Bring Heart Back to this Land
“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
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.
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.
|Cindy and Ron battling the winds|
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
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!