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Work 4 Peace,Hold All Life Sacred,Eliminate Violence! I am on my mobile version of the door-to-door, going town-to-town holding readings/gatherings/discussions of my book "But What Can I Do?" This is my often neglected blog mostly about my travels since 9/11 as I engage in dialogue and actions. It is froth with my opinions, insights, analyses toward that end of holding all life sacred, dismantling the empire and eliminating violence while creating the society we want all to thrive in

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Women are now free....NOT

I joined the large ANSWER protest march and rally today, Sunday, the kick off of the actions at the Democratic National Convention. It was thrilling to be in yet another city with so many voices and bodies joining to protest the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. The march began in a park right in the middle of Boston Center – they call parks ‘squares’ here, green patches surround by asphalt and cobblestones. When we began marching towards the ‘protest pen’ and the convention building, cops began multiplying three-fold. There were already tons of police on bicycles, horses, and foot – their numbers seemed to be swelling larger and faster than the demonstrators, although there were probably a couple thousand of us. Cops appeared on motorcycles, in unmarked cars, in trees as well. After we walked about three blocks, I looked up and suddenly saw those faithful men dressed in black dangling on the upper ledges of tall buildings with cameras in hand, weapons close by. Some were straddled so precariously against rounded domes, legs spread, backs arched in an attempt to retain their balance as they filmed our progress. What is this? DEFINITELY a police state! Soon more helicopters began circling as well – I counted five helicopters at once, patrolling the skies.
We handed out the few “Pink Slip Bush” and “Join CodePINK” papers that I had – and then began handing out deception dollars. People really love those as well. It was fun marching on the edge of the crowd and attempting to get the police to take a flyer – as well as the bystanders, urging them to join us as well as urging the police to lay down their weapons and march with us.
I actually did get a white Boston city police officer to take a deception dollar. After briefly perusing it, he handed it back to me saying with a faint smile “I’m voting for bush.”
 I feigned surprise and horror and engage him in conversation as he begins to fall into step with me – as well as walking along with the march (ha!).
I asked him “Why are you voting for bush?”
He retorts simply: “I like him.”
Of course then I get to ask, “Ok, why do you like bush?”
“Because of what he did in Iraq.”
I ask, “Okay, just what did he do in Iraq that you like?”
He has to start talking the party line that war mongers have spread: “Bush has freed the Iraqi people from Hussein,” he states so emphatically I think that is it but he has to tread on my toes by adding almost joyously: “More importantly, the WOMEN in Iraq are now FREE!!!”
I can’t help the sarcastic laugh that –  I belatedly hope conveys ludicrousness and not the “you’re an idiot” – leaps from my throat as I say, “Yes, free be raped and murdered and to hide in their homes.”
 “That happened more under Hussein!” he insists unequivocally as if 1)that is the truth, and 2) that makes it alright now!
“Did you know that under Hussein, 60% of Iraqi womyn were employed outside the home, Iraqi womyn were allowed to attend schools, Hussein kept extreme fundamentalist out of the government, that Iraq was one of the most progressive Moslem states in the Middle East?”
“Oh no, Jordan is.”
“And what are you talking about anyway. You’re a police officer, you know that thousands of womyn are being raped and murdered in this country, right here, as we talk.”
He grudgingly admits this is true so I add quickly “Under the bush administration!”
            As we walked and talked, I saw a press person slip into step behind us and begin filming our conversation.
“A friend of mine went to Iraq and saw that womyn were free now,” he adamantly continues.
“A soldier?” I ask as he nods. “Well I deeply doubt your friend’s ability to see clearly. CodePINK womyn have been to Iraq three or four times and we’ve sought out womyn, we’ve spoken to them, we’ve seen and heard their stories, we’ve helped set up a womyn’s watch center. Iraqi womyn tell us they now have two enemies to fight: the Taliban and the u.s.ofa. soldier."
The white press guy is still hanging with us when the officer turns to speak with someone else. I continue handing out dollars until the press guy comes back and asks me why I am here. I say I’m here to convince Kerry and Edwards to be progressive, to bring our troops home NOW, to take care of people here in this country, to protect our environment, our social service programs.
He wants to know what I think we should do in Iraq to help womyn there. I stare at him obliquely – the elitist racist assumption, the u.s.ofa. as the great white saviors, his question makes me ill – as if we haven’t ‘helped’ enuff. I say we should withdraw our troops AND our corporations, turn our resources over to Iraqis’. Period. he asks me how I got the officer to speak with me, as he has been unsuccessful getting any police to speak to the press. I don’t know.

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