the Fairgame Archive

2008-03-19: Five Years in Iraq
by Emily

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the Iraq war.

Connect. Find a peace vigil, in the US, near you.

2008-03-21 19:25:47 Ron Edwards

I marched again.

As with last year, it was an act of conscience, but I can't really call it activism. Activism has to *do* something, and this was perilously close to the "symbolic gestures" which get mistaken for activism so often. I couldn't *not* do it, but I don't think it was a good use of time. Its only virtue was not being nothing.

The one speaker that made a difference to me was the guy who pointed out that about 33,000 soldiers in the U.S. Army, in Iraq (and Afghanistan? I don't know) are non-U.S. citizen Mexicans. I knew we'd done a lot of recruiting and citizenship-finagling south of the border, but not that much. That's a lot!

It raises questions. Where are they deployed, exactly? How are they folded into the current positional structure of the Army? When they get killed, do they count as U.S. casualties? According to a VVAW member I talked with later, if those soldiers die, they do get U.S. citizenship, and if they live, they *might* get it. I'd like to see some percentages on that too.

The speaker also pointed out that the initial announced death toll from 9-11 was reduced by 40 quite quickly. Why? Because those 40 were undocumented workers ("illegal immigrants" if you like), and as such, do not count.

Best, Ron

2008-03-24 19:52:23 Emily

I went to a peace vigil in Amherst. Two veterans from Iraq spoke against the war. One talked about the regular dehumanization of Iraqis by members of the military, especially in the higher ranks who set an example for the rank and file.  The other talked about how hard it was to rock the boat, but how important it had become to him to not do nothing. A prominent Raging Granny gave us statistics on how many teachers, how many homes, how much health care could have been paid for by the millions of dollars that have been spent on the war—by just the townsfolk of Amherst.

It was raining.  We met inside then folks took candles out into the street. Very large turn-out. The room in the parish hall where we met was full to capacity.  These things can be symbolic. What change in the policy comes from this day? But the real effect of them that I see is the connection of individuals with others who had personal stories to tell. I left realizing that I need to do something, however small, regularly, and looking for what that might be.

2008-03-25 16:24:29 Ron Edwards

That connection with other individuals is the key, for me. So far, I have not managed to develop much of that from the marches. It seems as if people show up and then go home, and there are a few too many little clique-groups who clearly use the march as a venue for their own aggrandizement. The "effectiveness" I'm aiming at isn't necessarily about altering policy that very day, so much as building more and more real-world communication and effort among us as a community.

My campus activities have been more successful in this way, not only among the immediate community, but in the connections and commitments I've been developing through our work. I look forward to more of that this year.

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