Some Rally Notes
Busy day today, much of it away from office and home. So I won't be able to harangue you in the usual fashion (I have the rest of the week for that). But I did want to say a few things about the antiwar rally in DC over the weekend. The teen and I watched much of it on C-SPAN, and while there were speakers and choices in music that I wouldn't have suggested or backed had I been in on the organizing (this was always the case when I did help put together events, so take it for what it's worth), I thought that Saturday's rally was much more focused and inspiring than the last one, which was all over the map and dominated by sectarian drones. This rally, organized by United For Peace and Justice, possessed spirit, emotion, and verve. And, finally, some actual antiwar Iraq vets! To me, that was the best part of the rally, watching those young, camo-clad vets on stage. That really moved me, as did the military family activists. They were clearly the highlight of the day, and should be a significant part of any public action from here on out.
Of course, there were liberals who were put off by the rally. I won't name names or provide links. You probably know who they are, and I'm trying this week to be more upbeat and positive, and tearing into ignorant quotes will seriously undermine my mission (however realistic or short-lived). But there were those who thought that any mention of Israel and the Palestinians was off topic, and that this would anger and alienate any fence-sitters watching. For some, Iraq and Iraq alone is the only issue worth discussing, and even then, one must be careful of what one says. All I can say in response is that this is a regional war, and Israel is decidedly a part of it, both in terms of the ongoing brutalization of the Palestinians (who continue to kill each other, a violent split that solely serves their brutalizer), and in regional military actions, training and planning, the chief target being Iran. Indeed, from what I saw, there was very little mention of possible strikes on Iran. If anything was truly amiss at Saturday's rally, it was that.
Still, I thought that many of the right tones were expressed, despite the inevitable lags here and there. The Hollywood contingent, which usually inspires the harshest reactions, did well, in my view. I have never had a problem with celebrities speaking out on social issues, regardless of their politics. Some know what they're talking about; others haven't the faintest clue. I assess them individually, and those who showed up in DC weren't anything to be embarrassed by. As Sean Penn remarked in his brief address that was under two minutes, actors are citizens as well and have a duty to show their solidarity, which Penn, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon did. Many critics, liberal and reactionary alike, spat all over Jane Fonda's appearance. Liberals don't want to be tarred with Fonda's anti-Vietnam war reputation, and reactionaries are still kneeling before their Hanoi Jane altars, religiously convinced that Fonda did more to hurt Vietnam-era soldiers and vets than did the US government and the Veteran's Administration. That Vietnam combat vets shared the same stage as Fonda on Saturday apparently does little to sway this crowd, and I didn't see any Iraq war vets fleeing the area upon Fonda's arrival. I personally have had my criticisms of Fonda, most harshly of her and former husband Tom Hayden's support of the Israeli bombardment of Beirut in 1982. Hayden has since apologized for this stance, while Fonda, in her recent memoir, pretends it never happened. But Fonda has shown a growing awareness of Israel/Palestine issues since cheering on Ariel Sharon those many years ago. How deep it goes only she knows for sure.
Given all that, I found Fonda's address to be perfectly fine. She showed respect for war vets and their families, and admitted her own fears about speaking out, considering the slime machine that still operates at the mere mention of her name. Watch for yourself and see if you agree.