by Scott Creighton
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.”
Scott N sent me a link to a 19 minute video of a NATO protest march in Chicago. Want the big news? Nothing happened. No violence. No police brutality. No agent provocateurs. No tear gassing little girls. No false flag attacks. No Alex Jones bullhorns. Just thousands and thousands of people demonstrating. Together.
Huge numbers of people from all walks of life walked calmly down the street to show their desire to see the North Atlantic Treaty Organization disbanded. They were there to say “no” to the G8 and NATO warmongers.
Much larger than the 2,000 protesters reported in various news channels, the crowd moved along and chanted or sang occasionally. They waved flags and chatted with cops on the side of the street. One group carried a large flag I believe to be an Afghan flag prior to the invasion. The green, white, and black horizontal stripes are also associated with the secular Baath Party. But I don’t know exactly what that flag represents.
I saw businessmen marching beside old hippies, students, old people, young people. I saw blacks and whites and people of all kinds marching together taking a stand. One little old lady cruised by with her walker and another in a wheelchair. One woman had a sign that read simply “Fuck NATO” and she was followed by a guy with a homemade Predator drone. Six guys struggled to push a massive “Free Bradley Manning” sign against the wind up the street. They were working hard. That’s dedication. A little girl and her dog followed behind them.
No one punched the little girl. No one maced the aging hippie. Scott N walked down the street at 13:05 in the video carrying his “Stop NATO Bombs” sign and no one shot him in the head with a bean bag round. According to him he boarded the bus without much incident and set off for the long trip back home having made his statement, having joined in with thousands of other people from all walks of life to show the world we as a people do not stand with NATO and their brutal, imperialist aggression.
More than 40 Iraq and Afghanistan vets tossed back their medals received in service of the fictional Global War on Terrorism. They weren’t shot or imprisoned. No one renditioned them to Egypt or the new terrorist controlled regime in Libya. They made their moving statements, threw their medals toward the NATO summit, and that was that.
All too often we get caught up in the obvious trappings and the spectacle of what is wrong in the world. As writers and journalists we focus on the depravity in hopes that it will illuminate the injustice and the inhumanity that is rapidly becoming the new normal in our society. What we often fail to remember is that without exposing what is right about us, we present the false narrative that the cruelty and the violence is all that is left. Is all we are.
I thank Scott N. for going to Chicago and for marching with all those other radicals who still have the audacity to hope for real change and the courage to put themselves on the line for it. But I thank him more for the video. Whether he knew it or not when he sent it, I needed a reminder of sorts, especially now, that there are better things out there. There is still a better way. The better angels of our nature walk among us and no matter how demonized and battered, they remain.
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural