A Marching We Will Go...

Kevin Kamberg

How many of you made it to the Peace rally and march in Portland yesterday? I was there and had a blast. It was my first ever protest march.

This isn't a comprehensive list but here's some of the local coverage of the event:

As I said, this was my first protest march. My oldest daughter would have loved it since she has always naturally gravitated towards progressive activism and was heavily involved with GLSEN in highschool. But she had to work and my youngest daughter had to be coaxed into going. The deal I finally struck with her was all about quid pro quo... She would come to the Peace Rally & March with me and I would go to the very last showing of her highschool's production of Fiddler on the Roof later that evening. As we were driving home afterwards we both agreed that it was a very fair deal and both had enjoyed the other's event.

The Rev. John-Mark Gilhousen was there hosting a small table for Progressive Democrats of Oregon. I stopped by several times to chat or help him reorganize after a brief rainshower threatened to turn his pamphlets and signiture sheets in paper mache.

As for me, I was there volunteering with the Jeff Merkley campaign, which had an awesome, very visible, very active presence. There were Merkley shirts or buttons or bumper stickers just about everywhere one looked. Jeff even addressed the crowd, standing on a park bench and using a bullhorn to do some decidedly populist speechifying, which was warmly received despite the damp chill.

The crowd in the Park Blocks at first seemed to be made up of about half signiture gatherers and half curious visitors. I ended up trading signitures with several other gatherers for other progressive causes, which generated wry chuckles all around. But I actually got some who really didn't know much about Merkley nor I about what they were pitching so it actually worked out rather nicely all around. One guy in particular who I kept running into was freshly back from Russia and we had a couple of nice chats, comparing notes on who we supported (Obama all the way!!).

My personal favorite booth to visit there was one dedicated to justice in Palestine. As an American Jew I was very heartened to find and read a pamphlet by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).

Another group, which had a table directly across from the Merkley tent, was pushing a very creative form of passive financial resistance. From their pamphlet:

  1. Get a marker
  2. Take out your wallet and gather your bills
  3. On the front of each bill write "No" on the left hand side and "War" on the right
  4. Be sure to leave at least one serial number series clearly visible
  5. Spend as normal and help spread the word
  6. Repeat cycle every day. 5 minutes is all it takes!

Then came the march! It started raining lightly as the march got going and slowly but surely the rain increased until when we were on the Easternmost leg of the march we were getting nailed with a mixture of rain and hail! Meanwhile, I'd loaned my coat to my daughter. So I made the entire march in just a soaking wet T-shirt! BDunn of the Forward Oregon blog was also there and it turns out that we both have something of a gift for chanting protest march slogans. Another group marching behind us actually started the chanting but the Merkley crew quickly took over and for the second half of the march we were leading numerous groups, both behind and in front of us, in chanting - "what do we want? PEACE! when do we want it? NOW!"

I'd never done anything like that before but it turns out that I've got a set of pipes which don't really need amplification. By the end of the march I had people approaching me asking (hopefully) if I chant like that at Blazer games! LOL

That was my experience in a nutshell. Were you there? If so, tell us about it!

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    This is the first march that I've attended that had a whole other component to it, i.e. the organizations and the music. I didn't get to actually march, as I was manning (or wo-manning!) a table. Other than the hail shower (I'm from North Texas-that was NOT a storm!) the most memorable part for me was actually while most everyone was gone in the march. There was this group that came through the park blocks twice playing what were obviously traditional instruments and dressed in traditional garb, representing to me what seemed like the spiritual death of war. I don't know if that's accurate or not, but that's how it struck me. It reminded me of Tibetan/Asian images I've seen. Either way, it was riveting.

  • John-Mark Gilhousen (unverified)

    Thanks for relating your personal experience of the event, Kevin... and for the honorable mention of my presence. I was definitely awed by your ability to march in jeans and t-shirt even when the icy rain turned to hail!

