Pathmaker To Peace 2014

Oct 3, 2014 People came to the Brooklyn Friends Meeting House in Brooklyn Heights last night to hear Michael Ratner and to honor him with Brooklyn For Peace’s Pathmaker To Peace award. Ratner was introduced by BFP Co-Chair. Then BFP Chair, Dr. Charlotte Phillips, presented the lawyer with the organization’s Pathmaker To Peace award. Following Ratner’s presentation, BFP Co-Chair, Carolyn “Rusti” Eisenberg, urged calls to Congress to demand they not go along with the Obama administration’s escalation of bombing and war in Syria and Iraq. A question and answer session followed Mr. Ratner’s talk. This, in turn, was followed by a reception with snacks and drinks in the school’s cafeteria. The event was sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace and co-sponsored by the Peace and Social Action Committee of the Brooklyn Monthly Meeting, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

This year’s honoree:

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of 5h3 Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). past president of the National Lawyers Guild; and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights. He is a long-time veteran in the fight for democracy and constitutional justice. As a lawyer, he has been at the forefront of cases that have challenged U.S. wars from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan. He litigated cases on behalf of prisoners in America’s prison camp in Cuba — Guantanamo and defended victims of the Bush/Cheney reign of torture that was used against prisoners captured, held without trial in the U.S. War On Terror. Ratner painted a gloomy picture of the current state of democracy in our country, saying that all three branches of government are now in the service of the very wealthiest in our country and, as such, categorically write, make a judgment or, in the final analysis, simply ignore or refuse to enforce laws that don’t serve their purpose. This results in illegal wars that violate the Constitutional mandate that puts the power to wage war in the hands of Congress, not the Executive. At home, the same anti-constitutional behavior results in illegal spying on citizens by the government so that we now have a “secret government and a public citizenry rather than a public government and a private citizenry.” While he said that these are “dark days” for our country and the world, Ratner also pointed to the huge upsurge in protest around the globe and in our country as well, referring to the movements among fast-food workers, immigrants rights struggles and the recent massive march to demand action on climate change. “We have no choice,” he said “but to fight for a better world. “We might not win but to give in and acquiesce, guarantees that we won’t win.”