Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What A Day

NTodd here. I'm a Pink Rookie from Vermont and very honored to be staying at the DC Activist house this week.

I'd gotten an e-mail update from the gang back in November, noticed a link to apply to join in the action and felt compelled to click on it. I have to admit that I was rather nervous filling out the application, wondering if I'd have the credibility to come down and join the CodePinkers, what with my being a guy and not having a lot of experience in direct action.

I've always been vocally against the war and done the marches and whatnot, but Medea, Des, Liz and the others have done so much for so long. Only this year did I become a war tax resister by refusing my 2006 taxes, and quit my corporate job to allow me to live below the taxable threshold and afford me more time for activism.

But I got an e-mail inviting me down, and I'm very glad I did. Today was a whirlwind introduction into the Pink Life, demonstrating down at the RNC, attending a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, and engaging members of Congress in hallways and offices. Our government employees didn't always give us the time of day, but many were at least cordial and some really did give us their attention for a bit.

One vignette that really made the whole day for me: we were sitting in Harry Reid's office and overheard a staffer on the phone say, "sir, i can't hear you when you're yelling."

Oh, we also were detained for a while by the Capitol Police for allegedly violating Senate Office Building rules: they claimed we'd been spotted putting up signs on the walls. 45 minutes later with no witness appearing, we were finally released. Is it wrong of me to think that was kinda fun? Maybe I don't want you to answer that.

Anywayz, I'm wicked tired and not sure what else I can say right now, except that anybody who has been feeling powerless and wondering what else they can do to change the direction of this country should consider coming to DC and working with CodePink. As Thoreau said:
Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.
It's real participatory democracy in action here. The more the merrier. And freer.

PS--You can see more pictures from today over at my group blog, Pax Americana.


Anonymous said...

Like any other group, Communists come in a lot of shapes, sizes and colors. This time they’re wearing pink, they’re on the nightly news, and more than anything, they want the mothers and grandmothers of America to identify with them.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d think the leaders of the women’s anti-war group Code Pink got lost on their way to the carpool line. Since October, these hot pink-clad "marching moms" have been spinning the same tale to reporters from coast to coast, the one about how concern for their families moved them to trade their oven mitts for placards and take to the streets in protest of an unjust war on Iraq.

They’ve played the part so convincingly that over the last six months, they’ve become the media darlings of war protest movement, raking in the television talk show invites and making national news when they were arrested in front of the White House. But the untold story is what they were doing before October.

Unless you travel in Marxist circles or work for the FBI or CIA, the names of the Code Pink moms may not ring a bell with you, though you’ve probably been reading news reports about their collective exploits for years. In the wake of their war against capitalism and self-determination, they’ve left a trail of anarchy and destruction that has cost property owners, corporations and consumers millions of dollars.

Naturally, they’ve toned their Marxist rhetoric down for their stint with Code Pink. Though they’ve taken great pains to differentiate themselves from the other, more radical anti-war protesters, they are one and the same. The leaders of Code Pink didn’t merely take part in the Washington and San Francisco protests that made international headlines – they also organized them. In the process, they’ve provided a rare public glimpse of the faces behind the modern, highly organized American Marxist movement. Needless to say, these women have little in common with the carpool moms of America.

At the center of Code Pink is legendary leftist organizer Medea Benjamin, the 50-year-old mother of two widely credited as a chief organizing force behind the 1999 Seattle riots in which 50,000 protesters did millions of dollars worth of property damage in their effort to shut down meetings of the World Trade Organization. In addition to Code Pink, Benjamin’s San Francisco-based human rights organization Global Exchange was the founding force for United for Peace and Justice coalition, the nexus of the anti-war protests.

The United for Peace coalition, which includes Socialist Action and the Socialist Party USA, is also led by Leslie Cagan, who has a long history of activism with the American Communist Party. If you want to know what anti-war activities United for Peace and its more radical partner, Act Now To Stop War & End Racism (ANSWER) have planned for the near future or contact information for how you can join in, you can click on the Communist World Workers Party website, one of the central grassroots clearing houses for communist organizers in the United States and around the world.

The mindset of Benjamin and her friends can best be summed up by her description in the San Francisco Chronicle of how she felt on her first pilgrimage to Cuba in the early 1980s. Compared to life in the United States, the communist social equality of Cuba "made it seem like I died and went to heaven," Benjamin enthused. Now it appears that Benjamin is trying to recreate it here.

The ties that continue to bind Benjamin, Cagan and the others behind Code Pink and today’s anti-war movement were formed in the early-to-mid 1980s when the still young Marxist-American activists found the cause that first unified them: a communist government in Nicaragua. Using the same sort of incestuous, sprawling coalitions they created to oppose the war in Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan after Sept. 11, they helped aid the Marxist Sandinista regime in its struggle against the American-backed Contras for control of the Nicaraguan government.

