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Democrats and Republicans and Greens, Oh My!
Political Parties Agree War Was a Mistake
By Gloria Diaz
Fort Wayne Reader
On September 24, the face of America showed up at the White House.
Hundreds of thousands of anti-war protesters came to Washington D. C. in what was called the biggest rally and march since the war in Iraq started. Did your stereotypical war protesters show up? Yes, the aging hippies who protested about Vietnam were there, but so were infants, grade school children,
teenagers, punk rockers, college kids, thirtysomethings, fortysomethings, fiftysomethings, librarians, Puerto Ricans, grandmothers, military families, members of the military, Caucasians, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Democrats and even Republicans.
Yes, even Republicans.
Dave Lambert, co-founder of Fort Wayne Peace Action and a member of Military Families Speak Out and Veterans For Peace, had this to say about Republicans who weren’t supporting Bush, or the war.
“There are some die-hard Republicans who feel it necessary to support Bush and his war, under the guise of ‘supporting the troops,’ but I think, by and large, more and more Republicans are distancing themselves from Bush, and especially this war, because they see what a futile cause it is to be behind a war that is no longer popular with the American public, as well as one which is wasting hundreds of billions of American taxpayer dollars, to say nothing of the nearly 2,000 American lives it is costing.”
Cathy Hickling and her husband Peter, both carried signs in Washington D. C. Hers said, “Republicans For Impeachment”, his said, “Lies Deficits War Disunity Bush Category 5 Disaster.” Cathy isn’t sure if there is an official Republicans For Impeachment club, but if any like-minded citizens in Columbia, Maryland, want to join her, they are welcome.
“I’ll speak for myself,” says Cathy, “but I am a Republican and I love my country and I think that George Bush has hijacked the party. I think that what George Bush is doing and representing the Republican party and the process is a travesty.”
Hickling feels the Republicans are not being fiscally responsible, and that the next generations will feel the economic effects of this war.
“People have got to wake up and see this country is going to be brought to its knees financially,” says Hickling.
Her husband agreed. “One of the things that really upsets me is his alliance with the Christian Right, when he’s enacted no policies that have any Christian values reflected in them,” says Peter Hickling.
Other people seem to have noticed that aspect as well. One of the many signs carried during the march said, “Who Would Jesus Bomb?”
For me, the most entertaining part of the march was seeing the signs people made. Among some of my favorites were:
“No Blood For Oil”
“Bush Twins in Georgetown Doing Jello Shooters -- Our 20 year old Marine is in His Second Tour”
“Bush Has Iraqtile Dysfunction”
“Attention GW: Thou Shall Not Kill”
“Hell Hath no Fury Like a Mother Who Mourns”
“They Want War...Do they Want their Kids to Go?”
“Lisa Simpson is My President”
And...”Remove Bush’s Feeding Tube,” which featured a drawing of a gasoline pump nozzle.
As expected, there were plenty of cops, but I’ve never seen law enforcement look so bored in my life. One still had his billy club in the plastic wrapper. Why the laid-back attitude? Cause “The Man” was enforcing it.
“Compared to 2 1/2 years ago, when my daughter and I went to DC to protest the war (February 15, 2003, just prior to the war) the march was more laid back, but still full of great speeches and signs,” says Dave Lambert.
I asked a DC Policeman why there weren't any police dressed in riot gear and assault trucks like there were last time. His answer was "because the D.C. Police were sued for overaggressive responses to protesters (I remember hearing about clubbing and maceing of protesters which led the Lawyers Guild and ACLU to file suit.”
Art Laffin had been to Iraq in 1998 as part of a delegation from Voices in the Wilderness, bringing medicine and medical supplies to dying children. He went in violation of U.S. sanction law, risking a possible jail sentence of 12 years and a $1 million fine, just for helping out. Voices in the Wilderness got fined $20,000 anyway, which the group is refusing to pay, for reasons of conscious.
“I’m here for the victims, for people I met who were dying in Iraq, who have no voice,” says Laffin. “I’m here as a Catholic Christian, upholding the commandment, ‘thou shall not kill,’ that we have to love our enemies and that’s the real basis for a world of peace with justice.”
Dave Eldredge, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a Korean War veteran, feels the war in Iraq was a disaster and “we never should have done it.”
“The government should have known better, “ continues Eldredge, “we’re just upsetting everything in the Middle East, and we need to bring our soldiers out of there. Let the chips fall where they will.”
One of the main arguments of war supporters is that if the U. S. pulls out of Iraq now, the country will fall apart, and it will give terrorists more incentive to succeed. When I asked Eldredge if he agreed that would happen, he had this to say.
”I’m afraid that’s partially true--the main concern, I think, is if we say, pull out now, won’t things fall part in Iraq? But by staying in, we’re making them fall apart. The Saudi Arabian foreign minister just a day or two ago, was saying essentially Iraq is tearing apart. By staying there, it’s very likely we’re going to make things worse, rather than better.”
And what of the recent problems here at home? Several signs named Bush a Category 5 disaster, along with Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. If Bruce Hall, who helped organize the Fort Wayne Peace Action bus to D. C. had had his way, the troops wouldn’t be over there at all.
“The U.S. military, including our National Guard, need to be brought home immediately. Not only is it against international law for our government to make them do what they are doing over there, they are needed here to rebuild their communities, and we cannot afford to waste the lives and dollars in perpetuating this occupation,” says Hall. “The U.S. military presence there is fueling the fire of terrorism, and if we withdraw it will burn out on its own. Even if the chaos continues there after the U.S. military pulls out, at least our boys will stop killing and being killed.”