Pages:5 (1635 words)
Document Type:Research Paper
How the Quakers Opposed the Detainment of Japanese Americans during WWII
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the co-beneficiary of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, was established in Philadelphia by individuals from the Religious Society of Friends (i.e., the Quakers) in Spring 1917. The link between AFSC and the Religious Society of Friends was always tenuous, as the activism of the organization was something universal that many non-Quakers around the world could celebrate, while the actual tenets of Quakerism were not nearly as popular as the peace movement that the Religious Society of Friends took part in. Initially, the goals of the committee were limited; however, over the 20th century, the AFSC embraced pacifism and began taking part in the fight for peace (Ingle, 2016). The AFSC essentially helped to support and come to the aid of the victims of war, whether they were Jewish, Russian, European, African, etc. (Frost, 1992). This paper will discuss the background of the organization and show that the Nobel Committee awarded them the Peace Prize because at a time when nations were bombing one another into oblivion the Quaker-led organization was a reminder to the world that humanity is like a rare earth mineral that is worth more than all the gold, palladium, silver and platinum: the basic support the AFSC gave—such as shelter and food supplies—to people impacted by the war and its opposition to the detainment of Japanese-Americans in concentration camps in the US following the bombing of Pearl Harbor showed that the organization was indifferent to the type of prejudices and biases motivating other groups to fight and kill one another. Thus, the Quaker-led AFSC was a reminder to the world that it could do better—and that is why it was honored by the Nobel Committee.
The AFSC is a global social justice association with a mission that has its foundation in the moral philosophy of the Quaker religion. Its peace activism was based on their religious beliefs manifested in their public life since the founding of Pennsylvania by William Penn as a colony offering Quakers refuge. Like their British co-religionists, the Quakers started working for man by doing good deeds and seeking God's love. Established after the United States entered World War I, the AFSC at first acted to support principled conscientious objectors to war by facilitating elective help for youthful Quaker men who sincerely believed they could not serve in the military in the wake of being drafted under the Selective Service Act. These efforts ended up helping more than 600 Quakers and other radical volunteers (Ingles, 1992). Having engaged the Government to be permitted to embrace compassionate work as a choice to war administration, they were allowed the chance to aid in the rebuilding of France. The AFSC supported alleviation and recreation activities that served poor, war-torn nations. For instance, it provided lodging for dislodged people along the Western Front in France under the sponsorship of the American Red Cross. The Quakers were very active in providing aid to the sick and pregnant. They helped people…
…addressing them head on and was not going to act as though they did not exist: its 1955 pamphlet Speak Truth to Power illustrates that (Mechling & Mechling, 1992). The AFSC was culturally competent and understood how to promote the idea of peace at a time when American culture was being inundated with a war mentality.
Thus what distinguishes this group as a peacemaker is its constancy and consistency in terms of commitment to the peace movement and its actions, which were deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. It showed heart, compassion and commitment to the cause at a time when all other nations were doing their best to destroy one another. There are many other ways in which the AFSC showed its worthiness of the Peace Prize as well—for instance, at the start of the U.S. association in the First World War.
The AFSC served the peace movement all throughout the 20th century, beginning with WWI. The activities of the AFSC are mainly a testament to the organization’s commitment to helping the oppressed and the victims of war, whether they are Jew, African, American, Slav or other. The organization has moved on, however, from being a specifically Quaker organization, though it does still profess Quaker values. It is much more pluralistic in terms of who runs it and how it operates. The work of the AFSC shows that for all the struggles it has seen, what with constant war throughout the century, the message of the organization prevails in the example it…
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Frost, J. W. (1992). " Our Deeds Carry Our Message": The Early History of the American Friends Service Committee. Quaker History, 81(1), 1-51.
Ingle, H.L., (2016). "Truly Radical, Non-violent, Friendly Approaches": Challenges to the American Friends Service Committee. Quaker History 105(1), 1-21. DOI:10.1353/qkh.2016.0004.
Mechling, E. W., & Mechling, J. (1992). Hot pacifism and cold war: The American friends service committee's witness for peace in 1950s America. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 78(2), 173-196.
The Nobel Prize. (2020). American Friends Service Committee. Retrieved from https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/peace/1947/friends-committee/facts/
Weir, A. (2014). Against Our Better Judgment. IN: CreateSpace.
The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), the co-beneficiary of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, was established in Philadelphia by individuals from the Religious Society of Friends (i.e., the Quakers) in Spring 1917. The link between AFSC and the Religious Society of Friends was always tenuous as the activism of the organization was something universal that many non-Quakers around the world could celebrate, while the actual tenets of Quakerism
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