Benjamin worked as a project coordinator for Institute for Food and Development Policy (IFDP), which was widely credited with aiding the Marxist Sandinista regime while Cagan, coordinator of the National Mobilization for Justice and Peace in Central America, led marches against US aid to the contras at home that at times attracted upwards of 75,000 people.

When Sand Brim, the widely interviewed voice of Code Pink, insisted to the reporters who interviewed her in January that she was not an activist, just a businesswoman with reservations about war, her 1985 stint in Nicaragua must have slipped her mind. As the executive director of Medical Aid, Brim flew an American neurosurgeon to San Salvador to operate on Marxist Revolutionary Party Commander Nidia Diaz’s hand, which had been injured in combat. That Diaz’s group had claimed responsibility for the murders of four U.S. Marines and nine civilians two months before was apparently not an issue for Brim. Nor were such ironies a problem for Kirsten Moller, the current executive director of Global Exchange and Code Pink organizer who, like Benjamin, also worked for IFDP in the 80s.

In the 1990s, Benjamin and other Code Pink Marxists focused their energies on organizing sometimes-violent protests against free trade across the globe, targeting large corporations with high-profile campaigns and lawsuits that cost consumers and companies like Gap, Nike and Starbucks millions of dollars. As with the anti-war protests of the moment, the Marxist World Worker’s Party website has played a crucial organizing role in their anti-corporate activities, letting would-be agitators know when and where to show up for demonstrations.

Meanwhile, other Code Pink organizers were making a name for themselves in domestic and eco-terrorism in the 1990s. Code Pink Co-Founder Jodie Evans also sits on the board of directors of Rain Forest Action Network (RAN), a radical anti-capitalist, anti-corporate coalition of environmental groups co-founded by Mike Roselle, who also founded the domestic terrorist organization Earth Liberation Front (ELF), which along with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) is ranked the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat by the FBI. The FBI attributes over 600 criminal acts and $43 million in damages to the two groups since 1996. Wherever RAN pops up, you’ll also tend to find the Ruckus Society, which has trained activists for ELF/ALF. Ruckus Society organizer Steve Kretzmann, also a Code Pink coordinator, has helped train activists in the agitation tactics that have earned the Ruckus Society its reputation. The Ruckus Society, it’s also worth mentioning, is a coalition member of Benjamin’s United for Peace and Justice.

Code Pink may be communism central for the moment, but if the past is any indication, the group will be left to die on the vine as soon as public attention shifts away from the war in Iraq. Like the other wedge issues these activists are so skilled at creating and taking advantage of, the Iraqi conflict is little more than an opportunity to ingratiate themselves with the American public and swell their volunteer rosters while energizing and solidifying the organization they’d been building since the Seattle riots.

While it may seem chaotic with its mass of groups with varied interests, "the movement" as the organizers like to call it, is built around a simple theme: that America and the rest of the world is increasingly controlled by corporate powers that threaten democratic rights. Its goals, as laid out by Benjamin and others in a variety of newspapers over the years, are clear-cut.

They want to redistribute wealth from the top tiers of society to the poorest Americans by raising minimum wages, choking off trade, pushing up inflation, limiting corporate growth and dragging down the stock market, cutting into the profits of the country’s largest corporations or shutting them down completely and prompting white collar layoffs.

As Benjamin explained to The Sunday Oregonian in 2000, these changes would be made slowly, perhaps over 20 years or more. Though she admits that the above would cause an economic shakedown or even a stock-market crash, she insists the changes would lead to a "healthier, more stable economy."

"Seattle was this kind of battle cry," Benjamin told the San Jose Mercury News in 2000. "We now know we can mobilize hundreds of thousands of people."

But to the dismay of the movement’s organizers, September 11 crushed some of that momentum. Ironically enough, September 11 was the day they’d planned to announce their biggest demonstration yet, which was slated to draw well over 100,000 protesters to Washington from around the world in late September. It was instead replaced with a small peace demonstration.

The Code Pink ladies have been biding their time ever since, reaching out to middle America, building their contact lists and dreaming of the Marxist America that might one day be.

Anonymous said...

NTodd, do us a favor and really show your support for the cause and get arrested like the others. I mean, what the hell, if you are not willing to pay your taxes like the rest of us you may as well get arrested to so you can really show your support for Code Pink.

ntodd said...

That's rather ignorant of you, anonymous! Shocking.

Anonymous said...

Does not paying your taxes really take a shot at the war. Would it not just as equally deprive things such as, let's say, Medicaid of funds? After all, most of the budget is consumed by entitlement spending and social security. So, what have you done, deprived some sick elderly person of the few bucks you contributed to the federal budget?

ntodd said...

