Anti-war activist Rory Fanning visits ETHS

Nathan Shankar, Online Writer

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Ending the unending wars.

Rory Fanning, who spoke to dozens of classes at ETHS last Friday, has been fighting for exactly that. He left the army rangers as a conscientious objector in 2004, after realizing that he was “making the world a more dangerous place”.

“It was a gradual process. I had signed up to prevent another 9/11, but I saw that our actions overseas were creating more of the same,” Fanning says.

Fanning served in the same unit as former NFL player Pat Tillman, whose friendly fire death was infamously covered up. In honor of his comrade, and as a protest against the wars in the Middle East, he embarked on a journey across the country on foot. This experience, he says, was profoundly educational and transformative. It also inspired his 2014 memoir, Worth Fighting For, which has received rave reviews prominent publications.

“I walked where Nat Turner had his slave rebellion, where Ida B. Wells wrote her anti-lynching papers, where Dolores Huerta organized farm workers. These people were all conscientious objectors of a different sort who did so much more than I could have ever done in the name of justice and freedom, so learning about these stories gave me the courage and confidence to start talking about my own stories,” he says.

Fanning has a focus on reaching out to high school students. Since 2015, he has been touring Chicago area high schools, encouraging students to thoroughly examine our nation’s wars.

“It’s been 15 years since the global war on terror, we’ve spent trillions of dollars at the expense of health care, infrastructure, education, and we need to start thinking critically about these unending wars.”

Fanning’s activism extends into issues such as racial inequality. This is the topic of his upcoming book, Long Shot, set to hit the shelves in January 2017. It chronicles the story of NBA player Craig Hodges, member of the championship Chicago Bulls teams, whose protests against police brutality cost him his basketball career. His story is especially relevant in the wake of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s national anthem boycotts.

You can buy Fanning’s book and read about his upcoming one here.