"We are Portland's Peace Fleet; we say war is obsolete!" rang the chant in the early hours of Saturday morning, as faithful parade-watchers lined the streets of rose city/cum warship harbor for the annual
rose/warship festival parade. Just as streets were closing in preparation for the parade, a dozen or so pink-clad activists, mostly women, appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Six of the interlopers wore
cardboard boats, all bearing the logo "Portland Peace Fleet" and sporting names like "PMS Pinkafore", "SS Minnow", and "PeaceMa". The boats were steered by keels consisting of fishnet-clad legs, around whichsmall pink fish appeared to be swimming. Sails for the ships bore legents such as "We do not have Torpedo Envy," "Warship Worship is Anti-Family," "Depleted Uranium Shrunk my Ship," and so on.
The pink fleet sang "There's no business like War business" and other songs, and chanted for nearly the entire parade route, meeting little resistance, some hostile chants of "support the troops" (which some of thepink boaters joined, adding "bring them home!"), some thumbs up and peace signs, but mostly somewhat bewildered and seemingly oblivious parade-watcher stares. Police at one point attempted to direct thePeace Fleet down a non-parade-route street, but their directive was ignored, with no untoward consequences (ponder this: what would have happened if the boaters had been 21, male, and clad in blackcostumes and boats? . . .)
Later that day, the formal pinkly-outfitted "senior rose festival court," led by a fiery-pink (some would say red!) bikini-clad young angel, graciously handed out hand-crafted roses to festival-goers milling around thebattleship site. Each rose carried a "thorn" -- a fortune-cookie-sized message calling attention to some of the hard facts of "gun-boat diplomacy" and other aggressive military behaviours. Strangely, those lined up to visit the high security fenced area surrounding the battleship fleet were the least receptive to the flowers and the messages they bore. (What, isn't this a Rose Festival, and weren't these roses being offered? But no! We wanna show our kids these big ships with their big guns . . .!) One woman demonstrated her appreciation by crumpling her rose, message and all, and throwing it back over the chainlink fence at the pink princesses.
One of the latter, curious to see what had offended the flower's recipient, uncrumpled the flower and read the message, which enumerated countries bombed by the U.S. since 1945 (quite a lot to condense into a fortune cookie format!) Which all goes to show . . . well, just what is it Portland is celebrating here? ? ?
Code Pink wants to know! Code Pink, we make you think!
Photos of both events shoud follow shortly.