“Failure is impossible!” - Susan B. Anthony, a leader of the Women’s Suffrage Movement
Washington, DC - On May 14, 2007, under a sunny sky, anti-war activists launched a “SWARM on Congress” campaign to end the Iraqi conflict and to bring the troops home. An estimated 250 peace activists, led by Cindy Sheehan, first assembled at Lafayette Park, opposite the White House, for a spirited noon time rally. After about two hours of speechmaking, they formed a procession, entitled, “Mother of a March,” and headed down Pennsylvania Avenue towards Capitol Hill, where they staged a sit- down right in the middle of New Jersey and Independence Avenues, next to the Longworth and Cannon House Office buildings. Thirty-three of them were arrested there for failing to obey a police order to disperse. Traffic came to a complete halt for nearly an hour on both streets. When the cops said they were going to arrest the activists, Sheehan, Tina Richards and the Rev. Lennox Yearwood, among others, shouted directly back at them: “Arrest George Bush! Arrest Dick Cheney!” (1)
A coalition of activist groups are participating in the “SWARM on Congress” effort. (2) Its tactics will include lobbying, putting on workshops and creative demonstrations, too, like this afternoon’s rally. The “SWARM” campaign began today and will continue until the U.S. Congress, now led by timid Democrats, breaks for its summer recess on July 31st. At Lafayette Park, Sheehan, a self-described “Peace Mom,” said that as a result of the Iraqi War: “This White House is drenched in blood and gore...We want our country back!” David Swanson of AfterDowningstreet.org said that the people need to continue to put “fear” into the members of the Congress, who have failed to jump on the peace wagon. He demanded “the impeachment of both V.P. Dick Cheney and Bush.” Kevin Zeese of DemocracyRising.us said: “If we work together, we can change the course of history.” Tina Richards emphasized: “We do have the power of the people...They [the federal government] told me to go back to Missouri and to be quiet. I told them: ‘Screw off!’” Former U.S. diplomat, Ann Wright, an ex-Colonel, who was also a veteran of the U.S. Army, said: “George Bush has committed criminal acts...We demand an investigation and accountability. We need to get him out of the White House and to stop this war.”
On the media front, an unrepentant warmonger, William Kristol, criticized GOP members for wavering on the Iraqi conflict and being “extremely stupid.” The flaming Neocon said it was “dishonorable” to abandon the conflict at this point and “to vote for surrender.” He made his insulting remarks Sunday on “Fox News,” and, on that same day, six more brave American died in the war. Like others of his insufferable ilk, Kristol has paid no price for his hawkish views. No member of his immediate family has served in Iraq. An Israeli Firster, Kristol has been a shameless cheerleader--like his fellow Neocons, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith--for a U.S.-led war based on serial lies and massive deception. (3) At press time, the prime architect of the Iraqi War, the Neocon Paul Wolfowitz, a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, was still fighting to hold onto his cushy CEO spot at the World Bank. (4)
When the demonstrators passed the building that houses the U.S. Justice Department on Pennsylvania Ave., Sheehan called the marchers to a stop. She took the megaphone and labeled that federal agency, under the Bush-Cheney Gang: “The Injustice Department!” When the processions resumed, the activists chanted: “Hey Congress! What do you say? How many kids will die today?” Also, this one: “Money for jobs and education! None for war and occupation!” The huge, blue and white banner, that the protesters paraded under read: “Not One More Mother’s Child!”
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) is still in denial about her role as an enabler of the Bush-Cheney’s Gang’s Iraqi War. (5) Though voting to fund George W. Bush’s mad “Surge” scheme, she has also been holding a hearing on the ability of the states to respond to local emergencies as a result of the call-up of their National Guard members to Iraq. For Maryland, this means that 1,300 National Guard members are being deployed this summer. It seems like Sen. Mikulski is talking out of both sides of her mouth. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius said that her state has “lost” its ability to handle an emergency. Other state governors are quickly joining that chorus because of the problem caused by the absence of so many National Guard members. Maryland Comptroller, Peter Franchot, according to a report in the Baltimore Sun, said at a recent Board of Public Works meeting in Annapolis, MD, in an obvious slap at the dubious liberal, Sen. Mikulski: “We should be bringing the troops home, not sending more there.”
One of the true anti-Iraqi War champions in the U.S. Congress, who has opposed the bloodstained conflict from the very beginning, is Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA). She also addressed the rally at Lafayette Park. Rep. Woolsey said that besides stopping this war: “We need to ensure that this doesn’t happen again and again and again. We have no room for all of this violence. We are going to self-destruct, but we are smarter than that...So, let’s keep up the effort. We will bring our troops home from Iraq.” (6)
Rev. Yearwood served as the master of ceremonies for the rally at the park and he did a terrific job. Some of the other speakers were: E. Faye Williams; ex-U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-Alaska); Michael Berg; Ms. Jihan Hapiz, who spoke up for the Palestinian people, who have been “suffering under an Israeli occupation for 40 years”; Cindy Kaylor; Diane Wilson; and Debra Sweet, who’s the Executive Director of the “World Can’t Wait: Drive Out the Bush Regime.” Entertainment was provided by the balladeers from Code Pink, led by Ms. Medea Benjamin; Ms. Lauren Mitchell, who sang “Dear Mr. President;” the always popular, “Emma’s Revolution,” which features Ms. Pat Humphries and Ms. Sandy O.; and the jumping, jiving hip hop artist, “Son of Nun;” a former school teacher and a native of Baltimore City. He wowed the audience with a ballad, which included this refrain: “What are you going to do?”
Finally, as I was walking along Pennsylvania Avenue, with the marchers towards Capitol Hill, I had a chance to chat with Bill Perry, who is the Executive Director of Delaware Valley: Veterans for America. He served our country in the Vietnam War. I asked him what is the value of rally like today’s. He answered: “I think it helps to focus the attention of the people on the number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq, now close to 3,400. Then maybe, they will soon be able to look at that larger number--the Iraqi dead--655,000! (7) And, hopefully, it will all lead them to want to end this damn war!”
2. Some of the organizations identified as participating in the “SWARM on Congress” campaign are: Voters for Peace, Democracy Rising, Code Pink, the Washington Peace Center, the Hip Hop Caucus, Afterdowningstreet.org and GrassrootsAmerica4Us.org.
© William Hughes 2007.
William Hughes is the author of “Saying ‘No’ to the War Party” (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org