Political InQueery: We're Still at War

Everett Maroon
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Everett Maroon is a memoirist, essayist, and fiction writer originally from New Jersey and now living in Walla Walla, Washington. His blog is transplantportation.com and he tweets at @EverettMaroon.

Joan Baez at a Code Pink rally Think back just a couple of years, and you'll return to the tail end of the Bush Administration. For some, it marks the terminus of the good times: when America didn't look to allies in order to make foreign policy, when we were on the right road against "abortionists," and abstinence-only education got boatloads of money to save our children from certain sexual promiscuity and queerness. For others of us, it was like waking up from an 8-year nightmare.

Against this neoconservative haven it felt urgent to form pockets of resistance, to keep progressive values alive, like gripping white-knuckled onto one's oral history, hoping the next generation will remember it the same way. Anti-war and left-leaning groups popped up by the dozens, marching on Washington, interrupting congressional hearings, staging die-ins, linking themselves across DC streets with PVC pipe and handcuffs. Web site after Web site launched, rockets in hyperspace with a message about change.

When we watched the numbers come in on election night in 2008, we called it change. And then we remained a war nation.

The face looking at the cameras from behind the desk at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest was new, certainly, but the message was not very different, other than giving a tentative date for leaving Afghanistan, which later was softened as a date we'll think about leaving. People were disappointed, even angry, but somehow the urgency had swept away from them. There weren't nationwide protests decrying President Obama's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A.N.S.W.E.R. poster throwing shoes at BushPerhaps it's a Shark News Story issue, but in the inverse. In the summer of 2005, there were many news stories about shark attacks on the East Coast. Actual numbers of shark attacks were fewer than the two preceding years had totaled individually, but nobody noticed that (or at least it didn't get any news time). Still, folks stayed away from the beaches in droves, and the next wave of news reports showed empty beach after empty beach.

So maybe there are scores of demonstrations going on, but nobody cares enough to drive a truck to them and put them on the news. I thought I'd do a round-up:

Code Pink—well, they're still making a bazillion press releases for protests around the country, including attempting to interrupt General Petraeus going to the White House during the Israeli Prime Minister's visit last week, and dressing up as mermaids to protest the BP oil disaster. Not getting so much in the way of airtime, but it's a good website to check out and see what may be going on locally.

United for Peace and Justice—in my humble opinion, this group is a little bit like that drawer in my mother's kitchen; everything is in it. While its main foci are Iraq and Afghanistan, it also has program areas around military funding, climate justice, and civil liberties. UPJ just participated in a workshop in Detroit at the US Social Forum, but there wasn't much in the way of protesting.

Cindy Sheehan—last March 21, we passed the seven-years-in-Iraq marker. And our war in Afghanistan now is, ingloriously enough, the longest war the US has ever been engaged in. So much for Mission Accomplished. But also so much for Sheehan's ability to bring out the masses and the reporters. This year's anniversary protest with Sheehan as a headliner was the smallest ever.

A.N.S.W.E.R.—protestors, including those from A.N.S.W.E.R., flocked to Boston to protest Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who signed two anti-immigration bills into law this summer, each one sounding more nonsensical than the last. Although there were hundreds of people at the Beantown event, it didn't get much coverage at all. Not that A.N.S.W.E.R. was great at generating coverage before Obama took office.

Perhaps it's that the rough economy and stubborn unemployment have made themselves more of a priority than foreign-soil wars right now. Or maybe we're too agog at people like Brewer and Rand Paul to be thinking about extremists from other countries. With Bush and Cheney—the original focal points of these protests—now out of office, progressives didn't think about how to carry on without evil figureheads to create enough anxiety to get people on buses to Washington. Or maybe the press only likes to cast its spotlight on high-contrast protests, like Tea Party people ranting against the Democrats in power. Because for this moment, they're the ones who are bringing all media to the yard.

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

The Peace Movement wants YOU!

Thank you Ev for sharing your thoughts and updates on a subject that has so many of us banging our heads against the wall attempting to find the answer; WHERE IS THE PEACE MOVEMENT???

For some of us the answer is simple, we are still right here. But we are overwhelmed, overworked and spread thin. How can these illegal occupations be accelerating and our numbers decreasing?

As a member of CODEPINK and Military Families Speak Out I'd like to extend a huge JOIN US! to Bitch readers. Check out CODEPINKalert.org for more information on joining a local CP group and getting active in helping to create a better future for our grandchildren. As Margaret Mead said : “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”

Rise up and speak out!

We're Still at War?

CodePink is still alive and kicking. We're doing a lot more than sending out flyers and press releases, and dressing up as mermaids, just as we always have, we're everywhere, and we do a little of everything.

As Lisa says above, though, right now we're banging our heads against the walls trying to find answers to the question: Where Is The Peace Movement?

She's right, we are "overwhelmed, overworked and spread thin". And the screwed-up economy has taken many out of the picture, because they're struggling to survive it. The press is bought out by the billionaires, that's why you don't see much coverage of any of the Peace groups you mention above. They very effectively keep us out of people's living rooms so they'll think there is no Peace Movement. They could not be more wrong!!!! We're still working as hard as ever, but we don't get the press coverage we used to.

So I'd like to extend the same invitation to Bitch readers: JOIN US! Check out the website. Better still, check out a chapter wherever you live and get involved, or start your own, there's nothing to it. We need all the help we can get. The Peace Movement is faltering partly because of the economy, and because so many people are simply trying to make it from one month to another. It is also faltering because we've been fighting this battle for so very long, and are so very weary. BUT, AGAIN, We Are Still Here!

I'm a member of CodePink, ANSWER, UFPJ, IVAW, and more I can't think of right now. Help us at a time when these occupations have gone on for so very long, and we need PEOPLE to help us get them ended! Many of us read Bitch magazine, so I'm one more who is asking Bitch readers to return the favor by joining in the efforts we all are making to end the occupations. We have given up so much of our lives, and we have no intention of quitting. Can you do that, can your readers at least check us out, and see about joining in?

Stand up for what you believe in! And if you believe in ending the occupations, ending war and destruction and restoring PEACE, PLEASE stand up for that! Let YOUR voices be heard.

Thank you, Cheryl and Lisa,

Thank you, Cheryl and Lisa, for replying! It wasn't my intention to describe Code Pink as just a press releasing machine, but to ask where the news coverage has gone and ponder openly if folks on the left are generally feeling less urgency around the peace movement now that the White House administration has shifted.

I really hope folks get involved if they've been thinking about it and not doing it!

Also, I think dressing up as mermaids is wonderful.

We're still at war

If everyone who has ever stood on the Margaret Chase Smith Bridge in Skow-vegas with me were to turn up next Sunday at noon (continuous presence since Abu Graib photos were released) we'd fill the whole bridge.

If everyone I marched with in Wash DC last March 21 turned up, we'd fill the whole downtown. Everyone I protested with in Berkeley and ate pie with in SF at the cookbook launch this summer: you're all invited to stay at my house.

If everyone who attended the New England United Antiwar Conference in Cambridge last January came, too, we'd reach from the Island Dairy Treat halfway up Route 201 to Gifford's Ice Cream.

If everyone who reads the NYT, LA Times, Wash Post, Boston Globe, and watches ESPN turned off the corporate crap info stream and came to Skowhegan to stand with us, we'd fill the entire state of Maine's I-95.

If you are afraid that opposing a half black president will invalidate your get out of racism free card...join me on the bridge next Sunday, and let's talk about it.
Lisa Savage
CODEPINK Maine Local Coordinator

I was with you until that

I was with you until that last comment, Lisa, but keep up the good fight. . . .

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