Support our GI's to COME HOME & STAY HOME!
I go to the Whole Foods parking lot, get out my truck and take a seat in front of the Star Bucks. Soon a 40 something white woman approaches me, asking me if I’m CodePINK. We begin to talk.
She is from somewhere, Texas, visiting family as I am. I ask her if she’s close to Ft. Hood, which she is, as close as anything is in Texas. I ask if she’s on the cp email list & tell her about the action at Ft. Hood that some cp’ers are planning.
She goes into defense mode, worried that we are going to come to Texas without understand how unique and different the town of Ft. Hood is from any other town in the U.S.
I tell her I have heard the same view point expressed all over the country. We all feel over-protective of our ‘own’, and imagine our ‘own’ are in some way special, unique, dissimilar to every other town, base, military and non-military areas of this country.
She seems to consider that then says we can’t demonstrate without having the support of the GI’s at Ft. Hood. She cautions us to be careful, take a back seat, allow the GI’s to lead, and the locals that have been working on building these relationships to lead.
She warns that the base is in the very military-heart of Texas country. National activists have no business at Ft. Hood or in town. We will not be welcomed by either. She actually uses the terms ‘pinknics’ and ‘peaceniks’, as if they are negative and/or derogatory.
I tell her I disagree. That pinknics/peaceniks are leaders. We are all leaders. We cannot have enough leaders in our movement. We cannot wait for someone else to step forward & lead – we’ll be waiting forever.
I tell her the time for hand-holding, going slowly, babying ANYONE is OVER. We are in the FIFTH year, the 3592nd U.S. soldier deaths, almost 1 million or more Iraqi deaths. I tell her THESE are all ‘our’ people – these are the people that we must speak for, strongly, loudly, in any way that we are capable.
She concedes yet reiterates we HAVE to support the soldiers, the GI’s – she talks about how much negativity they’ve had to endure, how much their self-esteem has been attacked, how much their ‘patriotic’ choice to defend freedom has been negated.
I say we have to be VERY clear – we support our GI’s to COME HOME and to STAY HOME. We do NOT support our GI’s to continue providing the force that is occupying Iraq and waging terror, destruction, rape, violence, death on other human beings who happen to live in Iraq.
I think of Eli Painted Crow and I interject that I know the majority of GI’s are drafted – whether we want to admit it or not – the poverty draft and National Guard & reserves draft has forced most women and men into the military.
Then I tell her that I don’t believe any of us “own” the anti-war movement or any specific action, protest, sentiments, strategies to end war and bring peace. We are ALL in this together and no town or city or state can support war or peace without it affecting ALL of us.
I reassure her that CodePINK womyn are compassionate as well as passionate, sensitive as well as strong, consensus-building as well as brilliant.
She warns that we might not be welcome in her town. She suggests there might be a huge right-wing back-lash. She fears the local press will claim we are hysterical pinknic womyn outsiders.
I assure her we are not expecting a ‘good reception’. We are expecting to take actions to end war no matter what. We will neither allow our actions to be determined by fear of nor will we be responsible for how others choose to react to our efforts ending war, including “back-lash’, ‘negative press’, or ‘stereotyping’.
We are sensitive, loving, fierce, tender womyn. And we are determined to end war NOW.
I ask her what protest she would recommend for cpers who are concerned about the high number of U.S. deaths of soldiers deployed from Ft. Hood. She says she would have suggested things like letters and care packages; maybe setting up a coffeehouse for GI’s – but she wants to know what I have in mind.
I told her how about setting up camp right outside of Ft. Brag with support our soldiers BRING THEM HOME signs. How about we banner with “Soldier don’t go” and the GI rights hotline number; “Soldier don’t kill for oil”; “Soldier don’t die for oil”; “Soldier don’t kill women & children for my freedom”, etc.etc.etc.
I ask her if she knows about the petition to redress, which she doesn’t but readily agrees to have it available when we come. I suggest we hand out flyers, we have huge pictures of the Real Faces of War: wounded soldiers, soldiers missing limbs, dead Iraqis, etc.etc.etc.
She balks at the Real Faces saying that will undermine their confidence and determination to go to Iraq. I pause as I nod silent agreement and she thinks about what she just says.
I say we light candles, beat drums, mourn and wail night so our soldiers know our determination to prevent their going to occupy Iraq; prevent their putting their bodies in harm’s way; our determination to end war NOW.
We thank each other for the conversation, hug, and take our leave.