By RANDY ARONOV
Published on: 05/11/06
Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's speech at the Atlanta History Center was interrupted several times by protesters who yelled at Rumsfeld and unfurled banners, an event that drew national news coverage.
"But one man took a different approach. As showdowns go, it wasn't exactly two gunslingers face to face on a dusty street in Dodge City. But there was drama in it nonetheless. As Rumsfeld stood at the podium, starting to outline his vision of the American role in world affairs, a balding man in a coat and tie rose out of the seated audience, turned his back on Rumsfeld and stood silently."
My name is Randy Aronov and I am that silent dissenter.
Turning my back to Rumsfeld was my way of showing my disapproval and my disdain for the policies of this administration, which so far has not been held accountable.
We've reached a point in our country where voting every four years is not enough to effect change. People need to become proactive: Write letters to elected officials, sign petitions, attend local anti-war meetings and demonstrations, and whenever possible practice acts of civil disobedience. We need to be doing more, a lot more.
It was unnerving standing there, facing Rumsfeld down with my back to him. It was hostile territory the audience was packed with Bush supporters. I was very nervous, but this was something that my conscience told me to do. So as soon as Rumsfeld began speaking, I stood up and I stayed standing until he finished.
I was quite surprised that I wasn't hauled out like the other demonstrators; they just let me stand there. When the formal speech was over, I quietly walked out and joined the other demonstrators outside.
The galvanizing moment came later, during a Q&A session, when Rumsfeld was called down by CIA career veteran Ray McGovern, a man with impeccable credentials. McGovern's unrelenting questions concerning how the country was lied into the war in Iraq gave credence to our acts of civil disobedience.
I took inspiration from Harry Taylor, another average citizen, who in early April at an open forum in Charlotte stood up and took President Bush to task for spying on Americans.
"I would hope from time to time, you would have the humility and grace to be ashamed of yourself . . . ," he told the president. "In my lifetime, I have never felt more ashamed of my leadership in Washington."