By Jeff Norman
U.S. Tour of Duty
August 24, 2005
Joan Baez has been embedded with the military families at Camp Casey since Sunday. Last night she performed and told stories for the third consecutive night. Joan clearly recognizes that the time is now for the peace movement. "I waited for the appropriate moment to show up," she told the audience.
The mixture of storytelling (detailed accounts of her activism) and music is a format that Joan should bring on the road, at least occasionally. She not only entertains and inspires, but provides a context that helps everyone understand the significance of this moment in history.
The Bush administration, which relies on dismissing its critics, is now confronted with a diverse assortment of influential truth-tellers who refuse to be bullied. Not only have the president and his advisors failed to adjust to rapidly changing circumstances with respect to the public debate, but they are actually serving the interests of the peace movement by energizing it, first by refusing to answer Cindy Sheehan's legitimate questions, and yesterday by claiming that Cindy and her supporters represent only a fringe element of military families.
Although Bush doesn't realize it, the families, vets, and others gathered at Camp Casey have emerged as leaders of a powerful, modern day civil rights movement, which is focusing at this time on the war in Iraq, but may even be broader in scope before long. Some familiar symbolism is evident. For example, Joan Baez dropped to her knees last night in the middle of the crosses at Camp Casey that have been erected in honor of American soldiers, and sang "Amazing Grace." But unlike previous actions when Baez offered similar gestures, this time she did so surrounded by a digital army of bloggers, documentarians, and activists who have obviously begun to tear down the corporate media's wall of denial. Even before Camp Casey closes down on August 31, an astonishing roster of diplomats, CIA analaysts, and weapons inspectors are charging through the opening in that wall to embark on a U.S. Tour of Duty with the intention of holding the masters of war accountable, and creating a sane foreign policy.
When Cindy Sheehan returns to Crawford this afternoon, she will see that not only have her supporters kept Camp Casey thriving, but that a vigorous nationwide movement is now being launched. She will also see two essential documentaries on a large screen inside the Camp Casey tent. One is Robert Greenwald's "Uncovered," which exposes as lies the reasons the Bush administration gave for invading Iraq. The other is Mark Manning's brand new "Caught in the Crossfire," which reveals the unbelievably coldhearted manner in which U.S. forces were ordered to devastate Falluja (a city roughly the size of Cinncinati) and forever ruin the lives of its residents.
Gold Star mom Nadia McCaffrey joins former CIA analyst Mel Goodman at a U.S. Tour of Duty public forum with Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee tomorrow night in Houston. Nadia and Mel will appear with Jim Hightower in Austin on Friday night. More info at www.ustourofduty.org .