Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bring Heart Back to this Land (Week One of Tour de Peace) by Cindy Sheehan


Bring Heart Back to this Land
Cindy Sheehan
“Hide your daughters.
Hide your wife.
Hide errbody (sic).
2/7 is back in town.”
(Sign tied to a fence near the front gate of Twentynine Palms Marine Base)

Yesterday, our motley crew of Tour de Peace ended up in Joshua Tree/Twentynine Palms area and one of our stops was to ride to the front gate of the humongous Marine base there in Twentynine Palms.

On the way up to the Marine Base from Yucca Valley, the wind was whipping us from the side with gusts up to 25 mph and the ride was already treacherous but a few times, Bradleys passed us on the road, giving us an eerie feeling of insecurity.
 
Cindy and Ron battling the winds
There were only four of us riding and four following in support vehicles (including one from the National Lawyer’s Guild). I was chatting with my friend, and Biking for Peace, companion, Ron Toppi (so far, he’s ridden all the way, and more, with me), that it seemed like a long hard ride for just a few of us to confront one of the largest military installations in the country, and from the organizer on the ground, we weren’t quite sure what the purpose of the “visit” was. By the time we turned left up Adobe Road, there were some really steep inclines AND the side wind had become a fierce headwind to make the ride even more strenuous and awful.

So, about a quarter mile from the main gate, we ran into that sign that I posted above. Immediately, I was furious and discouraged. I thought, “if anyone in this country believes that it’s okay to post a sign like that anywhere in America, then what in the hell am I doing riding my bike across America?” Then immediately, right after that thought, my 2nd thought was: “that’s exactly why I am riding my bike across America.” Not just the so-called Blue States, but also through the “heart” of America.

The sign implies so many things: the patriarchal culture of using women and “errbody” as objects of power and pleasure; the glorification of “manly” behavior like war and rape; and the worship of these “heroes” who aren’t even ashamed to post terrorist threats against women and “errbody” in their community after they apparently just returned from another Imperial Terrorist mission to another hapless and unfortunate land.

After that sign slapped us in the face with its arrogance and threats of violence, there were dozens of others posted that welcomed home the various sons, daughters, husbands and wives and that also slammed me with the ton of bricks that my own son, and thousands of others, didn’t come home to “hero’s” welcomes, and I wondered, not for the last time, about all the innocent people of foreign lands that have been slaughtered for Empire.

When we rode up to the visitor’s center of the base, we were immediately met by a Marine police officer that asked us if we wanted to go on base, my answer was, “no, I am a daughter and I was a wife, apparently I am on the rape list.” I grew angrier at the sign, and resolved to rip it down on our way out, which I did.

One man who saw the picture, pointed out to me that perhaps it wasn’t anyone in the 2/7 that put the sign up. I don't really care who posted that sign and I don’t know how long it was there, but everyone, including the base commander, unit commander, Marine, and just plain regular citizen who passed by the sign gave their implicit approval of the message because it was still there. “Free Speech” does not include hate speech and that sign is most definitely hate speech.

The same person (who served in the 2/7 in Vietnam and claims to be a peace activist) who questioned who placed the sign there then pointed out that it was simply: “I think the sign is probably meant to portray the unit as handsome manly men who all the women want for lovers rather than rapers or pillagers.”

I tried to debate him, but I will post this reply to him from another Marine, because I could never say it better: I'm a former Marine. I know the violent, chauvinistic, sexist propaganda promoted within the Corps. It used to be chants like, "Were gonna rape, kill pillage & burn" and "God damn son of a bitch, I gotta find a whore" and songs about your best girl, "Suzy Rotten Crotch" fucking your best friend. Now it might be subtler but the environment is the same. A society shouldn't have to lock up it women to protect them from it's "heroes.” If the frequency of rape in the military is any indication, the women of Twenty Nine Palms might not be safe.”
Then the Marine concluded with: “Explain "skill as a lady's man" and how that "skill" suggests ladies should be locked up. If these "heroes" were such a catch why would we want to prevent the ladies from meeting them. Personally, I'd be irritated to see this banner created by a high school football team also. Suggestive of rape culture debate aside, it is most definitely sexist. It's a glaring example of anti-feminist, patriarchal subjugation of women. And how does this sign include or honor the women who serve in the 2/7? You see if these young men had real skills or were taught to respect women they wouldn't dishonor the ladies that serve with them with such statements. I did not enter the Marine Corps as a violent, sexist womanizer, but it took several years after to recognize how I had adopted that mentality. Supporting the troops includes hard rebukes to inappropriate behavior, teaching them how to once again respect others, being patient, but direct about the degradation of their own human spirit while encouraging them to rejoin society in healthy solidarity.”

