The Modern Anti-War Movement: A Photojournalism Essay
I have listened to various activists describe the goals of Camp Out Now with various degrees of ambition. Only able to obtain permits the day before the event was to begin, they appear to hold in their tents limited supplies of food for the purposes of day living, but the legality of actually sleeping outside on The Mall remains at contention. Pictured at the foot of the Washington Monument are markers representative of some Iraqi and U.S. casualties of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Unknown protester sitting down in the “Postcard zone.”
Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son, Casey, in Iraq in 2004, immediately following her arrest attributed her decision to lay down in the verboten “Postcard zone” as wishing to express solidarity with the also-arrested fellow military mom and anti-war protester Elaine Brower.
After the protesters start laying down in the “Postcard zone,” D.C. police approaching the White House back lawn from the east.
One particular group, We Are Change Pittsburgh, was upbraiding the direction of the rest of the protesters, cautioning them as to the likelihood of World Trade Center 7, for example, having been wrapped with nano-thermite. When I noticed that one of protesters in that group was sporting one of the “Ron Paul ReLOVEution” shirts, I asked him about why he would support Paul if the representative would say he didn’t think that the buildings’ falls were controlled demolitions. He replied to the effect that Paul knew those demolitions to be the truth, but simply had to deny such knowledge in the practical interest of keeping his congressional seat.
Some part of me wants to scoff at this, but the truth is that most Americans have come to consistently expect their candidates of choice to compromise on absolute facts and all-important truths easily as pertinent as who is in fact killing citizens by the thousands in the streets in broad daylight.
I guess in contrast to all of the self-described communists and socialists running around the protest, there were ”freeper”-flavored counterprotesters of sorts, but they never really got much argument because most of the people there didn’t arrive to discuss health-care legislation or ending the Federal Reserve.
Praying for her enemies, but apparently not hard enough to put down the Starbucks.
Considering the regularity at which NATO members are dying along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, I was a little amazed that the degree of passionate counterprotest seemed to be limited to the case of this heckler of Debra Sweet, an executive at World Can’t Wait, an organization pushing as hard as any for the prosecution of the George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. The heckler seemed to semi-seriously believe that Sweet’s indictments of Bush were a celebration of feticide. Stepping in front of Sweet’s bullhorn, she complained that someone was bullhorning in her ear. Behind Sweet, she would attempt to dangle a crucifix in Sweet’s face as she spoke. What’s kind of startling about this counterprotester is her indignation at someone making it the priority to complain about the death of some foreigner’s wantedchild, as opposed to the death of an American fetus whose mother chose not to bring him or her to term.
I still can’t figure out what the implication was with the Ameri-clowns, one of whom is sporting dog tags. Again, I guess I could have asked. But what’s the purpose of going this far at a political rally if the average person can’t immediately get your point? With so much to see, I just wasn’t satisfied that these women would have a worthy-enough explanation for putting on white face and red wigs.
And, no, they’re not Obama-is-a-death-socialist counterprotesters. That one on the right has a socialist newspaper in her pocket.
A typically flamboyant Code Pink protester, who is on roller skates, sadly not in the frame. He whizzed by me, making the crashing and exploding noise of a Hellfire missile, said, “Sorry, here’s $2,000,” and then sped away in a giddy, albeit embittered fervor.
Juan Torres recently assisted in the production of a documentary about his son, whose superior officers, he has claimed for years, framed him for suicide in order to silence allegations of black-market inner-military opiate trading out of Afghanistan.
At the advent of the Iraq War, you might have recalled hearing former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld praise the humanity of surgical-strike smart bombs.
Former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader approached the podium, and asserted there to be no meaningful difference between the Obama and Bush II presidencies with regard to Iraq policy.
It’s hard to know for sure just how effective government mind control techniques have gotten, but, insofar as they have driven someone to put on a Klan hood, call the impression “rapist of humanity,” and obliquely Bible verses on bed sheets, there is clearly plenty of room for concern.
Here’s an illustration of the fear of domestically-staged psychological operations in the wake of both 9/11 and the anthrax attacks, the latter of which Senator Patrick Leahy (D-MD) has communicated he considers at least partly unsolved.
Former attorney general and Saddam Hussein counsel Ramsey Clark speaking to Al-Jazeera.
I pride myself on my understanding of conspiracy theories, why people start the likely and unlikely ones, and why people got mixed up in historical conspiracies. But this guy was a bit of a head scratcher, even for me. Asked his poster, “Who burned Pentagon & WTC on 911?” The not-even-a-U.S.-senator “Barrack” Obama and Marion Barry, it asserts. Cryptically, the artist added, “Cocaine, e.t.c. (sic).” Setting aside the remote possibility that he viewed the cocaine as having set Mayor Barry into some super strength-bestowing ego rage, we can presume that he takes Barry’s cocaine use as an indicator of some deeper mass-murdering instincts. We’ve all heard the conjecture about Mossad, but what’s up with Specter here? I wasn’t careful enough to take the time to ask this guy questions, but it looks like the now-junior Pennsylvania senator is still taking some blowback from the Magic Bullet theory.