After all, most of the budget is consumed by entitlement spending and social security.

Indeed, ignorant. 51% goes to the military. If you care about little old ladies, then end the war so we can direct that immoral amount of waste to constructive programs of social uplift.

Next: look up civil disobedience. You might also learn about Gene Sharp's 198 Methods of Nonviolent Action, which I helpfully blog about on Sundays.

Chris Tucker said...

Some anonymous dickweed said:
"So, what have you done, deprived some sick elderly person of the few bucks you contributed to the federal budget?"

I'm willing to take the hit if it'll help stop the killing of innocent Iraqis and the deaths of American service members.

Chris Tucker said...

Oh, and anonymous, If I can use my real name (Chris Tucker)

and real email address (cht@gis.net)

So can you.

Or are you afraid of us scary liberals and progressives, that we'll use your information to find where you live and leave copies of the Constitution and Bill of Rights under the wipers on your Hummer (Hey, sorry about your tiny penis!).

Anonymous said...

I am not suggesting there is anything at all wrong with Civil Disobedience. Hell, I think you should use it quite often. I encourage all of you to make scenes and get arrested. I love it when that happens.

As far as taxes, I could care less if you pay or not. The IRS will catch up with you eventually. And, by the time they do, you will be slammed on interest. So, you are not impacting me.

Your wasting your time on these loons. And, yes, they have ties to the Communist Party USA. Code Pink has expressed sympathies for dictators like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro. Your values, if you can call them that, are inconsistent. And, anyone who expresses the kind of hatred that Code Pink does is not any kind of true liberal or activist in the traditional sense.

Anonymous said...

I have already posted my address. I live and work at Desert Dog Rd. in New Mexico. It is the only Desert Dog Rd. in the entire country. It is kind of a gated community in a way, but not in the traditional sense. I am MAJIC.

Anonymous said...

If you are willing to take any hit, you can't be that sick!

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for all the Anon's posting. Not all of us are the same even though we use the same name LOL

Anonymous said...

NTODD, all you are doing is just trying to feel like you are making a difference. You have achieved absolutely nothing. You will see more war funds passed very soon.

If you really wanted to make a difference you would be volunteering for your local firehouse or a hospital. I'm sure actually doing REAL volunteer work is beneath you. I have seen one volunteer in a hospital who doesn't have a quarter of your education who is far superior to a thousand of people like you and probably contributes much than than you do on a daily basis to society because such people make a REAL difference for individuals in need.

You are just another loon who merely thinks you are doing good and something productive. But, as you will see and have seen, Code Pink achieves nothing and either do you! You are simply what Lenin called a useful idiot.

Anonymous said...

Marla Ruzicka, a 28-year-old political activist, was killed in Iraq on April 16 when a suicide bomber attacked a convoy of contractors on the airport road, blowing up the Mercedes she was in with her translator Faiz Al-Salaam. Ruzicka, whose ebullience earned her the nickname "Bubbles," suffered burns over 90 percent of her body. Her last words, according to the medic who attended her, were, "I'm alive."

Her tragic death was a tribute to her bravery since she knew the risks and her fate was thus almost predictable. Nine months earlier she had written in her online journal: "The ride is not pleasant. Military convoys passing every moment. Faiz and I hold our breath." It was her third year of working the perilous epicenters of the War on Terror. She was in country on this occasion in behalf of the organization she had created a year earlier - the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), which in its practice meant civilian victims of America's wars to bring freedom to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Yet Ruzicka was a more interesting political study than so stark a summary suggests. In the last year of her short life, she had moved away from the agendas and organizations of extreme left that had originally directed her life path to the war zones in order to establish a path of her own. In her new endeavor she guided partly by her genuine concern for the defenseless victims of the conflict and partly by political forces that continued to exploit those concerns.

Unlike Rachel Corrie, who lost her life in Gaza serving a solidarity movement with terrorists and who consequently became a martyr for the anti-American cause, Marla Ruzicka was respected and mourned not only by the left but by supporters of the war who knew her, and even by members of the Bush administration and military whom she first harrangued and then petitioned and who ended up in a partially voluntary cooperation with her endeavors.

"Marla Ruzicka decided to work within the system," complained the editor of the pro-terrorist website Counterpunch.org, Alexander Cockburn, a longtime supporter of America's totalitarian enemies. "Both in Afghanistan and Iraq," he groused, "in furtherance of her humanitarian schemes, Marla Ruzicka elected a stance of studious neutrality in ascribing responsibility for the victims of U.S. bombings and ground fire."

