Friday, October 19, 2007

Code Pink and Move America Forward Square Off in Berkeley

I was at this protest Wednesday:

Supporters, protesters wage a war of words over Berkeley recruiting station

A Code Pink group in Berkeley has been working hard to shut down the Marine Recruiting Center there. I know they are saving lives and limbs by trying to stop young people from signing up for an illegal and immoral occupation. Nevertheless, I did feel a bit awkward because I have nothing against the Marines per se, I'd much rather see the Marines defend this country than outsourced rent-a-soldiers like Blackwater. I see what is happening, and the truth is that Bush and his cronies are deliberately setting out to break our military -- to privatize it the same way they've tried to privatize our communications, education, social security, transportation, voting system, and elected representatives. So this was a very interesting experience for me.

When we got there (Medea Benjamin drove me and one of my fellow Camp Pelosi fasters, Nancy Mancias) we were outnumbered in a sea of pro-war military families -- everyone was mixed together -- a potentially explosive situation. I guess Rush Limbaugh called for his dittoheads to support the counter-demonstration. I've heard that a faction of these guys, called the "Gathering of Eagles" actually beat up a peace protester (Carlos Arredondo, whose son was killed in Iraq) while in D.C.

I was holding up one end of a "Code Pink" banner while another guy tried to block it off with a Marines flag. The "Move America Forward" people yelled things like, "USA!" and we'd answer, "-- out of Iraq!" They'd yell "Support our troops!" and we'd answer, "-- bring them home!" Then they started chanting, "Support our troops AND the war!" And I started yelling, "Support our troops, END the war!" Which got me to strike up a conversation with a lady on the other side. She reminded me of the soldier's mother on Fahrenheit 911, Lila Lipscomb, before her son was killed. She was very proud of her son, who was a Marine. I told her I had nothing against the Marines, and I was in fact very concerned that this war was breaking our military. She asked me if I had any family in the military, I told her no but I was in the military myself once -- the Coast Guard. We had to take an oath to protect the constitution, not oil contracters. I liked that woman, frankly, and I hope her son returns home safe. It struck me that a lot of what divides us Americans is artificial and we're being used and lied to -- and many good people are getting killed and hurt in the process. I'd write more about this, but yet again, I'm running out of time so I'll end here for now.

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