Wednesday, December 17, 2008

DC Shoe Protest Coverage

Raw Story:
Members of the theatrical protest brigade Code Pink left several dozen pairs of shoes in front of the White House to represent some of the hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed during the war in Iraq, and they called for the release of Muntadar al-Zaidi. It was Bush, they said, who should be in jail.

"It's not enough to throw a shoe at him, he needs to be hauled before an international court and charged for war crimes," Code Pink co-founder Medea Benjamin said.

The event also had elements of street theater as the dozen or so protesters who showed up took turns hurling their own footwear at a Bush impersonator. It was quite the cathartic event for some of the demonstrators, who have frequently expressed their outrage at the president's abuses of power and misguided foreign invasions.

"We love our Constitution and we hate what you've done to it. And we also hate what you've done to the Iraqi people, George," Benjamin said as she prepared to throw two shoes at another demonstrator wearing a Bush mask. "This is on behalf of the Iraqi people, especially the women who have been hurt by your policies, George. And this one is for the children, George, who have suffered in Iraq."
I'm very thankful for Muntadar al-Zaidi's brave act of defiance and for Code Pink's action in solidarity with him. I understand, however, that Cornerites and even Raw Story is a bit confused by all this:
There was an appreciable level of irony in a group of anti-war protesters who celebrate non-violence gathering to champion the cause of a man who assaulted a world leader.

Rain Burroughs, an anti-war activist who traveled to the protest from Richmond, Va., said she found it "refreshing to see someone stand up" on behalf of Iraqi civilians who had been killed, even though she traditionally espouses the value of nonviolent action.

Benjamin said some Code Pink members were wary of championing al-Zaidi, but she said his actions have to be placed in context of the country where he lives.

"We've gotten a lot of our people who've called us and said ... it seems too violent for us, and we say, 'You're not living in Iraq. You're not suffering in your daily life," Benjamin said in an interview. "I mean, were I an Iraqi, I don't know that I would still be a nonviolent person. So this is actually a less violent act than one might expect."
Medea and Rain hit the proverbial nail nonviolently on the head. Much of nonviolence is predicated on the notion that you have the space and time to make moral decisions. If you haven't been educated, and given the opportunity to consider and practice alternatives to violence, it's certainly understandable on a human level that you might act violently out of desperation.

As I noted in a recent Paxcast, even Gandhi said just over a month after the start of WWII:
[N]on-violence has to be non-violence of the brave and the strong. It must come from inward conviction. I have, therefore, not hesitated to say that it is better to be violent if there is violence in our breasts than to put on the cloak of non-violence to cover impotence. Violence is any day preferable to impotence. There is hope for a violent man to become non-violent. There is no such hope for the impotent.
Muntadar al-Zaidi has refused to be impotent any longer, even if it's not the manner that we would prefer. But it's not about us: it's about the Iraqis and their desire to have us leave their sovereign nation, and he has lit a brushfire in the minds of his people, not to mention ours, all with an object so mundane as a shoe.


PS--Read the whole Raw Story link: it has more pics and video.

PPS--Apologies for the self-indulgence in links.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Holiday Cheer from CODEPINK Arizona Friends

Mon December 8th 2008 post election-exhausted peacemakers

Hi everyone it's Liz reporting back from sunny phoenix! Feeling really grateful to be here!

Last saturday our peace & justice community arranged for a CODEPINK fundraiser to enable & continue our presence in Washington DC. I want to begin by thanking everyone for continuing to believe that our work is very important -your support makes it possible!Every time i come back to the hometown we celebrate our friendships, our network,progressive steps,and our journey t0gether as well as complain about the various backward steps each election cycle brings to(mostly) the aware citizenry.This election cycle Arizona suffered painful losses Gay Love Benefits,lost a state senate seat,Sheriff Joe(racist) & Andrew Thomas -State Attorney re-elected also Jan Brewer(unqualified partisian) will take over for our departing Gov. Janet Napolitano---WHEW---besides other BIG Losses or huge backward movement.This just validates the need to work together stay focused on the issues and find progressive candidates for the future. Candidates for placement with have our values that we will support from start of campaign.These social gatherings remain imperative to community building so THANKS everyday. Organize Speak Out Organize Speak Out Donate to peace groups!

So getting back to the party Edwina set up a conference call with our friend IVAW Adam Kokesh
giving us the oppportunity to share our RNC disruption of McCain's nominating speech. We have had conference calls with Adam as part of our agenda at other parties.
Adam Liz & Nancy were able to disrupt the biggest speech of Mccain"s political history and we all have our viewpoint to share. It was great to talk about our experiences as we shared some of the moments leading up to exercise in Free Speech also tactics,facts and laughed in we re lived it from our unique perspective.The Arizona crowd will always remember that moment!
Adam gave Kudos to CODEPINK for teaching him important direct action lessons on the doorsteps of Congress & shared his Ron Paul views with candor as well as next steps- move to New Mexico in January 2009. IVAW local Arizona Member Hari & friends showed up mid conference call - personally i feel so proud when those war resisters show up and take part. Hari is so amazingly courageous representing so many young people eloquently..........Thanks to Hari for bringing his piece of truth to our conscience.

Then Josie Lenwell New Mexico CODEPINK coordinator made a powerful slide show of the State Dept Blackwater Action,Die-in Sept 2007,Hall of Shame Campaign kick off"Whipping Congress into Shape" and hundreds of outstanding photos from DC actions that i provided the funny inside details to the captive audience of about 45 people.It gave everyone the opportunity to interact with asking questions which gives better understanding of our all around work on capitol hill during congressional session. The slideshow represented a history of direct actions in late sept 2007 and was seemless in keeping the attention focused. It was my CODEPINK opportunity when queried to share a vision of our work looking forward to the change we advocate.We need to work harder than ever to keep Obama online with his promises of diplomacy, withdrawl(Iraq) in 16 months taking Sofa into account, closing gitmo and others but make our message of No More Wars esp Afghanistan no troop build up in Afghanistan!Redirection of funding from overkill Pentagon budget to human needs programs-from dirty coal to Clean Green.

Finally we were gifted with items for an auction & usually make photos of our Shero Work to sell which we have alot of fun doing a spirited auction that Edwina lead festively.We auctioned off photos of Medea & Kathy Kelly, The Peace line in Twin Cities,Vets for Peace Archives Banner,and CODEPINK specialties and it was rec'd generously Thanks to all!
We are all feeling unity in the great need to stay strong to our Out of Iraq Now stance.Healthcare not Warfare.The coalition in Arizona wants to stay active and proactively support good politics through policy.We watch the new adminstration with a cautious eye and will stand up with new ideas for the future.
Obama needs our support help and direction-Fired up ready to work for change!

cioa for now.............. I miss DC the CODEPINK house - feel very grateful for the new friends everywhere through CODEPINK work
SHOUT out to Jodie Evans WE LOVE you Jodie!!!

want peace work for justice!