January 28, 2003
Austin, Texas, USA

7pm. Seed wrote:

There was an anti-war demonstration today on S. Congress Bridge, scheduled to coincide with the airing of Bush’s State of the Union Address. I talked to two friendly policemen, the only uniformed officers I saw, who said that the current estimate—fairly early in the afternoon—was about 2000. While Cory shot video, I was busy taking notes and talking to many different kinds of folks. Here are some of the things I saw:

*paper doves on sticks
*a bicyclist crew with signs—12-20 people, a group which grew as they cycled up and down the bridge
*poster boards, one word to a board: WE --DON’T--WANT--THIS--WAR
*a black-and-white checkered pickup truck full of people with signs
*a sign with a drawing of the three monkeys--hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil--and the caption “The Ideal Bush Supporter”
*a group of people, each holding an orange kite with one of the following letters: P-E-A-C-E
*a bicyclist holding a black flag with a white peace sign on it
*a group of people, each with a poster board bearing a letter: I-M-P-E-A-C-H B-U-S-H
*businessmen in convertibles smiling and waving homemade peace signs
*a shining young woman, beautifully dressed in an embroidered headdress and poncho, holding a large banner she had made. This is what it said:

I Will Not Act With Violence
I Will Not Cause Pain
I Will Not Cause Terror
I Will Not Cause The Shedding of Tears
I Will Not Kill

--from the Afrakan Holy Book (The Book of Coming Forth by Day From Night/Egyptian Book of the Dead)

I also saw (what I took to be) these three pro-war signs, all in the same general vicinity:

Peace Through Armed Conflict
W: Finish What You Started
Right On, USA

On the same note, there was also the biker vet….A Vietnam veteran, wearing an American Flag bandana on his head, rode up and down the bridge for at least two hours, yelling things and generally acting confrontational. His motorcycle had a giant American flag—tattered at the edges—attached to the back of it. At one point, I heard someone yell, in response to something the biker had said, “Don’t sign up then, asshole!” (I wish I would’ve heard what caused this remark, because although it sounded rude and mean, one can never aptly judge the appropriateness of a remark out of context.) Although our views differed in many respects, I actually respected the guy a lot for choosing to come out to the demonstration when it was obvious that he would be an extreme minority. Anyone who stands up for what they believe in has MY vote!

I felt especially drawn to speak with this man because my father is also a Vietnam vet, which I feel directly implicates me in this whole saga—although can we really say that any of this concerns the family of a war veteran is more than it concerns any of us? When the demonstration was finally thinning out and I saw the man drive off, I was disappointed because I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to speak with him. I had heard him say to some demonstrators something to the effect that “freedom doesn’t come cheap,” and the feeling I was getting from him—and from others I have talked to, including my dad and grandfather—was that he felt unappreciated by those who speak out against war. I wanted to tell him that I DO value and respect him for going off to fight for what he believed was right, although I DON’T think that the fighting that goes on in such wars is necessarily as linked to those grand ideals as governments would have their soldiers believe. Does this make me a bad American? I don’t think so! I do not think it is an “American value” to blindly accept what the government tells us… isn’t that why the founders of the country left in the first place, to be free thinkers and escape unjust rule?

I am so baffled that many of the most staunch and vocal supporters of “freedom” seem to be readily willing to give it up in the name of a government they don’t even know much about! I am thinking specifically of recent developments such as the Patriot Act, the Homeland Security Act, and the Total Information Awareness Office—headed by John Poindexter—whose purpose is to sift through all of our telecommunications (and otherwise personal information such as credit card receipts and library card records), using the information for anything it sees fit or profitable. I am consistently appalled to discover how little most people—even most voters, I would venture to say—know about what is going on in the world… even myself, sometimes!

So often, the way people vote—if they vote at all—seems to depend on one key platform issue whose campaign promise might not even persist past the campaign itself. I really wish more people would see that EVERYTHING IS POLITICS! We have more power than we think, especially when we join forces with each other—and it doesn’t have to be about overthrowing the government. So much can be done just in our own communities, paying attention to each other and working together to build situations that are sustainable and actually WORK.

