The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Suddenly, I feel like Lee Greenwood.

March 31st, 2008 · No Comments · Politics

The Daily Show continues to be the only consistently sane source of commentary on television. A few weeks back, they ran this:

Somehow, I’d previously avoided being totally irritated by Code Pink, despite their constant interruptions of totally unrelated events and general displays of shocking ignorance. I think it has something to do with a default affection for Americans exercising their Constitutional rights to free speech and assembly. Anywho, I’d spent a couple weeks vaguely stewing and swearing to never, ever visit Berkeley, CA again.

Then I saw this:

Hundreds of folks turning out at the “Code Pink Corner” to line the streets of Berkeley with supporters of the military in general and the Marines in particular. As one should expect, the bulk were veterans themselves - proud warriors who’ve earned the right to support the military by serving in it in the worst of times.

I’ve been lucky, over the years, to have some interactions with people like this. The Rolling Thunder event held in DC each year on Veteran’s Day brings out thousands and thousands of participants. Veterans standing daily vigil by the Vietnam War Memorial, speaking with visitors from all over the world and telling the stories of fallen friends and loved ones. Counter protesters offering protection and support to grieving families whose children’s funerals are harassed by groups like the Westboro Baptist Church. A Vietnam Veterans motorcycle club in Delaware has played host to the east coast version of Burning Man for the past few years.

In each case, these are peaceful, compassionate, dedicated, patriotic Americans who don’t fit the mold of jingoistic, war-mongering, racist ideologues blindly following in lock-step with the Right Wing. What I see in the story jives 100% with what I’ve experienced in reality. Toby Keith isn’t the face of American patriotism. These folks are.

Code Pink and a couple of “independent” war protesters eventually showed up and I found myself strangely moved when the two groups failed to start shouting at one another or otherwise causing a scene. They each stood their ground, presenting their views peacefully and - in the end - spent time talking to one another rather than trying to disrupt or silence those they disagreed with.

Peaceful, purposeful assembly. Public disagreement over issues of substance expressed freely and openly, without hostility or intimidation. Free speech as far as the eye could see. Sometimes, ya gotta hand it to those Founders. And - for one day at least - Berkeley, CA was a city I was proud of. The same for the ladies of Code Pink.

My favorite line:

“And in the most shocking scene of the entire day, he even shook hands with the Code Pink mascot, who actually allowed herself to be touched by a man — and not just any man, but a veteran with a crucifix tattoo! An epochal moment, equal in significance to the Berlin Wall coming down.”


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