I went to the showing of Sir, No Sir! last night with my husband and my 10 year old daughter. It was important for me to expose her to people who are in a qualified position to speak out against the war and since IVAW member Camilo Mejia was going to be there I decided to bring her along. I went with the intent of being supportive of the anti-war movement. It turned into anything but. There is a definite religious fervor to some of these people with the unmistakable feeling of "you're either us or against us" attitude. Sort of a mirror image of what they're protesting against. Some of these people are just activists for no other reason than they have no life. They wouldn't know what to do if all of the sudden they had everything they way they wanted it. They'd start protesting peace.
There were other organizations there with tables covered in literature. A veritable smorgasbord of anti-war, social justice, gay rights, animal rights, blah, blah, blah rights. You pick your cause...Yes I know that many of the issues are inextricably intertwined so don't bother to send a message. I already know. It's my blog and I'm sharing my unedited thoughts.
Allow me explain that this is fleet week in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Also allow me to explain that I am NOT anti military or a troop hater. I am against this war in Iraq but that's as far as it goes. I do my part to let my reps know what I think of them and the war. See other blogs for more on that. I believe a nation needs a strong military and I also believe the military and those who pull the strings are bound by the constitution. As it's written, not how they want it to be written. We usually host a few military people during fleet week but due to hurricane damage on our house were unable to do so this year. Fleetweek peaks with the air show. We always go to the air show. I love the air show. I love the marine invasion on the beach, the helicoptors, the jets. I love it all. For me it's a pure adrenalin rush. Total chest pounding display of who's top ape. I know this bothers some people. Sometimes it bothers me. Sometimes I think I really gotta lay off the jane goodall books...Anyway, i digress...One of these tables was anti-air and sea show (ASS). They tried to give me some papers on their protest. Code Pink, IVAW, Vets for Peace and the Broward Gay and Lesbian Coalition are all going to the show to protest. I said no thanks. The guy behind the table asks why not? I said I like the air show. He says well we like it too, just not the military part of it. I laughed. See, I love that part. He appeared a little ruffled. Well good...you're paying for it. I laughed again. I know. I pay for the building you're standing in too. See ya at the air show. The lady from Code Pink, who I've emailed twice and never heard anything from says We like the airshow, it's just the violence we don't like. Awwww I thought. The social peace keeper. Then I said Oh yeah? How come you have an effity of G.W. with pins stuck through it? Nothing violent there, right? The anti air show guy says do you know how much environmental damage happens from the air show? How much pollution is put into the air? Yes I said. I read the Sun-Sentinel too. Did you walk here? Are you walking to the air and sea show? Are your friends? Do you know how much pollution your car puts out everyday? Apparently if you're anti war in Iraq you have to be anti everything else and pro something or other to be a part of any of these groups. I was going to join Code Pink. I'm not now...
The movie was getting ready to start so we went inside. There was a little show of the march through New Orleans. I couldn't help but wonder where these people were last hurricane season when Florida got smacked by three hurricanes or the year before when we got smacked on the West Coast by 4 hurricanes. Entire towns disappeared and still nobody knows about that. It seems that since the press is in Alabama, New Orleans area, that's where the activists go.
The movie was good and I think I'm going to try and purchase a few DVD's and send them to my brother in Iraq. He'll call me a communist but he'll watch it. After the movie the guest speakers came out.
I have heard Camilo speak twice before. I don't know him personally but he appears to be a gentle man. He is polite and soft spoken. He is articulate and gives the the audience the perception he is engaging them from his heart.
Another guest speaker was there as well and he has never, nor did he last night, impress the audience or myself. I believe his name is Pat McCann. Pat spoke on the same issues as Camilo but there is a marked difference in their approach to the audience. Somebody should purchase a pulpit for Pat. He needs one. He's not really engaging the audience, he's preaching to the audience. I realize some people need this because it's what they're used to. However I don't need it, my family doesn't need it and about 13 other people who left during his speech apparently didn't need it either. Mind you, it wasn't the preaching that made us leave, it was the money part. Yes, in true preacher style, Pat passed the easter basket (and I'm not being sarcastic here. It really was an easter basket). First he talked about the poor in this country and the lack of funding for programs for them and education and how the money going for the war should be going to them and to help rebuild the areas hit by Katrina (apparently Pat forgot to do his homework...he was sitting in a building damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Wilma), not for bombs. Fair enough on that. I can agree with some of that. Then Pat did the unthinkable when it comes to fund raising for a cause in public. He linked his personal wallet to the donation basket in the audience's mind. He started telling us how he had just put $500.00 on his credit card to have a reunion for 12 IVAW guys the week before in his home in Maryland. He went on by telling us he spent $400.00 to get to Florida for this event and then he said,"Don't bother putting dollar bills in the basket." He continued by saying we needed to "hook us up." He was looking for fifties or higher. At that moment 4 elderly people got up and left. Had Camilo already spoken I promise you my family would have left as well. I told my husband if he put so much as a single penny in that basket I would divorce him.
Excuse me? He just finished pontificating on the poor in the U.S. and now he's telling us dollar bills are no good. Pat apparently isn't familiar with the fact of fixed incomes in the U.S. for senior citizens...or fixed incomes for most of the population for that matter. He might have considered 95 percent of his audience was over 70 and was most definetely living on a fixed income. He also might have considered that the area he was currently occupying space in, taking oxygen from and putting out carbon waste in was hit by hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma last year. But I guess we don't generate enough press for that kind of consideration. Pat says he used to live here but didn't make enough money so he split. Guess he forgot the economy here is still tough for a lot of people when he said our dollar bills were not acceptable. He probably also forgot that it's blue tarped roofs from Central Florida to the Keys and some people still aren't living in their homes because of storm damage. Yeah, I think these organizations might want to get someone who does a little demographic research about the area they're speaking in before they send someone to snub their noses at what people are able to afford to donate.
Call me crazy but I have an idea that in order to NOT alienate the poor, the almost poor and the military personnel that are visiting Fort Lauderdale this week we not snub our noses at the meager offerings they might bring or refer to the show they are putting on ASS. Common sense dictates that these things will alienate the general population from the 'cause'. Do these organizations have no common sense or is it just me?. There are going to be over 1 million civilians at this sea and air show and over 2,500 sailors and marines.
Hmmmmmm...how can we get them to see our point of view? I know! We'll refer to the show as ASS and tell them not to bother donating one dollar bills to our cause. Sounds like a winning strategy to me...! WTF!!!
For myself, I'm taking those four dollar bills I had put aside for their easter basket and purchasing that loaf of bread and gallon of water I crossed off my grocery shopping list so I could donate to IVAW, Vets 4 Vets and Veterans for Peace or whoever that easter basket was going to support. And I will definetely think twice before I work extra hours to afford a $40.00 night at the movies (1/3 of my weekly grocery bill total) to support a movie they're plugging.