Code Pink Journals CodePINK Journals

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 steaming 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

Is this typical for Boston?

The other memorable interaction I had came later, as we were marching thru downtown Boston returning the square. I hear a pipsqueaky yet haughty voice in my right ear exclaim with extreme horror “Is this typical for Boston?”
I turn to see a middle-aged, very wealthy looking strate white couple leaning toward a policeman with his arms extended, the left at an acute angle as if holding the demonstrators at bay, the right sweeping the couple to the side, to safety – out of our reach. She has the most disagreeable look on her face as she takes us in. Before the officer can say anything, I loudly tell her  “Yes, this is typical for Boston and it will be for every other city and town in the u.s.ofa. from now until the election!”
She gasps dreadfully as the officer rushes to place his body between me and the couple who are now scrambling hastily over the little bushes and grassy hills that begin the square.
The demonstration has been awesome in many ways – most of all, the energy was highly charged and positive – despite the ‘pen’ the police devised to hold demonstrators. We have handed out all our CodePINK materials and deception dollars – many folks never heard of either, many folks have! So many people are organizing on so many levels – and so many diverse groups of people. I look forward to the coming week!

Only the husband was left now undecided....

I had two other dynamite conversations at the march today. The first was with a young, strate, white couple who were standing on the sidelines obviously not dressed to march but to site-see or shop! As I attempted to hand a deception dollar to them, the guy said “No, I’m supporting bush. And then he almost brags, thumbing toward the womon next to him: “She’s not voting, she’s undecided.”
“Well, I don’t want to talk to you then” I quip, “but I definitely want to speak with you’. I turn back to the man to let him know “You can listen if you want.”
I immediately go into my rant about the largest group of non-voting people: young single womyn – to which he flashes a fourth finger at me sporting a gold band. “Okay,” I amend it to say ‘It is womyn who will make a difference in this election – womyn who cannot support war and violence and hate and killing.”
She smiles shyly and tells me that’s why she’s not sure of bush. I tell her, as I’m pressed for time, “I AM sure of bush – I’m definitely sure – not only is he perpetuating violence around the world, in Iraq , and here so he and his accomplices can get so very very rich, he has greatly hurt our country in many ways.” I tick off education, jobs, the economy, the environment, social security and medicare. She nods in agreement, as does her husband, but he adds “Kerry is no different.”
Although part of me wants to agree and I do nod my understanding, I strongly disagree about their domestic positions so I continue with “We all know Kerry has consistently voted for the people: for education, for schools, for children, for gun control, for veterans, thru out his career as senator. We know, although he is not saying he’ll end this war immediately, he will not lie to get our support to go to war so his accomplices can get even richer.”
This non-voting wife sighs and says in that typical defeated way,  “Oh they all lie, how can we ever determine the truth? That’s why I can’t vote – they’re all lying to us.”
Her husband agrees, vigorously nodding his head. I agree with her, I even tell her she’s right, we have been told a bunch of huge lies – but then I look her directly into the eyes, grab her undivided attention, and tell her: “But I am not a stupid womon, I am smart. You are not a stupid womon, you are smart. We are capable of listening the news (even fox, cnn, abc), reading the papers, searching the internet, and discerning the truth. We know when someone says ‘clean air act’ and then raises acceptable emission standards for mercury into our waters and air – which disproportionately harm womyn and children by the way – we KNOW the truth.”
I continue engaging her eyes as I say, “Those in power want us to think we are not capable of discerning the truth – don’t fall under their spell (thank you starhawk!) and allow them to undermine your faith in yourself and your ability to see the truth. you can tell the lie and the truth. we need you to think, to vote!”
With that, we all shook hands and hopefully only her husband was left now undecided!

Police State

When we get to the ‘protest pen’, I am again shocked at the number of police there: they are lined up on the other side of the fence, between the pen where we are and the center where the convention is being held – they stand at least 6 deep row after row after row – legs spread, any flesh that might show is swallowed up by the dark blue uniforms, their chests and backs covered with what appears to be the underside of turtle shells, heavy black boots on their feet, helmets on their heads. They are standing so totally still they might be an extension of the fence except that the fence is now vibrating slightly as demonstrators try to beat against it. The sound is totally unsatisfactory, more muffled than an aluminum pot lid hitting carpet. It must be teflon coated links! I’m surprised the soldiers or police or guards or statues, whoever the hell they are, have not crumpled like dorothy’s wicked witch in this heat and humidity! I’m sopping wet and I have on shorts and a sleeveless t-shirt! Between the barbed wire, the silent chain link fence, the crumbled asphalt, the thundering of the helicopters, the ‘security’, it feels like we’re in some all too unreal war zone.

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.