Five years... and counting
Drive south on Ward Parkway any Tuesday between 5 and 6 pm, and they will be there. Sometimes, it may be just a dozen or so; sometimes more. The number varies; the weather is a factor but also the news about Iraq.
Many will be holding signs; others talking among themselves or just waving at passing motorists.
Carol Huhs, a social worker, has been at 63rd & Ward Parkway protesting against the Iraq War — or Bush’s War as some call it — since week four. The protest started in February 2003.
“I think about 75 percent are supportive,” Huhs says of the motorists passing by now after five years of protest. “But we also have the indifference. And the people who give you the finger every week.” She says that without anger.
“It (the energy) is more powerful at times,” she says, “especially with some news from Iraq or with a visiting politician in town.”
Huhs admits she's a little discouraged that the war continues. “It’s overwhelming when you read all the terrible things the government has done.” She disputes the notion that the country should return to yesteryear, when things were supposedly more idyllic. Huhs doesn’t thing America’s history contains any long periods when things were just.
“The exception was after the Civil War and the civil rights era,” she says.
Though Huhs believes “individual human beings have power,” people, when it comes to the Iraq War, are complacent. “The bulk of the American people don’t care enough to keep themselves educated and to act on what they know,” she says.
Another social worker, Roger Goldbatt, originally organized the protest in 2003. It was really nothing more than contacting some like-minded people, those who share a dislike for George W. Bush. Against President Bush since the 2000 election, Goldbatt calls that election a “Demockery.”
“The engine driving the election is money,” he says. “There’s been a travesty of democracy under Bush.
“He goes around trying to impose democracy with any regime that does not have interests aligned with U.S. interests.” For Goldbatt, Bush’s approach of “democracy building” is a selective process.
Goldbatt only attends the Ward Parkway protest every so often now. “I don’t know if I’m cynical, just burned out. I’m letting other people carry it."
He calls the protest a “truth force” or Satyagraha, a term used by Gandhi when he sought the nonviolent removal of the British from India.
“I chose that term deliberately so that we could be a beacon of truth in the middle of Ward Parkway when we were not seeing much truth from the corporate media or the administration,” Goldbatt says.
Attorney Henry Stoever views his protest participation as a period of mediation for peace. “That’s my own personal perspective,” he says.
A pacifist, Stoever believes in taking a public stance. “Many people are afraid to show themselves,” he says. “(We) at the protest encourage others to have more courage. People are complicit with bad policy if not taking a public stance.
“It’s vital (to protest), people are serving in a zone of danger. We need to serve for freedom.”
Mike Murphy, volunteer coordinator for KKFI, wears his Uncle Sam hat every Tuesday. Though not a pacifist, like other protesters he considers the Iraq War immoral. And he’s surprised it continues.
“This administration is hell-bent on keeping it going regardless of how many millions were in the street,” says Murphy. “The war is facilitated by the corporate media that went right along with this…and Congress and both political parties.”
Murphy, like the others, doesn’t know when the war will end. Some hope that the ending it will begin with either Obama or Clinton as president. Regardless, Murphy says he’ll be out there protesting until the end happens.
Goldbatt calls the war a conundrum. “It’s a Pandora’s Box that should never have been opened,” he says. We’re going to leave a mess whatever we do.”
He thinks amends are in order. “We need to stand up as a country and apologize for our sins…for destroying these people, and to make amends in whatever way. We have to beg forgiveness to the world and admit (we made) an error.”
Bruce Rodgers can be contacted at publisher_editeKC@kcactive.com.
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