    It was definitely not my first peace rally. I'm a veteran of the Vietnam Moratorium marches, and am proud to have a rap sheet that includes an arrest in Seattle during the post-Kent-State demonstrations there. I must say that I have decidedly mixed feelings about being reminded of the fact that more than thirty years later, we are again marching to end U.S. occupation of yet another sovreign nation in the throes of a civil war we had a major hand in creating. (And let's not talk about the personal implications of the torch being passed to a generation already old enough to have a daughter in high school.)

    My primary purpose in attending, besides raising my voice once more for the cause of peace and justice, was to collect signatures for the Healthcare Not Warfare petition drive Norman Solomon launched for PDA a few weeks ago. Given how hurriedly we threw together our modest presence at the event, I was gratified that I came home with hundreds of signatures, albeit on very soggy paper.

    And despite the bitterly tragic nature of the fact that we have to be protesting war again at all, it was truly uplifting to see throngs of people gathered for a common purpose for the greater good, representing the wonderful diversity of this state -- old and young, gay and straight, men and women, from differing racial, social, and economic backgrounds... all giving peace a chance!

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    Well... some might say that I lacked the common sense God gave a gnat, marching through hail and rain in a T-shirt. But what kept going through my mind at the time was the thought that I'd bet there are no chickenhawks who would be willing to march like that in favor of war. Yet they dare to question the patriotism and courage of those opposed to their war!?!

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    Just curious: had Jeff Merkley ever marched in an antiwar protest prior to becoming a US Senate candidate? Not counting Vietnam?

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    Ok, even I noticed the heavy Merkley references in this post but please, please, PLEASE can we keep at least one freakin thread out of the contest, as a whole?

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    Jeff Merkley was against going into Iraq when it counted and that is an indisputable fact. If he was our Senator instead of Gordon Smith when the vote happened, we would have had two Oregon Senators voting against giving the President authorization for starting this war instead of just one. To question Jeff Merkley's commitment to progressive causes or suggest that he just woke up and decided to do the right thing about the war in Iraq is disingenuous at best. You can support who you would like but please be civil and be honest.


  • John-Mark Gilhousen (unverified)

    Vietnam doesn't count? Why? Because one's favorite candidate was too young to march against it?

    Whoa. And I had worried that I had become too much of a cynic.

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    The reference are there because that was my experience... it's what I was doing there. By the same token, John-Mark talked a lot about the Progressive Democrats of Oregon because that was his experience... what he was doing there. I mentioned him and the PDO table because that was part of my experience.

    Supporters of any of the several other political candidates or any of the organizations with a presence at the event will only have my gratitude if they chime in with their experiences too. Of necessity, if they were there to volunteer for a given cause then their experiences will revolve around whatever that cause was. That's just reality, IMHO. Further more, I'd venture that the large majority of attendees had multiple agendas which explained their respective presence there. Our common bond was protesting this unjust war. But it was stunningly obvious to me that huge numbers of participants filtered that common cause through various other causes. I rather suspect that that is perfectly normal at these kinds of events.

    That said, Stephanie didn't ask a provocative question, as far as I'm concerned. But she'll have to get the answer from someone else because I have no freakin' idea whether he has or hasn't. It honestly never occured to me to even wonder. I imagine I wasn't the only newbie at the event. In fact, just based on age alone I'm certain that I wasn't the only newbie at the event. But whether Jeff was... I simply do not know one way or the other.

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    To bring this back to the real point, I would like to relate that we had a wonderful peace rally here in Eugene. We had over 1000 people, fantastic speakers and a great demonstration showing that there are an overwhelming number of people who want to support our troops by bringing them home.

    Many thanks to to Carmen Urbina and Jonny Lake for being awesome MC's, Lane County's own Kitty Piercy and Pete Sorenson, Bob Watada, Lt. Wataba's father, for letting us know from a personal perspective the price of this war and thanks to Jefferson Smith for coming down from PDX to share.