We tore the sign down, because we object to its message at the core of our beings AND we are going to carry it to WashedUp, Deceit with us as a reminder of why we pedal, but also to hang up on the fence of the White House. Obama is a man with daughters and a wife and, I assume, he is included in the “errbody” the sign speaks of. Obama calls his troops, his “heroes” and, for us, even though “the troops” are called on to do despicable things in the name of Sacred Profit, this behavior is NEVER acceptable and the entire culture of violence against “errbody” not just women must end from the bottom up to the top and back down again.
Besides all the above, the Tour de Peace is entering into its 2nd week and today we are having our first day off in beautiful and sacred Joshua Tree.



The first day, April 4th, I biked 45 miles to Sacramento and since Sacramento, our Tour has visited Fresno, Santa Monica, Claremont, Rancho Cucamonga, Palm Springs, Twentynine Palms, and, as mentioned, Joshua Tree.
TdP at Arlington West in Santa Monica

Everywhere we have been, the energy for our epic adventure has been very high and “errbody” has been very supportive. Our road is Route 66, but we have made deviations to do this incredibly important and successful outreach as we will soon leave California and our events will be spread out more thinly.

After I spoke to the group in Joshua Tree that gathered to honor we pedalers, a musician named, Sequoia, sang us a song dedicated to us called: "Bring Heart Back to this Land," because he said that's what we are doing. Until our hearts connect together this culture of top down and back up again violence will not end! 

I pronounce Week One of Tour de Peace a resounding success! If you would like to get more information about our route, supporting the Tour, or anything else, please visit www.TourdePeace.org.

Day off! Hiking and laundry!

Peace out for now!

6 comments:

  1. Removing that banner was a responsible act of Public Service.

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  2. If you biked from 29 Palms, and are now in Kingman you must have passed thru Lake Havasu City, AZ. Wish I had known that beforehand so I could have invited all over to my place for a pit stop or a stopover for the evening. I bike a lot too, and would have biked with your group up to I-40. Good luck on your trip. ~ Ernie Mallory

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  3. If you were in 29 Palms and are now in Kingman, you must have passed thru Lake Havasu City, AZ. If I had known that, I would invited all to stop at my place for a pit stop or to stay the evening. Good Luck ~ Ernie Mallory

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  4. I am in awe of you and what you are doing. I ride my own bike for ten miles and I hurt so bad everywhere that I can hardly go on for another block. With your mission though, you will overcome!

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  5. you stupid bitch "err" is a war cry we use in the marines, it was a play on words. Since you aren't a male marine you wouldn't comprehend the banner much less if you're a peacemonger; it doesn't mean we will rape every woman, it means that for six months we were deployed and we're horny as fuck and want some pussy and if you value your daughter and wife and don't want her to get fucked really hard and good you won't let her out because we will hit on her(pick her up /impress her /throw game /whatever you peacemongering hippies call it) and she WILL get fucked (by her own free will) since we will be in our nice uniforms and there will be a 20:1 guy to girl ratio and there will be all kinds of men (daredevils. rednecks, liberals, rockers, rappers etc.)and have a large tax free amount to help impress her. If you want to make peace I will gladly pay for your ticket to go to Afghanistan and convince the Taliban to stop using violence against women, matter of fact stop using violence altogether and that we can all be friends in this world and eat chocolate chip cookies and dunk them in milk (I will happily buy baking your supplies).

    The reality is that America NEEDS marines, it needs warriors willing to sacrifice at a moments notice their life to preserve our way of life from FOREIGN and domestic enemies, and will do so because it is in America's interest.

    We were right to go after hitler because he was gaining traction, I personally could care less what he did to the jews in his own country, but after he invaded OTHER countries and he keep winning, how long until the bastard came to American shores and started executing blacks, latinos; jews and everyone he deemed inferior.

    I signed up shortly after 9/11 (remember those peace loving pilots) and would gladly have gone to Afghanistan to hunt down al quaeda/ bin laden/ the taliban but bush and his cronies in their infinite wisdom decided to send us to IRAQ I was pissed and relied on voters to demand we be sent to Afghanistan but it was up to the (voting) power of the electorate to decide yet they still elected bush a second time and didn't care that much we were in a country where we were spending billions a day while being hundreds of miles away from greater NUMBERS of enemies.(we would gladly kill thousands of Taliban versus 5 per month by being stuck in Iraq )

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  6. you don't have to ride your bike to Afghanistan(I know it's impossible i'm being sardonic) I will gladly pay your ticket. (since your old ass can't probably handle it anyway.)

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