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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Q & A with activist Kathy Kelly on Afghanistan

Q & A with activist Kathy Kelly on Afghanistan, US withdrawal and what's next

On Sept. 11, 2001, Kathy Kelly was in New York City, participating in a liquids-only fast against U.S. economic sanctions that were costing Iraqi children their lives. After the attack, her first question was to ask who was so angry that they would undertake such a heinous act. The next was to identify where the criminals were from — and it wasn't Afghanistan.

Kelly is one of the founding members of Voices in the Wilderness, later Voices for Creative Nonviolence, which closed its campaign in 2020 because of the difficulty in traveling to war zones. She is a co-coordinator of the Ban Killer Drones campaign and an activist with World Beyond War.

"This has been a terrible, terrible week for the people of Afghanistan. U.S. allies, people who worked with the U.S. military, contractors or NGOs feel they are at great risk and many are stranded," Kelly told NCR executive editor Heidi Schlumpf by phone this week. "But also at great risk and with very slim possibilities of evacuation are a group of young idealists dedicated to forming a nonviolent community within Afghanistan that has been active since 2008. They now face extreme dangers. Having already manifested bravery and passion under difficult surroundings, they deserve to be helped to a place of safety." 

You can read more of Schlumpf's interview with Kelly here.

More background:

  • In NCR's latest editorial, we say that Americans should expand our acceptance of refugees from Afghanistan and other war-torn countries, and also vow not to do this again.


'You can't think yourself out of racism'

Recently an assistant professor of African studies at a Catholic university was preparing to oversee a doctoral student's oral examination when she heard from the theology department, in which she serves as a student adviser and teaches cross-listed courses.

The professor was told, two weeks before the exam, that a comparative theologian would sit in on the examination with her. The exam did not go smoothly because of the clearly differing expectations of the two examiners. The episode disturbed the professor, who is Black: "There was a reluctance to see me as a peer," she said, "and a hesitation about my qualifications as a scholar of religion."

Though her appointments are in art history and African studies, "I'm a religion scholar," she said. "That's what I am." 

This professor's experience is part of a burgeoning conversation about racism at the highest levels of academia, particularly in divinity schools, theology departments and religious studies programs. Black religion scholars say their work is routinely undervalued and their advancement blocked by a bias that sees the study of Black religious experience as secondary to white theology.

You can read more of the story here.


More headlines

  • In Ho Chi Minh City and two provinces in Vietnam badly hit by COVID-19's delta variant, hundreds of women and men religious have voluntarily joined front-line forces to take care of patients at understaffed hospitals. Read more at Global Sisters Report.

  • ICYMI: The U.S. Supreme Court said the Biden administration must restore a Trump-era immigration policy known as "Remain in Mexico," which requires asylum-seekers be returned to Mexico to await adjudication of their cases.

  • The Confederation of Latin American and Caribbean Religious gathered for a three-day virtual assembly to discuss ecology, the protection of minors and vulnerable adults, and synodality.

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