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    I simply meant that Vietnam was already a very unpopular war by the time Jeff Merkley was old enough to march in antiwar rallies. He and I are the same age. Men our age didn't get draft numbers. But if he did march against the Vietnam war, that would be great too, don't get me wrong.

    Val, I've been civil here. You've been a little bit defensive and paranoid. Fr. Gilhousen, please see what I said above.

    Perhaps someone has the answer. If anyone does, I'd like to know. Thank you.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Kevin, doesn't matter if it was your first or your one hundredth rally, it is the struggle that counts. A shout out to the organizers is in order. The members of PDX Peace spent many months getting this organized. One of the objectives was to have a family friendly space where all were welcome to table and advocate for their cause. Murphy and his law made an appearance at the start of the setup when the tent rental company thought it was going to be on Sunday! The organizers kept their cool and all was well by about 10:30. Being a SNOB*, I was prepared for the weather and even had dry shoes and socks waiting at our tent when I got back from the march.

    My only disappointment was that so few people knew about the live streaming video of the IVAW Winter Soldier hearings open to the public at Lincoln Hall.

    For all of you reading this, if you want to continue helping in some small way, contact The Iraq Body Count Exhibit [email protected] and volunteer to help them break down the exhibit on March 20th.

    Grant E. Remington, aka BOHICA President Emeritus Veterans For Peace Chapter 72

    *SNOB = Son of Native Oregon Born

    "It is wrong to expect a reward for your struggles. The reward is the act of struggle itself, not what you win. Even though you can't expect to defeat the absurdity of the world, you must make that attempt. That's morality, that's religion. That's art. That's life." - Phil Ochs
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    As mentioned above I led a troop of Willamette University Students for Jeff Merkley up to the awesome peace rally and in the process lost my voice. Apparrently "There aint no power like the power of the people cuz the power of the people don't stop" but it does get hoarse.

    Kevin's experience was very similar to mine so ill keep from talking about how Merkley rocks (which he does btw) and ask some Novick supporters who were there to chime in about what their campaign was doing for the march for a little balance.

  • DeanOR (unverified)

    Many thousands of we invisible protesters in the non-existent peace movement rallied once again here and around the country. This one was smaller, as expected, for various reasons, partly because people have the illusion that the presidential election will solve Iraq and think things are better there already as the media turn their attention away from the war. As an old hand at this, one difference I noted this time was that I saw no pro-war counter-protesters. That says something about the turn in public opinion over the last 5 years. I considered not attending because I'm so discouraged at this point, but it was uplifting to be with so many committed, great people. It was a fine event. I talked later to the wife of a military doctor from out of town who watched from inside Peets. She was very favorably impressed and implied that she and her husband are opposed to the war and felt that this was supportive of their family. Nice.

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    Sorry, Bradley, I've been cooped up at home with a brutal headcold, so I can't answer that.

    But at least we're not supporting the candidate who voted for HR2.

  • LT (unverified)

    Give it a rest, Stephanie.

    What you are saying is "vote for the guy who has never been elected to legislative office because at least he didn't cast the stupid vote Merkley cast back in 2003".

    People already have their minds made up on that one, including those of the opinion "We should vote in 2008 based on a legislative vote in 2003? And this is relevant to my life because......"

    Winning friends and influencing people really is a part of politics, and "we like our guy, you should too" isn't the way to do that.

    People who have loved ones serving in Iraq, or under the medical care of the VA, or worried about home foreclosures or joblessness or whatever are going to vote for Steve because you like him and you don't like Jeff's voting record? You sound like Cong. Nita Lowey on Meet the Press today basically saying people should vote for Hillary Clinton for President because she thinks they should.

  • Jack Murray (unverified)

    Good post, Kevin. Although I have to admit the title 'A Marching We Will Go' makes me a little nervous so close to St. Patrick's Day...google July 12 + Orangemen if you don't know what I'm talking about.

