I have been incredibly busy lately with peace work, and had no time to blog (sorry). One project I have taken up is gathering names of Iraqi civilians recently killed from internet news. I am going to take these names and attach them to old shoes and add them to the Eyes Wide Open exhibit (see www.afsc.org for more information). And, I am happy to say, a local church has agreed to host the Eyes Wide Open exhibit here in Asheville. Date has not been set yet. I've been working on that for awhile. I am very happy that this project is going ahead.
Mostly, though, I have been working on the March 20th rally here in Asheville. This will be at City-County plaza from 2 to 4 PM. I have been the official note taker for the meetings, which also means I get people giving me grief because they don't think I got it down right, or because they think I insert my opinion. We have had some disagreement on what our coalition should support. One area was civil disobedience, which some wanted to support and some decidedly did not. I think it is silly and counter-productive to do civil disobedience in Asheville. It might be useful in DC, however.
Another area was the question of whether or not the Asheville Police should be thanked from the stage by the MCs. I am in favor of this, if the MCs think it is warranted. Several others are very much against it. I don't see the local police as the enemy, and I am wondering if some people in this town are not setting out to provoke the police. They seem to have some well-established prejudices.
And, another area of contention would fall under what I call "micro-management" of the program and the people involved. We spent a lot of time debating things that are of limited importance in my opinion. The program committee had to re-meet because the general group wanted more diversity in the program. Then virtually no one in the general group offered any concrete suggestions to improve diversity in the program. We did increase the number of people on stage, which means the speakers get less time. Whether this is good or not, I don't know. However, at the last meeting, people started discussing if the program was too full!! What time-wasters!!
We are a small group, and I am starting to think that some in the group are either obstructionists, counter-productive, or way caught up in themselves (the "it's all about me!" syndrome). Others in the group have been fantastic! They did tons of work and followed through on all requests.
One project we have been working on is flags to remember the Iraqi Civilian Casualties. The flags are on white paper (1/4 sheet) attached to a metal rod about 3 feet high. They have a picture of a peace dove on them, with the words:
"This is a remembrance of the Iraqi Civilian Casualties. May they rest in Peace. May their country find Peace."
We made about 2,000 of them. We will put them up for the rally on Sunday, and then we will move them to a local church, on a busy street. They will stay there all week. I think this will really help increase the awareness of the toll the Iraqi civilians are paying.
I noticed yesterday that the overall death rate for Iraqi civilians was down. Unfortunately, today it is back up to the regular depressing rate. I am hoping that the country becomes calmer with a new government installed (if it ever gets installed!). I am glad Sistani pushed for elections, and glad the elections when off as well as they did. If there had been elections in the summer of 2003, things might have gone better - but the US authorities blocked that. They said a census needed to be done first, and in the end no census was ever done. They used the food ration cards for registration, which they could have done all along.
Remember last November, when the US supposedly "liberated" Fallujah so they could vote? Almost no one in that city voted, because the city has been destroyed. And, so far, journalists and Red Cross have almost NO access to the area to document the dead, the wreckage, or the human health toll. Now, if the US was proud of what they have done, then why would they continue to hide this? If their cause is just (or justifiable), then why not let people witness what has been done? And US citizens should see what has been done (or is being done, as the case may be) in their names with their tax money.
Tomorrow I am going to Fayetteville to join in the protest. I have mixed feelings about protesting at a military town (since it is not the military that makes the decision to start a war - that is the politician's fault). I have no doubts that the US forces need to get out of Iraq right now. Also on Sunday, I will likely be on the program Listen to Women on WPVM to talk about the Peace rally. Cindy Sheehan, a Gold Star Family for Peace spokesperson, will be the main star on that show. I was briefly on the show last week to promote the PEACE RALLY.
I hope all goes well at this weekend's rallies and that overall US public's awareness of the true cost of this war is increased.
And may this war come to an end.