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Friday, August 26, 2005

Mr. G at Camp Casey on Thursday and Preparing for the CounterProtest

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Mr. G in Crawford

It is Friday morning, the 26th, as I write this, but
basically what happened is this: Mr. G got up
Thursday morning and decided he didn’t couldn’t wait
until our next planned trip on Sunday. So, soon as I
left for work he hopped in his vehicle and headed for
Crawford.

He arrived at the Peace House, hung around there for
awhile visiting, and then took the shuttle to Camp
Casey II. On the shuttle ride he met a young
reporter from Brazil who told fellow passengers that
90% of Brazilians are against the Iraq war. Not much
was happening at CCII; they were setting up for a 2:30
press conference, but most of the preparations seemed
aimed at getting ready for the weekend. Cindy was
somewhere around, having arrived back in Texas on
Wednesday, but he did not see her.

Mr. G really likes the people who hang out at Camp
Casey I (and besides, it’s a little more primitive
than the newer site), so he took the shuttle back over
there to see what was going on. The first thing he
noticed was that the counterprotest seemed to be
growing. Heretofore the most we had seen at any one
time was about 15; on Thursday he saw about two
dozen. On Tuesday they had two thin canopies; now
there are four or five, and—glory be—they actually
rented a port-a-potty of their own instead of using
the facilities at Camp Casey I.

On the counterprotest side of the road directly
opposite the white crosses, there are now staggered
factory-made Bush/Cheney and “We Support the Troops”
signs. Heretofore just about all the signage on both
sides had been home made. Mr. G observed that the
counterprotest tone was much more militant than last
week. For example, they set up a chant demanding
“take down the crosses, take down the crosses.” Only
last week some of those same people had helped put the
crosses back after the vandalism. Some of our people
started to answer back, and the leaders of the camp
promptly shushed them. One fellow has decided that
Cindy ought to debate him, and he carries a home made
sign with the demand, “Cindy, talk to Parrish.”
(Mr. G wasn’t sure about the spelling of the man’s
name; this is my best guess). Cindy, of course, did
not come there to talk to Parrish but to the
president, and as far as she is concerned there is
nothing to debate about. She just wants some
questions answered, and Parrish doesn’t have the
answers.

On top of this, there was a fellow dragging a large
wooden cross (with a little wheel on the bottom side
for ease of movement). He gave the impression that he
had dragged it out there all the way from town and
intended to go on out the road with it to Camp Casey
II. Some of the homemade signage seemed to conflate
American nationalism with Christianity—a bewildering
discourse indeed. For example, Mr. G saw a sign
that read, “This gospel of the kingdom shall be
preached to all nations.” Puzzling over what that
sign might have been trying to say, he came home and
looked up the scripture reference, which he found in
Matthew 24:14 (KJV): “And this gospel of the kingdom
shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto
all nations; and then shall the end come.” Well, I
must say that if “gospel” means “good news” and this
war is the best news that people of faith have to
offer, then this world has had about all the good news
it can stand. Reading the whole verse in context, I
wonder if maybe that is the point—the more mayhem we
turn loose on the world, the quicker Jesus will come
back and incinerate all the evildoers?? Hmmm! Too
bad they missed that other verse in Matthew: “Blessed
are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the
children of God” (Matthew 5:9, KJV). Now I’ll stop
preaching before I get into trouble with Fr. Greg.

If you recall, Mr. G was photographed on Tuesday by
the woman who wanted to show her grandchildren what a
liberal looked like (fortunately, our own
grandchildren don’t have to depend on photographs!).
Well, on Thursday his face and his tidy little straw
hat were all over Danish television; he was just
sitting there in camp minding his own business when
the Danish news crew zoomed in on him. He was
cheerful and cooperative, as he most generally is.

The final weekend of camp is coming up very fast, and
Saturday is expected to be the big day. The Peace
House put out a call for Saturday van drivers. In
addition, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, they are asking for
anyone who has had non-violence training to come and
help maintain the peace, especially at Camp Casey I
and II and also the RV park nearby where a lot of
weekend visitors—supporters and opponents alike-- will
be staying. I cannot tell you how important this is;
if you have this training and can get to Crawford on
Saturday, please get in touch with the Peace House
right away! (Just Google the Crawford Peace House;
all the contact information is there).

Mr. G and I have both observed over the course of
this past week that the protest has been largely
non-partisan and focused on ending the war. The
counterprotest, in contrast, is highly partisan,
although by no means does it speak for all
Republicans. Up until Thursday the 25th, everyone on
both sides respected the memorial crosses (and stars
of David and crescents) and the lost lives they
represent. Even the poor messed-up Vietnam veteran
and PTSD sufferer who drove over them the night of
August 15 has expressed regret. Up to this point, a
common respect for life and sacrifice transcended
differences of opinion about the war itself. This
nonsense about taking the crosses down is something
new.

I said all that to say this: if any violence happens
this weekend it will not be started by the
Cindy-supporters, and I doubt that any of the local
counterprotesters would instigate it either. People
who have been in peace work for a long time can tell
story after story about agents provocateurs, people
who come to peaceful demonstrations purposefully to
disrupt the proceedings and incite violence. One of
our courageous lady bloggers got wind of just such a
group organizing to come in on Saturday and sent word
to the Peace House folks.

We can’t return until Sunday because of family needs
and obligations. If you are able to go to Crawford,
remember what the Psalmist says, “A soft answer
turneth away wrath.” Plug into that soul force and
stay in that energy. I repeat: if you have
nonviolence training and you can get to Crawford,
especially on Saturday, please contact the Peace House
right away (just Google them for contact info).
Peace and love to all.

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