    PS I don't understand why Stephanie V keeps on requesting obscure information about Jeff Merkley, especially since it's very evident that she made up her mind to support Steve Novick a long time ago.

    Hell, I can't remember if I marched against the first Iraq war or not...

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    Stephanie V: your pettiness would be shocking if not so frequently displayed

    If Novick is such an anti war stalwart what did his campaign do for the march? Or does the Novick campaign not think that rallying supporters to march against the war is a worthy cause?

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Kari, Could be Spill No Oregon Beer

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    Thanks for posting, Kevin. With thousands of folks out there marching, glad to see at least one first-hand account here.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    As I mentioned up thread, the IVAW Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan was happening at the same time as the rally and march. On Monday, April 5, 1971, the Hon. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon placed in the Congressional Record the testimony from the first Winter Soldier hearings. If I have the opportunity, I would ask both Senate candidates (and Gordo) if they would do the same for the WS2 testimony.

    Is that off topic enough?

    Senator Hatfield's statement:

    Hon. Mark O. Hatfield of Oregon In the Senate of the United States Monday, April 5, 1971

    MR. HATFIELD. Mr. President, the moral sensitivity of the Nation has been aroused by the conviction of Lt. William Calley. More clearly than before, this incident has focused the fundamental moral questions that our Nation must confront regarding our conduct in Indochina.
    The Department of Defense said in its recent statement relating to the Calley conviction:
       The Department of the Army has had a moral and legal obligation to adopt a continuing policy of investigating fully all substantive allegations or violations of the laws of war involving American personnel.
       Every allegation of misconduct on the battlefield--regardless of the rank or position of the person purportedly responsible--must be thoroughly explored.
    There has recently been brought to my attention testimony relating to the policy and conduct of American forces in Indochina which has grave and very serious implications.
    The testimony is given by honorably discharged veterans who had served in Vietnam, and was conducted by Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Three days of testimony were conducted in Detroit, Mich. on January 31, February 1, and 2 of this year. This group, which represents 11,000 veterans, plans to send several thousand to Washington the week of April 19 to petition Congress for full congressional hearings.
    I, of course, have no way of ascertaining the veracity of all the testimony given, and I am not in agreement with certain of the statements and judgments made by those who testified.
    However, I believe that the allegations made by these Americans, who served their country in Vietnam, are so serious and so grave that they demand the full study by the appropriate committees of Congress as well as by the executive branch.
    The testimony and allegations raised by the experience of these veterans includes charges regarding: the torture and murder of suspects and prisoners of war captured by Americans and South Vietnamese forces; the wanton killing of innocent, unarmed civilians; the brutalization and rape of Vietnamese women in the villages; military policies which enabled indiscriminate bombing and the random firing of artillery into villages which resulted in the burning to death of women, children and old people; the widespread defoliation of lands of forests; the use of various types of gases; the mutilation of enemy bodies, and others.
    A recurrent theme running throughout the testimony is that of institutionalized racist attitudes of the military in their training of the men who are sent to Vietnam--training which has indoctrinated them to think of all Vietnamese as "gooks" and subhuman.
    Further, the thrust of the allegations made in the 3-day testimony is that such actions were the consequence of reasonable and known policy adopted by our military commanders and that the knowledge of incidents resulting from these policies was widely shared.
    Several of the allegations made in this testimony would place the United States in violation of the Geneva Convention and other international agreements relating to the conduct of war which have been ratified by our Government.
    Therefore, the necessity for investigating fully these alleged actions, and all evidence that bears on our actions in Indochina and the international agreements we have ratified cannot be overstated.
    Therefore, first I ask unanimous consent that the testimony presented by over 100 honorably discharged veterans in Detroit be placed in the Congressional Record.
    I realize that the testimony is very lengthy, but its full force and content must be made available so that it can be read and judged on its own merits.
    Second, I will transmit this testimony to the Department of Defense and the Department of State and urge, in accord with its stated policy, that the evidence and allegations it contains be fully investigated.
    Third, I urge the appropriate committees of the Congress to conduct hearings on the policies governing the use of military force in Indochina and their relation to international agreements our country has ratified.
    Fourth, I recommend consideration be given to forming a special commission that would investigate in full these matters and would provide a forum to assess the moral consequences of our involvement in Indochina to us as a Nation and a people.
    We as a Nation must find the proper way to honestly confront the moral consequences of our actions, and to corporately turn ourselves from the thinking and the policy that has degraded our moral posture and to recognize that out of contrition an self-examination can come a genuine rebirth of the ideas we hold as a people.
    The testimony that follows and the steps I have advocated are presented with this hope.
    I ask unanimous consent to have the testimony printed in the Extensions of Remarks.
    There being no objection, the testimony was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
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    Posted by: DeanOR | Mar 16, 2008 10:46:04 PM

