IVAW betrays their youthful marchers and capitulates to the Democratic Party

IVAW march
DENVER- I have friends in Iraq Veterans Against the War, but their much anticipated action today was totally FUBAR. Given latitude by the other protest organizers to be the feature action on the last day of the DNC, the IVAW march aimed no higher than to ask that their rep be allowed to meet with a party representative. The IVAW had Rage Against the Machine do a free concert, asked the audience to follow them across town to lend moral support, and when the appointment with a DNC delegate was given them, the IVAW cheered, thanked their fellow marchers, and asked everyone to go home.

Denver Riot Police

This in the face of hundreds of cops in riot gear, heavy machinery, and a large audience of bystanders, delegates and press. The confrontation needed to put the spotlight of media attention on the issue of military imperialism and corporate fascism, passed like it some kind of Pirates of the Caribbean amusement ride, everyone smiling and posing for pictures under the noses of heavily armored riot police menacing the crowd with batons and riot control guns.

police state song and dance
Instead of chants like THIS IS WHAT A POLICE STATE LOOKS LIKE, or megaphone entreaties to ask why do nonviolent common citizens face such intimidation by police, the crowd watched Code Pink and other theatrical performances sing cutesy songs to recast the oppressive tone into a humorous light. They should have been signing “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.” Comedic relief is often laudable, but should we be laughing, instead of facing the militarization of our policeman stone cold sober?

No, instead of calling the Democratic Party and the City of Denver on their repressive ways to curb dissent, the situation was kept in check by the vets’ self-policing. The police never had to issue an order. Instead the IVAW coordinators were constantly detailing city ordinances and forewarning everyone about possible arrest. Every time, more and more people retreated from the action.

For example, the IVAW march was un-permitted, and yet they directed it into the allowed free speech area, instead of veering toward better visibility and “certain arrest.” Oh, you don’t have a “permit” for your march, but there are places that are off limits, meaning, for which you don’t have “permission?” Which is it then? The crowd of Rage fans wanted to have their voices heard. They didn’t want to be led in somber veteran respect mode until all their spirit was worn out of them. The IVAW march coordinators kept everyone in line, followed prearranged parade direction signs, and even allowed themselves to be led by the damn police golf cart whose backward facing sign flashed FOLLOW ME.

IVAW drama stop
So the crowd followed the IVAW into the Free Speech dead end, and they and a multitude of press waited for something to happen. I heard an IVAW coordinator phoning Barack Obama’s office from which they were expecting a phone call. When no Obama appearance materialized, the vets led everyone back out again and into the “forbidden area” with it’s oft-reminded possibility of arrest.

I was asked to stay back with the rest of the followers, and not crowd the IVAW formation. I told the coordinator that he had led us into the Auroria free speech maze and back, and I was not about to obey a single further idiotic command, no matter how much “respect” the veterans were needing.

Seriously. All “out of respect for the veterans.” Even reporters were barked orders as if they were subordinate to the vets. I took umbrage at being told constantly to stop every few minutes to listen to the vets give their witness of Iraq and wait as their spokesman gave further statements to the press. Staying behind, keeping a distance, or keeping the way clear was supposed to be honored “out of respect for the veterans.”

These were the same veterans who went to war when we asked them not to. I’m very thankful that each of them has changed their tune now, but where was their respect for us before more than a million Afghans and Iraqis were killed at their hands? No, the veteran worship was severely misplaced. They earn no points from me for “their sacrifices in the service.” The bastards killed innocent people, they should be begging forgiveness, not assuming to command our respect.

That said, I think the antiwar movement is misplacing its hopes thinking the IVAW can carry any sort of ball promoting an end to war. The vets are after a return of their comrades, and better veterans benefits. That’s a far cry from pacifism, or even a repudiation of US predatory militarism. And this DNC stunt proved it. Here’s how the self-aggrandized crunts blew the last opportunity to show dissent at the DNC.

They held a concert which pulled the youth element away from where they might have been participating in street actions. Of course this is no different than Tom Hayden and Ralph Nader drawing their audiences from likely people who had to choose whether to protest or go see them. Not such a big deal, but it got much worse.

This afternoon the IVAW shepherded a reported 5,000 supporters not to the Pepsi Center delegate entrance, but deep into the Free Speech Cage, away from sight of convention delegates. After a long delay they moved everyone into the promising area, but kept thinning the crowd with warnings of potential arrest. They also kept the marchers well out of proximity of the police lines. The IVAW limited what anyone could say, out of respect for the vets, led them in a last chanted instruction to Go Home, then reminded stragglers that it was the expressed wish of the veterans that everyone leave the area lest an ensuing disturbance mar the IVAW event. After everyone was gone, the veterans even gave a round of applause for a nearby contingent of cops. More in the morning when I’m feeling less enraged.

