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09/25/2005 Archived Entry: "Iraq war protest"

When over 100,000 people gather in protest, and are "allowed" by federal officials to march past the White House for the first time in a decade, you might think it was news. When tens of thousands more gather for the same reason in cities across the country and the world, you might expect to read about it.

But you have to be good at Googlenews or sharp-eyed on Matt Drudge's page to spot coverage of Saturday's protests against the savage, completely immoral and unjustified invasion and occupation of Iraq.

The cowardly, murdering thug Bush fled the capital, once again avoiding any confrontation with what he fears most: the truth. Cindy Sheehan represents just one small nugget of truth, the awful realization that her son was killed for nothing. But she hangs onto that truth with a determination that goes beyond dogged, and so she terrifies and infuriates the pack of liars, killers, and thieves that infest the halls of power. Read her speech.

I wasn't able to attend yesterday's celebration in DC, but I did attend a vigil and meeting in Boston on September 16, as part of the Bring them home now bus tour that culminated in Saturday's massive rally.

It was not a large affair. We started with a vigil, holding banners and signs for the heavy traffic of Watertown Square. Our initial group of 30 grew steadily to 60 or so, enough so that we spread from the central island to the corners of the square. Thousands of cars passed through the intersection during the hour. Perhaps one of every 20 cars honked, waved, or gave us thumbs-up signs. Maybe driver one in two or three hundred made rude gestures. The pedestrians stopped and talked for a few minutes were invariably supportive. The most remarkable anti-peace display was by a UPS truck driver, who used his truck as a podium to berate us, calling us "disgraceful" and worse. A Watertown police officer kept a watch on us but did not interfere, and occasionally directed traffic so that we could send groups with banners to other corners of the square.

I've never attended an anti-war rally before. While I was old enough to be concerned about the draft during Vietnam, a growing peace movement forced an end to that sorry conflict before I had to face it. Standing on a street corner, holding a banner, displaying myself to thousands of strangers, was a very small effort, but an important one for me. I'm a private person and don't discuss my politics with many people. Listening to my fellow protestors, both at the vigil and the meeting afterward, I learned that I would have powerful disagreements with pretty much everything they stood for. But there was one thing we could all agree on, and feel strongly enough to do something about it.

After the vigil we walked a few blocks up the street, escorted by our police officer, to St. John's Methodist Church. The crowd grew to about 90 in all as we listened to terribly moving testimony from Iraq and Vietnam veterans and their families. A mother whose son was on his third tour in Iraq spoke of her anguish and fear, watching him struggle to heal after the first two deployments damaged him mentally and spiritually. A father spoke whose son had died in the sand while guarding a group searching for "weapons of mass destruction." His son was killed some weeks AFTER Bush performed his incredibly tasteless skit pretending to be looking for missing WMD's in his office. (picture here.) A young woman, holding her infant daughter, told us about her mother, a 43-year old grandmother who patrols gates and checkpoints in Iraq. Another father told us that his son joined the National Guard to boost his $12,000 salary and pay off student loans, after working side by side with guardsmen filling and stacking sandbags during floods. He was killed in Iraq. We learned about a father whose son returned home whole in body but savagely wounded in mind and spirit, so terribly hurt that he hung himself in the garage with a garden hose. His father's last memory of his son was cradling his lifeless body in his arms.

We heard from Carlos Arredondo, a father so distraught by his son's death that he tore apart a Marine Corps van and set it on fire - with himself inside. He was burned over 25% of his body. I was moved to tears by the copy of his son's letter he handed me. "It took 18 years to raise Alexander," he told the crowd, "but it took less than 2 years for the government to kill him."

Let us be very clear about what is going on, what nearly all who read this is supporting with their taxes and tacit consent. We are taking young people, mostly but not entirely poor, and putting them head first through a meat grinder. If they survive, we put them through again. And again. Every one who returns home is maimed for life. Over 20,000 casualties sounds bad enough, but in reality there are several hundred thousand Americans who will never be the same. They will have trouble holding jobs, forming relationships, just living. Their families will be profoundly injured, children deprived of functioning, loving parents, parents deprived of their child.

We are not shredding these people for protection. We are not doing it for oil. We have no exit strategy because the people who started this occupation have no intention of leaving. We will leave, the Iraqi people will see to that, but until that day we will keep feeding our young into the meat grinder.

We are waging this war because it pumps obscene amounts of money into the pockets of a few favored pseudo-corporations, firms with no connection to the free market, vampires created and operated solely to feed off blood and treasure wasted by government. No longer content with the tens of billions squandered on "public works" projects like Boston's million-dollar-per-yard "Big Dig", corporations like Bechtel, Fluor, Halliburton, MCI, SSA and others now siphon hundreds of billions of dollars from government-created disasters like Iraq and Katrina.

And we allow it. We pay our taxes, send our young, and watch the meat grinder at work.

Today over a hundred thousand people said "Enough!" Our masters turned a deaf ear, our propaganda machine pretended nothing had happened. We will send tens of thousands more head-first through the meat grinder. Eventually we will leave, and Arabs and Muslims the world over will remember our crimes, and nurse their grudges, for centuries. We will all pay for what we have done. The only question is how many more people must be maimed and killed before we let the healing begin.


Posted by Silver @ 03:45 AM CST

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