Sunday, August 5, 2007

9th Annual Peace Day Santa Fe

This morning I dragged my 14-year-old brother Alex and his friend Ram, to the 9th Annual Peace Day Santa Fe. The fact that the mayor of Santa Fe, David Coss, was speaking halfway through the festivities lent an otherwise lacking air of legitimacy. He was scheduled to speak at eleven, but when we showed up at eleven fifteen or so, there were still a number of people enthusiastically hanging strings of paper cranes on the Children’s Peace Monument while Zoe Evans played “Imagine” by John Lennon. We were offered to join in a number of times, once by a man wearing a white sheet and white pants that looked like they were made out of hemp. I had warned them that there would be hippies there.

I did get a chance to speak to the mayor after he spoke and told him about the “Truth in Recruiting” workshop that I’m planning and invited him to speak. Then we proceeded to “Socrates in the Trees,” or “Dialogue circles exploring the important questions related to ‘How can we transform our culture to a culture of peace and realize peace in our time?’” I’m not sure that they came up with an answer to the question. That’s a pretty tall order.

While I was there (wearing my IVAW t-shirt of course) I was approached by David Collins, a reporter from the Santa Fe New Mexican. He first wanted to talk about what I thought about the Peace Day, but quickly moved on to my case and I reminded him that I was on the front page of his publication just a couple months ago. I had to go into my whole back-story again, which I didn’t mind, except that I was eager to find out how we could realize peace in our time.

He interviewed me for a good thirty minutes and after I mentioned that I spoke Arabic, he asked me if I ever planned to go back to Iraq. I said I had no plans, but I would love to as a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, maybe to organize a nonviolent resistance. I described my outlandish fantasy of seeing all of the Iraqis in the insurgency stop shooting at Americans and instead get all of the hundred of thousands (if not millions, cumulatively, since the invasion) of protestors that were marching in the streets and get them to sit in around US military bases in Iraq. They could fairly easily shut down the occupation without any violence much more effectively than shooting at US troops.

It was then that Collins found it necessary to remind me that when speaking to him, I was “really speaking to the world.” He seemed to think it was a very radical idea and something I was crazy to suggest. I told him that it doesn’t reflect any abnormal sentiment or crazy desire. I’m against the occupation of Iraq, pro-sovereignty and self-determination for all people especially Iraqis, and I’m a proponent of nonviolent resistance. By simply combining these concepts, you get Iraqis doing sit-ins all over Iraq. It’s just a novel tactic that no one has really talked about yet. I don’t actually plan to go to Iraq to try to organize this. The Iraqi people aren’t dumb, and I’m sure that someone there has had the same idea. I just think the resistance is too fractured, and led by too many violent men with a death wish to come together this way. I just hope it gets there soon.

I ended up in a very interesting discussion with a member of Senator Jeff Bingaman’s New Mexico staff hosted by Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety. Before leaving to take Alex to his polo game, I got a chance to speak to Sadaf Cameron of CCNS. Just as she was getting into certain futilities of the peace movement, I was able to whip out my letter about National Truth in Recruiting Day. (More on that coming soon.) When the conversation got a bit serious, I decided she was ready for The People’s Army of America. I can’t wait to see if she joins.