I am in Killeen, TX at Under The Hood Cafe near the Fort Hood military base tonight. I am down here for the protests happening on Sunday being called by the Disobedient.
The Disobedient is made up of Iraq era war vets and others anti- war activists, mainly young people. These protests are going to include visible non-violent resistance to the 3,000 troop surge being headed to Iraq. They are acting to create a situation where the U.S. cannot continue this illegitimate and illegal war - that deployments not only stop but that the military withdraws immediately.
This town is really intense. It is about 100 degrees outside and incredibly humid. There is a whole military culture throughout the town that is shaped by unthinking allegiance to the military, and an obsession with the American flag. I have been told that Christian fundamentalism has a firm hold on most people. It is also very depressing with nothing but strip clubs, bars and fast food chains. The majority of people here are employed by the military. Some local youth told me that they have heard reactionary people say that the name stands for Kill Each And Every N*****.
I spent the day at Under The Hood Cafe, which is a GI coffeehouse run by anti-war Iraq veterans and others. It was a day of debate and discussion, with all of us thinking very deeply about how we can stop these wars and what should our message be to the people of the world? One Iraq veteran spoke about orders he received to break down the doors of families and the internal turmoil he went through when he was told to search an innocent woman's underwear drawer. He got the word “Human” tattooed on his arm after he got out of the military. I talked to a young woman who is in her early 20's and did 2 tours of Iraq. She said that one of the first things she did when she got out of the military was to dye her hair pink. I have a hard time picturing her and any of these other people in the military because they have a great deal of humanity. She has a lot of urgency to stop these wars and refreshing refusal to accept the world as it is. She talks about how she wished there was some kind of switch you could turn on in people to make them see the crimes that the military is committing. Many who are here are dealing with pretty heavy PTSD and have trouble sleeping. They talk about how their bodies have been forever changed by being in the military. Those participating in Sunday's action are filled with a deep desire to tell the truth to people living in this country and people in the military.
While many wonder, "what is it going to take to wake people," they ARE waking people up. In my opinion, the military is petrified of something like this busting out, particularly on the day they are sending a troop surge for this war that they have tried to re-brand as ending.
People protesting tomorrow are acting with great determination and are taking risks to stop these wars much like Julian Assange of WikiLeaks and whoever has been leaking from within the military, as Bradley Manning is accused of doing. There is the sense of being very strategic and serious about these actions. I think it's true what Assange says, "courage is contagious." It's contagious when you see it where you get your coffee, it's contagious when you look at your window and you see millions in the streets, it's contagious when you decide to be the person who doesn't look away from the crimes of your government, and it's contagious when you see veterans resisting for the sake of humanity like this.
Many more people needing to be acting with this kind of resolve to stop these wars. The Obama administration is not ending the Iraq war - they are sending surges of troops to Iraq. They are standing against all who oppose these wars, including the anti-war vets.
Many more people need to hear about what is going on down here, pay attention to what's going on in the world and support these protests. This will be the first time in history that Iraq veterans will attempt to stop a deployment. I am very anxious to see what happens and I hope you are too. More tomorrow.