On Saturday August 27, a carload of us traveled to Crawford and Camp Casey for the final weekend of Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside George W. Bush's famous dirt farm there. We were hardly alone; at the press conference late in the day near the Crawford Peace House, I heard McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch and Crawford Police Chief Donnie Tidmore estimate the crowds who came and went during the day at 8500, with approximately 1500 of those being anti-Sheehan protestors collected mostly near 'downtown' Crawford.
We arrived at about 11 am, and that was too late to park at any of the assembly areas near Crawford; the caravan was diverted to a hotel in nearby McGregor, where we were shuttled in to Camp Casey in groups of five or eight. There were perhaps a hundred or so ahead of us waiting for shuttles, and that grew quickly during our hour-or-so wait. One of our friends, spending her second weekend as a volunteer, had rented a gashog SUV to serve as a shuttle driver. About 12:30 pm we finally arrived at Camp Casey, and immediately on disembarkation were greeted by the media. My wife did an interview en Espanol for Telemundo; a young man wearing Washington Post credentials approached me and began asking me questions (I later learned he was Sam Coates). We had barely gotten started when I noticed he was quite obviously about to suffer some physical distress from the blistering Texas-in-August heat. So we went under the tent just as Joan Baez started singing "The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down". Sam went to get ice water; I headed for the front of the stage.
The scene was electric to me -- the penultimate folk singer reprising history; singing a protest song she had first sung nearly 50 years previously against the last immoral war waged by the United States against a shadowy enemy.
Later we reconnoitered with several other online activists near the back of the tent, ate some barbecue, and listened to Cindy Sheehan say:
"I finally found out what the noble cause my son died for was. George Bush has to kill more American soldiers because he's already killed so many."
And the truth of that statement hit me like a sledgehammer: George Bush will never leave Iraq, and the primary reason is that he is simply too goddamned stubborn to admit his mistakes.
Russell Means followed Cindy, and also said some seminal things; he pointed out that the reason why Camp Casey was so organized was because women were running it. And as I thought of the woman I had met six weeks previously in Houston at the After Downing Street meeting -- the woman who was now running Camp Casey, Ann Wright, the lieutenant-colonel-turned-diplomat who resigned after twenty years of government service because she opposed the invasion of Iraq -- Russell Means expanded his premise by explaining the role of the matriarch in Native American society. That in a family, the mother is the only member who cannot be replaced. That women live longer than men, they can stand more pain, they have more endurance, more patience, more empathy. Matriarchy, Means said, is not fear-based. Each gender is praised for its respective strengths, and control is shared. That America, as a patriarchal society, is ruled by lonely, fearful men; men with something to prove to other men, men who require constant reassuring but never acquire reassurance.
I've told everyone within earshot for years that I thought we ought to elect more women to political office. And the best reason that my theory needs to be put into action is because women aren't war-mongers (well, except for Ann Coulter, anyway).
We managed to catch an air-conditioned bus over to the Crawford Peace House, and there was Brad Freidman broadcasting. He had just completed an interview with Randi Rhodes, but we missed that (and her). We sat down anyway, had some lemonade and cookies, listened to the Brad Show live for awhile, and while there we were interviewed on camera by a documentarist, visited with a police officer who came over looking for a rabble-rouser but stayed for a cold drink, and chatted with two transgendered students from UNT, whom we had barely gotten to know when they responded to a call for volunteers to direct parking lot traffic.
We caught a shuttle back to Camp Casey, stayed there until nearly 7 p.m., then caught another back to our car. On the ride back someone said that the hurricane which swept across southern Florida had strengthened and was turning toward New Orleans.
That's the subject of the next post.