i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

No Punctuation Protest Here

March 20, 2005

I had the unexpected pleasure of attending a peace rally in Oakland yesterday. I was amazed at the volume of people who turned out for the event (an estimated 3000) as well as the wide variety of persons - there were people of every ethnic distinction, people who were large, people who were very small, people on bikes, in wheelchairs, and on foot. There were smokers and non-smokers, young people and older folks, children and adults. There were people in purple shoes, blue shoes, red shoes.

All of these people gathered yesterday to protest the war in Iraq, arguing that the best way to support our American troops is to bring them back home. The scent of Patchouli was in the air, the quiver of excitement and even a little fear as the police officers on horseback (10 or 15 of them) showed up. Memories of protests in the seventies gone awry flashed through our heads, some of us, many of us, too young to have actually been there, but old enough to have heard the stories.

I felt proud and honored to be a part of the festivities. As I stood off to the sidelines, scribbling notes and jotting down slogans from the signs, I couldn't help but to think of Lynne Truss, author of "Eats, Shoots and Leaves" - Ms. Truss would have been proud - not an errant apostrophe in sight! No renegade semi-colons, rebellious commas, not even a misplaced colon could marr the sight of all these protest signs! Sure, a few people chose rather than to butcher the punctuation to simply ignore it by placing no punctuation whatsoever in their signs - but I was proud of my fellow protesters, and glad too because I had left all of my sharpies necessary for fixing such errors at home.

There were signs on neon green posterboard proclaiming "War Hurts Everyone" and "Georgie Porgie - You've Made A Big Mess." Note the careful use of both the apostrophe and the dash! You go, you protestin' punctuation maven you! A girl with a small green sign asking "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" amused me to no end and filled with with joy at seeing a well-placed question mark. Although the punctuation was non-existent in the sign stating "Not Proud to Be An American" and "War is Not Christian," I was still glad to see 'em.

After the march, members of several prominent Pittsburgh groups spoke on the subject of war: The Raging Grannies (my personal favorite! their song "follow the money to see what the Bushies have planned" was quite catchy!), Code Pink for Peace, Black Voices for Peace, and members of the Thomas Merton Center.

Some choice quotes, that I hope, will be punctuated correctly:

"A ribbon on your car is not supporting the troops."

"Mr. Santorum, I am a 56 year old woman. I'm 4 foot 11 inches. I might look like a puny little women, but I have just become your worst nightmare."

"Silence is betrayal."

"May god bless you with foolishness to believe that you can make a difference."

It was fabulous event. I came home feeling warm and squishy, believing that maybe the world can be changed for the better and that maybe I can somehow be a part of making that happen. I like that feeling.

Moira at 02:13 PM :: Comments (10) :: ::

You know, that's what the protesters during the Vietnam War thought - The idea that "the best way to support our American troops is to bring them back home." Of course, when you talk to Vietnam vets, you'll find that they were awfully discouraged by those hippie protesters while they were over there. Not to mention the fact that they really didn't like being called "war-mongers" and "baby-killers" when they came back...

Out of all of the signs you mentioned, the "Not Proud to Be an American" stood out the most in my opinion. Not for its punctuation, but the sheer idiocy of the remark. I guess that person doesn't know they're living in America (and not Iraq under Saddam Hussein), and are free to change their citizenship and live in another country whenever they feel like it. Perhaps that way, they'll be happier and some immigrant trying to become a U.S. citizen (legally) can take their place and actually appreciate being an American citizen.

Posted by: Emily Kasky at March 20, 2005 07:36 PM

Sounds like it was plenty of fun, I'm glad that you took notice to the signs. I guess there is a little puncuation nazi in all of us now. :-)
How did you hear about this it sounds like something I would love to go to! I walked with a protest crowd in Louisana a few years ago, at first I didn't know what was going on but it was alot of fun and listening to all the speakers in the park really opens your eyes to different views.

Posted by: Sam at March 20, 2005 10:34 PM

Emily - What I like best about America is the fact that people can carry signs that say "Not Proud to Be An American" and -not- be shot over it. Freedom of speech is a truly beautiful thing, and I know that most of us simply don't appreciate it.

However, freedom of speech means that people are granted the right to express their opinion whether or not it goes along with the status quo of the moment. I was proud of that young man carrying that sign because he was expressing a viewpoint publicly that dissented with the norm - whether or not you agree with his point of view, you've certainly got to admire his chutzpah!