Indeed, even before she broke free of the Cockburn Left, Marla had told one antiwar reporter who interviewed her in Afghanistan in 2002 that, "many of the families she had contacted were so pleased with the results of the bombing that they were reluctant to come forward to demand compensation." Yet despite her good heart and winsome honesty, which might have led her to more far-reaching second thoughts than she had, she remained on a course by opponents of the war until her fateful encounter with terrorists who, as Christopher Hitchens observed, "couldn't have known they were murdering her, but then neither could they have cared."

Marla Ruzicka was the daughter of San Francisco Republicans. She was seduced as a 15-year-old high school student by veteran communist Medea Benjamin, who inspired her to join a movement presenting itself as a "human rights" campaign, but that was actually pimping for the sadistic dictator Fidel Castro and his island gulag. Benjamin herself had spent five years as a resident in Castro's police state, exulting on her return to the Bay Area that her life in Cuba as a supporter and beneficiary of one of the world's most repressive regimes made her feel as though she "had died and gone to heaven."

Marla's involvement with the Benjamin began when she set up a speech at her high school for a Castro propagandist employed by the organization Global Exchange, a front for Communist causes billing itself as movement for equality and social justice. Benjamin was its founder and Queen bee. The focus of the organization was the creation of "person-to-person" relationships between revolutionary tourists like Marla Ruzicka and the "victims" of American persecution in the Third World. As a teenager Marla Ruzicka made four trips to Benjamin's earthly utopia, not to observe the fine points of totalitarian rule, nor the misery it created for citizen prisoners, but to take in its Potemkin image as a monument of "social justice."

The speech Marla arranged was a ritual denunciation of America's anti-Communist foreign policy and economic boycott of the Castro regime - as if the boycott and not Castro had reduced Cuba to Honduras-level poverty from its position before his seizure of power as the second richest country in all of Latin America. What the Castro propagandist did not tell his high school listeners was that even with the U.S. boycott, Cuba is free to trade with the entire world, including all of Latin America; its problem is that it has nothing to trade, since its dictator has destroyed the incentive of his subjects to produce.

The propaganda offered up to the high school students paralleled the later claims of radicals that Washington's sanctions against Iraq were responsible for the starvation of 500,000 Iraqi children, when in fact Washington had provided billions of dollars to feed Iraqi children through the Oil-for-Food program, which the Iraqi dictator (and his UN accomplices) had stolen to enrich themselves and to buy allies for the monster regime.

Marla herself was suspended from school for leading a protest against the first Gulf War to stop Saddam's rape of Kuwait. By the time she walked across her high school stage to receive a diploma, her "idealistic" missions were so well known to her classmates that someone in the audience shouted, "Go out and save the world, Marla!"

On graduation Marla enrolled in World Friends College, under whose auspices she was sent to Cuba, Zimbabwe and other points of progressive interest for further radical studies. Her training included a trip to the West Bank to work with Palestinian "refugees" in Ramallah, the headquarters of Castro's terrorist friend Yassir Arafat. One of her favorite quotes gleaned from these school years, according to a young leftist who knew her in Iraq was the Guevara cliché, "The revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love." It was a dictum that had inspired Che's efforts to ignite "two, three…many Vietnams" before he was killed attempting to launch one of them in Bolivia. Marla's entrance to the world of totalitarian radicalism was now complete.

In 1999, Marla's organizing skills and close relationship with Benjamin led her to be tapped as a fundraiser for Rainforest Action Network, a group closely allied with Global Exchange and with organizational ties to eco-terrorists. Through these groups she also became involved in the anti-globalization movement, a collection of environmental radicals, Marxists, "social justice activists" and solidarity workers whose agenda was assisting terrorist movements in Latin America and other regions of the Third World with which Marla was already familiar. The anti-globalization movement was an ad hoc and incoherent reincarnation of the old Communist Internationals whose agenda was to obstruct and eventually destroy the international capitalist system, which its radicals regarded as the root cause of most of the world's poverty and social ills.

In 1999, Medea Benjamin was busy with an agenda of her own as one of the strategic planners of the anti-globalization demonstrations designed to shut down Seattle which was hosting a meeting of the World Trade Organization. The demonstrations erupted in riots, with massive property damage. Two years later, the "Battle for Seattle" became the inspiration and the anti-globalization network the organizational basis for the antiwar movement that sprang up in the days following 9/11. Its agenda was to prevent an American military response to the terrorist attacks.

In 2000, Medea Benjamin ran for U.S. Senate in California on the Green Party ticket and Marla became her fundraiser. For the campaign, Benjamin produced the booklet I, Senator, her delusion of grandeur fantasizing the day she and other Green legislators would establish a socialist state following a series of grave national emergencies. In November 2000, Benjamin, Marla and a third Green Party activist were arrested when they tried to crash a Democratic Party campaign event and force Senator Dianne Feinstein into a public debate. Weeks later, Marla was in Florida as a Green Party accredited election observer, where she lamented the dearth of street protesters supporting Al Gore and told the World Socialist Website that Republicans "should be on the terrorist lists."