    I talked later to the wife of a military doctor from out of town who watched from inside Peets. She was very favorably impressed and implied that she and her husband are opposed to the war and felt that this was supportive of their family. Nice.

    That is awesome! It is very important that members of the military, both past and present, understand that we are NOT their enemy.

    It's not by chance that Jeff Merkley has such a prominant and growing contingent of military veterans supporting him. They and many other Oregonians understand why Jeff risked alienating the leftist fringe by publically showing solidarity with military members, many of whom have themselves been victims of Bush's moronic Iraq War, with his HR2 vote and statement.

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    Maybe it's all the OTC meds I've been taking for my headcold but I feel almost as if I've gone through the looking-glass here.

    I've got LT saying "give it a rest" and Bradley Dunn accusing me of "pettiness!"

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!! You people crack me up.

    I think it is legitimate to ask whether a candidate's vigorous expressions of highly popular antiwar sentiments predated the candidacy. Such questions (if answered) shed light on the authenticity of the sentiments.

    I am not the person who dragged Jeff Merkley into this discussion. Kevin did, in the original post, and through the comments. If it had simply been a discussion about the peace march, that would have been a different story. But Kevin, by gratuitously inserting Jeff Merkley into the center of the story, made the questions fair game.

    As for Jack Murray's comment

    PS I don't understand why Stephanie V keeps on requesting obscure information about Jeff Merkley, especially since it's very evident that she made up her mind to support Steve Novick a long time ago.

    ... First of all, that's not exactly obscure information. It's not like I asked the name of the first puppy he ever had or something, so I could figure out his AOL password. But the question is valid, for the reasons I cited just a few sentences ago, and somebody's got to ask it. Surely Jack does not advocate that all candidates for public office should be taken at face value. Or perhaps all others should be challenged, and only Jeff Merkley should be taken at face value?

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    Posted by: BOHICA | Mar 17, 2008 6:25:06 AM

    Kari, Could be Spill No Oregon Beer


    Nice... You just scored points with serious beeraholics. LOL

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    ........had Jeff Merkley ever marched in an antiwar protest prior to becoming a US Senate candidate? Not counting Vietnam? (?)..........But the question is valid, for the reasons I cited just a few sentences ago, and somebody's got to ask it.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there Stephanie. Extremely courageous of you to take the risk.

    If we didn't have you defining which questions are important and got to be asked (and which ones we should ignore), many of us would be floundering around out here in the blogosphere asking the wrong questions and not even realizing the error of our ways.

  • Oats (unverified)

    Bdunn wrote: If Novick is such an anti war stalwart what did his campaign do for the march? Or does the Novick campaign not think that rallying supporters to march against the war is a worthy cause?

    Steve Novick had a booth at the March, and also was there in person at the march and at the rally. There were plenty of Novick supporters there, as evidenced by the "Hooked On Novick" t-shirts.

