Dave Robinson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Mercyhurst College in 1986, served on the national staff of Pax Christi USA (PCUSA) from 1990-2011, including ten years as its executive director. In addition, Robinson was the executive editor of PCUSA’s bi-monthly news magazine, The Catholic Peace Voice; he sometimes represented Pax Christi on disarmament issues at the United Nations; he was frequently hired as a consultant to NGOs and faith-based organizations working on issues of disarmament, human rights, international peace, and conflict resolution; he lectured on a wide range of subjects including economic and interracial justice, Just War Theory, the relationship between faith and politics, the War on Terrorism, and foreign policy; and he participated in delegations to countries like Afghanistan, Colombia, El Salvador, Iraq, and Pakistan. Robinson was also closely affiliated with the Abolition 2000 alliance and served as an editor/advisory board member of the Peace Majority Report.
On July 16, 1998, Robinson was a signatory—along with numerous other leaders of self-identified peace and social-justice organizations—to a letter urging President Bill Clinton to declare a moratorium on America’s nuclear weapons testing program. Asserting that “the U.S. needs to take leadership in opposing all forms of nuclear testing and in delegitimizing the role of nuclear weapons worldwide,” the letter warned that America’s “investment in nuclear weapons” was highly “provocative to nations with nuclear aspirations.”
At an August 2002 meeting in Detroit where Pax Christi members launched a twenty-year “anti-racism” initiative called “Brothers and Sisters All,” Robinson stated that the new program would be “dealing with the hidden racism within our own movement and developing ways of being accountable to our brothers and sisters in communities of color, especially those who are Catholic.”
Opposed to virtually all American foreign-policy positions and actions, Robinson in 2003 condemned the U.S. military’s use of cluster bombs in populated areas during its 2001 invasion of Afghanistan.
In a September 2004 lecture at Seton Hall University, Robinson likened the United States to “a corporate security state whose mega-businesses supersede nations and rely on wars to survive.” Around that same time period, he blamed America for having created the political climate that gave rise to the brutal Taliban regime which aided and protected Osama bin Laden and his fellow al-Qaeda terrorists as they plotted the 9/11 attacks. “The United States initiated, supplied and supported the mujahadeen jihad against the Soviet Union in the 1980s,” he wrote. “This was done not to free the oppressed Afghani people as much as to ‘bleed’ the Soviets…. Following ten years of U.S.-sponsored jihad, the Soviets left. So did the U.S. That left a collection of warlords, each with a regional power base and private army to wage an even bloodier civil war for another seven years…. So terrible was the civil war that after seven years the Taliban were welcomed as saviors, the only ones able to finally end the fighting and rein in the warlords.”
In the 2004 U.S. presidential election, Pax Christi joined the NAACP in sending an election monitor to observe the ballot process in Florida, which had famously been the epicenter of Election Day controversy four years earlier. Explaining his rationale for supporting the deployment of such a monitor, Robinson implied that George W. Bush’s 2000 victory over Al Gore was an illegitimate consequence of “so many people” having been “denied … their basic rights” to vote. The “re-enfranchisement” of those people was absolutely vital, he added.
In 2006, Robinson was a signatory to an open letter stating that the death penalty in the United States “has consistently been shown to be ineffective, unfair, and inaccurate.”
In May 2006, Robinson and a number of fellow anti-military activists went to Iran and publicly called for the U.S. to end the economic sanctions it had instituted to prevent the regime in Tehran from developing nuclear weapons. One of the places which Robinson visited was Natanz, the site of the Iranian Uranium Enrichment Facility (IUEF). Even as he condemned America for its “threats to use nuclear bunker busters against the facility,” he did not criticize the IUEF. Instead Robinson emphasized how “our mission has opened my eyes to the humanity of the Iranian people”; lamented the “decades of images that have reduced the Iranians to a single stereotype that for many U.S. citizens is the embodiment of ‘the enemy’”; and stated that the major task of “peacemakers” like himself was to teach all people to view their perceived enemies as “sisters and brothers.”
During a September 2007 “interfaith dialogue” designed to “build bridges”—an event that Pax Christi organized and scheduled to coincide with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to the United Nations in New York City—Robinson stated: “Our … political leaders need to engage Iran in respectful and meaningful dialogue … to put aside the threats of war and to … have what [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad asked for today: ‘sincere and fair negotiations.’”
In July 2011 Robinson stepped down from his position as PCUSA’s executive director. He subsequently served as Disarmament Advisor to the Papal Nuncio at the Holy See Mission to the United Nations.
At a 2013 gathering to honor an anti-nuclear protestor, Robinson lamented: “We will spend $630 billion over the next ten years on the U.S. nuclear weapons complex…. We’re spending as much or more on our nuclear weapons complex as we are spending on educating our people. And that … translates to people who are too hungry to concentrate in school. That’s just a sin.”
Today, Robinson is the executive director of the Union City Family Support Center, a nonprofit, anti-poverty organization working with families and children in southern Erie County, Pennsylvania.
Further Reading: “Dave Robinson” (Facebook.com, WarResisters.org); “Declare a Moratorium on Subcritical Testing” (FAS.org, 7-16-1998); “Pax Christi Urges Civil Disobedience if U.S. Escalates War on Iraq” (National Catholic Reporter, 2002, re: “Brothers & Sisters All”); “Open Letter from Faith Leaders Opposing Capital Punishment” (5-3-2006); “Letter from Iran” (by Dave Robinson, 5-18-2006).