Tuesday, September 18, 2007

PInking Up our Reps

Hi Friends-
too busy to post! We who believe in freedom cannot blog....

So again, just a nutshell of a full and inspiring day.

We spent Monday visit the "dirty dozen" legistlators, selected for their entrenched stances on war funding,condoning torture, taking money from those profiting from the war, and supporting the erosion of our Civil Rights.
(You can read a full article on our action in the 9/18 edition of the Washington Post online)

At first I was very dubious about this action, The "Hall of Shame" tour as it was called- shame not being a tool of social change I endorse. But I was curious how it would play out, and got involved in the planning (always a good idea if one wants to affect the tone of a group's plan).

What emerged was terrific.

By the way, the Code Pink mode of organinizing is a wonderto behold. The core organizers frame a general vision days or even weeks ahead (I know this day had a title and ddate assigned several weeks ago) but the actual implementation is mapped out the night or day before. At a house meeting, a list of preparatory activities are laid out, and volunteers sign up. Banner, sign, or costume creation, researching each legislators on-record statments about funding, torture, civil liberties, and compiling a summary of each ones stances that have earned them induciton in to the Hall fo Shame. Pink certificates were created for (and presetend to) each one, very official looking, with an exit strategy (how to get oUT of the Hall of Shame) on the back (vote only for funidng to end the war, zero tolerance for torture, etc). I and other wrote a catchy sone that we sang at the ened of each "presentation". As follows:
To the tune of "My Favorite Things"-- sing along!)

For funding a war that is wrong and illegal
Giving the president pow'rs that are regal
For saending our Civil Rights straight down the drain
You are inducted in our Hall of Shame

Bring the troops home!
Use diplomacy!
Don't attack Iran
And simply remember the oath that you took
And wake up and change your stand!

You who know me know how I love to write parodies so I am having lots of fun with this.

We also visited Ike Skelton's office, he who, on mic at the Petraeous hearings, called the Code pInk protestors "assholes".

we created a aphorism for the word, as follows:


Presented on a greeting card that many of us signed.

And a song (to Yankee Doodle)

Ike Skelton called us all assholes
We would not stoop so low
But if you stoop to calling names
We'll tell yo uwhat it stands for
We will say it prouidly
Spells out what we stand up for
And we will claim it proudly

(The chanting three times)
Americans Seek Soldiers Home Our Leaders Evade Solutions

Great fun!

Most moving moments:

I invited a small group of women to learn and sing some very -peaceful healing songs together. learned three songs (May I Be An Instrument of Peace, An Army of Gray Haired WOmen -thanks Kate Munger for these!)- and Circle Round for Freedom (Linda HIrschorn).

Some of the Code Pinkers were dubious about the plan- to sing in the Sam Rayburn atrium, a beautifully acoustic area o f one of the leg office buildings-afradi it would draw police attention (not allowed to sing in halls, only in legistlators offices!)-and make them kick us all out before we had finished our vbisits...But I was convinced that hte tone of this would be its one emissary, and would attract interest but not hostility.

So we did it!
And it was perfect! Passsersby stopped and listened, took poctures smiled, the capitol security folks, who were all over us when in the halls and offices en mass, stood by silently. and the singers were ecstatic. You know the calming centering and grounding affect that this kind of singing can have on all who sing, and listen. We were starry eyed and joyful when finished. So I think we'll do ti a gain!

Second moment-
Visiting the office of Mitch McConnel (minority whip), a large meeting room, with his Leg aide (pretty high level I think), about 50 of us crammed in for a relatively long dialogue. I wish you could witness the clarity, heart, passion and truth telling that Medea Benjamin (co-fouinder of Code PInk) and others bring to these meetings. Respectful (for the most part), and incredibly cogent. Questions and comments from many gathered there showed how well informe and thoughtful we were, represneting well the peace movement. At one point Geoff Millard, leader of Iraq Vets against the War spoke up- in a choked voice, saying: "All I want to know is how many more of my brothers are you willing to kill before this thing ends. Just give me a number. I watn to track it on m y computer, I want to know what numbuer we're at- just tell me- how many". There was no possible response except the sounds of sobbing in the room, Cynthia, the mother of a boy in iraq, leapt up, in tears, and spokepassionately (Can';t remember what she said- we were all pretty emotionla), she and Medea hugged and wept; that pretty well ended the visit. We presented the Hall of Shame certifiate, and it was time for our song. I said to the aid" Usually we sing a funny song at the end bu t this is not a funny moment. Let's sing about who we really are" and led "We are a gentle angry people". A song I can bet has never been heard in that room, and perhaps those halls. It was such a powerful and tender moment. I was so proud of all of us.

The aid was very calm and present throughout, filede all quesionts and comments (that's his job) and never cracked his veneeer (also his job). I am completely convinced that his heart was touched. He is a human being, and no human being could not have been affecteed by the voices, the tears and the song. No way to ascertain any tangible effects, but the point is (at least one point) that we brought our highest and best intentions and actions into the heart of government, and left with a sense of dignigty and purpose that leaves all of US stronger.

So blessed be!

Off for another day- today is "sister don't let sisters vote for war" in which we visit "progressive" women on the hill who have not signed on to a letter being circulated agreeing to only vote for bills that fund the DEPARTURE of the troops. And we'll visit a hearing in the judiciary committee on FISA (wiree tapping etc) which the leg. just passed a further extsnion of that invasive
and dangerous policty. Probably some disruptions will occur (and it wil be on CSPAN)- stay tuned.

Love, Betsy


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