Monday, March 24, 2003

War Protesting

Before leaving New York, Chris, Jules and I went to the Peace demonstration in New York City. It was a great day - sunny, spring-like weather...drums beating, chants raised, by a large, enthusiastic crowd. Jules is only eleven, and after we'd gotten ourselves situated among the hundres of thousands of demonstrators, she asked "So, what do we do?" I responded "This is it. You are protesting by standing here and being counted." And I was glad to be able to show her that it is indeed possible to support and pray for the safety of our soldiers while still objecting to waging the war itself.

I went straight from the march to the airport, and was having lunch with my friend Rolf from Munich what felt like just a few hours later. His big question is "what next?" Seeing the U.S. so comfortable in the role of an aggressor...people are shocked, and wondering where it stops...whom do we move against next?

We`ve done so much damage to our reputation as a model democracy based on hard won and inviolate principles of democracy and human rights. Once we`ve thrown that out the window, what next, indeed?

I was sitting in my room last night with a choice of either French or Italian news, struggling to follow the fine details of two very complex stories...the Muslim American Marine who ambushed his fellow soldiers as they slept, and the Al Jazeerah footage of our American POWs. The latter was particularly frustrating because (of course) the French announcer was translating over their voices, when I wanted so much to hear what they were saying in their own words. The translation paused for a moment, and I heard a soldier say "I`m sorry, I can`t understand you." I also heard "New Jersey." I cannot even imagine what it must be like for their families to see this footage.

I can understand why Al Jazeerah is broadcasting this footage. After the unending hours of CNN coverage of the triumphant American "March to Baghdad," American and British officers talking matter-of-factly about Iraqi troops showing no resistance, and "superior" American technology that has blanketed the airwaves (in the Gulf War, too) it has to feel unbelievably powerful to be able to broadcast the other side of the story to the Arab world....indeed, to all of us. The war of images is very sobering. I can only hope that seeing the reality of war will dampen everyone`s enthusiasm for combat as a solution of choice, rather than necessity.

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