By the way, I did end up getting to talk to the vet. He was stopped at a red light yelling back and forth with a car of activists when I flagged him over, and to my surprise he drove right up to the corner. We had a very civil conversation, and were probably both somewhat surprised by how reasonable the other seemed... go figure! I told him that I respected his courage in coming out as a counter-demonstrator, and for standing up for what he felt was right, and for going to war for noble reasons… but I also made sure I gave him concrete arguments for feeling the way I do about what is currently going on in the world. He didn’t know about the new federal “Total Information Awareness Office,” (and if you don’t either, I suggest you find out!) Here are some good starting points, but if you want more, just use a search engine (and prepare to start feeling a little creepy!)


While we were all talking, a young man approached the biker and said, interrupting us, “Now WHEN were you in Vietnam?” When the vet replied, the young man simply repeated the question and strutted off. I thought he was incredibly rude. I assumed what he meant by his comment was that the man should stop dwelling on the past (the war), and “get on with things,” so to speak. While this is probably true to a great degree, it is a picture painted in broad strokes that can’t take into account enough to permit itself to judge. Do we EVER know enough to judge? We may be able to…say, discern at some level of reality, but it seems there is always too much left unknown to permit a JUDGEMENT in good conscience. Besides, we can—and should—remember and honor the past, building our future from it by being aware of our roots and learning from our mistakes. We can do this without dwelling there permanently with chips on our shoulders! I thought this young man had assumed a lot in assuming that he knew what the vet “should” do, but he thought himself cleverly provocative—at least until he returned thirty seconds later to apologize, attempting to join the conversation in a civil manner. I was glad he did so, but he was still pretty confrontational and impolite in conversation nevertheless... although I will concede that he was trying!

A middle-aged man in overalls and a cap crossed the street, stopping to listen in and offer his opinion. In a slow, friendly drawl, he proceeded to say that although he believed we ultimately needed to take action on Iraq, he thought Bush was jumping the gun by going to war when the rest of the world was against him. This man, a Democrat, thought it an unwise political move—even for the world superpower. He said he thought Bush Senior should have “finished it the first time!”

During the day I had also overheard a youngish guy from Massachusetts, who was wearing a VFW(Veterans of Foreign Wars) hat, say to someone that he “didn’t know what good it was necessarily doing for him to be out here waving the peace sign.” I stopped to talk to him, telling him that he was INDEED making an effect, especially given the hat he was wearing. He had been in 11 civil wars, the last of which was Kosovo. (The last demonstration he had been in was in Prague in 1989, inadvertently…) He said he wasn’t against war if it was “necessary,” but he said that in this case, he didn’t feel that it was—and that the United States was doing something we had never done, that is to say acting as an aggressive nation without first having been attacked. (I took his word for it for the moment, until I am able to check up on it!)

Here are the slogans I saw during the demonstration:

Know More Lies
Remember Love
American For Peace
To Stop Terrorism, We Should Stop Terrorizing The World
24,000 People A Day Die of Hunger (big banner)
War Breeds Terrorism
Prevent WWIII Now
What Goes Around Comes Around
We Need War Like We Need A Hole In The Head
Stop Bush
Impeach The Leech: Topple The Bush Regime
Jingoism Is Not Patriotism
War: What Is It Good For? Absolutely Nothing
You Can Bomb The World To Pieces, But You Can’t Bomb The World To Peace
Pre-Emptive War Is Terrorism
Me, An Anti-War Wacko? Yeah, Me and… (list of prominent people, including members of the US Marine Corps and major military figures such as Norman Schwarzkopf)
Drop Sanctions, Not Bombs
Seek And Speak Peace
Peace Is Not War
We Won’t Fight For Texas
Address THIS (big banner)
Not In Our Name
Justice, Not War
Bush-Cheney Doctrine: Let Us Control Your Oil And Your Economy Or Die
Democracy Was Getting Old, Anyway
It’s Not A War, It’s A Con Job (w/ pic of Bush)
Patriot For Peace
An Eye For An Eye Makes The Whole World Blind (Gandhi)
Fighting For Peace Is Like Fucking For Chastity
Peace In The Here And Now
Regime Change Begins At Home: VOTE
Peace Is Patriotic
War (crossed out)
War Sucks
Think Peace (a baby in its mother’s arms was holding this one)
Jesus Hates War
Heil Bush
Frodo Lost-Bush Has The Ring
This Is Our Future, Not Yours
Love Makes The World Go Round, War Makes The World Go Down
Diplomacy, Not War
Don’t Do It George, Dad Will Still Love You
Like My Friend Here, War Is Dumb (next to a pic of Bush)
Families For Peace
Earth Citizens For Peace
War=More Terrorism
AFSC: American Friends Service Committee
War Is Not The Answer
Let’s Act Like It’s A Globe, NOT An Empire
War Is Passé
Stop The Bushit
War Orphans Make Great Future Terrorists
One World No War, One War On World
Peace Takes Brains
There is no way to peace: Peace IS the way
It’s the Oil, Stupid (w/Bush face)
No Blood For Oil
Bush Fudgewad (a kid was holding this one)
Regime Change At HOME
For Sale: American Media (when I first saw this sign, I thought it said “For Sale: American Men”)
My Car Says No To War
War For What?
More Talk, Less Hawk
This War Is Wrong
Think Outside The Box
Wake Up: Democracy Is Over, Rome Needs Oil
Stop Oil War III
Let’s Evolve (banner)
US Oil Hogs Out of Iraq
Remember When Presidents Were Smart, and Bombs Were Dumb?
Texans Not For War
Bush Is A Pink-Ass Chimp
Oh, Evolve!
Corporate Media, Corporate Government, Corporate War
Sending Our Boys To Die To Avenge Daddy, Bush
This War Is Unjust, Immoral
No Mas Guerra
No Reason: No War
To Save The Soul of America, No War
Iraq Is Bush’s Cover Up For Corporate Terrorism
Another American Against War
Make Love Not War
I Can Do Nothing To Stop This War-- I’m Pissed!
Brother Bush, Would Jesus Attack Iraq?
Sub-Atomic Particles For Peace
How Did Our Oil Get Under Their Sand?
No War For Oil
War Breeds Terrorism
Austinites For Peace
We Need A Vision For The Future Without War
Money For Jobs, Not For War (the Socialists)
Mothers Against The War (in a car)
Hmm…Bomb Civilians For The Crimes Of Their Government? NOW who’s the terrorist?
Bush’s Junta: Excess of Evil (in a truck)
Draft Jenna Bush
Let The Inspectors Work
Don’t Comply, Ask Why
Election By Fraud
War By Frenzy
Why Are We Fighting?
Stop Harming the Innocents
You Don’t Convince Me, Bush: I Don’t Trust Your Mother Outlaw President Tell Bush No The Axis of Oil
Bush, Rummy and Rove (?): Imperial Extortionists
Take Responsibility
Ok Dubya, You’re Tougher Than Your Father
Doesn’t Everybody Love The Smell of Gasoline? Do Not Kill In My Name
Cuz Kimchee Can’t Fuel Our SUV’s, Right Bush?
The Greatest Purveyor of Violence Is My Own Government (MLK)
Bush Lies
Honk For Peace
War? No!
Bush: Close That Can O’ Whoop Ass
Drunk Frat Boy Drives Nation In Ditch in Afghanistan
Bush: America’s Weapon of Mass Distraction
Vote of No Confidence
UN Not US sign with biohazard symbol: Where is The Evidence?
Die For Oil
Pray For the Children of Iraq (banner)
State Of The Union: Disarray
War= Bad Strategy
Don’t Bomb Civilians
WWJD? Kill Your Enemy? Support War?