    Now that I've answered BDunn's question, I'd rather we talk about the march itself. I wish the numbers were as high as last year's. How do we get people to participate in the anti-war movement? How do we get the media to talk about the war? 4,000 Americans dead and we all just go about our merry business. Ugh.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)

    Val said: "If he [Merkley] was our Senator instead of Gordon Smith when the vote happened, we would have had two Oregon Senators voting against giving the President authorization for starting this war instead of just one."

    And then would we have had two senators voting for funding for an immoral, illegal OCCUPATION, as Wyden has done consistently? You "moderate" Democrats love to pat yourselves on the back for being "anti-war", but when will you support candidates who will do something meaningful to end the massive suffering we Americans are causing in Iraq and in much of the rest of the world?

    By the way, I was there marching too, as I have been since the '60's, but we have to do a lot more than march in a parade once a year to end American hegemony, including civil disobedience on a Ghandian scale, and by any means necessary.

    BOHICA: Iraq Body Count is off by more than 100% by any reasonable estimate. The highly regarded British polling agency, Oxford Research Bureau, has recently updated its estimate of deaths to 1.3 million. That’s excluding two of the most violent provinces, Karbala and Anbar. The Lancet Study is also a far more reliable estimate.

    One reason why it is important to call the Iraq debacle an occupation rather than a "war" is that, under international law, an occupier is responsible for the welfare and safety of the citizens; therefore, all deaths of Iraqis above what would have been expected before the invasion are our responsibility, just as all "extra" deaths of Palestinians are Israel's responsibility because of its occupation.

    DeanOr said: "This one was smaller, as expected, for various reasons, partly because people have the illusion that the presidential election will solve Iraq and think things are better there already as the media turn their attention away from the war."

    Well said. Now reject Billary and force Obama to the center.

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    And then would we have had two senators voting for funding for an immoral, illegal OCCUPATION, as Wyden has done consistently?

    Harry, you are just plain flat wrong about Senator Wyden's votes. From a post I wrote back in October.

    May 16, 2007. Gordon Smith votes against cloture on a bill to bring the troops home by March 31, 2008.

    May 24, 2007. Gordon Smith votes in favor of fully funding the Iraq War.

    September 20, 2007. Gordon Smith votes against a bill to bring the troops home by June 2008 by limiting funds to noncombat operations.

    October 3, 2007. Gordon Smith voted against the Feingold/Reid bill to cut off war funding by June 2008.

    On each of these votes, Ron Wyden was on the opposite side.

    I'm sure there's plenty more.

    [Full disclosure: I work on Senator Wyden's policy promotion website, Stand Tall for America, but I speak only for myself.]

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    Posted by: Oats | Mar 17, 2008 11:01:02 AM

    I asked because none of the media that I have seen covered Novick but it did cover Merkley Furthermore, the only person that I saw with a Novick shirt at the march was passing out the Workers of the World News Paper. There certainly wasn't a strong organized presence.

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    I saw 4 or 5 Novick T-shirts, but the guy pitching the communist newspaper was by far the most visible. Although in fairness that was largely his stature - he's about as big as two Steve Novick's.

  • DeanOR (unverified)

    Regarding atrocities: "The atrocity is the war" - Winter Soldier testimony, 2008

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    Here's the list of sponsoring organizations, which includes both of the US Senate campaigns we've discussed.

    Noting the presence of Oregon AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, and a number of other unions on the sponsor list and Tom Chamberlain among the speakers, it's not surprising that Jeff Merkley was allowed to address the gathering. This is one of the illustrations of why it's an advantage to get union endorsements: it increases your visibility.

    It sounds like an amazing event. Let's hear more without the intramural stuff.

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    I agree Stephanie, the events were amazing and it was great to see so many different people out there working together towards a common goal.

    Thanks Val

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Harry, Thanks for pointing that out, I put that link in way back when and only change the upper portion of our site most times so it did not register. Since I helped the Iraq Body Count Exhibit plant the flags on the 9th, I am well aware of the number of Iraqi dead. That someone actually followed the link to the site flabbers my gast. The whole site is under review for a total makeover.