When the anti-globalization radicals failed to prevent an American military response to 9/11, they re-mobilized to undermine the post-Taliban peace in Afghanistan. Global Exchange took a group of 9/11 families to the war torn country. Upon returning from the trip, Benjamin stated that George W. Bush "has responded to the violent attack of 9/11 with the notion of perpetual war - a war in Afghanistan that included dropping over 20,000 bombs, many of which missed their targets and led to the killing and maiming of thousands of civilians."

In these activities Marla continued to serve as Benjamin's right hand, traveling to Afghanistan with Global Exchange where she staged a protest outside the U.S. embassy assembling "dozens of mostly Pashtun tribesmen, some bandaged and limping, in front of its walls to demand compensation. The stunt, as the Guardian's Rory Carroll recalled, "received wide coverage. Marla was becoming a media star, popping up on CNN and becoming the subject of a biography. 'Publicity for the cause,' she said, relishing the attention."

In July of that year, she helped produce an official Global Exchange report claiming the allies had killed 800 civilians. The report made the front page of the New York Times - not surprising since the Times was already a leading organ of anti-Bush sentiment. Afghan President Hamid Karzai whose new government depended on America's continued support was not amused and dismissed the figure as nearly twice the actual number.

By this time the Bush administration was moving into high gear to rein in one of the world's worst outlaw regimes, a major supporter of global terrorists. (Saddam, as Stephen Hayes reports in The Connection, had recently hosted a world conference of terrorist organizations in Baghdad). As the Bush administration began mobilizing to enforce 11 years of toothless UN resolutions, which had been designed to prevent Saddam from violating the terms of the Gulf War truce, the antiwar movement also turned its attention to Iraq. Once again its agenda was tying America's hands as the nation tried to deal with its enemies.

The national antiwar demonstrations that followed 9/11 were held under the auspices of International ANSWER a front group for the Workers World Party, a Marxist-Leninist sect allied with North Korea's Communist regime. Since International ANSWER openly defended the Saddam regime, it was an embarrassment to factions on the Left who knew better and to shrewder radicals like Medea Benjamin, who understood the obstacles such candor presented to building a broad antiwar coalition.

In November 2002, Benjamin organized a front group called Code Pink, posing as a grassroots organization of "women for peace." Her partner in creating the organization was Jodie Evans, a principal funder of the Rainforest Action Network and also of the California Democratic Party. The core leadership of Code Pink had met in the 1980s in Nicaragua, where they had come to defend the dictatorship created by Castro protégés, which was being challenged by the Reagan administration.

In December, as a UN deadline passed and war approached, Benjamin joined forces with Leslie Cagan, another pro-Castro communist (an actual member of the Party) to spearhead an alternative to International ANSWER. Called United for Peace and Justice, this new movement was described by the New York Times as a "moderate" antiwar coalition. Its members ranged from the Communist and Islamist Left to the National Council of Churches and the "rights coalition" of the Democratic Party.

In the crisis hour, Marla traveled to Iraq under the aegis of Code Pink, along with a delegation whose members intended to act as human shields to protest against the efforts of their own country to reign in one of the most criminal regimes of the modern era. Once the bombs began falling, however, the shields had second thoughts about becoming "collateral damage," returning to their comfortable homes and dorm rooms.

When U.S. and British troops entered Iraq in March 2003, signaling the failure of the antiwar movement, Benjamin and Cagan created yet a new organization, Occupation Watch, and picked a pro-Saddam Iraqi to be their in country director. The first agenda of Occupation Watch was a leaf torn out of Jane Fonda's Vietnam manual, which was to solicit American troops fighting for Iraqis' freedom to defect by declaring themselves conscientious objectors.

In an article for the Left's flagship publication The Nation, Benjamin spelled out her post Saddam agenda for the region, which included her desire to "link up with appropriate local and regional groups" and "channel the bursting anti-American sentiment overseas." A secondary goal was to circulate news of the antiwar demonstrations at home with idea of demoralizing American troops. Occupation Watch promoted fanciful horror stories of civilian casualties deliberately caused by the Americans, claiming that American troops used the equivalent of napalm. (The site has changed dramatically in recent months, but the old website can still be viewed here.) Last December, as Marla left the organization, Code Pink raised $600,000 in cash and supplies for Fallujah refugees and sent it to as, "the other side," in an "unjust war." The solicitation letter to raise the aid was signed by California Democrat, Representative Henry Waxman.