Sam - I heard about the protest march from a friend of mine. Also, while I was chilling in Pittsburgh the day before I saw a flyer for the event - the best way to find out about that is to check tabs on the Thomas Merton Center website (linked in the entry) - $12 (or so) gets you a year-long student membership and a subscription to their publication (which is also available free in Pittsburgh if you go looking for it!)

There aren't a whole lot of these activities going on in Greensburg that I'm aware of - but last summer and the summer before there was a unity rally in St. Clair Park sponsored by one of the local churches. I went to that two years ago and it was a really moving experience. Dig it.

Next time I hear of something going on, I'll post about it beforehand! This one was kind of spur of the moment so I didn't get a chance to invite friends!

Posted by: moira at March 21, 2005 08:11 AM

Okay, Emily. You mention "freedom to change citizenship." From your rhetoric, it sounds like America is never going to change because America is perfect and doesn't need to.

1. No country is perfect and I have every right to be ashamed of the current course of action and publicly complain.

2. If you are "proud to be an American" and support the war so strongly, why don't you go join the troops overseas you claim to support.

3. I think I will stay here and complain about our government's bad decisions because this is my country, too. This is not the United States of Republicans; this is the United States of America. America has never been "my country, right or wrong," but "my country to which I may have power to change."

Moira, that sounded like an awesome experience. You'll have to tell me more about it.

Posted by: Evan at March 21, 2005 04:07 PM

Good points, Evan. Yes, it was a super experience, one that I'm glad that I had - even if my friend did practically guilt-trip me into going! ;c) I will have pictures next weekend (as soon as he gets them developed) so I'll be certain to post some as soon as I get them.

Posted by: moira at March 21, 2005 04:22 PM

Moira - Don't assume that I don't appreciate freedom of speech just because I can't stand these peace-loving, idealistic utopians. Having lived abroad, I am much more appreciative of being an America than you would know.

Another thing - The "status quo?" For a minute there, I forgot I was living in PA, a blue-state. Besides, Oakland? I mean, come on, there's leftist stuff going on all of the time there. I've seen lots of people with anti- Iraq war booths, soc_alist literature for sale, etc. And right, there are 3 universities out in Oakland (CMU, Pitt, Carlow). Colleges are notoriously leftist. I'm sure the protesters really feel like fish out of water there....NOT. They're preaching to the crowd.

Evan - My "rhetoric?" You know, I have some choice words I could use for your statements...Anyways, there are a lot of things I'm not happy about with this country: abortion, the Terri Schiavo case, etc. However, I'm not going to hold up a sign that says "Not Proud to Be an American," because I still am (interestingly enough, us anti-abortioners actually protest the ISSUE ITSELF). Saying you're not proud to be an American sends a WHOLE different message than simply being against the war. I never said anything about America not needing to change or that it's perfect. That's not what I meant, so stop twisting my words. Plus, saying you're not proud to be an American sends an absolutely lovely message to our troops abroad. I'm sure that makes them feel really encouraged that people back home are saying they're not proud to be Americans because of this war, since the troops are over there fighting for us.

Yeah, I support the war very strongly. Frankly, it's none of your freakin' business why I'm not able to join the troops over there.

Speaking of which, we've been there and we're still there now. It'll look really bad for the country AND for our troops if we don't get the job done right and Iraq goes back to being a dictatorship, as well as do a great disservice to the memory to those valiant soldiers who've died over there (seeing that if we pull out, then they died for nothing). So if these protesters want to do something useful, why don't they protest these (expletive) terrorists? THEY'RE the cause of danger to our troops. Moira, if you ever hear of a protest to support bombing the crud out of these (expletive) terrorists so our troops can get their jobs done and come home faster, please let me know. Now THERE'S something I'd definitely attend...

Posted by: Emily Kasky at March 22, 2005 12:28 AM

Emily - I think it's safe to say that we should agree to disagree. You aren't going to change my mind and I'm not going to change yours - we could "talk" until we are "blue" in the face (haha!) but we'll only end up feeling discouraged in the face of such stubborn opposing viewpoints.

(( Don't assume that I don't appreciate freedom of speech just because I can't stand these peace-loving, idealistic utopians. ))

I think that you are assuming by making that statement - all I meant was that freedom of speech is something that any American frequently takes for granted. I was not implying that you didn't not appreciate the right.

(( Having lived abroad, ))

cool. Where have you lived?

(( PA, a blue-state ))

yes. thank god there are a few of those otherwise I'd really be worried about the state of the world. If everyone had the same opinions, change would never happen.

*in response to your comment to Evan*

(( My "rhetoric?" You know, I have some choice words I could use for your statements...))

