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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Momma and Mr. G at Crawford a week later, Soul Force, and a little story from Joan Baez

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Mr. G and Momma G Back in Crawford—One Week after First
Visit.

Today was his 4th visit and her 3rd, and gas (as we
all know) is not cheap, so it was wonderful to have a
good friend join us and provide the transportation to
boot. This whole 3-location complex is starting to
feel homey to us now; we have friends there, we bring
friends with us, and we meet old and new friends from
everywhere.

We drove straight to Camp Casey II since we figured it
would be a light traffic day and parking would not be
as difficult as usual. It’s a GOOD thing we got
there early, because the very limited space started
filling up quickly. I picked up trash around the camp
while Mr. G sat in on a veterans’ meeting. Ran
into a lovely lady with whom I had taken the
Cultivating a Culture of Peace Facilitator training
last November (sponsored by Episcopal Peace Fellowship
and the Fellowship of Reconciliation). She had been
there for a couple of days but was going to have to go
home to Houston and check on her cats. She said she
would be back as soon as she could. Also met an
itinerant poet who can recite line after line of
original antiwar poetry from memory—and it’s quite
good stuff. He managed to book several gigs during
his stay in Crawford and may be able to get a few more
before camp breaks up next week. This place has a way
of growing on people who come here; you think you’ll
stay for a few hours or one day but then end up
extending your stay or coming back again and again.

Joan Baez was still there, and I shared with her my
observation that while the men are very present in
this endeavor the women, especially the wives and
mothers of people in Iraq, are definitely in the
driver’s seat. She told a delightful story that
beautifully illustrates this principle. This morning
she got up very early and walked over to the police
barricade at the road leading down to the Bush ranch.
She and one of the troopers stationed there made a
little small talk—lovely sunrise, that sort of
thing—and then Joan remarked that this must be a very
different kind of job for the trooper. “We just go
where he goes,” the trooper replied and Joan, taken
somewhat aback at that reply, responded, “He? Who is
‘he’?” The trooper looked at her strangely and
answered, “The president.” A little embarrassed for
having overlooked the obvious, Joan explained, “I’m
sorry. I really wasn’t trying to be cute. It’s just
that since I’ve been here I’ve been surrounded by
women and I just sort of forgot about him.” The
trooper, a woman, seemed to suppress a giggle. Ms.
Baez graciously gave permission to share this little
story.

Her experience with the trooper indicates something
even more central to the point than the clarity of the
women’s voices and leadership. The energy of the
camps and the Peace House is what Gandhi called
satyagraha, or soul force. It’s not about being
against Bush per se; it’s about being for peace. If
Bush gets in the way of peace then he’s a problem, but
it’s really not about him. I’ll bet he just can’t
stand that!

Meanwhile, there was trash to be picked up down along
the rows of crosses at Camp Casey I, and while there I
spent some time looking at the photographs of the dead
and wounded. One of the wives of a soldier just
deployed stood crying and crying. Joan Baez, who must
have come from Camp Casey II over to CC I just before
we arrived, came over to her and held her and
comforted her as best she could. The lady said she
knew she should not be looking at those pictures, but
she couldn’t keep away from them. She kept going over
in her mind how she might cope if her loved one came
back with wounds like that, and no one could tell her
that her fears were irrational. The truth was well
known to all standing there. Finally she was able to
go back to her post directing shuttle traffic there at
the camp, and that seemed to take her mind off of her
troubles for awhile.


The counterprotesters were slightly more numerous
today at Camp Casey I, and definitely louder and more
obnoxious. One particularly nasty woman pulled her
car up next to the old blue school bus at the
crossroads and demanded to photograph a group of us so
that she could “show my grandchildren what liberals
look like.” The group, which included Mr. G,
smiled and posed for her. She and one of her
“associates” then proceeded to pull their cars into
the little grassy “island” where the two roads meet,
which the sheriff had declared off limits for parking
or camping. One of our guys started to go explain the
rules to them, but one of the women leaders (a
soldier’s wife who has been there since Day One)
stopped him and told him she was on it. She was
calling the sheriff’s office on her cell phone as this
was happening. The two drivers got the message from
their own folks and moved their cars. We left for the
Peace House shortly thereafter, so we don’t know if
the sheriff actually came or not. This illustrates,
however, that as the number of protesters increases,
and as more protest sites spring up and follow Bush
around the country (this week alone in Utah,
California, and Idaho), the counterprotesters are
taking a decidedly different tone.

We went back to the Peace House and had a bite of
lunch before heading home. Our friend needed to be
home early in the afternoon, so it was a pretty short
day.

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