In the interest of time, I’ll have to leave it to others to speculate on former Representative Benjamin Gilman’s role in 9/11. Or scripture’s for that matter.
On Saturday, anti-war protesters heeded the ANSWER Coalition’s call for public grievance regarding the continued U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. While not nearly as epic as the protests in, say, 2007 that attracted hundreds of thousands in the run-up to the surge, attendees represented a dedicated core, gathering in Lafayette Square just behind the White House. Disturbingly, one Iraq War veteran to whom I spoke, Geoff Millard, claimed that the main reason for the lower attendance is the substantially decreased economic means of most Americans relative to three years ago to even make a day trip to Washington, D.C.
Early in the day, members of Iraq Veterans Against The War (IVAW)would attempt to lay down a mud stencil in the so-called “Postcard Zone” in front of the White House, the area where everyone goes to get their picture taken.
Shantelle Bateman, a woman who was in Iraq for seven months starting in August 2004, was one of the people preparing to lay down a mud stencil with fellow members of Iraq Veterans Against the War. Police spoke to the group’s police liaison. “They communicated to her,” said Ms. Bateman, “that what were about to do was illegal, citing something about a police – some D.C. case where a man was chalking on the sidewalk, and D.C. decided that it was legal (sic\illegal). Although, this is federal property. They didn’t discuss any of that at all. But, in any event, they told us that we had to cease and desist. We – but before that while our police liaison was talking to the police, usually what we do is we carry on with our action until the police liaison settles it. So we laid down the stencil, anyway, and we’re going to do what we‘re going to do. But then we decided to gather up, and decided to just stand there. And that’s when they called the – then decided to close the sidewalk.”
Although not initially citing a specific legal code, police limited access to a certain stretch of that sidewalk in front of the White House, but only to overt protesters, the people carrying signs. In view of the police and until that time from which the protesters had returned from a loop through downtown D.C., tourists were walking freely where the police would not allow protesters. Later in the day, White House police would cite D.C. Code 22-3312.01, a law against defacing public property whose spirit is in saving the district clean-up costs.
At around 11 a.m., people were making preparations assembling prop coffins draped with Iraqi, American and Afghan flags. This type of exercise is a reference to long years of body counts being hidden away either in photograph or downplayed just in word. Those coffins would play no bit part in the protest that would ensue over the next evening.
Ever since presidents have been able to send soldiers into battle for 90 days without necessarily having congressional approval, there’s been a curious shell game afoot. Essentially, if you’re trying to impress these protesters by being an anti-war candidate, you’re left in the bizarre position of having some question your base patriotism if you don’t fund military operations. (Of course, I’m talking about John Kerry here, but the rules still apply.) If you defund, the opponents accuse you of “not supporting the troops,” regardless of how the troops feel about the operation, anyway. In this way, self-described pro-war and anti-war politicians alike can successfully transfer policy responsibility off of themselves. The policy crisis is obvious. It’s one of the main reasons why Representative Patrick Kennedy has been shouting in agony on the floor of the House in recent weeks. Meanwhile, try to blame a soldier, and naturally he or she will point to the people issuing the marching orders. And why not?
In response to my stating this line of jaded reasoning, Ms. Bateman said, “I mean, personally, I have more loyalty to my ethics and my values than I do to any fucking party or movement or wing or whatever. And what brought me to this place to join IVAW was a look at what my personal role and my personal responsibility is and not just, like, the war that I participated in, but my world in general, and decided to do something about it and to do something different. And I think that individuals need to take that responsibility in the collective, you know. And I don’t think that we do that. It’s a big transfer of who did what to who and whose fault it is. We’re all responsible. Everyone is responsible. Congress is responsible. I am responsible. You are responsible. Anyone who will hear this is responsible. And until you identify and accept that and deal with it, that’s where – here’s where we’ll be.”
While the headlining causes were the withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan and Iraq, Palestinian rights groups also figured heavily into the event, which had approximately 6,000 attendees at its peak.
Protesters, however, did not heavily emphasize in their signs or clothing the movement to secure reparations for the former slave colony of Haiti, which, while able to secure sovereignty through violent revolution, were stuck for decade after decade actually having to slowly buy their corporal autonomy from their ancestors’ kidnappers, the French, in the process acceding to picking off the natural resources that might have more easily sustained the island nation’s population.
And this is where the protest really lost a lot of the immediacy perhaps it could have claimed, since Haiti is one of the worst casualties of the brand of colonialism ANSWER’s biggest signs and themes alluded to in Iraq and Afghanistan. That sort of talk has set the stage for apologists talking about how relatively nice the use of drones is.
Near the end of the afternoon, some protesters began stacking the cardboard coffins against the White House fence, and then laying down next to the coffins. This is what would initiate eight arrests.