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Leaps in open air


This week marks the 11th anniversary of the still-unsolved shooting death of Bob Sheldon, the founder of Chapel Hill's Internationalist Books. Last year, local author and activist Mab Segrest wrote a speech for the event. "Her words remain equally timely only one year later," says Dawn Peebles, the bookstore's co-coordinator. Here's an excerpt:

"One of Bob's last brave acts was his opposition to the Persian Gulf War, one offshoot of the 'New World Order' being announced by Bush the Elder in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. This year brings the ascent of 'G.W.' the Younger. Inept as he may be--a kind of Mad Magazine President--the people he fronts for clearly are lethally competent. ...

"This New Bush ascendancy calls us to a renewed and intensified activism, of the kind manifest in Seattle at the end of the last century, when radical new alliances and strategies closed down the World Trade Organization-- for that meeting at least. That spirit of militant action fed into demonstrations in Washington and at the Party conventions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Into that localized and globalized space has begun to flow the various pockets of protest from the past decade, in new courage, new conversation, and new alliance.

"This latest Bush administration makes clear that the young century requires, as well, alliances and conversations among generations of Internationalist activists as a way--in Walter Benjamin's words--to 'seize hold of a memory as it flashes up at a moment of danger.' ...

"Such pressing challenges require spaces such as the Internationalist to provide (in Bob's words) a 'center for political and social debate over the pressing questions of our era; a center for analyzing nature and society in all its spheres: politics, philosophy, history, art, science.' ... So we celebrate and thank all of the people who have worked to keep the Internationalist alive and thriving in the decade since Bob's death. ... I look forward to many more celebrations, marches, discussions, campaigns, readings and potlucks with you in the coming decade as we make together, in Benjamin's words, new 'leaps into the open air of history.'"

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