Somewhere along the way, as the liberated citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq began to breathe the air of freedom, Marla Ruzicka had begun to realize the contradiction in which her comrades had ensnared her. Increasingly, the "other side" was patently grateful for America's support in lifting the heavy burdens of repression and terror from the backs of the Iraqi people. By all reports, Marla parted ways amicably with Benjamin and the radicals still at war with the United States. According to the Contra-Costa Times, even after the creation of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, Marla "rarely maintained a permanent address, preferring to stay at the homes of friends such as [Medea] Benjamin."

Marla came back to the United States to set up the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), an organization to carry on her work of identifying the victims of the war and getting her country to compensate them. Of course, there were many innocent victims of ongoing conflicts in the world, the most obvious being black Africans in the Sudan singled out for slaughter and slavery by its Muslim Arab rulers, or the Israeli civilians deliberately targeted by Palestinian suicide bombers. But Marla's radical trajectory had set her on a course that would have prevented her from embracing the first of these humanitarian concerns and that made the second not a primary or even secondary agenda. All the instincts and prejudices she had developed in her 13-year apprenticeship in the Left returned her focus instead to Afghanistan and Iraq. Still, even in these familiar war zones, the most obvious civilian victims were those targeted by the terrorist forces not those unintentionally hit by the forces attempting to thwart them. But terrorists do not provide compensation for their victims.

These dynamics illustrated the way in which Marla's humanitarian concerns were enmeshed in political agendas from which she could not (or did not think) to extricate them. Although to the disgust of anti-American radicals like Alexander Cockburn, "she elected a stance of studious neutrality in ascribing responsibility for the victims of U.S. bombings and ground fire," her quest for compensation from the United States achieved a parallel political result. It was not exactly the equivalent of British volunteers tallying the number of civilians bombed by the RAF in Germany, but it was close enough, providing useful data for those conducting psychological warfare against the America's "occupation" of Iraq.

In fact, as the forces of democracy made progress in Iraq, America's alleged responsibility for "100,000 civilian casualties" increasingly became a principal indictment of the American presence on the part of radicals hoping to dispel the odor of their defense of the Saddam regime. If Saddam had killed 300,000 innocent Iraqis, well America had killed twice that number if you added the 100,000 to the 500,000 Iraqi children Bush had starved. To Marla's credit she attempted to avoid serving the disreputable ends of her former comrades and angered them by arriving at a figure that was only one-tenth of their claim. But the overtones, which served those ends, were unavoidable.

Of course Marla had another option available if she so desired. This was to withdraw from the war zone and take time out for the kind of reflection about her agendas, that crusading passions like hers do not permit. She had been "in the struggle" since she was fifteen years old and was not about to stop now. As with many who commit themselves to the community of others, there was an element in her engagement of an escape from self. "Boyfriends came and went," observed a Rory Carroll who knew her in Iraq, "but she often hinted at loneliness." In a recent online journal entry Marla wrote: "I am young, and new at this and developing ways to cope, but in honesty I have tried red wine a little too much for medicine, deprived myself of sleep and felt extremely inadequate." Commented the Guardian reporter: "The furious energy never abated. Lobbying, traveling, kickboxing and partying were her therapy."

Writing in the Tribune Colin McMahon was even more blunt: "Ruzicka's highs were unmatchable, torrents of words and energy and productivity. Her lows brought friends and family to exhaustion as they fought to pull her back to her feet. Ruzicka took medication and underwent therapy to find the right balance, and in a recent e-mail to a friend she wrote: 'I can deal with this illness. There will be good days and bad days -- i just gotta fight them with love.'" She concluded a recent e-mail with the prophetic words, "I need angels in my life." In this psychological silo, the missions she undertook provided a powerful updraft. Go out and save the world, Marla.

As it happened, by going "inside the system," Marla was able to step onto a stage much larger and more intoxicating than any she had been on before. An antiwar tide had swept the Democratic Party after the fall of Baghdad, which was not anti-American so much as anti-Bush. During the 18 months since June 2003, this community of passionate intensities and its powerful media amplfiers had conducted a scorched earth campaign aimed at unseating the man who in its eyes was the deceitful author of the war Iraq. It had done this despite the fact that its hyperbolic cries - "Bush is a liar;" "he betrayed us;" the war is a "fraud" - were a more powerful force undermining America's efforts to establish a postwar democracy in Iraq than any attack Medea Benjamin and her friends could possibly conceive.

The would-be usurpers of the Bush administration conducted their campaign by magnifying every American cost in the war and every American fault in Iraq, beginning with the body counts of the nation's troops. They had a plausible interest in just the kind of statistics Marla could produce, though in the final event they did not actually play any serious role in these matters. But the apparent fit of Marla's agendas with those of the domestic insurgency made funding for her new organization no problem at all. Money to operate was immediately supplied to her by the Open Society Institute, a personal instrument of George Soros, the anti-Bush, antiwar billionaire leader of the campaign to unseat the president.

