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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: San Francisco | Anti-War
Four "End The War Now" Demonstrators Speak Out - Sat/Oct 27,2007
Five Marchers: The Madrones from Casadero, Carline from Haiti and Point Richmond, Jerald, a graduate from SF, and River Joseph from Berkley give accounts of the march and trenchant political analysis of reasons to END THE WAR NOW!
FOUR INTERVIEWS: “END THE WAR NOW” DEMONSTRATORS SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2007.
INTERVIEW ONE: BOB AND SHERRY MADRONE FROM CASADERO, SONOMA COUNTY
INTERVIEW TWO: CARLINE FROM HAITI, NEW YORK CITY AND POINT RICHMOND
INTERVIEW THREE: JERALD, 24, RECENT SFSU GRADUATE
INTERVIEW FOUR: RIVER JOSEPH, ARDENT BERKELEY ACTIVIST
INTERVIEW ONE: BOB AND SHERRY MADRONE.
My name is Bob Madrone. I’ll be 66 in a couple of weeks.
Carol Harvey: Where did you come from?
BM: We came from Northwestern Sonoma County, west of Casadero. We drove down at least 2-1/2 hours --- an hour into Santa Rosa.
CH: Why are you here today?
BM: We came because we were hoping to make a change ---- so we do pull out of Iraq --- to have enough people to show up to do that.
CH: What do you want people to know?
BM: I was discouraged how few people were there. I was hoping this would be a monstrous demonstration ---- that many, many, many more people would be there. Since there seems to be less news about Iraq in recent weeks, we have to be ready to be out there doing everything we can including being on the streets to let people know that Americans want us out of Iraq.
I’ve come to all of them (demonstrations) for years.
I’m a member of Veterans For Peace --- recently encouraged to join by a friend of mine. I was in the Marine Corps reserves from ’63 to ’69.
Sherry Madrone: There were a lot more cultures and races and ages than it used to be, and that was hopeful.
CH: Are you aware that mainstream media is burying this, and that that’s why people don’t show up?
SM: Oh, yes. Oh, yes. We can reach KPFA up there.
DEMONSTRATING FOR THEIR GRANDDAUGHTER
CH: (Addressing Sherry) Is there anything that you would like people to know.
SM: We want a world for our granddaughter.
CH: (To Bob Madrone) Would you agree with that as well?
BM: I sure would, yes.
INTERVIEW TWO: CARLINE, A HAITIAN NATIONAL FROM POINT RICHMOND
Carline: I’m from Point Richmond. I used to live in New York. I moved here three years ago.
CH: You have a little bit of an accent. Do you mind if I ask what Country you are from?
CARLINE: I’m from Haiti. I came in 1979.
CH: What was your main reason for coming to the demonstration?
Carline: I’m against the war. The American people voted during the last election that they wanted the troops out of Iraq. President Bush refused to bring the troops home, and I think he should.
President Bush is not listening to the people. I just don’t understand why.
BUSH WAR AGENDA
Q: What is the main problem with the Bush Administration that they are not getting us out of that war?
Carline: I think that they went there for oil.
Most of the highjackers were from Saudi Arabia. So, I don’t understand why they attacked Iraq.
Saddam Hussein was a very bad guy. I’m glad they got rid of him. But they should not have invaded Iraq.
POSSIBLE ATTACK ON IRAN AND CUBA
CH: What do you think about this threat to attack Iran?
Carline: I think it’s awful, and that’s another reason why I’m here --- to send a message, “No! No!”
CH: What do you think about Cuba? He’s also making comments about Castro dying.
Carline: (Laughs) I don’t think he’s going to invade Cuba. Fidel is very healthy.
Q: What is the most important thing you want people to know?
Carline: Stop spending American tax dollars --- wasting American tax dollars --- in Iraq. The people don’t want us there.
First of all, they are not even prepared. Bush took the troops to war without any preparation. A lot of them don’t have the proper jacket (body armor) to fight there.
Like I said, in the last election, the American people sent a clear message they want the troops home, and President Bush should listen to the American people.
PELOSI AND IMPEACHMENT
Q: Do you have any thoughts about Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats record now that they are power?
