Conjure an image of Arnold Schwarzenegger arrested by four women in pink police uniforms, while other women in pink chant, “Build friendships, not fences,” and a tiny blonde shouts, “Our National Guard shouldn’t be off fighting an illegal war! They should be over here, fighting forest fires and hurricanes — lifting people up when in crisis!”
That was the scene on a Thursday in late August at the Border Governors Conference in Austin, Texas. It was the most recent protest action by CODEPINK, Camp Casey and the Southwest Workers’ Union, who joined together to drive home the point that our government has no problem sending immigrant National Guard members overseas to fight terrorism, but then, at our southern border, it considers them terrorists.
The prior Saturday, during a fund-raiser for Karl Rove, the groups unfurled an enormous pink slip out of a sixth-floor window, in plain sight of the event, with the words: ROVE v. TRUTH — NO CONTEST — PINK SLIP ROVE.
I had the honor of spending five days in a retreat with these wonderful women and dozens more like them from all areas of the United States, plus Germany, the Middle East and other countries. Together, we learned how to claim our powerful voices and strategize constructive political actions to turn the tide of the Bush administration’s follies.
CODEPINK is a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end the war in Iraq, stop new wars and redirect our resources into healthcare, education and other life-affirming activities. With an emphasis on joy and humor, CODEPINK women and men seek to activate, amplify and inspire a community of peacemakers through creative campaigns and a commitment to non-violence.
Medea Benjamin, Starhawk, Jodie Evans, Diane Wilson and about 100 other women kicked off CODEPINK in November 2002. The name plays on the Bush administration’s color-coded Homeland Security advisory system that signals terrorist threats. While Bush’s alerts are based on fear, the CODEPINK alert is based on compassion. It’s a feisty call for women and men to “wage peace.” Many have joined Cindy Sheehan in her “Troops Home Fast,” which began July 4 and ends on the International Day of Peace, Sept. 21.
A group of Iraq Veterans Against War were present, and their stories gave everyone fuel to continue the quest. Sara Rich was there; her daughter, Suzanne Swift, a young Army PFC, resisted redeployment due to PTSD from repeated alleged rape and sexual abuse by her commanding officer. Sara gave me harrowing descriptions of what she has been through and continues to experience following her daughter’s arrest. Details of her nightmare can be accessed at www.suzanneswift.org.
Col. Ann Wright, who served 29 years in the Army and more than 15 years in the Foreign Service before resigning in protest over Bush’s drive to war in Iraq, has been working tirelessly to inform soldiers of their rights regarding deployment. She recommends to any potential recruit that they watch documentaries such as “Sir No Sir” and “The Ground Truth,” which are due to be released on Sept. 15 (for more info, go to
Molly Ivins was in attendance and treated us to 30 minutes of hilarious political observations. Joining her was writer Anne Lamont, who is equally funny. Neil Young and Willie Nelson are also supporters and intend to do four concerts each to help CODEPINK drive the message of an initiative called “GIVE PEACE A VOTE.” Beginning this week, CAMP DEMOCRACY opens in front of the White House, with booths set up to educate people regarding hurricane relief, human rights, the PEACE OUT WAR INITIATIVE and other important topics. From Sept. 21-28, the DECLARATION OF PEACE initiative will be brought to the attention of the administration.
For more information about CODEPINK, go to www.codepink4peace.org and www.truthout.org. Several videos are available of the current and past actions taken. Camp Casey is serving as a haven for war resisters, and is supporting AWOL soldiers in turning themselves in to their military bases.
It is truly incumbent upon the women of the world to rise up, find our voices and reject the culture of global domination, economic and social inequity and reliance upon fossil fuels. Once we take our collective power and force the cessation of this warrior madness throughout the globe, our planet has a chance to survive.
Trudi Kubik is a Louisville health care worker and peace activist. Contact her at [email protected]