[Lee Ann Hanson]: In cities across the country and around the world yesterday, demonstrators turned out to protest the war in Iraq. A rally in Washington, D.C. drew tens of thousands of people. NPR's Libby Lewis reports.
Okay, you know Lee Ann Hanson's voice, right? It's wonderful--warm, wry, concerned--an instrument she is extremely skilled at using. So already this sounds like the most important thing in the world. Libby begins:
The march drew grandmothers from Michigan, students from New York, and survivors from Katrina. [We all know what she's doing here, of course (scroll down to "Another Update.")] And it drew a number of friends and family of people serving in the military.
Larry Severson [all names are approximate] came from Richmond, Virginia. He's 56 and an environmental engineer. Three of his sons have served in Iraq. "So, people can't say I'm not patriotic 'cause I'm out here speaking out against the war when I've had three sons who've served in the Iraq conflict."
His son Bry spent 15 months in Iraq as a gunner with the 1st Armored Division. His father says his son spent time in a locked psychiatric unit at Walter Reed Army Hospital for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even so, he says, the army has postponed his son's discharge. "At the present time he can't be even near weapons, the army doesn't trust him with a weapon. but he's still scheduled to go back to Iraq this winter. It doesn't make any sense to me."
Of course, it doesn't make any sense, period, except as a bad sit-com pilot. But does Libby show any skepticism? Does she check the guy's story? Not that listeners can tell. So we should just trust him, apparently. As Buckwheat used to not say, "Otay!"
Severson's so mad he's joined the anti-war group Military Families Speak Out. "So that's why I have a sign that says 'don't send my son back to Iraq.'No, really, Libby. You're not going to check his story? And you're not going to give us an idea of what Military Families Speak Out might stand for? Let me help. Michael T. McPhearson, a founder of the group, said last year in a speech at the YWCA of Brooklyn,
There are many themes that bind us together as we gather here today to discuss and share strategies and information in our efforts to spread and forward peace. This panel is bound together by the underlying themes that have created our individual tragedies. Racism, religious animosity, rampant nationalism and basic pursuit and abuse of power push forward and maintain the conflicts in Iraq, Palestine/Israel and caused the September 11 attacks.
Wouldn't want to report on that, right Lib? Might make the group seem "out of the mainstream." Lewis continues:
At a pre-march rally Cindy Sheehan, the California mother who lost her son Casey in Iraq, and who protested at President Bush's ranch in Crawford [we all know how inadequate a description this is of Our Cin, right?], got a celebrity's welcome from the crowd [background whoos and hoos]. Sheehan said she was going to Congress on Monday. [Mother Sheehan]: "And we're gonna say 'shame on you!' Shame on you for givin' him the authority to invade Iraq."
The protesters chanted "peace now" as they passed by the White House. President Bush was in Colorado and Texes watching hurricane relief efforts. There was some good humor at this march. [Look, I watched the whole thing and there was little humor of any kind, let alone "good" humor.] It cropped up in some of the signs. Some chided the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Amanda Freitag of Culpepper, Virginia, had a sign that read, "Make levees, not war." [I don't ge--oh! Ha ha!]. Claudia Klein of Cincinnati and Will Hawkins of Urbana Illinois, admired that one [Background voices: That's good! I like that!].
The humor mostly vanished as the tens of thousands of marchers passed by a few hundred counter-protesters on Pennsylvania Avenue [italics hers]. They're planning their own demonstration today. Thirty-year-old James Mullin, an emergency medical technician in Trenton, New Jersey, kept shouting at the protesters, "Ten years Marine Corps!" [Mullin]: "But I think that they're dishonoring the people that have died there."
Protester Daniel Kane of Silver Spring, Maryland, faced off against Mullin. He says he respects Mullin's views. He says everyone has the right to speak up for what they believe.
And amazingly, that's it. Lewis ends with a protester whose voice she doesn't play mouthing First Amendment drivel, and she calls it a "faceoff." Hey, I'm convinced! These protesters are so reasonable they're practically dead! We should listen more closely to what they have to say!