    We have made it a policy in the chapter to use "occupation" instead of war.


    Winter Soldier is right, "The atrocity is the war" and I would add, War is the Enemy.

    So, anybody got anymore non partisan stories? ;)

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    It sounds like an amazing event. Let's hear more without the intramural stuff.

    I'd like to know if anyone else made the march in just a T-shirt. Or was I the only insane asylum escapee at the dance?


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    I think marches are a somewhat outdated form of protest. Mass actions happen more efficiently and effectively electronically, these days. I'm sure some of the old war horses will disagree, but all they seem to accomplish in PDX--where marches should be more popular and relevant than in other cities--is to counterproductively annoy motorists and show off a host of unrelated fringe concerns. I'm not discounting the personal value of having participated, or in the flesh connectivity--but as a tool for displaying mass opinion and inspiring action for change, not so much anymore.

    Will Kevin get through a single post without violating a Blueo guideline??

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    Remembrance of the 5th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq isn't over yet. MoveOn PDX Council is holding a vigil on an I-84 overpass on March 19th (the actual anniversary); sign up and join us. MoveOn.org national has called similar events around the country, and United for Peace & Justice, the biggest national anti-occupation war coalition also has many events planned. I believe that in Portland there will be some other events involving civil disobedience; also the Seriously Pissed Off Grannies are planning to shut down the N. Portland recruiting center on Good Friday again & invite participation if you're willing to do c.d. and other support too I suppose.


    As MoveOn PDX Council's rep to the PDX Peace coalition, who played a minor role in some of the organizing and in helping out yesterday, and as a Steve Novick supporter, I was happy that the Merkley campaign turned out several dozen people and that I'm glad for their effort at connecting different kinds of politics. Thanks specifically to Kevin & Bdunn.

    That the Novick Campaign was a co-sponsor (as was Merkley's) means they contributed at least $50 toward the organizing, in addition to the tabling they did. Steve took part in a smaller demo last September, btw, which Jeff did not. What really matters is that both are against the occupation war and both need to see the peace movement and its supporters as an important constituency to whom they will hold themselves accountable. I believe both do so.

    It is kind of cool to read Kevin's account as a neophyte, since I've been doing these things since I was 11 (a Vietnam Moratorium vigil on the town square of my Massachusetts suburb) in various movements. My experience this time was different than usual because I got drafted to help carry the lead-off banner, so I missed the chance to walk up and down the march and see all the groups & creative folks who characterize this movement in Portland. Joe Keating, who organized the internal peacekeeping efforts, kept us on pace. Immediately behind us was the Veterans for Peace contingent, it was an honor to be near them.

    When we set out it wasn't raining much if at all and by the time we got back to the Park Blocks it had stopped, with everything in between -- one thing that struck me was that when the heavy squalls came through the crowd behind us would raise a spirited yell of determination -- someone started a chant of "Rain Won't Stop -- We Won't Stop". Not just sunshine patriots, I guess.

    But it's a funny thing about the Portland peace/anti-war movement -- despite the great creativity with signs, the humor of the Radical Cheerleaders & other street theater & puppetry groups, colorful clothing and lively drumming, our chants are pretty limited & we don't sing nearly enough, compared to other times & places I've known. Dogged & persistent chanters, yes -- creative, got work on that one.

    Speaking for the fundraising committee for the event, we could still use contributions to help defray costs, any amount welcome. If you weren't able to be there & would like to show support, that would be a great way to do it, because the PDX Peace Coalition is continuing its organizing work.

    There is almost universal agreement within the coalition that marches & rallies are not enough. Some people might go as far as TJ. Personally I think the challenge of the new is integrating it with the old & modifying both accordingly, rather than just Wired-magazine style fantasies of complete replacement.

    N.b. that MoveOn,org which began as internet-based mass organizing and still does primarily that, nonetheless is working to build an on-the-ground organizational structure too, in Councils like the one I work with, which is part of the PDX Peace coalition, co-sponsored Saturday's events & had a table there.

