Pentagon Gets Coffin, While Protesters Get Arrested!
Activists marched on the Pentagon, on March 20, 2006. In a direct action, a symbolic coffin was hoisted over a fence by the protesters at the facility, located in northern Virginia, just opposite Washington, D.C. About 20 demonstrators were arrested. The "Iraq Pledge of Resistance" organization sponsored the event on the third anniversary of the bloodbath in Iraq. A prayer was also offered near the Pentagon to honor all of the Iraqi dead.
"The concept of a 'preventive war' does not appear in the Catechism of the Catholic Church." - Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI
The Pentagon - It's the nerve center of the U.S. Department of Defense's War, Death and Spending Machine. It's a virtual city undo itself, located in the state of Virginia, with over 25,000 employees. Situated not far from the southern banks of the Potomac River, it rises directly opposite Washington, D.C. It may be the largest office building in the world, with over 17.5 miles of corridors. It's spending nearly $10 billion a month on the Iraqi War, a conflict hatched by the notorious Neocon, Paul Wolfowitz, then a Deputy Secretary of Defense, who now serves as head of the World Bank. Meanwhile, 2317 brave American military personnel have paid with their lives for the Bush-Cheney Gang's lunacy, while another 17,004 have been wounded. God only knows how many tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed. (1)
Today, Monday, March 20, 2006, the Pentagon faced a different kind of foe - protesters! They were carrying a coffin, too. These activists believe in civil, nonviolent resistance and are adamantly opposed to the immoral conflict in Iraq-a country now also cursed with a savage civil war. They marched on the Pentagon, on the third anniversary of the carnage, relying on a tradition of standing against evil that comes out of the lives of apostles of peace as varied as: India's Mahatma Gandhi; the African-American martyr for Civil Rights, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.; and the late Phil Berrigan, Dissenter Emeritus.
One of the speakers at the morning long event was Cindy Sheehan. She said, "I'm angry about what's going on our world. This government has only been good for the funeral business...This place of death (pointing towards the Pentagon) that they call the 'Department of Defense,' what does it defend? We should call it by its former name-the War Department!" Sheehan said the Pentagon needs to be converted into "a Peace Department." If that happened, she added, "We could have all the money we need to take care of the people of America. We could have every child educated and cared for and everybody clothed and sheltered." She underscored that if the people and their communities had all the moneys wasted by the military and on war that "the city of New Orleans and the Gulf States wouldn't be laying in ruins right now. George Bush isn't keeping us safer. George Bush is making us less secure."
The day for the activists began around 9 AM, near Daniel French Drive, which is just south of the Lincoln Memorial, in the District of Columbia, with the singing of hymns, drumming, and the formation a circle of peace. From there, the protesters paraded across the Memorial bridge, took a sharp left at the Arlington National Cemetery, and then headed towards the Pentagon. At a park near the Boundary Channel bridge, they held another ceremony. This time it was to honor all of the dead in the Iraqi War. From there, they made their way across the Boundary Channel bridge to confront a long steel black fence, which barred their way to the Pentagon. It was at this point, that about 20 of the demonstrators, after first pushing the symbolic coffin over the barrier, went over the fence themselves and were promptly arrested by members of the the Pentagon's police, which were out in full force.
The primary sponsoring organization for the rally, which was attended by about 150 participants, was the "Iraq Pledge of Resistance." It's a national group dedicated to ending the unjust war by means of nonviolent resistance, via sit-ins, die-ins, and assorted and creative direct protest-styled actions. It focuses its activism on agencies of the U.S. government responsible for conducting the war and on members of the U.S. Congress, who have been complicit in permitting the Bush-Cheney Gang to get away with shredding the U.S. Constitution. For example, on March 19th, a similar kind of protest action was held in Hartford, CT. At that affair, a symbolic coffin was delivered to the office of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT). He is one of the leading War Hawks on Capitol Hill, a zealous Israeli Firster and an unrepentant warmonger.
While the Iraqi War is raging on: "Big Oil" is wallowing in a sea of profits; Halliburton, and other war contractors, are raking in the big bucks on their cost-plus jobs; (2) the national debt is closing in on the $9 trillion mark; Israeli Firsters in the U.S. Congress, like Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), are as arrogant as ever; War Hawks, such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), want to send in even more troops to Iraq; the Mass Media is still mostly acting like a lackey for the Wire Pullers; government-sanctioned surveillance, without a FISA court warrant, is endemic; the torture of detainees, POWs, is implicitly trivialized; depleted uranium, a radioactive poison, is contaminating the Iraqi landscape; Habeas Corpus has been gutted; the Homeland Security Agency, daily, grows more ominous; compelling evidence of global warming is ignored (3); forty percent of the Chesapeake Bay is so polluted, the fish can't breath in it (4); the Bush-Cheney Gang, belligerent as ever, has reaffirmed its failed "pre-empted" strike doctrine; and the cost of the Iraqi War is now estimated at over $1 trillion. (5)
Other speakers during the day were: Michael Berg, Gordon Clark, Father Joseph Mulligan, Bruce K. Gagnon, Mike Ferner, Laura Costas and Max Obuszewski. The latter is one of the leaders of the Baltimore-based unit of the "Iraq Pledge of Resistance." Art Laffin of the "Dorothy Day Catholic Workers" provided the music for the gathering.
Finally, the Bush-Cheney Gang is the most secretive, dangerously inept, war addicted, recklessly lawless and corrupt administration in history (6). The argument can be made that to be neutral on the Iraqi bloodbath is to be complicit in that conflict. Remember Edmund Burke's quote: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." The spirited activists from the "Iraq Pledge of Resistance" are doing their part to confront the wrongdoing, as are so many others in the Anti-War Movement. It's the folks, who have been watching passively from the sidelines as our Republic has been repeatedly violated by the Wire Pullers, who need to jump into the fray. When, if ever, are these neutral types going to own up to their responsibilities as citizens? Democracy isn't a spectator sport!
2. For a wider perspective on how the U.S. got into Iraq, and the roles of Special Interests, such as: "Big Oil," the Israeli Lobby, and the Military Industrial Complex, in that disaster, I suggest a reading of Chalmers Johnson's splendid tome, "The Sorrows of Empire."
4. link to www.cbf.org
**Film: "A Coffin for the Pentagon," http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/iMovieTheater182.html
***Photos: "A Coffin for the Pentagon," http://homepage.mac.com/bhughes2/PhotoAlbum183.html
© William Hughes 2006.
William Hughes is the author of "Saying ''No' to the War Party" (IUniverse, Inc.). He can be reached at email@example.com.
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