which death will you come out for?
So here is the mainstream press, ready to report on our vigiling and only 2 of us are here – myself and a new codepinker! The reporter is disappointed – 1501 means something extraordinary to her. She’s looking at the number as some sort of hallmark or private call to arms for us bay area citizens. She’s expecting us to be out in vast numbers because the body count went over 1500 last nite. I guess because it was news and a rallying point when the body count – the u.s. body count that is – reached 1000. Now the death toll is at another nice round figure. I’m sorry to say I wasn’t prepared, even after all these months & months of talking to the press, with my solid talking points. After she left, I thought of plenty of brilliant, inspiring, motivating things to cut to the quick of the potential activist & get her out onto the streets. But while we were talking, I could only think of stressing how outrageous it is for us to accept 1500 u.s. soldiers’ deaths, not to mention over 20,000 soldiers severely wounded. And what about the over 100,000 iraqi deaths – pre-fallujah & mosul & ‘election’, and 3 to 10 times that dreadfully wounded w/little or no medical care. And who knows how many real deaths there’ve been?
I should have asked her since when did NBC become interested in reporting the u.s. death toll? At which death did it become newsworthy? I told her I only know that one death is a death too many; one death should have made all of us stop our lives & take to the streets; one death should have been the last death.
She told me she’d been thinking about 1500 deaths & asked me to tell her what does 1500 dead look like? I told her about the coffins in nyc in august at the rnc – how less than 1000 stretched so many city blocks, you couldn’t see from the beginning to the last coffin, even in the wide, straight new york city blocks. I told her how since bush stole the second election, so many more u.s. soldiers have been killed, not to mention iraqi’s. I told her that 1500 dead probably looks like a typical high school population, or maybe that of a small town.
I should have told her 1501 looks like a few more than half of the dead on 9/11. And what number of dead is the president trying to reach?
She asked me if I thought bush was ever going to end this war and I said, absolutely not on his own but yes of course, as soon as all of us – and I make a wide not so subtle circle that encompasses her & her camera man – are willing to get out into the street & call for an immediate end to this war.
She asked me if the folks holding the ‘books not bombs’ signs – and they greatly out numbered us – were part of the vigil. I said no but we were all on the same page – they were on this corner, this free speech corner of down-town Berkeley, because our tax money is pouring into the war on iraq & the war profiteers pockets and out of our schools, our social services, our programs for the young, the old, the poor. She nods in agreement as her eyes glaze over.
I should have asked her how many social services have to be killed before it becomes newsworthy for NBC.
Off camera, she tells me about the one time she got close to bush, when he was running for president. She was in an alley leaving a rally & the black limos started rolling by. She decided to put on her best ‘I love bush’ face & wave frantically at the darkened windows. Suddenly, one of the windows rolls down, bush sticks out his head, smirks, & waves back.
At the end of the vigil, a new vigiler showed up, unaware of our starting time. We had met 2 weeks prior at the vigil and she had told me both her brother & her sister were in Iraq. Last nite, she came, her face drawn & pale, her voice quavery – ‘I had to come today. My brother committed suicide.’
I should have asked NBC, which death will you come out for?