---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 16:21:16 -0800
From: radtimes <email@example.com>
Subject: Diversity's Peace
Tuesday, October 23, 2001
Emil Guillermo, Special to SF Gate
In this new and different kind of war, official leaks to various news
agencies tell us President Bush has authorized the CIA to go after a
very specific target -- Osama bin Laden.
The CIA now has a license to kill the big O.
No surprise there.
At the same time, Vice President Dick Cheney prepares us for the long
grind when he says, "I think it's fair to say you can't predict a
straight line to victory. You know, there'll be good days and bad
days along the way."
Again, no surprise.
The real surprise is how much this new war is sounding less like the
video game we call the Gulf War and more like that old '60s TV
staple, "Mission: Impossible."
On the other hand, the peace movement seems to be developing quite differently.
Quite by accident, I stumbled onto a protest this past weekend in San
Francisco. Normally, I don't do protests. I'm a journalist. I write
columns, not protest signs. Besides, you can fit more words here than
you can on a piece of poster board.
But I was walking to another engagement when I happened on the rally
and was struck by its size and scope.
On the late TV news, you may have seen about 30 seconds' worth of
coverage of this event. But there were more than 5,000 people
gathered -- and there was a real newsworthy difference in the kind of
people speaking out for a little sanity in the world.
It wasn't like the demonstrations I'd seen, heard or read about
during the only other big war whose protests made an impression on me
-- the Vietnam War.
But what do you expect from this thing we call the "new war" but a
totally new and different kind of peace movement?
In the Vietnam era, age and generation were the dividing lines here
at home. Trust no one over 30, right? Good thing I was 13. I had a
lot of upside.
At the time, young people formed a counterculture whose values were
different from their "establishment" parents. People wore different
things than their parents. Most smoked different things. Most wanted
to do different things with their lives. It was logical that if we
had different record albums than our parents, we should have a
different foreign policy.
And then came the matter of fighting their war. The personal
connection to protest was different then. It was middle class. It was
white. That was America then. In hindsight, it often seems as if the
war just coincided with a major disconnect at the time between young
Of course, I saw some of the remnants of that era on Saturday, all
older and grayer, more mature -- though some of them would still have
fit perfectly into a vintage time-warped photograph in a tie-dyed
But mostly I saw a lot of new energy from young Asians, African
Americans and Latinos.
This isn't Vietnam's generational war. If anything, race and
ethnicity have emerged as the prime coalescing agent in the movement.
Maybe that's why I heard a lot of rap music emanating from the stage.
I didn't see Jane Fonda up there.
I didn't hear Country Joe, either.
No one said, "Give me an F!"
Unless the "F" was for Farishta.
Twenty-one-year-old Farishta Amani, a freshman at Chabot College, was
up in front. "I have family in south Afghanistan who are getting
bombed -- and I can't believe the US government would bomb starving
people," she told the Chronicle. "This will not stop terrorism and
will only make people more angry."
After decades of immigration and the biggest boom in ethnic Americans
ever, there are new truths that emerge in this war that we may not
have factored in to our thinking.
In this day and age, the US can't bomb a country without impacting
some American's ancestral home. The link between homelands there and
neighborhoods here is so much stronger than it's ever been. Yet few
stop to understand that when we bomb there, Americans grieve here.
When young Afghan-Americans speak, there is no lack of patriotism for
their country, America. But there is genuine compassion for the whole
situation, not just for a selective part of it.
People who have family in other places around the globe understand this.
Other Americans who, because of their origins, have been subjected to
racial profiling in this county understand this too.
They can relate to Moslems and Arabs and South Asians and Central
Asians in America rounded up and held for questioning for days and
weeks at a time. Many of them are merely innocent people caught in
the middle of America's war on terrorism.
They were all in the crowd on Saturday.
If you need a coalition of countries to wage war, it figures you need
a coalition of issues and communities to wage peace. So the protest
signs were mixed and varied. One read, "Stop the War in Afghanistan."
But another read, "Stop Racial Scapegoating." And another, "Defend
Through all these messages runs a racial thread that marks what makes
this movement for peace different from others in the past. It's
broader and more diverse than you can imagine. It's a peace movement
that looks like America.
Emil Guillermo's book, "Amok" won an American Book Award 2000. He
hosts "NCM-TV: New California Media," seen on PBS stations in San
Francisco and Los Angeles. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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