Disturbing the peace

A comic prompts pacifist-agressive behavior

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Five years after the 80-year-old Fellowship of Reconciliation decided to celebrate youth activism with a nonfiction comic book, the peace organization is trying to find a sensible way to destroy all 20,000 printed copies.

The problem, FOR claims, is that the comic book it created is racist. The African-American family depicted in the comic book Activists!, however, thinks the group is finding conflict where none exists.

“We’ve been screwed by FOR,” says Pat Boozer, who runs an inner-city counseling program in New Haven, Conn. Her family’s story is told in the strip. Boozer says she finds nothing racist about the book, and wants copies for her own group.

But the impressionistic drawings of Boozer’s family caused such an in-house stir that FOR won’t release the book. African-American staff members who were not consulted during the comic book’s production called the finished work offensive, complaining the cartoon exaggerated the family members’ features.

Another story in Activists!, describing a gay teenager’s fight to attend his school prom, provoked more objections. In a memo, one staff member complained to FOR’s board of directors: “Several faiths in our current membership would find the young homosexual story unacceptable.”

Shortly afterward, FOR announced that the 44-page comic book would not be distributed. Boozer calls FOR hypocritical: “They set themselves up as an organization that can mediate between groups, but they don’t carry themselves that way.”

FOR’s executive director, Jo Becker, downplays the complaints. “We are a spiritually based peace organization,” she says. “Mediation is not one of our primary functions.”

Becker offers at least one consolation: The books won’t be burned–they’ll be recycled.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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