Saturday, March 8, 2008

Wisdom Equal to Their Years

So this, our 102nd post, comes to you from someone in a little bit of a different atmosphere. I currently am a Senior at Hunter College and was pleasantly acquainted with one of the most amazing, surprising, and thoroughly organized activist groups operating in NYC. The image to the left is from the Granny Peace Brigade (my favorite part of the logo is that the banner is being supported by a cane) and these women are by no means past their prime. You might remember these lovely women from the Times Square Recruiting Center where they were subsequently arrested and thrown in jail back in 2005.

This past thursday Hunter held a Women's Leadership Day and at about 1 o'clock when I was finished for the day the 3rd floor of our West Building was overrun by groups from all the corners of NYC and even beyond like The Peace and Justice Action Network , who came all the way from Westchester, or Day One who is a group committed to raising awareness about domestice violence, just to name a couple. I must admit I was lured into the Granny Peace table by the signs proclaiming "KNIT FOR PEACE!!", having just mastered knitting myself I was intrigued. Don't be fooled by the homely seemingly bengay-reminiscent idea of knitting, these women are by no means sitting in rocking chairs. The table was overflowing with well-organized flyers from their group and their sister group Code Pink which is an equally masterful activist group. The main concern of the grannys is ending the occupation in Iraq. The "Knit-in for Peace" it's called is where women, men, children of all ages and races are welcome to come and knit (even if you don't know how, I was told lovingly by a constituent) for Iraqi veterans and for Iraqi children and their families. Taken directly from a flyer I was given, "Every stitch will be a symbol of our determination to end this war, restoring our nation's priorities to constructive action, responsibility and caring for all."

While this is how I was roped in, this is not at all the only event the grannys have organized. Among the literature on their table is all the direct phone numbers or our senators, congressman, including Hillary Clinton, and an urge to call and implore them to "Commit now to filibustering any bill that funds the occupation of Iraq" taken directly from a literal "recipe" on How to call your Senator, lovingly put together by none other than our grannys. As if this wasn't enough there was also another Recipe Card on how to organize your own Phone-a-Thon. The amount of dedication at this table is enough to make a 21 year old female college student blush with embarassment at how uninvolved I truly am.

The only literature that they had that wasn't provided on neon color stock was a flyer stating 'Say "NO" to AFRICOM' -no U.S. Military Command For Africa-. While I had vaguely heard of this no doubt Bush-driven initiative last year around this time, (it was announced in February of last year) I have only recently been reading about on the government website posted for any interested party which can be found here. While Bush of course is pushing this initiative as (so eloquently put on the website) supporting "goals of development, health, education, democracy and economic growth." The website continues to state, "The command will also seek to incorporate partner nations and huminatarian organizations, from Africa and elsewhere, to work alongside the U.S. staff on common approaches to shared interests." (It's not bold on the website just here in the blog.)

Really? Are we really, really going to set up another military base someplace else? Does Bush learn no lessons at all? We are pursuing a military occupation in Africa just like our occupation in Iraq. Before our "cover" was terrorism and what is it now? Humanitarian efforts. Newsflash: humanitarian efforts do not require bases and guns, they require humanitarians, food, water, and possibly, hopefully, pamphlets on HIV and a whole lot of contraceptives. I think we can all agree that of the global climate right now Africa is almost constantly glowing red. This, just like Iraq, just like trying to squelch the Sunnis and Shiites, is a resolution that must come from within.

Let's review for a moment though what Africa really means to the United States. Africa offers uranium, petroleum and diamonds, just to name a few. Africa, regarldess of its constant state of turmoil, is a continent whose resources are in great demand in the world today. You and no one else can convince me that Africom is not a way of us running and tagging Africa first as ours before China gets there. This whole sheet of Frequently Asked Questions is an insult to my intelligence, but judge for yourself.

But apparently, i'm not the only one who feels this way, the grannys are right there with me, and if you're with us too you can join the grannys Sunday, March 30 at the Unitarian Church of all Souls and Say "No" to Africom.

With all this talk of policy over politics, the grannys are the ones to provide you with all the resources needed not to engage in politics but be a real part of changing policy. Needless to say I know have a permanent yellow button my bag proclaiming my membership in the Granny Peace Brigade.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Vanessa, while I appreciate your eloquence I worry about your naivety. Your paradigm is one that is immediately suspicious of anything President Bush may do. In the case of Africa you are dead wrong. Bush has done much more for Africa than his "hero of the left" predecessor. Check the facts instead of restating what you have heard. It's dishonest not to research before you pontificate.