Since around 4 p.m. on Sept. 4, I haven’t eaten anything in protest of the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment in Pittsburgh. Here on day nine, I’m not feeling super up to writing anything. But Richard Brown’s column “Forbes Ave. demonstrators apathetic” has inspired me.
First, I think it’s really important to make sure we’re all on the same page as far as what is happening on Forbes Avenue. Brown seems to have read our website, seen if not read our flyer and even been down to the site itself, and yet he doesn’t make any indication at all that he knows that our event is a fast. That is, we’re sitting outside the recruiting station for the month of September, and during that month some of us are not eating. Regardless of what you think of it, let’s just make sure that this fact is clear.
That said, I’m not even sure if the bizarre apathy charge being leveled at us really needs to be addressed. Indeed, many times we don’t bother holding signs and just sit on the sidewalk. That’s because many of us have to work, go to school or have other obligations and can’t be there very often. And those of us who are focusing on the fast this month are tired.
Indeed, the point of a fast isn’t to be enthusiastic. We’re not fasting to get people pumped up for social change. We’re fasting and maintaining a camp because we want to draw attention to the occupation of Iraq and military recruitment. We’re not fasting because we think that if we don’t eat any food the war will suddenly end. We believe that by fasting and drawing attention to the war we can help put pressure on Congress to end it.
Congress has not tried to end the war. Rather than passing the war funding bills that Bush wants, the Democrats could just refuse to pass any funding bill. It’s also important to remember that the Republicans are trying to decide right now how the war will affect them in the coming election; showing them dissent puts pressure on them, too. After a while in his column, Brown gets to criticize our goals. He disagrees with immediate withdrawal because he believes that if you keep throwing bullets, bombs and money at a civil war, it will somehow abate.
I believe that if there were fewer holes being put in Iraqi homes and bodies, and less interference in its political affairs, Iraqis might be able to solve their own problems without dealing with ours. Some of Brown’s problems with our anti-military recruitment stance are old, and some are exclusive to him.
Never do we say that joining the military is a violation of our rights as Americans. We do say that when you sign that contract, you have no rights. It also sounds like Richard thinks that if new recruits don’t sign up, old ones don’t get out. That’s only half right; a lot of the old ones don’t get out easily (unless they are injured, then they are gone pretty quick).
As for the other problems with counter-recruitment: What other “job” can you spend years in prison for playing hooky, disobeying your boss or even disagreeing with your boss too strongly? And do you understand that many people who sign up for the army do so because they don’t feel they have any other options (this almost happened with me). And even for those who do join solely because they want to serve their country, how is Iraq serving us?
How is this multi-trillion dollar war going to help the people of this country? The only people this war is serving are power hungry politicians and huge corporations making a killing on “defense” contracts and the newly opened market of Iraq. As far as “honks for peace” goes, people in Oakland can hear them, and they sure as hell can stop this war. They just need to realize it and make it happen.
Power to the people.
Pittsburgh Organizing Group