In August 2005 there was a diary here by MilitaryTracy that reignited my desire to get involved and make my disillusionment and disgust with the war in Iraq known in a very public way. She talked about going to Crawford, Texas to support Cindy Sheehan in her demand that George Bush come out and explain to her the “noble cause” that her son Casey lost his life for in Iraq. Though I had been active for many years, in different ways and for different and diverse causes, my passion was waning and dormant. I’ll always be grateful to Tracy for inspiring me to get back out there.
I wish that no one needed to protest another war in this country. I wish our leaders had learned their lesson from Vietnam. But they haven’t. In fact it seems like they are hell bent on drawing us into a conflict that could have a much greater disasterous effect for many countries, not to mention our own. I won’t deny a certain anticipation that I feel when I do get to make a trip and protest with likeminded people. Especially those of you here that I so deeply respect and treasure as friends. And I’ve expressed feelings of guilt about the social aspect of some of these protests. Thankfully a couple of you set me straight. But honestly, when I think about the nature of today’s anti war protests, which are pretty tame and painless compared to protests of the past and when I contrast the sacrifices I make to get to a protest against the sacrifices of our military men and women, but most especially the brutality and suffering we’ve unleashed on the people of Iraq, that feeling of guilt returns. BooMan has an excellent rebuttal to those who say street protests are a waste of time. He explains why he thinks that they are effective and how they are effective:

“the real power of street protests was never the coverage they received in the press. The real power was the fear induced by an assembled mob on the steps of Congress or the White House. It’s the same power that led to the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine, or that led to the fall of the Eastern Bloc and the Berlin Wall, at the end of the Cold War. Protests may be peaceful, but they have the potential for revolution. The more revolutionary the rhetoric, the more fear inspiring the protests are. “

He’s right to say that, because it’s true that governments do feel threatened by mobs of people who gather in the Capitols, and the result of feeling threatened is almost always a violent crackdown on the protesters. If we are talking about Tiananmen Square or Ocxaca or Selma, then yes, protests are a threat and there is a serious risk taken by anyone who attempts to confront those in power and there is a real possibility of forcing the government to change it’s policies. But there are no attempts at pressing, confronting, or putting fear into the government here in the U.S. We gather at a negotiated for and pre determined site, walk along a prescribed route for a couple of miles, step off and rest, get drinks, rejoin, and head home. The city cleans up the mess, the cops aren’t challenged, the government isn’t challenged, and we all go home feeling as if we are changing history, or at least witnessing history. There is worth in this. But there is no incentive for the government to change course because there is no threat. Maybe this is because this current anti war movement is in it’s infancy and events haven’t gotten so intolerable for the people yet. There is no draft yet. Most Americans aren’t directly affected by the war or have a son, father, mother or daughter who’ve been killed in Iraq yet. This comment by MaryB2004, in a reply to BooMan’s dKos version of the above linked diary better conveys what I’m trying to say. Today’s protests are harmless…so far. I think things will have to become a lot more dire before any real opposition is mounted.

In spite of those feelings I do still think that these events have a great value if they are a stepping off point to engagement by more and more people who think there is nothing they can do to change anything. And there is a great deal of comfort and hopefulness to be gained from being with those who feel the same way you do and are willing to do something outside the normal channels. I was taken with how EJ seemed to be experiencing something like that. Just watching him watching and seeing him quietly absorbing the moment, the atmoshere of dissent was kind of moving to tell you the truth. The same with Manny. Several times I heard them say that there are a lot of people here. It was cool to see it in them because I feel the same way. Those of us who’ve been to other protests noticed that there were a lot more young people this time. That is always an encouraging sign. Lot’s of people brought their small children. The lesson being taught to them is invaluable and we’ll all benefit from those little ones in the future. To all parents who involve their children…thank you.  But I hope that thos kids will never again have to be at an American war protest. Sadly though I think this is just the beginning because Bush sure doesn’t give one single rat’s ass what we say. Not yet anyway. But if he keeps escalating this war and putting our soldiers in the impossible situation they are in where they are perpetuating a criminal war, yet have to risk prison to disengage from it, when he’s talking about attacking a country that can inflict serious damage on us then we’re gonna have to do our own escalating. I hope it doesn’t come to that.

I originally started out to write another one of my feel good post protest diaries but I think that there are unpleasant events on the horizon, and it darkened my mood a bit. I have some opinions that clash with some members here, especially those who are close to our soldiers. I’m sorry that there is conflict and I know that some of those opinions are deeply hurtful and offensive to people I care about. I wish we weren’t going through any of this. But I can’t change the way I feel. I think that this war will end, like the Vietnam war ended, when the soldiers themselves can no longer justify being a part of a machine that is commiting war crimes. When they can no longer bear the burden that this president has placed on them, and they begin resisting in larger numbers. I agree with BooMan and others who say that the war would end sooner if there were a draft because more Americans would be directly at risk, but I see no point in having more people killed to end something that has already gotten too many people killed. We’re all going to be forced to resist in larger numbers and forced to place ourselves in dangerous situations before this is all finished. Because this sick bastard who is occupying our White House isn’t going to go quietly. He won’t.


   Update [2007-1-30 8:50:43 by supersoling]:
Here are a few pictures I took. I’ll load more later as it takes forever on dialup….


…The crowd moves closer to the stage. I’m not sure about the official crowd size estimates of 100,000 or less because it sure looked like a lot more people than were there in 05 to me…


…Actually, this is the crowd gathering toward the stage…


…The BT crew…


…Tampopo…a very cool kid ;o)…


…Anyone recognize this guy?…


…Ann Wright, who resigned from the State Department in protest…


…Recognize this guy yet? It’s Ray McGovern, CIA analyst and one of Reagan’s PDB briefers, who just happened to be right in front of us…


…Here he’s shooting the breeze with BooMan. The content of the breeze is classified though. I’ll let BooMan decide whether to share it or not. My own personal opinion about this picture though is that Ray is explaining to BooMan that there will be no President Cheney if we impeach Bush because we’re going to impeach both of them.

…more later…

Update [2007-1-30 12:52:59 by supersoling]:…Here’s a couple more from the protest…
…distree signal…
…ignored and stepped on, kinda poignant…The next day I took a walk alone in the rain…
…This is the Dept.of Education, across the street from the hotel we stayed in. Bush marking his territory like a dog pissing on a tree…
…The empty reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial say’s something about the emptiness of Washington…
…a different age, a different love…

…a Man………..

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