Some satisfactory news on the civil liberties front here in Pittsburgh – the City Police have reached an accord with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group and individuals participating in the “End War Fast” protest outside of the Oakland military recruiting bastion. These groups had previously filed a lawsuit against the City claiming police officers were violating their First Amendment rights to free speech.
Today comes word (courtesy of the PG) the two have brokered an accord (fancy term) that identifies two specific areas for the protestors along Forbes Avenue. So the fast can proceed free of police harassment.
I'm still wondering if the expense of allowing the permit for the fast in the first place would have saved us some tax dollars.
Apparently, the police were concerned about Port Authority buses mowing down pedestrians b/c pedestrians are just that stupid:
Police Cmdr. Kathy Degler of the Squirrel Hill station said one of the major concerns was that there is a bus lane right next to the sidewalk where the protesters have gathered.
“The buses come flying out that lane,” she said. “We don't want pedestrians to feel the need to avoid the protesters by going out in the street.”
My sources tell me that there has always been plenty of room for pedestrians to pass by the protestors. Ignoring things they don't want to see is an American speciality – things like poverty, infant mortality, hunger, homelessness, injustice, etc. What should cause more fear – a young man fasting with some anti-war signs or a well-fed man in camoflague bribing poor young adults to throw themselves into the war machine for a few thousand dollars?
Maybe Commander Degler could focus some attention on the side-by-side gigunda strollers that block sidewalks throughout Squirrel Hill and Oakland. If anyone is going to make me throw myself into the bus lane, it would be an oblivious yuppy mama and her trifecta of WASP offspring plowing down Forbes Avenue for a Starbucks fix and some shopping on Craig Street. Offspring that will nev-ah set foot in public schools or a military training facility (maybe not even a Giant Eagle).
Seriously, Degler's excuse is pathetic and just another attempt to undermine the purposefulness of these men and women by portraying them as unruly, pedestrian hating children who need a good tasering to keep them in line. What Degler doesn't address is the refusal of her muckety mucks to issue a permit and get things started on the right foot (or the left foot?). Of course she doesn't.
The point, however, is that the protestors should be free to proceed with their fast in peace. And that's a good thing.
Not so quickly, says the man called Potter.
It was one thing to lose political battles a few years ago, back when war skeptics were in the minority. It's somehow worse to know that most Americans now agree with us, yet we still can't get anything changed. Before, the political system was against us, but at least we could believe that it worked. Now we no longer have even that illusion.
Years of large-scale marches have changed nothing. Voting seems to have only made things worse: Democrats took control of Congress last year thanks to concerns about the war, and the result was more troops in Iraq.
I got depressed just reading these paragraphs.
You'd almost call the situation intolerable, if it didn't seem so easy to tolerate. Except for those with loved ones in the military, the war asks for nothing but our complacence as we go about our daily lives. “It is one thing to endure abuses and to carry on in spite of them,” writes Garret Keizer in the current Harper's magazine. “It is quite another thing to carry on to the point of abetting the abuse.”
Are we enabling the war? Do you feel complacent? I've been reading some novels set in Kabul and Tehran under less than peaceful times and it has given me pause at how easy it can be to just shut your mind down to something you believe you cannot tolerate. It is easy to delude myself that my day to day existance hasn't changed. Except it has b/c I know something and that knowledge changes my reality. It forces me to blog about this stuff that has nothing to do with the LGBTQ community, even when I know I'll be criticized by the protestors for not going far enough and by whacknuts for supporting terrorism.
Is it enough? Nope. Do I feel content b/c “hey I blog”? Nope. I feel angry and frustrated and disheartened everytime the military recruiters show up at an event I'm attending. But I can't say my existance hasn't changed.
So while the rest of us prove there's almost nothing we can't stomach, Butler has stopped eating. At this point, there may be simply nothing left to do. Keizer himself proposes that Americans go on a general strike, refusing to come to work on Election Day this November. When the only way to support the war is to go about your daily routine, perhaps withdrawing from that routine is the only way to oppose it.
I have my doubts. But as Butler talks in the late-afternoon sun, he doesn't seem at all dispirited. Maybe it's just the light-headedness that comes from not eating, but he seems less downtrodden than the people who mutter at him as they pass by. He's the one who has gone two weeks without eating. So why is it the rest of us who seem anemic?
I doubt a general strike would work and end up disproportionately hurting those least likely to bear it (and already bearing the greater amount of death and dismemberment to their children) — working poor families.
Do you think the anti-war movement is going to grow? We participated in the March in 2005, but then I discovered my foot was broken so my doctor said no more marches for me. I could still go and be supportive, but I don't. Why not? I haven't been down to the fasting site, mostly because everytime I think about it I'm with Ledcat and she can't go with me b/c of her job.
So what do you do to shake up the complacency?
(I know this is sort of rambly and disjointed so thanks for bearing with me. We are out of caffeine and I have given up drinking pop …)