There is a Spirit in Iraq

“There is a Spirit in Iraq” is a hip hop song by Quaker musician Jon Watts. It recounts the story of Tom Fox, a Christian Peacemaker Teams member killed in the Iraq War.

Tom Fox (1951-2006) was an American musician and activist. For 20 years, he played clarinet and recorder in the United States Marine Band. After leaving the Marines, he joined the Christian Peacemaker Teams and served in Palestine and Iraq. He worked with detainees of U.S. and Iraqi forces, provided training in nonviolent intervention and human rights documentation, escorted deliveries of medicine to clinics and hospitals and supported the formation of a Muslim Peacemaker Team. In 2005 he and three other CPT members were kidnapped. The following March, Fox was found dead in a garbage dump near Baghdad. He had been executed by the Swords of Righteousness group, first probably having been tortured. Apparently, his service with the Marines was the cause of his death.

Fox began attending Langley Hill Friends Meeting while he was a Marine. He became Clerk of the Meeting, and he was active there with young Friends. Among other roles in Baltimore Yearly Meeting, he served as Youth Programs Director and a Friendly Adult Presence. He was also a cook at BYM Camp Opequon.

In 2006 I attended Baltimore Yearly Meeting Annual Session. At the Memorial Meeting for Worship, on Saturday morning, Fox was one of the Friends remembered. Young Friends spoke about Fox, then, finally, they and other Friends stood and, many of them weeping, began singing, “Lean on Me”, his favorite song.

Of his time in the Christian Peacemaker Teams, Tom Fox said, “If I am ever called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in love of enemy, I trust that God will give me the grace to do so.”

Though not usually a fan of hip hop music, I was moved by “There is a Spirit in Iraq”. Watts’s grief, on the verge of tears, is powerful.

A link to “There is a Spirit in Iraq”:

(Above is a photo of Fox with Iraqi children).

Gary Sandman

May 2023

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