By Marc Eliot Stein, June 30, 2022
We try to cover a wide variety of topics on the World BEYOND War podcast. But every once in a while it helps to look back on everything we are doing, take stock of our movement’s losses and gains, and check in with some of the trailblazers and champions who never stop fighting and never even seem to slow down when the going gets tough. That’s why I thought of interviewing Medea Benjamin for this month’s episode.
Medea Benjamin is co-founder of CODEPINK, board member of World BEYOND War and author of several books, including a new upcoming book about Ukraine with her co-author Nicolas JS Davies. She’s also been a personal and foundational inspiration to me as a peace activist, because I still remember puzzling over the identity of a slight figure being dragged out of televised Pentagon press conferences by masses of police, a beatific smile on her face as she refuses to stop asking questions even as they pry her fingers off the door jambs in an attempt to remove her from the room. Don’t worry, Medea will be back! It must have been 10 years ago that I first began following Medea Benjamin’s work and activities, and this led me directly towards World BEYOND War and the collaborative antiwar projects I am gratified to be able to work on today.
I especially wanted to talk to Medea about the recent election of Gustavo Petro and Marta Lucia Ramirez in Colombia, and about the hopes for a continuing progressive wave in Latin America. We also talked about the horrifying but profitable proxy war causing so much death and destruction in Ukraine, and about how the people and governments of the world are reacting to this new European disaster (especially in the global south). I asked Medea about her own beginnings as a peace activist and learned about a book called “How Europe Undervalued Africa” by Walter Rodney that opened her mind while she was growing up in Freeport, Long Island, New York, and heard about how a small incident involving her sister’s boyfriend serving in Vietnam set the ground for her future work.
The 37th episode of the World BEYOND War podcast ends with a blast of music from one of Medea’s favorite bands, Emma’s Revolution. I hope listening to this interview inspires others as much as the conversation inspired me.