Tuesday, August 26, 2008


by Joan Wile, Author,
"Grandmothers Against the War: Getting Off Our Fannies and Standing Up for Peace"
(Citadel Press, May, 2008)

"All the perfumes in Arabia will not sweeten this little hand," spoke Lady Macbeth after manipulating her husband into murdering Duncan.

We can alter these immortal words to characterize General Electric's copping today, Aug. 26, of the Granny Peace Brigade's historic turf, the Times Square recruiting center, for its promotion of washing machines. We might say that "All the washing machines of GE cannot whitewash this corporate takeover of the grannies' protest site," dating back to October 17, 2005, when we were arrested and sent to jail following our attempt to enlist in the military.

We planned a demonstration there today to let the Democratic convention know that we want them to toughen up their platform concerning the war in Iraq and other peace issues. We made six-foot long faux knotty wood planks (made of foam mattresses cut in half) inscribed with our peace demands, which we carried from the recruiting center island to the NYS Democratic Party offices nearly a mile through midtown Manhattan. But, first, as is our custom, we held a press conference on "our" site. We were shocked to find a huge washing machine contraption occupying almost the entire concrete island, with lots of young Madison Avenue types hovering about. The head honcho pleaded with us not to hold our demonstration, but we remained firm. At one point, a couple of these promotion preppies nastily asked us how we could dare interfere with commerce. We asked them how they could dare interfere with our serious business of trying to save America's grandchildren's lives in Iraq.

So, there we were, legendary anti-war grannies standing next to one of America's biggest multinational giants, we trying to sell ending the occupation of Iraq NOW and they trying to sell yet another household appliance, undoubtedly to finance an infinite number of war machines and contracts.

Why did they choose this spot? We suspect it's because we, the grannies, made it so famous beginning when our arrest became a world-wide story overnight. We've held a number of colorful and unique demonstrations there since -- the March 2007 "Endless War Memorial," for instance, when for six days over 400 people, including a number of celebrities, read non-stop from dawn to nightfall the names of Iraqi and coalition dead in Iraq since the inception of our attack in 2003.

Another event outside the recruiting station was held on March 19, 2008, the date of the beginning of the 6th year of our occupation, when we held a Knit-In and knit stump socks there for amputee veterans. We are so well associated with the Times Square site that the American Friends Service Committee recently added it as the 15th in its Places of Conscience map, beginning in 1637. They explain in the map that they chose the island because of the grannies' act of nonviolent civil disobedience in 2007.

Today, our press conference featured famed civil liberties attorney, Norman Siegel, who successfully defended us at our six-day trial in Criminal Court; NYC Councilwoman Rosie Mendez's representative, Susan Kingsland; Vietnam vet member of Veterans for Peace, Chaplain Hugh Bruce; legendary actress-playwright, great-grandmother and one of the Times Square arrestees, Vinie Burrows; and songs performed by the Raging Grannies. We then marched on the "sidewalks of New York" to our destination on Park Ave. and 31st Street, where we held another demonstration with songs and speeches and laid our planks into an arrangement that did, indeed, resemble a platform.

We grannies have been trying to end this terrible occupation of Iraq for almost five years. We hope that today's action was our last in that regard, but we fear that it is not. Even if the Democrats get in, it is questionable if they have the courage and principles to do what we believe so strongly is the only right thing to do -- bring the troops home with no further delay and stay out of Iran. It is with great concern that we view the diminution of concern about our continued presence in Iraq by United States citizens. We, too, share an urgency about our failing economy, but we cannot, we will not, forget that our girls and boys in Iraq are still dying, at least 3 a week, and that untold numbers of Iraqis are, also. It still remains our highest priority.

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