A couple of dozen of us from Hampton Roads, Virginia took a bus up to Washington DC on Saturday, March 20, where thousands marched in sunny, balmy weather after a long Noon anti-war, anti-imperialism and anti-racism rally at Lafayette Park, which ironically, is filled with martial statues glorifying war and war heroes.
The event was hosted by A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism) and attracted a wide, ad hoc coalition of groups and organizations opposed to first George Bush's and now the Obama Administration's continuing foreign policies of seemingly endless warfare and occupation.
Needless to say, the honeymoon is over with Barack Obama for many, many people. This was evident in both the signs being held up in the crowd and the rhetoric up on the podium, although some still spoke of him as a lost brother rather than as a virulent foe to be defeated, as was common with George Bush.
Other key speakers included Cindy Sheehan, who bluntly asked us if we are over the new war criminal in the White House now, timeless, justice-demanding Ramsey Clark, smiling Media Benjamin with her Code Pink contingent and ever cogent Ralph Nader, who extolled us to organize, organize, organize to go after Congress and get real peacemakers into office.
It was a colorful, energetic crowd that gradually swelled into a sea of predominantly orange and yellow protest signs held by men, women and youngsters dressed largely in warm spring fare, lots of shorts and tee-shirts, interspersed with very creatively dressed figures and groups such as the Raging Grannies and Code Pink, progressive icons to remind us that the anti-war movement is lively, joyful and life-affirmative, quite the opposite of the legions of robotic, gray-suited conformists who parrot government propaganda day in and day out, marching in lockstep to the paradigm of fear and loathing.
One of the martial statues in Lafayette Square, where the rally took place. Time to move beyond the paradigm of us against the "Other", into an awareness that we are all one. War no longer manifests in the heroic mode anyway, if it ever did. Today's brutal wars are obscene paroxysms of high-tech weapons, exotic ordnance and video-game addictiveness, usually slaughtering more civilians than combatants, no more glorious than an exterminator spraying insects, and about as dehumanizing to everyone who engages in them.
War is sucking the life out of civilization, what is left of it.
Folk came from all over the East Coast.
There was a strong pro-Palestinian presence at the rally. People are stilled appalled by the irrational, hate-driven carnage the Israeli State unleashed on Gaza during, of all things, Christmas season, the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.
This is our message to a world torn asunder by war and to the deluded souls addicted to war.
These are men who have seen war and know how vile, nihilistic and self-destructive it is.
Who suffers more than military families who must bear their dead or nurse their wounded children who come back from war half-dead?