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Five Stories of Abuse By Pro-War Demonstrators
1. From David Swanson: As I was walking across Memorial Bridge a young man I know ran up to me. He's a veteran of this war and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. After saying hello and a few words, he burst into tears. He said he had just been spat on, and it had just hit him what that meant. The people who spat on him were part of a relatively tiny group pf pro-war demonstrators. The young man I was talking to did not spit back at them. He joined a group of other vets for peace and led the march to the Pentagon nonviolently.
2. From Lori Perdue: On March 17th in D.C. Code Pink marched from their convergence point to join the ANSWER march. On our way we were forced to march through the middle of the Pro-War contingent of Gathering of Eagles and Free Republic. They were angry and rude and a little out of control. We were brave and strong and sang "Give Peace a Chance" through the whole "gauntlet". I was never so sure of my position as an anti-war veteran as I was as I faced off with unreasonable Americans who cursed us, called me a traitor and a whore, poked me with their poles from which hung American flags, a disgraceful use of our colors. I know what I am working for. I know that stopping this war is a noble cause. I know that we make a difference, a positive one, although this experience was negative, it was ten minutes I wouldn't trade because it hardened my resolve. I will not be deterred.
3. From Barbara Cummings: My experieince was very similar to yours. I was assaulted and the thug tried to grab my sign and blocked my way. I am forwarding to you guys 2 other accounts. The opening comment is to our local Air America guy who basically disputed my story and said (based on another caller) that the "Vietnam Vets who came to defend their territory would never do such things) Feel free to share your stories with him at firstname.lastname@example.org He is substituting for Randi Rhodes this week so you could call in and get this story out if they are still talking about it. AAR 866 303 2270 Miss you guys and wish I could be there with you. I will be working the phones all day and pushing others to do the same.
After hearing your "other" show today I think you misunderstood what I was saying this morning. We had as many Vietnam Vets with us as they did. What I said was that the pro war ones were against us. What I said was that they were whipped into a frenzy and reacted thusly. Here are two other accounts. I don't have to embelish to make my point. I was shoved, pushed and had my sign grabbed from my hands.
4. This is from a girl from Boston
As Barbara can tell, I initially thought that there were more counter-protesters than peace activists cuz when I first met her at the rally point, tears of genuine rage and fear were streaming down my face. Thanks, Barbara & Dinah & Melida & Elliott & several others I didn't know for all your hugs!!!! Truly helped me pull my act together.
Just before meeting Barbara at the rally-point, I'd stupidly run into a bunch of these bully-defenders- of-freedom who missed no chance to shove me around, swear at me, refeuse to let me pass by them, pull pins and stickers off my jacket, and generally threaten me with physical assault if I did not remove myself from "the sacred ground" they were protecting. One fool even 'showed' me his switch-blade without actually opening it -- just to let me know he could stab me --
hell, that's patriotism, man: threaten a middle aged woman walking by herself with MFSO & code pink buttons on!! I was soooooo glad I had my jacket zipped up; i wonder what they may have done had they seen my "We will not be silent" T-shirt with bold Arabic translation? ?
Needless to say, I was outraged and tried to calmly talk them out of their riduclous stance, but eventually abandoned my planned path (past the vietnam vets memoriral) and was forced to walk *in* constitution street because these noble patriots even refused to allow my steps down the sidewalk
Well the "Gathering of Assholes" did put up an inpressive display -- of raw bullyism encouraged by outright lies. Even the Washington Post commented on the spurious reasons given by the counter protesters for their rally.
2 Additional points about these folks:
1) they were *very* well organized -- had even hired private metal detectors to surround the vietnam memorial & thereby prevent any peaceniks from defacing "their" sacred monument....
2) they were comprised mostly of hateful, war-mongering, foul-mouthed, drunk, bullies -- spitting at Carlos's casket as it passed was one of their typical "counter-protest demos". Saw several signs that read: "peace sux" -- that caused me to cry again, but only cuz I was laughing soooooo hard....
But in my final evaluation, we did outnumber them (as mentioned in the Post). And I observed no acts by members of the eclectic peace marchers against these miserable, hateful people. *I* even held my tongue (most of the time!), as countless hatefilled individuals swore at Carlos & Melida Arredondo and declared them desecrators of the flag drapped over 'Alex's' coffin.
Hope all who made it were safe & not disheartened (as I was for awhile there). And for all otheres -- especially Austinites: I wish I'd made the Million Musicians March!!!
ps: the footage on the link Barbara posted, was shot in the late afternoon at the initially rallying spot on the mall, so of course we weren't there --by that point in time, we were all freezing our butts off at the pentagon!!! -- where not one bully bothered to endure the cold to demonstrate his 'true' patriotic spirit
5. This is from a 19 year old girl from CalState San Marcos
On my trip to Washington this weekend, I experienced racism, sexism, as I went and marched in a rally. The purpose of the rally was to bring our soldiers back from the war. With this rally there were many issues that were made aware that we thought they were no longer existing in this country, but that they still exist today such as racism.
In this particular rally I was expecting to have counterarguments against to what I believed, but never anything that had to do with racism or with hatred such as what I had to put up with. The woman that I was standing next to me was showing a sign that had President Bush's picture with the words "Terrorist" on top. The freepers (Free Republicans) were outraged when they saw this and as soon as they saw me and my dark skin, one of the woman that was outraged yelled at me "you don't belong in this country!" I was extremely disappointed. First and foremost the protest was never about "illegal immigrants," so I don't know what was the purpose of her rant. There was something clear though, racism still exists today and lets face it, it is still in effect in this country.
The vulgarities that the freepers used to rant their opinions were extremely sexist as well as racist. As soon as we passed by with out shirts that said "impeach bush," they began to grab their crotch and began to make gestures as if they were jerking off. This just goes to show how these people were just being vulgar and in reality they were really not making a point at all. What their penis makes them better and that shows a sign of superiority and authority? Even if they had good counterarguments to back up what they believed, they weren't heard because all they were doing were being vulgar and being sexist in representation of their purpose.
The rally and its purpose was set up to voice opinions and it was the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq. We all have different opinions as to what we believe and in this country freedom of speech is one of the things we value the most. Yet there are so many ways of using and referring to this power that we have. To be honest I would have had much more respect for the freepers opinions and beliefs if they had not been so judgemental and so vulgar. With that stated, that was a part of my experience in the rally in Washington.