Carline: Pelosi said that she will not agree to impeach Bush. I think they should. But she said, “No.”
So, what we have to do is get out the vote in 2008 and get rid of the Republicans.
HILARY: A TOUGH WOMAN PRESIDENT
Q: Which Presidential Candidate are you for?
Carline: I’m for Hilary. I think she’s wonderful. She’s great. Oh, my God, I just love her. She is such a strong intelligent woman. I’m not saying she’s perfect. Nobody is. But, I think it’s about time we have a woman President, and I think she’s the right woman.
All over Europe, even in India, we have had woman President. Prime Ministers and all of that. So, how come here in the States… I mean, we are supposed to be so progressive, and we never had a woman President!
Q: What’s the one big thing you like about Hilary?
Carline: She’s tough.
And, Down with Guiliani! Oh, God No!
Q: What is the most important thing you want to say to people.
CUT OFF THE FUNDING FOR THE WAR!
Carline: They need to cut off the funding! Don’t fund the war anymore! Cut off the money! We can get out of Iraq just like Viet Nam.
BRING THE TROOPS HOME!
I’m sending a message to anyone who cares about this country ---- Anyone who cares about the troops. Bring the Troops Home! That’s it.
INTERVIEW THREE: JERALD: COLLEGE GRAD
My name is Jerald. I’m 24. I went to Berkeley and am a San Francisco State University graduate.
CH: What kinds of people did you see at this demonstration today?
Jerald: First there was the demonstration here at the Civic Center around 11:00 today. Then folks started marching up Market, then toward Dolores Park.
The demographic was fairly mixed. It was a multiracial march. At the same time it seemed like there were folks of all age ranges.
But particularly for the folks in my age range --- high school to early college, late 20s --- that demographic definitely are part of organizations calling for more radical change. I didn’t see many folks who were advocating for Rom Paul that were in my age range.
CH: Were you disappointed at the turnout?
Jerald: I don’t want to say I’m disappointed.
CH: Did you think it was a low turnout?
NEW LEFT REVOLUTIONARIES VS THE LEFT TODAY
Jerald: Yes. But we need to look at it historically and in context of the Left in general and, (also) in the context of U.S. Imperialism.
Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Anti-Viet Nam movement organizers were able to learn the lessons of the Civil Rights movement, and from organizers at the grass roots level, that they needed to get in touch with rank and file people to actually produce more change.
The New Left from the ‘60s and ‘70s pointed to Revolution.
We don’t see that today. The Left, in general, hasn’t been that strong.
(However) they’ve already seen large mobilizations, nationwide mobilizations that actually emboldened people. As more and more people start organizing and getting involved in the anti-War movement, potentially we will see people radicalized (by what) the Democrats and Republicans are doing in the government. Because of this struggle, (we will see) people’s ideas changing.
CH: So, you look at this hopefully?
Jerald: Yes. As more folks get organized in the anti-war movement or even in other movements --- whether it be anti death policy movement or the fight against racism --- as more folks understand that, ‘yes, mobilizations are important, but (so is) organizing these mobilizations and having an infrastructure of activists building political relationships with each other, then (they will) start joining and becoming active. I think we will see a little more change.
CH: Which folks?
Jerald: People of all ages, demographics, (and) backgrounds.
CH: You are saying that there is this history of learning. So, why is this history not adding up right now?
SYSTEMIC DUMBING DOWN STYMIES ACTIVISM
Jerald: We should look at our school systems and at what has taken place since the 1970s --- with the cuts in social spending, with people’s standards of living actually stagnating if not diminishing.
(This) points to certain systemic factors. It seems that right now people aren’t being educated. There is a dumbing down of generation after generation.
It’s not that people don’t have the capacity. It’s just that the educational system does not actually portray history as a people’s history. If people haven’t heard of workers organizing for greater working conditions, higher wages or more benefits, (they aren’t compelled) to organize.
Granted professors in Universities and instructors at any level of education teach things out of a book. But let’s see who’s publishing these books. Let’s see the agenda and the priorities of these books. We need to see whose interest is being advocated for.
INDOCTRINATION VS EDUCATION
CH: Where did you go to high school?
Jerald: I went to Catholic high school in San Francisco ten blocks from here.
