In response to campus protests against President Nixon’s decision to invade Cambodia as part of the widening Vietnam War, four Kent State University students were killed and nine others were injured by gunfire from the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. Ten days later, two students were killed and twelve more were injured by city and state police at Jackson State University in Mississippi.

Below, PsySR members Marc Pilisuk, Milton Schwebel, Latika Mangrulkar, Anthony Marsella, Phil Zimbardo, Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz and Brad Olson offer their reflections on this time and these events.

MARC PILISUK

I was teaching at UC Berkeley at the time of the Kent State and Jackson State shootings. The escalation of the war into Cambodia had just transformed the campus into a beehive of alternative programs within most departments, and the decisions by then Governor Ronald Reagan to enlist massive police and national guard forces in Berkeley and San Francisco was adding to the fear of time. We also had a police sniper shooting killing one person and blinding another.

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Do the Right Thing

Kerry Bassett

climberWhere do we begin as everyday people living in extraordinary times? For those of us who found hope and solace in the election of President Obama and a Democratic Senate majority, we are suddenly standing on our own, recalling history and Martin Luther King Jr. Yes, we were naïve to think that change would come easily, if at all — though I prefer to call us idealistic, optimistic and hopeful.

Some of us have been out in the streets for eight years now, some of us much longer than that. I, for one, cannot remember a time in my life when there was not the need to protest and to protect the values of peace and freedom, racial equality, human rights and dignity, let alone justice.

I thought we might get a brief reprieve. No such luck.

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Is Parents’ Rally in Boston a Harbinger of Wider Protests?

Stephen Soldz

rallyIn Boston today we had 700 or so parents rallying at the State House and lobbying the legislature to protest the budget cuts that threaten to do serious damage to public education in the city. The rally had an amazing energy, as parents throughout the city sacrificed their lunch hour to protest.

The movement started among parents at Boston Latin School, an elite “exam school,” with many middle-class parents. BLS was originally scheduled for an 18% budget cut, which would remove all music, physical education, and many Advanced Placement classes, while replacing one subject with yet another study hall each day.

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