Once her organization was funded, Marla headed for the offices of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, D-VT, a warhorse of the Democratic Party Left and a veteran of its campaigns in the 1980s to prevent the Sandinista dictatorship from being toppled by the Reagan administration. Leahy was a vocal critic of the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq and with his help Marla was able to put a provision into an appropriations bill for $2.5 million to compensate victims in Afghanistan and another $10 million to rebuild homes and provide medical assistance in Iraq.

She also worked towards the establishment of an office within the State Department that would count the number of civilians America killed and compensate their families. However, noble in intent, if successful this innovation would establish a perpetual psyops project to further tie America's hands in fighting its enemies.

In line with her new but not unfamiliar agenda, Marla changed her tactics and stopped screaming down her enemies in the administration. Previously her rowdy protests had gotten her ejected from speeches by Colin Powell and then-Texas Governor George W. Bush. But when she returned to Iraq as the head of the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict, she decided to use honey rather than vinegar. "Iraqis were sometimes taken aback by Ruzicka's mix of flower child and union steward," recalled Colin McMahon. "She passed out hugs to security guards. She called senior military officers 'dude.,'" Her new tactics - and her powerful Democratic allies - caused General Tommy Franks (who had said, "We don't do body counts") to reverse his position on whether the United States would keep track of Iraqi civilian deaths.

In a December 2003 interview, Marla summarized her political change: "I decided not to take a position on the war but to try to do the right humanitarian thing. No one can heal the wounds that have been inflicted; you just have to recognize that people have been harmed." One might expect a humanitarian to also recognize when people have been liberated from a monstrous tyranny, but no such concession came from Marla. On the other hand, according to the Washington Post, even her modest and incomplete statement alienated some of her former comrades, who accused her of helping the administration "clean up the mess."

In the aftermath of Marla's death, her Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict seems poised to return to the radical path she had somewhat left behind. The new director of Marla's organization, April Pedersen is described on its website as "a devoted human rights and social justice advocate," formerly with the Institute for Policy Studies, a leftist think tank with close ties to Cuba and unsavory past relations with the Soviet bloc.

Marla's body was barely cold when Medea Benjamin used it to promote her own agendas. The day after the attack, Benjamin drafted an official statement for her Global Exchange website urging Marla's mourners to "continue the work she began" by supporting Benjamin's organizations: Occupation Watch, Code Pink, Global Exchange, and Iraq Body Count. Benjamin spoke at Marla's funeral the following Saturday, introducing Sean Penn. "Let's make something of her work and make it lasting," she told the crowd of mourners. "Let's require the military [to] publicize civilian causalities."

Even in death the vivacious, idealistic, troubled and intriguing young woman that Marla had been was still a tool of forces she could not control and never really understood.

Anonymous said...

I posted the above article for NTODD so he can read about a Code Pink supporter who realized how to PRODUCTIVELY be active and achieve results and how, even in death, Code Pink tried to use her to stay in the spotlight. NTODD, I am sure you are a genuine individual. You and I may disagree, I have no doubt about that. I believe you are being used and I hope the above article helps in your intellectual evolution.

Anonymous said...

And, by the way NTODD, if you are a fan of music, you may know that Bono of U2 basically came to the same intellectual evolution that Marla did as you can read in the above article.

So, at times you may think me ignorant, but I hope you give some thought to a higher level activism than what Code Pink represents. You can actually achieve something without shouting people down are participating in stupid stunts.

You have to first recognize that what you can do is limited. Marla recognized she was limited and that assigning blame was no way to get results. Bono from U2 came to the same conclusion.

Should you see anyone who demonizes people they disagree with, I suggest you run. These are compelling and difficult times in which we live.

It does not matter whether it is Pres. Bush or Pres. Clinton, or the democrats or the republicans. Don't let anyone sell you on a bill of goods that any of them are evil. They are well intended and want the best for the country in a very dangerous and troubled time. In some ways, the world is more dangerous than it was during the Cold War. I am not sure any of us would have the answers and I am not sure any of us could really do better.

Having said that, I am sure that you are educated. I hope that you will look inward and carefully consider your associations. I hope you will take a critical look at the people you march with. Should you do that, it would be difficult to conclude anything other than the fact that you are working with people who espouse inconsistent values and take actions inconsistent with what they claim to be all about.

Alternatively, you may agree with the agenda behind Code Pink. In that case, I feel sorry for you. Don't let yourself be used. It is easy to fall into that trap when you are around people who appear to want to make positive changes. Sometimes, people like that are the most deceitful because it is easier for them to fool you then it is for me. You see, you don't trust me, so I can't steer you wrong, but your friends and associates just might be able to fool you.