CH: Don’t you feel you were educated?
Jerald: I feel that I was indoctrinated from a Catholic institution that had its own agenda --- to turn out another generation of Catholics.
I had world history, American government, literature classes, and all that. At the same time the books they used had a different perspective of society, of the world, of global internationalism.
I see that self-education is important. I am attempting to think for myself.
Right now the Evangelicals have a movement going on. They have people teaching Creationism in public schools, and that turns into indoctrination. It’s not necessarily science.
CH: What is the most important thing you want people to know?
Jerald: The U.S. occupation has produced a million deaths amongst Iraqis, not to mention the ever-increasing (Iraqi) refugee population.
It’s funny to me that now in the early 21st century, 70% of Americans have anti-war sentiment and are against the War, but we don’t see those forces organized. People from all age groups aren’t showing up.
(The Democrats) are part of the problem. The Democrats are supposedly the anti-War party, (so) why are they still advocating for redeployment? Why isn’t there an immediate withdrawal of troops?
The Democrats put that expectation up there, and (then) lowered it, so people (don’t) feel the need to protest, or mobilize, or organize.
CH: You’re saying that putting that expectation up there is manipulative on the Democrats part.
Jerald: It’s disingenuous.
The Democrats are talking out of both sides of their mouths. They (talk) about going into Iran but at the same time, ‘Oh, well. We’ll pull some troops out,’ or ‘There will be some sort of withdrawal.’
And, now they have watered down the term of withdrawal and actually are still committed to this Imperialist project to continue to control the access to the oil in Iraq, not to mention the Middle East.
BOTH PARTIES COMPLICIT
CH: You think that, not just the Republicans, but also the Democrats, are complicit in this?
Jerald. Most definitely. You can see their voting record.
They are saying ‘We need to support the troops, so --- yes --- we are going to continue voting for war spending.’
But, (why don’t you) support the troops by bringing them home? Why don’t you fund the VA Hospitals? Why don’t you make sure the troops coming back maimed or their families who are in debt because the military is not paying them enough are helped?
What the Democrats and Republicans have been saying and doing is very demoralizing. There are many contradictions in their message.
CH: Do you think that this mixed message acted to keep people from coming to this demonstration today?
Jerald: That is a factor, most definitely.
CH: You are passing out leaflets for an organization?
Jerald: They’re for The Northern Socialist Conference: War, Poverty, and Oppression. Building Revolutionary Alternatives.
INTERVIEW FOUR: RIVER JOSEPH
CH: River Joseph, youthful 30ish 63-year-old accountant from Berkeley, is holding a sign he made himself saying:
‘Democracies die behind closed doors.’
On the reverse: ‘A TRUE Christian would never cause the deaths of thousands. Bring Them Home.’
On his T-shirt, he pinned a sign saying: ‘Congress, stop funding. Start Impeaching.’
A pin on his backpack, says: ‘He lied, They died.’
River Joseph: I lived 20 years in San Francisco but then moved to North Berkeley about halfway between the University and the water.
AN ACTIVIST GETTING OUT THE VOTE
Some other people came because of me. There wasn’t a great deal of publicity, so I e-mailed a lot of people several weeks ago and did leafleting in the neighborhood and places where I work.
CH: You are doing things. You must believe your activism will have an effect?
River Joseph: I hope more than I believe, but I believe also.
CH: Did you go to the other larger demonstration today in Dolores Park?
River Joseph: I did, yes.
CH: Did anything important happen in Dolores Park.
River Joseph: It was important to me personally to see the pairs of boots representing those who had died from California, seeing that number and realizing that is just from one State.
There seemed to be a good meeting of people from one group to another.
As for the speakers and so on there wasn’t a lot that was different. I wanted to have someone get up there and somehow hammer something home or give me some new ideas or really inspire people. I’m not saying that people weren’t inspired. I wasn’t so much more inspired than I was just being with like-minded people being out there marching.
I was a little disappointed in Cindy Sheehan’s speech. It was quite scattered, and it was more an anti-Nancy Pelosi speech than really addressing what I was here for today. I was really hoping from something electrifying from her, and it wasn’t a very well organized speech. It seemed to be totally off the cuff and wasn’t well put-together.
