Wild: Hundreds of honks heard
Somerville Journal, MA
By Patricia Wild
Thursday, July 28, 2005
The day after President Bush had proclaimed John G. Roberts Jr. to be his Supreme Court nominee and NPR's "Talk of the Nation" focused on Roberts' anti-civil rights, anti-Roe versus Wade pronouncements, discouraged and weighted down with those "What's the use?" feelings prevalent among progressives these days, I held a "Honk to Impeach Bush" sign in Davis Square for a while and, in spite of the heat, my spirits lifted. Organized by Carl Martin and Joe Ramsey, key members of the Somerville-Medford Ad-Hoc Committee to End the War, similar Davis Square demonstrations are scheduled every Monday from 5 until 7 p.m. in the little park in front of J.P. Licks. Won't you join us?
Actively working on issues such as "Justice for Janitors" and the Tufts Coalition to End the War in Iraq, upon graduation, the affable and personable Joe and Carl decided to "not necessarily restrict our efforts to Tufts." Holding homemade signs urging an end to the war in Iraq and "engaging with people" in Davis Square for a couple of hours every week seemed the logical next step, although not without some risk: "Other people are putting themselves on the line," observed Carl. "And I can't hold a sign?"
Made from poster boards secured to sticks with duct tape, the ad-hoc committee's hand-lettered signs are funky, definitely reproducible by anyone wishing to replicate the Monday evening demonstrations in their own communities and squares. "I talked with a guy named Mike from Dorchester, who held one of our signs," Carl recalled. "You know, you could be doing this, too," I told him. "In Dorchester." Participants at the Davis Square Monday night demonstrations are encouraged to make their own signs. What would yours say?
Response to the "Honk" sign was overwhelmingly positive. Cars honked, trucks honked, bicyclists and pedestrians shouted "Honk" as they passed by. "Hundreds of honks since we've been out here," Joe observed gleefully. So energizing was this response that even the young woman driving a red SUV who pulled up beside where the ant-war group stood, and slowly lowered her window to yell "F- you!" didn't dampen our spirits. "The case for this war is based on lies, folks," reads a handout crafted by Joe and Carl which they passed out during the demonstration. "Now it's up to the people to stop it!" OK, so maybe some folks, like that unpleasant SUV driver, won't be holding signs on Monday nights. But other people will.
A well-dressed father, walking through the square with his two young daughters, approached Carl as rush-hour traffic whizzed by. "What good will this do?" he asked pointing to the three remaining demonstrators; a large, boisterous middle-school group had just left. "I have an anti-war bumper sticker on my car," he explained. "But how's [my bumper sticker] going to change anything?"
His question reminded me of a story I read not long ago about a solitary demonstrator who, rain, sleet, snow or shine, stood outside the White House with his lonely sign; what his cause happened to be escapes me. Vietnam, perhaps?
"Why do you do this?" someone asked him. "How do you expect to change the world?"
"I don't do this to change the world," the demonstrator replied. "I do this so that the world won't change me."
For more information regarding the Somerville-Medford Ad-Hoc Committee to End the War, contact Joe at firstname.lastname@example.org . In case of inclement weather, demonstrations are rescheduled, so getting on the committee's e-mail list is recommended.
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