Colman McCarthy (born March 24, 1938, in Glen Head, New York), an American journalist, teacher, lecturer, pacifist, progressive, an anarchist, and long-time peace activist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington, D.C. From 1969 to 1997, he wrote columns for The Washington Post. His topics ranged from politics, religion, health, and sports to education, poverty, and peacemaking. Washingtonian magazine called him "the liberal conscience of The Washington Post." Smithsonian magazine said he is "a man of profound spiritual awareness." He has written for The New Yorker, The Nation, The Progressive, The Atlantic, and Reader's Digest. Since 1999, he has written biweekly columns for National Catholic Reporter.
Since 1982, he has been teaching courses on nonviolence and the literature of peace. In the fall semester of 2006, he taught at seven schools: Georgetown University Law Center, American University, The Catholic University of America, the University of Maryland, The Washington Center for Internships, Wilson High School, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School and School Without Walls. In 25 years, he has had more than 7,000 students in his classes. In 1985, he founded the Center for Teaching Peace, a nonprofit that helps schools begin or expand academic programs in Peace studies. He is a regular speaker at U.S. colleges, prep schools, high schools, and peace conferences, and gives an average of 50 lectures a year. The titles of his lectures range from "How To Be a Peacemaker" to "Nonviolence In a Time of War."
Colman McCarthy graduated with a B.S. from Spring Hill College, and holds five additional honorary degrees from St. John's University, Wheeling Jesuit College, Belmont College, Walsh University, and Spring Hill College.
Pacifist, journalist, and ethical vegetarian for his nationally syndicated column in The Washington Post. He was awarded the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award in Sherborn, Massachusetts.
McCarthy also won an Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship in 1998 to research and write about mentoring, tutoring, and literacy at Garrison elementary school in Washington, D.C.
For his courses on nonviolence and the literature of peace, McCarthy's course texts include "Solutions To Violence" and "Strength Through Peace: the Ideas and People of Nonviolence." Both books are anthologies of peace essays edited by McCarthy and published by the Center for Teaching Peace. The purpose of the courses is to expose students to the philosophy of pacifism and the methods of nonviolent conflict resolution. His former students include Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), one of the most liberal members of Congress; Mark Gearan, president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges and former director of the Peace Corps; John McCarthy, director and founder of Elementary Baseball; Anthony Shriver, director and founder of Best Buddies International.
McCarthy's educational philosophy has attracted some controversy in the past, with two Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School students calling in 2006 for a more balanced presentation of the issues covered by the class. McCarthy's classes are discussion-based and well known for lively debates and challenges that McCarthy issues to his students. An avid teetotaler, McCarthy often challenges his students to stop drinking alcohol for the semester and document their experiences and observations of those around them. He also lectures at many universities and institutes. In October 2009, McCarthy lectured The Politics of Peace at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. His December 30, 2010, op-ed in The Washington Post titled "'Don't ask, don't tell' has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn't be on campus," from which the Taliban quote below was taken, attracted over a thousand reader comments, most strongly opposed to his position and the logic with which he constructed his argument. His statement that "ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school" drew especially heavy scorn, with many of those commenting taking pains to identify themselves as being of liberal persuasion.
Over the years, hundreds of guest speakers have spoken in his classes. They have included Nobel Peace Prize winners, Peace Corps volunteers, Sufi mystics, Army psychiatrists, members of Congress, school custodial workers, former death row inmates, murder victims' families, social workers, corporate executives, rabbis, priests, Special Olympics athletes, Olympians, former political prisoners, parents, homeless individuals, folk singers, presidential candidates, and activists for human rights, civil rights, gay and lesbian rights, victims' rights, prisoners' rights, Native Americans' rights, and animal rights.
"Hitler could have been waited out. He might have been overthrown by his own government. Who knows? To have 50 million people killed: Hitler would have died within 10 years no matter what he did."
“Over the years, I’ve had suggestions from other teachers to offer what they call ‘balance’ in my courses, that I should give students ‘the other side.’ I’m never sure exactly what that means. After assigning students to read Gandhi I should have them also read Carl von Clausewitz? After Martin Luther King’s essay against the Vietnam War, Colin Powell’s memoir favoring the Persian Gulf War? After Justice William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall’s views opposing the death penalty, George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein’s favoring it? After a woman’s account of her using a nonviolent defense against a rapist, the thwarted rapist’s side?”
"To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring."
"I love getting drunk... off of poetry."
Works by Colman McCarthy
- Disturbers of the Peace: Profiles in Non Adjustment
- Inner Companions
- Pleasures of the Game
- Involvements: One Journalist's Place in the World
- All of One Peace
- I'd Rather Teach Peace
- Strength Through Peace (editor)
- Solutions to Violence (editor)
- At Rest With the Animals
Colman's son, John, has made a full-length documentary titled Bandit about peaceful anarchy in Colman. The film contains a wide variety of interviews Colman did that centered on his views on pacifism and animal rights. Notable examples are his discussion of Thanksgiving and a debate with Pat Buchanan. It premiered at the Avalon Theatre in Washington, D.C.
Articles about Colman McCarthy
- The New York Times Nov. 17, 1986: Washington talk; A Skirmish Involving a Pacifist
- The Washington Post Jan. 13, 1985
- The Washington Post Jan. 12, 1997
- The Washington Post Feb. 26, 2006
- The Wall Street Journal Feb. 25, 1998
- Los Angeles Times Feb. 14, 1994
- USA Today Oct. 16, 2001
- Minneapolis Star Tribune Feb. 9, 1990
- Minneapolis Star Tribune Oct. 4, 1998
- San Diego Tribune March 12, 1988
- The Hartford Courant Oct. 3, 1990
- Greensboro News & Record Jan. 21, 1999
- Rochester Democrat and Chronicle Nov. 22, 2002
- The Progressive Nov. 1986
- The Progressive Jan. 1991
- Teacher Oct. 2003
- Vegetarian Times July 1989
- Washingtonian Feb. 2002
- Editor & Publisher Feb. 8, 1997
- Hope Magazine July/August 2003
- David Morgan (December 19, 2002). "Ex-Journalist Sees Schools as Peace Training Ground". Reuters. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- "The Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Recipients List". The Peace Abbey. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Alicia Patterson Journalism Fellowship
- "El-Hibri Peace Education Prize". Prize Laureates. El-Hibri Charitable Foundation. Retrieved 24 August 2012.
- Colman McCarthy (November 14, 2008). "Catholic Colleges & Universities: A pox on drinking". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- "Past Speakers and Events". Saint Anselm College. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Colman McCarthy (December 30, 2010). "'Don't ask, don't tell' has been repealed. ROTC still shouldn't be on campus.". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Colman McCarthy (February 8, 2009). "From Lafayette Square Lookout, He Made His War Protest Permanent". The Washington Post.
- Sam Kornell (14 February 2008). "Colman McCarthy on Teaching Nonviolence". The Santa Barbara Independent. Retrieved 13 December 2010.
- Colman McCarthy (April 26, 2002). "Paths to Peace: Bringing pacifism to schools". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved January 1, 2011.
- Said during a Peace Studies class at B-CC
- The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's 7th Annual Frank K. Kelly Lecture (video)
- Ex-Journalist Sees Schools as Peace Training Ground
- Doves and War Drums: Strong Words on Nonviolence
- Teaching Nonviolence: McCarthy is interviewed on Humankind public radio
- Booknotes interview with McCarthy on All of One Peace: Essays on Nonviolence, July 31, 1994.
- C-SPAN Q&A interview with McCarthy, June 1, 2008