One week after CAMP OUT NOW was erected in the cold, pouring rain, the tent was dismantled during a cold, pouring rain. This was the day after a deformed healthcare bill was passed, one that further enriches Big Insurance in its backward slide for many Americans, especially poor women who will be denied access to abortion.
On Saturday, March 20th, I distributed World Can’t Wait information as Debra Sweet, the group’s national coordinator, delivered an antiwar/anti-torture message to the crowd. Then, I stood behind Cindy Sheehan on a stage at Lafayette Park as she gave an impassioned speech in opposition to what are now Barack Obama’s wars of aggression, surges, and occupation. Had my son, arriving for Sunday’s Immigration Rally, not needed me to meet him, I’d have been in front of the White House where Sheehan, Elaine Brower, Matthis Chiroux, Jon Gold, and a few others were arrested. Most were held over the weekend for arraignment on Monday.
Interlude: I went with my son, who’s an anti-eviction attorney at a community based organization in Brooklyn, to the Immigration Rally on Sunday. I marched, alongside the many undocumented workers who held signs that said, “WE ARE THE AMERICAN DREAM” and “DON’T SEPARATE OUR FAMILIES”. Can it get more poignant that this? The answer is a big NO, but, then, it’s not a contest. One only had to see the memorial markers, on the grounds of the Washington Monument, commemorating troop deaths and civilian deaths, including babies, to understand the overwhelming agony of the times in which we live.
I arrived at the courthouse early for the arraignment and saw two men who’d just married. They were dressed alike and wore cowboy boots. Someone held a bouquet of flowers. The newlyweds stood together as a photographer snapped pictures. I approached, congratulated the couple, and wished them happiness. We hugged.
Subsequently, I went inside, and after a couple of hours, our antiwar stalwarts were processed.
Then, I dashed to Convention Center to protest AIPAC’s meeting and dinner where Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was keynote speaker. CODEPINK had arranged a press conference and demonstration. We held signs that called for an end to the occupation of Gaza, and speakers condemned US military aid to Israel and Israel’s colonization of Palestinian land.
Zionists were adorned in their finest threads for this event but, obviously, their high style doesn’t translate to comportment. One woman, on the arm of her man, looked our way, was angered by our action, and gave me the finger.
I shouted, “Shame on you.” Over and over.
Several conference attendees approached for dialogue but the majority smirked and ridiculed us. Apparently, we don’t understand “their suffering” and the holy message sanctioned by The Old Testament that Israel is the province of the Jewish People. Without question. Without any examination of morality and immorality.
Some of the most obnoxious who entered the building were young, today’s adolescents, tomorrow’s future. Our signs with “Free Gaza” were met with: “Where do I get my free Gaza?” Disgustingly self-righteous, they were enamored by their wit.
An elderly attendee shook his head at us and said, “I have a great lunatic asylum I can recommend for you.”
These people, with an ancestry of suffering that is beyond beyond, believe they have the pain market cornered. Thus, their compassion extends only to each other.
Perhaps, the most profound example of truth came from Neturei Karta International, an anti-Zionist, orthodox Jewish organization, standing with us in support of Palestinians. These men, robed in black, carried signs, saying: “JUDAISM REJECTS ZIONISM.” In their brochure is this statement: “The Palestinian people have a right to their homeland.” The presence of these men was in stark contrast to the men and women who entered the Convention Center to hear Netanyahu claim Jerusalem and justify more settlements.
I walked to the apartment where I was staying, buoyed by the perseverance of people I’ve met in D. C.
Suddenly, the next morning, I was ready to go home. I threw things together and went to the train station. The train was crowded. A couple walked the aisle and sat down, facing me. The wife was blistering the husband for leaving his wallet in a taxi. “I would never forget my purse,” she said. Resignation registered on his face. He said nothing. Yet, she continued, berating, as if he had deliberately lost his wallet. My attention didn’t dissuade her from demeaning him.
The ticket taker came and said, “Have a nice day.”
She said, “It couldn’t be any worse.”
I’m not going to tell you exactly what I said to her about valuing the brief time we have with our spouse, but when I told my children, one said, “Mom, you didn’t use your favorite expletive.”
The couple looked at me without expression. Within minutes, the wife launched more verbal turds his way.
Peace on Earth.
Rodney King: “You know, can we all get along?”
Peace of the Action was shut down by law enforcement last Monday. It will reopen in June.
Missy Beattie lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com