Last Updated: Wednesday - 01/05/2011
November 5, 2001
Local peace activist seeks an end to U.S. bombing
Attacks on Afghanistan will create new generation of terrorists, she says
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
EDMONTON — Every time the U.S. drops a bomb in Afghanistan, Patti Hartnagel's heart bleeds. She feels for the innocent victims. "I feel a profound sadness," she says. "We seem to have lost our sense of humanity. How can we do this to other people?"
Hartnagel is an artist specializing in Raku pottery and a peace activist. A founding member of Project Ploughshares, an ecumenical organization committed to nuclear disarmament, she lobbied against the Persian Gulf War and now she is trying even harder to stop the bombing of Afghanistan.
An American educated by nuns in the Los Angeles area, Hartnagel is currently a member of the Quakers and leads the local peace movement of that religious organization. She is also a leader of the Edmonton Coalition for International Justice.
Hartnagel feels deeply for the victims of the Sept. 11 attack in New York but she also feels for the victims of terrorism everywhere else.
"It's time we add the 5,000 people who died in New York to the long list of victims of terrorism (worldwide)," she says. "There are a lot of people around the world who have been living under this kind of terror for the past decade, a lot of it (inflicted) by the United States."
She mentions the victims in Iraq, which is still being bombed two or three times a week by the U.S. and Britain 10 years after the end of the Gulf War, and the victims of the bombing in Kosovo and Belgrade.
Rather than getting to the root causes of the Sept. 11 attack, the U.S. decided to wage war and Hartnagel says that's wrong. Bombing will just make things worse. "All they are doing, apart from engaging in terrorism themselves, is creating another generation of terrorists."
The Sept. 11 attack was a criminal act and should be treated as such. The U.S. has to produce evidence of Osama bin Laden's guilt and be able to prove it in court, Hartnagel says.
Instead the U.S. has decided to get bin Laden, which is like "finding a needle in a haystack. And to get to the needle it's burning the whole haystack."
Although the United Nations condemned the Sept. 11 attacks, it did not give approval to attack Afghanistan. "The UN has kind of been skipped over once again. The U.S. and Britain are taking the law into their own hands. To me this is like vigilantism. You need to present this to a world court."
Hartnagel also has a beef with the way victims of terrorism are treated by the media. She notes there is a lot of coverage about the fundraising for and the mourning of the Sept. 11 victims and virtually no mention of the Iraqi and Afghan ones.
"All victims need to be mourned, no matter where they are from. The mothers in Iraq and Afghanistan love their children as much as we love them here."
A good reason Hartnagel is involved in the peace and social justice movement today has to do with her educational background. She was educated in Los Angeles by the Immaculate Heart Sisters, an order of women religious who emphasized social justice and social action.
But she really got involved in the peace movement in the late 1970s, after a woman from New Zealand, Dr. Helen Caldicott, visited Edmonton to speak about the dangers of nuclear weapons. When Project Ploughshares was organized 18 years ago, Hartnagel became a member.
She and her husband, Tim Hartnagel, former dean of St. Joseph's University College, immigrated to Canada in the early 1970s, after Tim had fulfilled his military duties during the Vietnam War.
She hopes the Sept. 11 tragedy will lead to a review of the current American policy and to a search for peaceful ways to solve conflicts. "I would like the U.S. to move from these simplistic solutions to more humane solutions."
"When Bush said you either are with the U.S. or you are against us, he squashed the chances for peace and forced countries to align with the U.S."
Canada fell for it and instead of acting as a peacemaker decided to send troops. "Canada's position is simplistic," Hartnagel says. "No thought. No discussions, just follow what the U.S. is saying."
Hartnagel hopes Canadians will start questioning Canada's stance and becoming more critical of what they read and see in the media.
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