    In fact Saturday's events were a departure from the pure march & rally format, as there were nine thematic tents providing presentations, performances, activities, displays and other sorts of information on a number of topics that ran all day from 10-6. A full list can be found at the PDX Peace website. However, most people turned up at the rally time (2 pm). This form remains a part of our political culture it seems.

    Still, going forward we will be looking for other forms of action as well and anyone with good ideas is welcome to help out. PDX Peace is both a coalition of organizations and has individual members. Political parties can join the coalition, but not candidate campaign organizations. Join us!

    To my mind one of the key features of the movement today is the centrality of veterans, military families, recruitment resistance and resisters in the military. There was a tent on those themes yesterday which attracted much interest. Supporting these people is incredibly important IMO, given the disgusting way in which the immediate burden of the occupation war is being placed on a narrow segment of the population, for the rest of us hidden in off-budget borrowing that's mortgaging our futures, and while we can spend $12 billion a month (minimum) on the occupation the government chisels and nickels & dimes soldiers & vets over injuries, benefits and services.

    Along those lines one thing we should look to is the announced deployment of over 3200 Oregonians to Iraq next year. This will have a major impact on our state.

    Fr. Gilhousen's campaign sounds very promising and I think represents a place where electorally-oriented Democrats and the peace movement can converge -- exposing the costs of the occupation war, not just in blood, material destruction and destroyed-wasted wealth, but in opportunities lost, and showing those enormous costs contribute to our increasing economic instability and insecurity. Making this link is a necessary Democratic campaign strategy IMO. It also is important for the peace movement in its efforts to reach out and mobilize more people.


    To clarify one other thing, Jeff Merkley's speaking was as Kevin wrote impromptu & done with a bullhorn, because there was a conscious decision not to have candidates or elected officials speak from the platform. That was partly in the interests of keeping the speechifying piece of the rally short. But it was also because last year there were a number of officials who spoke or were on the platform, including Representative Blumenauer, Mayor Potter, State Rep. Tomei (my rep. so I remember), I think State Rep. Rosenbaum, & a couple of others.

    That rally was considerably bigger than yesterday's, and there was a lot of hope being pinned on the Democrats after the Fall election, hopes which have been sorely disappointed. The decision in Portland this year (evidently there was a different tack in Eugene) also in part reflected disillusionment with the failure of the Democratic leadership in Congress to do more to challenge the administration to stop the occupation war.

    I believe similar disillusionment kept participation down yesterday (attendance was 4000-6000, last year may have been as many as 15,000). That is to say, while the demo organizers had somewhat soured on officials, clearly the outside-electoral politics movement also has failed (partly due to the private censorship of opposition conducted by the mass media), and many anti-war people don't see anywhere to turn.

    Pitting the two forms of politics against one another isn't going to help either, though, IMO. Focus on the costs of the war, human, material and economic, and connecting the war and economy issues I believe is the best way forward in both realms.

    However, should the Democrats win the White House and retain control of Congress in the Fall, there may be divisions ahead. Neither Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton is really committed to fully ending the occupation of Iraq -- only to reducing its scale, and rather slowly at that. Some of us, including many Democrats as well as others not in either major party, won't be satisfied with such measures. Even if it's better than McCain, it's not enough.

  • BOHICA (unverified)

    Thank you Chris.

    I was the vet with the VFP Chapter sign.

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    Wow, Chris... that was great! Thanks for all of that color commentary. It really helps flesh out what I experienced. As a neophyte I had no baseline of reference, so the context you provided was fascinating for me to read.

    Pitting the two forms of politics against one another isn't going to help either, though, IMO. Focus on the costs of the war, human, material and economic, and connecting the war and economy issues I believe is the best way forward in both realms.

    I agree. It seems to me that that is essentially what Fr. Gilhousen was doing with the PDO table.

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