The Peace Movement Needs New, Immature Friends


The post 9/11 ‘wisdom’ which C. Wright Mills would undoubtedly call ‘crackpot realism’ holds that even Barack Obama supporters are too ‘sophisticated’ to still harbor childish expectations that every American, let alone any other human, is entitled to Constitutional rights. Or any human rights expressed in international documents for that matter.

Unfortunately, most of our liberal journalists, media analysts and entertainers have bought into this thinking. Prior to the Memorial Day weekend massacre of the Gaza aid flotilla by Israel, musician and journalist David Rovics noted, in an April CounterPunch article entitled “BREAKING RANKS: Tea Parties, Espresso Snobs, Freedom and Equality:”

“…If the so-called progressives of this country can’t snap out of their Obama-induced slumber, take to the streets and vocally break ranks with both corrupt parties that are driving this country into the ground – if the left can’t offer a serious, grassroots, anti-elitist alternative to rightwing populism, but insists on maintaining the ridiculous illusion that we live in a democracy, then the future will indeed by bleak, and ugly, and filled with ‘patriots’…”

Israel’s slaughter, sequestration and crude slander of the Gaza aid flotilla has created a new Maginot Line for progressive US citizen expectations. We just might look back upon the days after Memorial Day 2010 and mark whom and where our friends were: on the sofa; in the streets, or somewhere in between. Before the flotilla protest, it was easy to wonder what would prompt Americans to eschew backyard barbecues, flag-waving and fishing trips for even petition signing levels of opposition. After a few weeks of watching BP befoul the Gulf of Mexico, we were treated to the image of President Obama meeting with grieving family members of dead U.S. soldiers. It was nearly business as usual. Yet, even this atheist paused to reflect upon former Senator Barack Obama (D, BP) canceling a rally due to thunderstorms in Chicago. The sky didn’t just cry.

It wailed.

And so should we all.

US citizens have come to accept continued genocide for oil profits and suppression of journalists and academics even suspected of trying to deliver a different framing to the oil companies’ exploits both overseas and domestic. Oil companies for which we devastate the Middle East and slaughter and traumatize its people can also befoul waters surrounding our nation for over a month with impunity.

And the media coverage of both borders on the absurd.

Consider Barack Obama’s campaign basketball game with our storm troopers in Afghanistan.

Consider his pre-Memorial weekend Presidential photo op with temp workers dressed as BP cleanup crews.

So, it was gratifying to see a spirited demonstration a mere two hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged tempered responses to Israeli aggression. Anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 people protested in front of the Israeli Consulate, located on a lovely piece of riverfront Wacker Drive real estate directly across from the Chicago Tribune building.

The peace movement is back

It took a rest of sorts after mistakenly campaigning for Obama. It looks different. And yet the same. Marching into the mix of largely caucasian middle-aged and elderly activists are feminists and veterans against the wars in Iraq and Vietnam. But they are not the majority. Muslim Americans have discovered their voices. Apparently all those visits by FBI agents have persuaded them that they do not need to join a caucasian-lead movement. In Chicago, the day after Israel unrepentantly distorted its deeds in international waters, it was Muslims leading the show.

At least that’s how it was in Chicago June 1st. It was refreshing to spot slogans challenging old media canards. Signs which I’ve never seen in any news report on any protest of US/Israeli cohesion included:

“Demolishing Homes is Not My Judaism;”

“Nothing is More Anti-Semitic Than Zionism,”,

“All Land is Holy, All People Are Chosen-Help US End Israeli Occupation,”
and, (my favorite),


That last hegemonic challenge tied into abused academic Norman G. Finkelstein’s comment on Russia Today on Monday, May 31, in which he called Israel a “lunatic state.”

Finkelstein’s comments are not mere rhetoric. They were part of the most cogent explanation of how and why Israeli committed the massacre in international waters:

“You have to remember that the Israeli cabinet met for fully a week. All the cabinet ministers discussed and deliberated how they would handle the flotilla.

“There were numerous reports in the Israeli press, numerous suggestions, numerous recommendations about what to do. At the end of the day, they decided on a nighttime armed commando raid on a humanitarian convoy. Israel is now a lunatic state. It’s a lunatic state with between two and three hundred nuclear devices. It is threatening war daily against Iran and against Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah in Lebanon has already stated on several occasions: if Israel attacks it will retaliate in kind.

“Things are getting out of control. We have to ask ourselves a simple, basic, fundamental question: can a lunatic state like Israel be trusted with two to three hundred nuclear devices when it is now threatening its neighbors Iran and Lebanon with an attack?”

Finkelstein’s warning about Israeli aggression and nuclear capability is mainly lost amid Israeli promises to prevent any future aid convoys, and do so, apparently, with the support of the Obama/Biden administration. Where exactly are those nuclear submarines Israel has off the coast of Iran? Israel isn’t saying. Our news media isn’t asking. If these same media corporations played Rovics’ songs, more people than just a few of us might have a certain phrase from his “Hiroshima” rattling through our heads right now:

“Now listen to them talk
About doing it again.
From whence came the souls
Of these terrible men?

Those lyrics echoed in my mind as I left to process my video with help from the Apple Store wiz kids down the street.

I briefly saw flames across the bridge and learned later that an Israeli flag was burned–a deed which Chicago IndyMedia reports shows was not a universally popular act among the activists. But to me the real story was: “Midwest Peace Activists Arise From the Couch.” I sadly was not recording when a giddy Bernardine Dohrn walked over and grabbed my right hand–which had just flashed her a peace sign. It’s okay. The next time she circled by my camera Bill Ayers was with her, and, in the video linked above you can hear me respond briefly as if I were at a Kinks concert.  They probably were there to show support for kidnapped Chicago attorney Fatima Mohammadi.  Bill and Bernardine waved politely.  Then they got back to the business of strolling and chanting in response-call fashion.

LISA BARR’s video can be viewed here. See her site