by Cindy Sheehan, July 18, 2007
Being in the deep south has been a very interesting experience. As George's approval numbers hover down some where in Congress's range and approval for their war is shrinking, we have encountered very little opposition to our message, but the opposition we have encountered has been vile, abusive and potentially dangerous.
In Houston, one of the more active kingdoms of war profiteering, we encountered no protest. As a matter of fact, while we were stationed on a bridge over I-10 holding our "Impeach Bush and Cheney" and "Troops home now" signs, we had almost 100% approval. People were actually stopping their cars to applaud us and in some cases, join us.
Our next stop was New Orleans where the policies of BushCo are still harming our brothers and sisters. The various governments are gobbling up land in poor, but hard-working class areas to be used for upscale housing and/or casinos. We meet with several grass-roots organizations who are feeding people, helping them find homes and jobs. There was also not one peep of opposition to our message because the people of New Orleans intimately understand the reasons that BushCo should be impeached.
The fun started, however when we got to Montgomery, AL where right off the bat, the Secretary of the Montgomery Repugs confronted me and displayed his ignorance by stating that he loves George Bush and that George had "nothing" to do with the war in Iraq. When some Veterans for Peace confronted him and asked him why he didn't enlist to go to Iraq if he was such a strong supporter of the mayhem, he let us know that he was "courageously" supporting the war effort by staying in America, working and "paying his taxes." Now that the encounter with this brave patriot has been shown all over cable news, every pipsqueak repug with a bad toupe will be confronting me to get his 15 minutes of fame.
In Montgomery, our Caravan met with many nice folks who were on the side of impeachment and ending the war with us, but we also ran into a couple of people who were upset with BushCo for different reasons. On a beautiful, magnolia tree lined street where our group was hosted for a pot-luck, a home had the sign: "Give War a Chance." The homeowner and father of five told us that George Bush "is a "pu**y" and that if he were President, he would "wipe out" the entire Middle East with nukes. He has a service age daughter whom he said he would be proud for her to go to Iraq and he would be thrilled if she got some "confirmed kills." Another gentleman driving down the street didn't know why we were so upset because America had a "civil war" so why can't Iraq "have one?" We all needed to be decontaminated on that visit!
At the School of the Assassins in Columbus, Ga and in Charlotte, NC, we ran into similar problems: police presence that seemed to be there to foster violence At both places the neo-Nazi, pro-war fascist group "Gathering of Eagles" came out to mostly try to intimidate us from our mission. At Ft. Benning, after we complained, the police kept them separate from us, but in Charlotte, the police refused saying that the Eagles had their rights to "freedom of speech." But the Eagles' freedom of speech has included physical threats against me and actual physical force against kids and women. When the Charlotte police were told this, they said that they couldn't keep them apart from our group until the Eagles actually did something. So I chose to stay away from the rally then go and perhaps cause them to hurt someone else because of my presence. Freedom of speech is one thing, but I don't believe that the First Amendment protects violent speech, especially if it is one of the neocons or their media supporters calling for increased violence in the Middle East. Nothing about our movement promotes or calls for violence and it would be swell if the CPD protected everyone's First Amendment rights, not just people whom they agree with. Gold Star Father, Carlos Arredondo, joined us in Charlotte with his display about the personal cost of war which doesn't affect the "Gathering of Chickenhawks" at all, in fact we believe that they are the ones who disgrace our children's memories and the memories of the fallen in Vietnam by supporting another 'Nam like quagmire.
It is my belief that for all human history, we have been giving "war a chance" and it has never worked. There has never been a "war to end all wars." No matter how much BushCo blather, peace cannot be spread by the use of force and democracy cannot be forced on a people at the end of a M-16. Congressional Democrats are busy throwing up smokescreens...or bones...to their "anti-war" left by their meaningless bills after they gave George 120 billion more dollars to wage these wars of aggression and potentially invade Iran.
As one of my peace idols, John Lennon said let's "give peace a chance."
For more information about the Journey for Humanity and Accountability, or to donate to help defray expenses, please go to www.thecampcaseypeaceinstitute.org