Thursday, July 10, 2008

notes from yesterday's protest 

It was good to be at the protest yesterday for Corey Glass MOSTLY because it's healthy to get a severe opposing perspective and take this right to the heart of THE PLACE where 90 percent of the people will NOT be supportive. All the corporate sky scrapers around us and thousands of people in suits marching off to lunch was quite a strange place to take the protest. But it gets you on your feet to talk about the war, talk about these young men and women who don't want to fight in Iraq AND WHY they don't.

At the same time it's strange to see hostility like this. The most hostile were these packs of young men in their twenties, in business suits, going to lunch together, sneering, making jokes, saying stupid things. Like the guys who said, "DRAFT DODGERS? BUT WHO'S GONNA PROTECT THE COUNTRY?" And I said, "Well, there's NO draft first of all...." The young men in their twenties who claim to be for the war, why are they here, working for stock brokers, working for the SCUM who benefit the most from this war? The ideas of cowardice and bravery were turned on their heads because CLEARLY we were seeing nothing but opposing views of both.

One woman came up to me and said, "I'M FOR THE WAR!" (Which by the way is shocking enough to hear, I mean REALLY, you are "FOR" the war?) I showed her the flyer I was handing out, with Corey Glass's statement at the top where he says he joined the National Guard to do humanitarian work, and that he should have been in New Orleans to help out, not in Iraq. She and I talked about that for a little, and it made an impact on her. She herself admitted that it was incredible how long it took the president to visit New Orleans after Katrina, and when I asked her if she saw the Spike Lee documentary she said, "I watched some of it, but it was too depressing." She took a flyer and promised to read it, and I think she meant it when she said she was going to think further about "all this."

Stephen Funk, Lt. Watada and others have been talking about their feelings for NOT going to Iraq since the war began. Watada in particular made the point that he feels it is HIS DUTY to not go to war in Iraq when it is more than clear that if he did he would be committing war crimes by doing so. Watada is a strong refusenik speaker who has lead the way for many others to SAY NO, and to not participate in an unjustifiable war which has already cost over a million lives, and destroyed countless families, schools, clean water systems, and all the museums and libraries, and roads, and, and it's just impossible to imagine when I start to think about it all. WE DID THIS and continue to do this, just by paying taxes we support this. And when these men and women refuse to go, or go and then leave, refusing to participate any further, I figure no one knows better than they do how wrong this is, and how it truly embodies the word Awful, like very little else can.

It's still too far away, Iraq, for some people it seems, and I got a strong dose of that yesterday in the heart of the corporate centers at 16th and Market. It's days like yesterday that make me realize how little I fit in, and how little I have in common with so many people. And it made me sad for the picture of Corey Glass being mocked by passersby, a young man I feel to be a true hero for refusing to kill for corporate greed.

On the 4th of July I went to West Philly with Thom Donovan and Dottie Lasky for some Ethiopian food, and we stumbled on a gathering of Iraq War Veterans Against the War. There were maybe 30 of these young men in black T-shirts, proudly displaying who they are, getting ready for a national tour FOR THIS protest for Corey Glass and others. We spoke to a couple of them, and they were eager to talk about going to Iraq and deciding how wrong it was, and refusing to go back. They were singing anti-war songs, some of them sounding like folk tunes from the Vietnam War with new words, and they were pumped up for the journey that they are on right now, somewhere in America. I'm glad we got to see them, meet them, experience their passion and THEIR OWN FORM of patriotism. And I hope they're changing minds everywhere they go, and setting even more people against this Awful American War.


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