6 thoughts on “IVAW betrays their youthful marchers and capitulates to the Democratic Party

  1. If you went to the show, you know it was setting up this activity of non-violence. By the time it was over we walked over 4 miles. I was among the several hundred behind the IVAW who were willing to participate in non-violent CD. Sorry if you do not understand that from it’s planning conceived in ARD months ago and carried out by IVAW and Tent State this was going to be a non-violent statement with the high probability of arrest for those of us choosing CD.
    We were never in the Freedom Cage..we went by it. I know where the real fucking freedom cage is. I slept in it with others from Tent State.
    Sorry you did not get the tear gas you might have wanted.
    Those of us involved in the planning and execution of this considered it a success. Tomorrow we will bring 30,000 to the streets of Denver in a non-violent action on immigration abuse by ICE..
    Why don’t you contact IVAW and tell them how their members here sold out..



  2. Joker-
    No one’s wishing for tear gas. Or violence. It would have been nice however for the delegates and public to see the police intimidation we faced at every attempt to leave Civic Center Park. Why are nonviolent crowds being corralled with this much brute intimidation? Regular Americans in TV land need to see this.

    And NONVIOLENCE does not mean having to keep your mouth shut. The march today accomplished nothing, expressed nothing other than to show that the real antiwar, anti-imperial sentiment of young people can be co-opted by the corporate system. Tent State and IVAW delivered the submission of the youth element into an innocuous nonthreatening parade. Even though most of the hundreds had strong feelings about social and moral wrongs, they were kept quiet and submissive. You made them go from RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE into being seen as Obama hopefuls in a mere four miles.

    I’m glad you mentioned the distance. All the more reason why NOT to subject marchers to constant stops, making them wait repeatedly while IVAW speak about personal bits which the marchers can’t hear, and then making them take an elongated route into the Freedom Cage where the marchers are chanting WHO’S STREETS, OUR STREETS when we were actually penned into THEIR FENCED ENCLOSURES.

    We have to demand an end to war, not an appointment to meet with someone to discuss it. You don’t need a march to accomplish that.

    And for tomorrow’s immigration march, I hope the turnout is more from us citizens showing support for the immigrants. I worry that all this overwhelming police force is going to put to the service of ICE and they’re going to use this event to document undocumented persons and round them up.

  3. Yes, the whole IVAW thing was to get their photo-op moment, but what an absolutely weak and useless one it was. The sad fact about this group at this time, is that essentially they have been coopted by the Democratic Party like much of the rest of the Peace Movement has (more so than usual during these election times) . Their at times standoffish elitism is illustrative of that, and the cult of the veterans mentality among the nationalistic, liberal ‘patriotic’ portion of the Antiwar Movement feeds into this desire on the part of some in the IVAW to be an elite, too.

    Nogopostal, you completely misread what was being said by Eric here. There was no desire for people to get tear gassed as you put it wrongly. The whole issue is about the misplaced tactics of the IVAW that others sometimes seem to want to follow rather blindly, and I think Eric was spot on about how some in the IVAW do have some rather different goals separate from a true antiwar position that they have set up all for themselves.

    Quite frankly, the IVAW mentality at times seems to be a carryover from the military mindset that IVAW says they are opposed to. Some in the IVAW seemingly want themselves, the antiwar vets, to be set up on some sort of super-sized virtuous pedestal! The IVAW looks like the vet population as whole when they do this, as the vets as a whole think they have some sort of grand entitlement from our country. ‘Heroes’, you know? But they really just are NOT.

    This desire for many among the Antiwar crowd to separate themselves out from others as supposedly more virtuous includes much more than just the IVAW vets though. This arrogance and elitism by some in the antiwar Movement was at the heart of the split between ARD and R68. It destroys unity of purpose rather than build upon it.

    Those who try to separate themselves out as being some how more essential than other sectors of the antiwar Left usually really are much less esential to building the antiwar movement than these people self-delude themselves into believing. And that may very well appply to the IVAW unless they start to take a better tact to working with others than themselves, not so alligned with Democratic Party lobbying (begging). The DP is the grand brake on the antiwar movement, and IVAW is in danger of helping the DP brake antiwar organization with their current tactics. ltimately, if it continues it could lead to a split within IVAW itself.

  4. I’m really disappointed. From what I’d heard about the planned protest, it sounded like it would be the best one at the DNC. I hate to think that the IVAW has become little more than a pep squad for Democratic Party circus.

  5. Spam alert.

    of course, Tony, Eric, nothing is wasted…

    The Po-po were there because the Fright Wing propaganda was and still is that we’re all a bunch of nutjobs and would have been turning over cars and burning them and killing people in the streets.

    Those cops standing there in their Riot Gear while people danced in front of them, priceless.

    All depends how you spin it though,

    They get the Local Gestapo out, and some hired guns from other jurisdictions, to basically stand around looking really really stupid.

    There’s even a Clown in the one picture laughing at them…

    Once Eric removes the spam, I’ll post a shameless plug here.

    There’s a movie called Jacob’s Ladder, about doping the troops with hormones to make them more aggressive and increase their stamina in battle during VietNam.

    Actually the official reason is “increase their stamina” but the ‘roid rage aspect played into Military Hands nicely… as long as the “Troops” what a demeaning and dehumanizing word… were in the Theatre of Combat.

    But once it got rotated back stateside they started to realize just how badly they had fucked up.

    The spam is somebody posting an advertising link for Human Growth Hormone treatments.

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