What I am telling you is that you have a chance to do things that you can look back on in your life and say that you actually made a difference for people. If you let Code Pink guide your activism, you will end up on some TV documentary in the future talking about why the "antiwar movement" failed and you will have nothing to show for the time gone by. I say you could achieve more volunteering at a hospital than you will by holding signs up at the RNC.

Good luck. I hope whatever you do that you do it well.

Anonymous said...

And, by the way, you are right, if we end the war we will have a lot more money for programs here at home, but we will end up leaving a bloodbath behind for a lot of others. After we left Vietnam, millions were killed by the communists. Moreover, many were sent to barren areas of the country to starve. Our leaving Southeast Asia set the stage for Pol Pot and one of the greatest genocides of the 20th century. Of course, you don't hear anyone discussing what happened after we left. That is a story largely ignores.

Anonymous said...

NTodd, great work! Be particularly nice to my good friend, Liz.

Anon, you know what? It's perfectly all right to be a Communist. And it's perfectly all right to be an Episcopalian, or a Giants fan, or a Republican. Currently, in the U.S., this is acceptable. I, personally, am none of these things, but I feel that I can work with people of these different beliefs on a common goal. That's what America is all about.

As for Code Pink getting nothing done and being ineffective, why are you wasting your time on such a sorry group? Go bother some other group that's more effective.

Anonymous said...

Pinky, I come here for the entertainment. I like watching you get used by the Democratic Party. And you do get used by them occasionally. In part, their goal is a political one and you help their political goals sometimes with your nasty dialogue. Yet, they also turn their backs on you as you well know.

I think the above article on Marla definitely describes in detail how she was used by Code Pink and how she came to realize it and how she evolved.

I would love to say you have achieved something for all your time and the arrests and the embarrassing stunts. Sadly, you have achieved ZERO. I think it is quite entertaining and I like coming here to see it all unfold.

Don't worry, like Bono and Marla, maybe you to will realize just how much you are being used and then you might just decide to do something that really counts a lot more than shouting at people, holding up signs that no one cares about and getting arrested for nothing. Maybe you will wake up tomorrow and actually help someone who really needs it. Go volunteer at the AIDS clinic in D.C.

If you are ready to see what really making a difference is about I suggest you go to the following AIDS clinic:

Max Robinson Center of Whitman-Walker Clinic
2301 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20020

You can have a much bigger impact there in one day than you have had in years and years. Of course, you will not have the media spotlight and you may not have your photo taken with a politician who is hurrying by you, but you will meet some terrific people and you just might make a real difference in their lives.

Anonymous said...

Anon, it's pretty presumptuously stupid of you to think that Code Pinkers don't have other causes that they work on.

Code Pink is also nonpartisan -- never has been, never will be. Individual Code Pinkers often work on campaigns of people they support. We're often not even members of the Democratic or Green or Communist parties (I know I'm not). In fact, some of us in different parts of the country have used the Democratic Party to get our own agendas passed. Maybe Code Pink is not so naive, ya think?

You really don't have to be paternalistic. We're all grown-ups and can take care of ourselves. You, on the other hand, had better watch out. It seems as though you've been led down the primrose path.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is nice to know you have volunteer projects. At least if you have some volunteer projects you may actually be achieving something. I am not suggesting that you personally are a partisan, but I believe that you get used by them. And, when you are no good to them, they will turn on you.

It is inconsistent to claim Pres. Bush as a dictator, as many of you do, and yet the head of your organization embraces Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

It is inconsistent to claim to advocate for the terrorist detainees, but Code Pink refused to meet the Women in White when they were down in Cuba. The Women in White are the spouses of political prisoners on that island.

You claim there is nothing wrong with being a communist. Yet, communism advocates violence and a violent revolution. It could not co-exist with individual freedom, so unlike you, I do have a problem with it. And, Code Pink's leadership is communist and it associates itself with other antiwar groups that are led by communists. United for Justice and Peace is basically a front for the Communist Party USA and it is led by Judith LeBlanc. Unlike most of you, I have met and spoken at length with LeBlanc so I know what she is about. Code Pink is a member of their coalition.

Anonymous said...

Yes, what a day. We have 70 b. funding for the wars! Lots of Democrats voted for it. And, yet another stunning defeat for the useful idiots at Code Pink.

Anonymous said...

If Code Pink is REALLY making a difference, please keep it up! As far as I am concerned you are doing a great job in your lack of success. WIN THE WAR THAT IS THE BEST WAY TO BRING THE TROOPS HOME!

Eileen Coles said...

I see the Gathering of Egos is bringing spam to the potlucks again.

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