But, she’s feisty. I think she’s fighting for the right things. I honestly don’t know that much about her background other than what happened to her son.
CH: She’s, of course, running against Nancy Pelosi.
River Joseph: I’m a bit disillusioned with Nancy Pelosi. I think she’s done some good things. I think she basically tries. I think she’s somewhat handcuffed by the political situation just as it is.
I also think she’s in a rough place so far as the impeachment process is concerned because, if Bush and Cheney were impeached, she would be the one to land the job, and I think she’d probably see that as being self-serving if she really pushed for the impeachment process. But, I still don’t think that should stop her. Hey, I wouldn't mind having President Pelosi. Be a lot better than any of the males that have come along.
PURPOSE IN COMING
CH: What is the main reason you came to this demonstration today?
River Joseph: To get my body and my voice out here.
To voice my opposition to the war to the Administration and to the fact that our dollars have been misused to kill other people.
(And) to the fact that there have been close to a million Iraqis dead, and there seems to be no end in sight.
(And) To protest the fact that Congress is not taking it upon themselves to do what they are supposed to do and engage in an impeachment process for all the wrongs that the administration has done --- Cheney and Bush.
CH: What did you think of the turnout today?
River Joseph: I was disappointed.
I would be disappointed in anything under 200,000 to 500,000 people. In the Bay Area where there are 6 to 8 million people. If 70% are against the war, 200,000 to 500,000 people is the minimum who should be turning out to protest the war.
I find it difficult not to have a bit of an attitude when friends who I know are very much against the war couldn’t find time to put aside to come out here today.
CH: What kind of excuses/ reasons do you hear from your friends?
River Joseph: “I have these plans. I have to do this.”
It’s not for me to judge those reasons. Admittedly, there wasn’t a lot of publicity, so people possibly had plans that were difficult to break when they got the information that there was a demonstration today. But, to me, it’s just one of those situations where I would put everything aside to come out here and would hope that other people would, too.
CH: How large was the turnout?
River Joseph: It’s difficult to call, but I think the turnout in March was a little less than today’s in Dolores Park.
DISEMPOWERMENT LEADS TO APATHY
CH: Do you have any speculation about the main reason for possibly low turnouts at the demonstrations in January, March, and today?
River Joseph: I think some of it is apathy. Many people have given up on the entire system because they are not getting the responses they should from the people they’ve elected to office.
Certainly the Republicans to begin with, but the Democrats that were elected in November have been, at best, ineffective of really making any real changes.
DEMOCRATS NOT PULLING TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ
I don’t think there is a strong commitment by the Democrats. I’m not sure quite what it is, whether they simply want to leave the war go on and let Bush and the Republicans be burdened by the legacy of it.
But, none of them, even the ones who are running for the Presidency in the Democratic party next year seem to be committed to pulling the troops out of Iraq for far into the future --- at least any significant number of them.
A SENSE OF “REMOVAL”
I also think that people who are not directly affected and who don’t have dying people with bullet wounds presented on their TV sets or on line every day --- I think they feel very removed from it. Part of that is the media’s fault. They show only what they want to show. They say only what they want to say.
The fact that the dead soldiers arriving in Delaware can’t even be photographed, I think is a sham.
WE RE-ELECTED DEMOCRATS FOR WHAT?
I can see from the way that Washington operates that it isn’t a matter of just going in there and making total changes and getting the war ended in two days or a week or even a relatively short period of time, but it doesn’t feel to me that nearly enough has been done. They haven’t stood up for what I thought we re-elected them for.
I think they’ve totally failed in not addressing the impeachment process. Dennis Kucinich, so far as I know, is the only one who has stood up and made any moves in that direction, and I think it’s part of Congress’ responsibility to do that, especially in this situation.
Seeing the signs saying, ‘Clinton lied. No one died’ seems very very appropriate, and when you consider the fact that they were so vehement about going through the impeachment process then, and now don’t even address it. ‘It’s totally off the table.’ Well, why should it be off the table?
CH: These are Nancy Pelosi’s words.
River Joseph: Yes. And, these are horrendous things this administration has done, and they are going to continue to do. I’m afraid it’s going to get even worse.
