March organizers respond
It is hard to feel comfortable about the war in Iraq when you talk to Cindy Sheehan. Her son died in Baghdad last year. Cindy can't stop talking about it. She can't stop traveling to places like Fayetteville, surrounding herself with women like Celeste Zappala and Lila Lipscomb. Their sons died in Iraq as well.
Most people don't know how to react to Kara Hollingsworth when she challenges them about the meaningless "Support the Troops" magnet on their cars. Her husband is trying to survive his second year-long deployment in Iraq.
It's hard to find a stereotype to apply to Stan Goff, a retired Special Forces sergeant whose son has been to Iraq and is preparing to leave for Afghanistan, when he reminds you over and over that our government continues to mislead us over and over, on purpose. What label do you put on a crowd with dozens of angry young war veterans?
As Independent Weekly writer Dick Reavis reminded readers in his report on the March 19 antiwar demonstration in Fayetteville ("What's it take to get an antiwar movement going?" March 23), the reasons for opposing the war aren't necessarily complex. What Reavis didn't say is that simplicity can be pretty powerful when it is wielded with the moral authority of these veterans and military families who participated in the Fayetteville event marking the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.
In North Carolina, home of an ad campaign touting us as "America's Most Military Friendly State," not a politician could be found supporting those with military connections who are opposed to the war. Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) called the planning committee of the event and asked if she could speak. When the grassroots organizers planning the rally called Fayetteville lawyer Jerry Meeks, the newly elected chairman of the state's Democratic Party, to ask him to accompany Rep. Woolsey, Meeks begged off. During the election, he touted his grassroots connections to all who would listen.
The $40,000 collected in small checks and cash donations by the North Carolina Peace and Justice Coalition for the march and rally as well as the next day's Southern Organizers Conference is money that didn't go to either political party. It seems that many across the country realize that the key to the antiwar movement is supporting those in our midst who are paying the human cost of combat in Iraq.
Reavis quoted Duke professor Michael Hardt, who was flying home from Europe when Cindy Sheehan, Kara Hollingsworth and Stan Goff were addressing the largest peace demonstration ever held Fayetteville. Hardt's description of the failure of "oppositionist forces" is one that cites their lack of vision and inability to define issues.
Hardt's dry academic analysis is lacking. He doesn't understand that Cindy Sheehan has a vision of her son Casey alive and well. Military recruiting is growing more difficult. Desertions are increasing. Soldiers are protesting openly and in some cases refusing to serve. Americans aren't doing anything in Iraq that Iraqis can't do for themselves. I know that's not complex, but it's true.
for the March 19 Organizing Committee
N.C. Peace and Justice Coalition
(The length limit on letters was waived for this response.)
Send no more than 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org; to P.O. Box 2690, Durham 27715; or fax 286-4274. Include name, phone number and mailing address for verification.