Saturday, November 17, 2007

What others are doing part 2: the gates

As I mentioned in a previous post, a major theme this weekend seems to be: The U.S. should do better than this. As the Iraq War continues, the connection between the War on Terror and the SOA has only grown. Torture was at the forefront of the connection: The U.S. military has taught torture at the SOA and it has committed torture as well--and provided legislative support of torture. Torture Abolition Survivor Support Coalition (TASSC) had speakers at the gate who addressed not only the question of their own torture in other countries, but the fact that they had sought refugee in a country that tortures. Just ask us whether waterboarding is torture or not, said a man from Ethiopia.

Father Roy Bourgeois, who spent four years in the military, said that he knows that the military does not teach democracy, as SOA/WHINSEC claims it does. "This is not a setting where you can teach democracy," he said, referring to the barb wire, fences, and no trespassing signs. He and other speakers called for the United States to regain its status as a leader for human rights and democracy.

I couldn't list all of the organizations at the gates, but two stuck out to me as particularly interesting. David Solnit is an anti-war activist and puppeteer who created a small puppet show to promote the Army of None movement, which counters military recruitment. He's been on this path since he first refused to sign up for the draft in 1979. This caught my eye in light of the stories of the threatened expulsions of students in a Chicago suburb for protesting the Iraq War (and military recruiters in their school). Another group, Fellowship for Reconciliation, is working on a similar project in Colombia. FOR is organizing delegations of young people from Colombia and the U.S. to work together to fight military recruiting.

It's debatable of whether the line between protesting the military and protesting just the SOA is getting too blurry, but it's hard not to see parallels today.

It is always important to distinguish good soldiers from not-so-good institutions though. The blame does seem to fall mostly on the political figures, especially Bush.
But even though the elections are next year, not many people are courting the protester's votes. There was only one presidential campaign at the protest: Dennis Kucinich.


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