Actually, Emily, you probably shouldn't be insulted by the use of the word "rhetoric" it means: "Skill in using language effectively and persuasively." You communicate your point effectively. Ain't nothin' wrong with that!

(( Anyways, there are a lot of things I'm not happy about with this country: abortion ))

please don't mention abortion on my blog.

(( since the troops are over there fighting for us. ))

but we aren't the ones who sent them there, now are we?


You know, it's easy to see how this could transform into a vicious battle complete with (more) name-calling and ultimately reaching no satisfactory conclusion....

Dearest Emily,

You mustn't take any offense from the words presented here - I am simply expressing my view, taking advantage of my unalienable right to free speech, certainly not intending on stepping on any toes. I appreciate your right to your opinion, and I am glad to be able to have mine. Have a fabulous day.


Posted by: moira at March 22, 2005 10:10 AM

Moira (I won't call you "dearest" because that isn't my style, although it's nice of you to say that to me),

Yes, we'll agree to disagree. Depending on the amount of liberal posts in the future, we'll (frequently/sometimes/rarely) debate again.

I spent last spring semester in Mexico for about four months.

Thank you for clarifying the word "rhetoric." I have only heard it with a very negative connotation in my political science and history classes.

I respect your wish and will try my best not to mention abortion on your site again. I didn't know, and was just using it to back up my argument (not to start an abortion argument).

True, we didn't send the troops over there, but they're over there now, and they're still fighting for us.

Have a good Easter.


Posted by: Emily Kasky at March 22, 2005 08:07 PM

Moira, excellent excellent post. Good discussion, but I wish more people had joined in on it.

Two years ago, when I was in a rally protesting against state budget cuts, my family told me not to go because it was dangerous. I went. People told me shouting slogans doesnt change anything. Not true: if you don't try to make change happen, it never will. If the government chooses to be deaf, then let it. I'm going to do my part to protect my rights, because, hah, funnily enough, we always have to fight for our rights. Strange how the world works.

As far as fighting goes, this "war" cracks me up. I love this slogan: Fighting for peace is like making love for war. Emily, I think its time we collectively dipped back into history and re- evaluated the consequences of the war. Why is it that schools are receiving less funding? Why is it that taxes are being cut, yet arms spending is reaching astronimical amounts? Why did it take Bush only two years to let the national debt rise to 6 trillion dollars? Why are thousands of people without jobs and millions without health care? Doesnt matter? Think again. My family cannot affortd health care, and my parents have been repeatedly hospitalized. Can you even imagine what the bills look like right now? Why is it that one professor who raised his voice against the current government is being persecuted by the university officils, to the point of putting his job on the line? What ON EARTH happened to the freedom of speech?

If Bin Laden was the one who attacked America, then why was Saddam chased? Do we know the conditions of the general Iraqi population? What the hell is America doing in someone else's home? If you can imagine a country with more brute force than America, then imagine yourself and your space being invaded, and then imagine trying to live in the terror of repeated bombings day after day after day. No, I'm sorry, the war isn't being fought for "us". I could put out endless numbers of conspiracy theories, but they only make sense to me. In any event, with the consequences it bears, no war is EVER justified. Apparently, the world has learened nothing from the two World Wars (which, by the way, weren't all that long ago) and the disarmament movement. The war isn't as glorious as you'd like to think it is.

Posted by: Neha at March 26, 2005 06:18 PM

Moira, excellent excellent post. Good discussion, but I wish more people had joined in on it.

Thanks, Neha!

You wrote: (( People told me shouting slogans doesnt change anything. Not true: if you don't try to make change happen, it never will.))

I agree. Change will never happen as long as people are complacent and continue to hold on to to outdated and irrational points of view (irrational to me being anything that values cashflow over human lives.)

((What ON EARTH happened to the freedom of speech?))

Freedom of speech is kind of like a joke, if you think about it. The people in charge of the government were like "okay... we gotta keep the people in line... okay... let's give 'em freedom of speech! haha!" this is met by guffaws of laughter and a few slaps on the back.

"Yeah, buddy, let 'em talk all they want - talk doesn't do anything" then when talking started to make a difference, people wanted to take back that right. You can say what you want as long as it doesn't dissent from my opinion. You can say what you want as long as it doesn't critize the people I support.

((I could put out endless numbers of conspiracy theories, but they only make sense to me.))

I'd like to hear 'em anyway... ;c)

Thanks for the strong words, Neha. I'm glad someone around here feels the same way I do! (well, you and Evan at least!)

Posted by: moira at March 28, 2005 09:51 AM
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