How grand it was in Washington for Hamid Karzai. The corrupt, inept president of Afghanistan–whose regime is being propped up by 87,000 of our troops and a $7-billion-a-month bill from us taxpayers–got the red-carpet treatment in our nation’s capital in May, including a meeting with President Obama in the grandeur of the White House.
On the same day as the Obama-Karzai chat, about 20 women joined by a few men gathered curbside on a busy Manhattan street. The scene there was less grand, but a whole lot more honest. Inspiring, even. These were Grandmothers Against the War, a group of ladies whose ages range from the mid-sixties into the nineties. Founder Joan Wile says they have come together every Wednesday for more than six years to protest Obama’s war in Afghanistan no matter what the weather.
This particular Wednesday marked the 331st consecutive week of the grannies’ stand, going back to the early months of George W. Bush’s Iraq War, which is still going on, so they protest it, too. Every week–whether in the cold of winter, or in the searing heat of August–they unfurl their banners, unfold their homemade placards, politely hand out their leaflets, and talk with anyone who’ll listen about their deeply held convictions against the two wars. Occasionally they’ll ring out with a chant: “Bring our troops home now…Alive!”
Persistence, integrity, speaking out–it all matters in our country. Yes, the wars go on. And no, Obama, the generals, the war contractors, and our lawmakers are not listening to these feisty citizens. But others do hear them. “The point is to interfere with the routine,” explains one of them. “As people walk down the street, it has an impact on their consciousness.”
Thank goodness someone is standing up for peace and justice. Laurie Leon, whose age she simply describes as “very, very senior,” cheerfully says, “I won’t stop till I drop.” The question is not why these ladies are out there every week. The question is: Why aren’t we?