BUSH WILL ATTACK IRAN
My feeling is very strong that the Bush Administration will attack Iran. They seem to be making all the moves to provoke some kind of action that will give them supposedly a reason for retaliating if Iran makes the first move.
CH: What do you think of Bush’s vow to stop human rights abuses in other countries besides Iraq, like Cuba?
River Joseph: Stop human rights abuses? If anything, it’s escalated them. It’s certainly brought about hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of deaths, and will probably continue for so many years down the road as a result of the actions that were taken.
CH: Which deaths? Where?
River Joseph: In the Middle East, especially Iraq, Afghanistan and probably elsewhere, too. Certainly of the soldiers.
BOOTS ON THE GROUND
Q: (Tearing up) I was very touched this afternoon by walking up the hill on Dolores Park, and seeing a pair of boots representing each soldier from California who has died. Very moving to see the names and see that they were 19 or 20 years old and should have had a lifetime ahead of them.
When we had a five-minute die-in and we lay on Market Street, I suddenly had this feeling that either I or someone else could be lying in the streets of Baghdad dying of gunshot wounds, heavy explosives, whatever. I yelled and asked people to try to visualize that, to see and feel themselves as really being a victim of this war and dying on the streets. It was just an impulse, and it hit me in the very most minute way of what it possibly could be like to be in that situation and be suffering the consequences of this Nation’s actions.
CH: So, the Die-In was very poignant for you?
River Joseph: Yes. (Tearing up.)
And other things in the war have done the same kind of thing (touched him).
IRAQI POLICEMAN’S HEROISM
Several months ago someone with explosives came into a Market place in Baghdad and opened his vest and showed the explosives and was about to set them off. He did, and he ended up killing something like 60 to 80 people. An Iraqi policeman ran over to him and grabbed him and smothered him in his arms to keep the explosives from killing that many more people. The Iraqi policeman was blown to bits, but he saved perhaps others from being killed.
(It is amazing) that anyone could carry explosives on them with a purpose of killing other people, people that he didn’t even know, and (also) the heroics of this policeman in trying to keep other people from being killed.
CH: How did you find out about this?
River Joseph: I read it in, I think probably, the Chronicle while I was riding BART, and I sat and cried. (The story) may have been buried on the next to the last page, but at least it was exposed.
CJ: I’m bothered by the Media’s lack of responsibility. That’s one of the reasons I’m out here doing these interviews. One of the first things they do in a Fascist state is Kill the Media. But, in this case, the reporter stepped up.
CALL A CONGRESSMAN
CH: What other things would you like to say to the General Public?
River Joseph: Whatever the reasons of those people were for not coming out here today, not knowing about it, if they hear it from their friends, neighbors, or people who were out here today, or they read about it in the paper tomorrow, or they see it on TV, or on line and realize that there is a demonstration that they missed: Would they Please Please Please just take ten minutes of their time --- one coffee breaks’ time --- and call or write a Congressman. Let their feelings be known about the war. Ten minutes of their time. That’s all they need to take. I would just ask that people do that.
And, if Congress knows there’s real pressure coming from the People, genuine pressure that people are tired of what’s going on. If they hear it from their constituents, and hear it often enough maybe there will be some positive moves made.
CH: Do you believe that the average America voter has some power left?
River Joseph: I do, but I think it’s diminishing more and more all the time. The politicians have become too much of a front for corporations. All of those in Washington who pay visits to their office, who provide them with transportation and so on. I know there have been attempts to curb some of that, but the longer a politician in is power the more they are bound to be corrupted, no matter what their intentions in getting there, no matter where their heart is unless they are very very strong to resistant.
NORMALIZATION OF ATROCITY
I think with all of us, if we really look ourselves, our daily actions, how we lead our lives, things that perhaps appall us at one point, we become so used to seeing it, feeling it, hearing it, over a period of time, if we are hit with it enough times, we begin to accept it in a way even if that is really not our intention.
CH: It becomes normalized.
River Joseph: It becomes normalized. We are human, and I think that’s bound to take place. I think that’s a reason for keeping politicians in office for a rather short period of time. Experience may certainly be a positive part in how the public is lead, but I think it also can be a detriment.