By Ashley Lopez
On the morning of June 12th, a muggy, sweltering morning in D.C., Dooler Campbell, Burkely Hermann and I showed up to a breakfast and book signing with the infamous war criminal Donald Rumsfeld. Our plan of action was to show up and conduct a citizen’s arrest during his speech. After all, it’s not like we showed up to hear any of his rubbish on the value of “national security” or, even more gag-worthy, how he remained married to the same woman all of his life. The event was hosted by the Federalist Society and intended for young aspiring lawyers, eager to hear musings from the villainous old man himself. Why they paid the $25 admittance fee to not interrupt him and instead listen to his “sage” advice, I can never understand.
For all three of us who had never participated in a citizen’s indictment, let alone embarked on one alone, we were all on unsure footing and nervous about the outcome of our efforts. But not nervous enough to not do it. Because disrupting Rumsfeld was the right thing to do. Because our generation has never experienced a period of peace where the U.S. wasn’t engaged in this war of aggression. In our hearts we all knew that only through making our voices heard, even in this seemingly minuscule way, would we be able to interest our disinterested generation in this horrific legacy of violence, to challenge the hegemonic power of old white men who control the country.
I was born in 1994 and only in the 2nd grade when this war began. Now, I’m a rising junior in college and still seeing this seemingly never-ending war play out. With the recent news surrounding the possibility of more military intervention in Iraq, I can’t help but feel Deja Vu as we continue to engage in foreign policy where we still aren’t wanted, where more bloodshed definitely isn’t needed. The culture of violence in America where we fight terrorism with more terrorism, bloodshed with more bloodshed, needs to change to that of a culture of peace and humility, where we openly admit that we messed up really badly when we decided to occupy the Middle East.
Reminding Donald Rumsfeld that he has committed atrocious acts of violence in the name of our country, something that myself and no one in my generation asked for, is only the tip of the iceberg of actions we need to participate in in order to stop this war from continuing any further. Donald Rumsfeld shouldn’t be allowed to walk the streets, let alone host fancy events where he gets to tell jokes and pretend that he’s a normal man without blood on his hands. One of the things he said as we started reading our indictment was that he was no longer surprised when people acted as we did in his presence. And to that I say, great! Why should he be able to live a normal, peaceful life free of peaceful disruptions considering the war of aggression he unleashed upon an entire culture of people in the Middle East, specifically Iraq.
While we continue locking up Americans like Chelsea Manning, who was brave enough to speak out against this nonsensical violence by the hands of the U.S. and made great strides in inform the citizens of our country to the extent of this violence, we, the young generation of this country, need to stand in solidarity to fight this wave of American imperialism that has gone unchecked for far too long. Chelsea Manning is no criminal; Donald Rumsfeld is. Yet Chelsea remains locked up for exposing war crimes while Rumsfeld gets off for these war crimes scotch free. We need to be offended and horrified by this reality and not complacent like we have been for this past decade. Because if we are complicit in this unjust war then how are we much better than people like Rumsfeld? If we aren’t all shouting at the hegemonic power “No, I will not stand by complicitly in your wrongful doings,” then how will things change?
Ashley Lopez is an intern at CODEPINK DC and attending Green Mountain College in Vermont pursuing a degree in Sociology. Her passions include an end to all wars, peace, and burritos.
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