Here I am sitting in Jonesboro with kindred spirits, singing peace songs and listening to speeches by people that want only peace, while behind the stage on the road, skinhead protesters wave flags and tell us to “Get out of Jonesboro”. The people for peace disregarded the chanting and kept on with our agenda.
I met David Swanson who was there and I had a chance to talk with him as our by-lines are sometimes side-by-side, and I was glad to meet another progressive writer. He spoke and certainly wowed the crowd, and he spoke so loud that the hecklers screaming “Get out of Jonesboro!” and “Go to Iraq and live!” were drowned out by his voice so they shut up for a while until he finished speaking. Maybe they learned something. I have him on tape and this is some of what he said:
He talked about subpoenas on the Uranium in Iraq and Condi Rice’s refusal to speak about it, because she wasn’t inclined! He talked about the coming war with Iran and Bush and Cheneys insistence that Israel bomb the nuclear plant in Iran. He mentioned (House bill HR1955?) the government wants to spy on people and introduced two bills, one was that Global Warming was beneficial! He bashed Rep. Rom Emmanuel for saying that this Congress wasn’t voted in to end the War, he said that the Democrats that want the war over are “too impatient!” That drew hoots and whistles from the crowd. He said that the Democrats according to Emmanuel will keep troops in Iraq until 2008. After that it will be four more years of killing and dying.
Swanson said that the war must be stopped in the next few months. I agree. He said that writing and calling your Congressman isn’t enough. He mentioned that potential recruits should know what war looks like. He mentioned an Iraqi Veterans Group that was arrested in the Pentagon for leaving brochures on the effects of depleted uranium. He went on to bash Aerotec that manufactures weapons made of depleted uranium in Jonesboro because they mention on their website that they are an “ethical” company. Swanson said that DP is a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” and ten years ago had been categorized as such. He said that Americans are waiting to be brought to fascism in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
A Vet that was exposed by radiation, except in his case it was deleted uranium, spoke. He told of the story that the Army gave them that it was “So safe, you could sprinkle it on your breakfast cereal”. He recently had a tumor removed when I talked to him after his speech. The VA has had the tumor for two tears and they still haven’t told him if it was malignant. I knew in 3 days if my tumor was malignant. I got cancer from the Army too and we exchanged stories. The glowing Clystron tubes we worked with in our surface to air missile systems radars glowed green with over 40,000 volts running through them. The Army said they were completely safe. Now, almost 30 years later I have a Federal suit against Raytheon, Lucent, Honeywell and ITT for lying to us by letting us work with unshielded ionized radiation. Depleted Uranium is no different. They completely ignore these guys coming back with radiation sickness. Believe me, I sympathize, I have it too.
The Thunder Riders or whoever they are called, old men, past their prime, in leather with American flags on there bikes tried to drown out the speakers. I was proud that the people protesting gave them no mind. They looked like old men trying to relive those “Glory Days”. I’ll bet half of them had no opinion on the war, they just wanted a chance to harass some other people that were working for the nation’s good.. The police kept them at bay and did a good job of keeping things peaceful. I have to hand it to them. Later, they marched to Aerotec but I had to leave as my wife’s knee was giving out.
All in all, I was very surprised at the turn-out in Tennessee. There were about 200-300 people there and they behaved very well and were very enthusiastic. I was glad to meet the people I did and was glad I went.