David Ernest McReynolds, one of the first openly gay U.S. politicians, a prominent democratic socialist who was twice a candidate for President of the United States, running atop the ticket of the Socialist Party USA in 1980 and 2000. He was also an audacious pacifist antiwar activist and prolific photographer. He described himself as “a peace movement bureaucrat” during his 40-year career with the War Resisters League. For decades, McReynolds was a rigorous, principled proponent of nonviolent social change and among the most outspoken socialists and pacifists in the U.S., an organizer who combined a belief in wealth redistribution with a fierce opposition to the Vietnam War and nuclear weapons. In 1965, as a leader of the War Resisters League, he spurred a wave of antiwar demonstrations when he joined four other men who set fire to their draft cards in a public defiance of federal law. McReynolds drew the attention of the FBI and landed in jail several times as a result of his activism.
An excerpt: ‘Nonviolence is an effort to restore a sense of ‘the beloved community.’ If it was easy to do this, then it would be no big deal. . . . Nonviolence is a search for truth—not a search for ways to prove your opponent wrong. If you are not ready, as you examine the facts, to realize you may be wrong and your opponent right, you aren’t ready for nonviolence.’
“A pragmatic willingness to entertain unkindly facts tempered his political passions, which occasionally prompted disdain from sectarian leftists. (The malady is an equal-opportunity affliction, both in politics and in religion.) As one of the architects of the anti-Vietnam War movement, David was known for his ability in managing coherence in a politically diverse coalition.”
assure that they are ever more effective. Moreover, we have the audacity to demand that other nations such as Iran and North Korea not have such weapons.
“If you didn’t know David, the best way to understand who he was and what his life meant to so many is to listen to Democracy Now’s extended interview with his friend and colleague Ed Hedemann and Jeremy Scahill, activist and journalist. I have found myself hungry for his voice in the weeks since his death. Luckily, YouTube has loads of interviews with David, including a whip-sharp appearance on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher in August 2000, where he held his own — refusing to be caricatured as a political quack. Invited to sit alongside Shari Belafonte and two other actors, David stayed focused on the issues, got in his talking points and is not cowed by celebrity. He won the crowd’s respect and affection.”