Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Sacred Icons: Mothers and Such

I'm writing these entries on the road and 2000 miles from the Arizona starting point where my friends are leaving today to set out for Crawford, Texas. I keep asking myself, "What can this blog bring to the info stream that is not already there, especially when the national media has leapt on Cindy Sheehan and her vigil outside the Bush compound in Crawford like white on rice. I just feel it is important and women so rarely get there stories out as news and opinion. We need to do this.

Gold Star Families, CODEPINK, Raging Grannies -- these are the folks spied upon in California by National Guard Troops. Cindy foundeed Gold Star Families. CODEPINK women from all over the Country are headed to stand in solidarity with Cindy because of a call put out by CODEPINK a couple days ago. Grannies were arrested in Tucson a couple weeks ago. If events follow one logical path of progression then hundreds of folks will arrive from all over the country to be with Cindy just in time to be arrested on Thursday when Camp Casey (Casey was the name of Cindy's son killed in Iraq 16 months ago) is set to become a national security threat. So how does a woman asking the hard questions that any grieving mother would ask about her son's death go from solitary figure along a dusty roadside in Texas become defined as the most dangerous of concerns to our nation and do so at a prescribed time in the future?

Where to begin to bisect or trisect this issue? The icons are rife - There is the mother, the long dusty road, the isolated leader removed from the people. And then there is the planned transformation of this nurturing icon into a dangerous and threatening one. They may not be able to spin this one.

I wonder if the spin meisters understand that information can be spun but manipulation of cultural icons cannot be so easily controlled. When I spoke with Sherry Bohlen a few minutes ago she said that a mental image of Rosa Parks keeps coming to her when she thinks of Cindy Sheehan. Rosa was tired and fed up and just wanted to sit down. Cindy is grieving and fed up and just wants an explanation.

I can't help but think of my time, short though it was--only a few weeks, when I lived with the monkeys on Cayo Santiago off the coast of Puerto Rico; spats and scrapes were no big deal and common occurrences among the males, and brief slaps and shrieks were commonly exchanged between females in the same group or family. But when the females all begin to be upset and involved in real group to group discord, you knew to get your back up against a tree and protect your neck and head because all hell was going to break loose, there were going to be injuries, and after the battle ended that there would be a new social order.

The cultural composition of those voicing their opposition to this war has been very different from any protest we have seen in recent times. Women for peace and Military Families Against the War were there from the inception with Iraqi Veterans Against the War joining as soon as any troops returned from there to U.S. soil.

Our women are converging on Crawford. They will not be violent, they will not instigate violence. They are not national security threats today and they will not be so on Thursday. If on Thursday authorities try to transform Cindy from grieving mother to dangerous crone as society has done so often in the past when women drew lines around issues saying, "here but no further" -- well, we can hope it will just fizzle out and everyone will be released with no harm done. But if the authorities push it, we may find that women's sentiments and networks make up the fabric of culture and all hell will break loose when this administration finally discovers that parts of our society exist beyond the realm of political reach. One of two things can happen as I see it when someone tugs at the very warp of societal fabric, hell will break loose as our culture, which reflects the deepest beliefs about our sovereign state, consumes the threat to that fabric rips out the last few rows of weaving and continues the original pattern, again -- or after this skirmish we may find that the fabric of our society has taken on a wholly new pattern.

We may almost be at the point where we are noticing that the threat to our most sacred institutions isn't women protesting but rather the administration who would destroy our institutions to further their own agenda. It sure seems that way to me as the coverage of this issue of women against the war is taking hold. The Grannies story swept over the world like wildfire. And it certainly seems like Cindy's lone vigil is becoming a larger phenomenon. Sherry just told me that three local TV stations and one radio station are coming to film or report when she and Rebecca take off from Phoenix. And people from Military Families Speak Out called her to tell her that CNN was trying to get a crew there to cover their departure.

I'm by no means certain what all this means, but I do know there has been a sea change. We've been doing "this kind of stuff" for years, and have found it impossible to get any media coverage. Now they are beating on doors wanting to film and interview -- and the Arizona Ladies (as they are picking up Paula in Tucson and truly representing the state and not just one metropolitan area) are just a side story. There seems to be fresh air coming in on a new breeze. But we will have to wait and see what Thursday brings. I will post again later today when I get an on the road update from Sherry.

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