I’m in Washington DC! It’s humid as hell out! Hooray for silicone hair product, or my Jewfro would be in full force!
It’s CRAZY here though. I’m in a house in the suburb of Takoma Park. There are forty, fifty women here from ALL OVER AMERICA. Women introduced themselves from L.A., from San Francisco, from Atlanta, North Carolina and DC. There are women here from Chicago and Portland. It’s fantastic.
I, of course, am blogging for Code Pink at our website at:
Which is what I should be doing now, updating the Code Pink site with my blog and today’s photos. But here’s what I wrote for the CODEPINK site while I was on the plane:
I’m on a plane as I write this, over a part of America that looks suspiciously flat. It’s probably Kansas, a state I crossed five years ago this fall, when I moved back from a Texas that George W was just leaving in his race for the White House. I’m on an Alaska Airlines flight, direct from DC to L.A. There are at least four other people on this flight going to the same event I am tomorrow. And that’s just the ones I can see. Not everyone travels in uniform.
I, of course, am in full Code Pink wear, from the scarf holding my hair back, to the battered pink suede sneakers on my feet. I’m wearing a Code Pink hoodie sweatshirt over a pink wifebeater that says “GIVE BUSH A PINK SLIP”, and have a pink canvas belt threaded through my jeans. It reminds me of when I was in Girl Guides of Canada, going to camp, and the policy was to travel through the country in our uniforms. My leaders used to tell us, “you’re representing Guiding in that. Remember that.” Today, I’m traveling as a member of Code Pink, and I’m as proud of that as I was of my ten year Guiding service stars.
I’m thinking a lot about America as I travel, as well. First of all, there is my own personal quest to explore the America I call home. I grew up in Canada, but have called the States home for most of my adult life. And geographically, America fascinates me more than Canada ever did, simply because there are more people to reshape the dozens of different regions into their own visions. I love exploring America, love experiencing each individual part of it through the vision of its people. I have been trying to get across as much of the country as possible since I came here, living in Seattle, in Dallas, in Los Angeles, in suburbs and city cores, from Amarillo, Texas to Venice Beach, California. This is my quest, and this trip is part of it. I’ve never been east of the Mississippi before. This will be my first time to the East Coast.
Second of all, there is the idea of America that I am still trying to understand. America, to me, represents an almost unlimited promise. The ambition is fiercer, the dreams are bigger, the cities more full of life. The wealth that has come out of the exploited natural resources and three hundred years of illicit labor (slavery, indentured servitude, European, Mexican and Asian desperate labor) has translated into a dream for the people. It’s a vision of a fairly governed country, on a neoclassical ideal. Regardless of the reality, the American dream is of hope and opportunity through a system that hears all voices, and rewards all workers. The curious combination of political and capitalist ideals have merged into one nation, one dream.
But finally, what I am thinking about the most is what goes seen but not heard in America. I was reading the newest issue of Mother Jones for the first part of the flight, a change from the usual trashy magazines I only allow myself on planes. I feel like I need the inspiration today. And after I finished the magazine, I switched to a newly purchased copy of the American Dream: Lost and Found, Studs Terkel’s anthology of the realities of hopes, dreams and vision. The American Dream in all its glory doesn’t take much to go horribly wrong. Cities stripped of their history and turned into malls. Corporations run amok. A quarter of the population in poverty. A government that takes advantage of the framework of the democracy to stay in power by manipulating media.
So that’s why I’m going to Washington today. The war in Iraq represents that corruption of the American hope, the American vision. The war itself is driven on fear, which, to me, is the ugly, twisted opposite of hope. If hope is believing that all good things are possible, then fear is having to believe that only the bad exists. Where once America went to war out of hope for a better, more peaceful world, now we went out of fear. Soldiers going into Iraq may have gone out of hope, hope for their own hopeless futures if they came from the less affluent parts of the country. But that was a misguided hope, and many more soldiers went out of fear, fear that the lies were true, fearing attack from a source that didn’t have the power over us we thought it did.
I am going because I want to give hope. I want to give hope to those who think that Bush cannot be stopped. I, myself, hope that this war will stop, and that the violence will end. That the killing will cease. That no more Iraqi children will need to be brought to America to have the shrapnel from our bombs taken out of their eyes. I hope that this can be stopped. I hope that the three hundred billion gone to this war can go back to schools in Los Angeles, to levees in New Orleans, to food for the children in poverty in every city in this country.
I want Iraq to end because it leaches the hope from the soul of every person in America. And for what? Why are we at war again? The Iraqi scientists who worked on their weapons programs were never removed from the country and could go back to building those WMDs at any time. The terrorists could be anywhere, taking help from anyone. What have we accomplished except to secure oil wells and funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to Halliburton executives and their already inordinate salaries?
We haven’t even alleviated the fear that quenched America’s hope after the WTC attacks. After all – if we were really in the right as a country, if we hadn’t destroyed half the planet in globalization, exploited other races, forced our culture on millions so that our corporations could, under our free enterprise, make money selling their goods to people who didn’t believe in it, if we hadn’t tried to manipulate the world to our own advantage – would Nine Eleven have happened?
More died in New Orleans three weeks ago, waiting for help, than on 9/11. They died because money was taken from the levee funding budgets and devoted to fighting a war for corporate gain. Tales like that make even the wide-eyed like me lose hope for a moment.
It’s my dream as an American to believe that I can change the world for the good. And it’s based on that dream that I’m going today. I’m going to tell the world, and anyone that will listen, that what we’ve allowed our leaders to do is wrong. I’m going to see the city that represents the very structure that holds up the American ideals of democracy that the Iraqis (and all their Muslim terrorist friends) are purported to hate. I’m going to the symbol of America itself, and I’m going for symbolic reasons.
And I’m doing it, as Tori Amos said, under the Pink.
Two hours until I land at Reagan. I can’t wait.