I will be at the protest on September 15th for reasons both small and large. Let me get to the large ones first, because you need to know about them.
While I do not stipulate that there is such a thing as "just another protest," the September 15th action is already anything but. The theme? "Protesting is not enough. Come for the rally, stay for a week of direct action."
The IVAW and the VFP are staging a large "die-in" directly after the march. This is a massive civil-disobedience action. The die-in will be led by an Honor Guard of Iraq Veterans Against the War who will simulate a 21-Gun Salute just prior to the die-in. The IVAW and VFP are asking any protesters who can join them, to please do so. I will be doing so. I may be arrested. Others definitely will be. This ain’t no fashion statement, princess.
My own organization, CodePink, is attending the September 15th protest, as a kick-off to a week of Congressional actions. These include, but are not limited to, the September 17th People’s march in Congress culminating in the Guided Tour of the Halls of Shame and the September 18th "Sisters don’t let Sisters Vote For War" congressional action.
The IVAW and the VFP will be spending part of that week training on counter- recruitment techniques. CodePink will be ramping up its nation-widee "Cities for Peace With Iran" campaign, a massive effort to stop the next war before it starts.
Will we stop the war that week? No. Not that week. We’ll move one more vote in Congress. Two more. Maybe three more. We’ll scare one more Republican up for reelection in 08. We’ll terrify one more on the fence Democrat. And we’ll add those to the one, two, three votes we flipped over the summer.
You know who not only won’t stop the war that week, but who won’t scare, or change the vote of, one Congressperson? You who stay home, because it’s "hopeless." Because it’s "just another protest." Because many protesters will "go back to business as usual on Monday."
Boy, do I not scorn on those who have to go back to business as usual on Monday. You have a nine to five job and a family to feed, but would like to come for the march on Saturday anyway? Welcome. And thank you. Thank you.
Let me tell you a little bit about the smaller reasons I will be going to the protest.
Back when Israel invaded Lebanon, and I saw the pictures on my television of the tiny children being brought out of the rubble wrapped in plastic, I cried. They’ll let you see tiny children Israel kills, even if they kill them with American weapons or weapons paid for by America. You’re too stupid to know that you see. I cried and cried until that Saturday, when Condoleezza Rice was on the news and she looked into that camera and she said that sure, everybody "felt bad" about the dead children, but we can’t rush into any cease fire. We need a lasting peace. Well, where I come from when someone is bleeding you stop the bleeding, immediately. And then you go from there. And you don’t just "feel badly" about dead children, you scream in outrage and you do anything to stop it right now. Right now.
I stopped crying and I began to rage. Searching the internet, I found a protest taking place in NYC, and I went. I did not think I would stop the Israeli bombs. But I shook my fist in the air, and I screamed out to Condoleezza, you didn’t fool me. I see you for the bloody murderer that you are. My name is CATHERINE FENTON and you can write it down and put it in a file and I don’t care, because you didn’t fool me.
And so I go to Washington DC in two weeks, not only to support the brothers and sisters of my heart in the IVAW and the VFP in their mass civil disobedience campaign, not only to support my CodePink sisters in their week of Congressional actions and their national campaign to stop the next war now, but to wave my fist in the faces of George W Bush, of Dick Cheney, of Condoleezza Rice…to say to them, you didn’t fool me. My name is CATHERINE FENTON and you didn’t fool me. I’m here to bear witness, to open one eye, to change one vote, to tell you and the world that you didn’t fool me and I see your shame.
And I will stay in the days after the march to engage in civil disobedience, to disrupt the business as usual of Congress as much as I can, and to plan further. Women didn’t get the vote the first time Alice Paul chained herself to the White House fence. But Alice Paul didn’t throw up her hands and say "what’s the use?" Blacks didn’t get access to voting booths the first time Martin Luthur King marched. And there were always others who told him he hadn’t done enough. But he marched again and again, because he knew that every time he did, that was one more white American who said, this is not right.
There is no such thing as "just another protest." You never know which one is the one that is going to tilt the scales and end up in the history books, or which one is going to give it just one more nudge towards that fateful tipping point. In either case, it’s something to be there for. There is a reason.
CATHERINE FENTON is a member of National CodePink and the Media Representative for CodePink Long Island. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org