Why Picket the New York Times in Washington on Friday?
Well, it has to do with a movie I just saw. It's called Body of War. (bodyofwar.com)
It was produced by Phil Donahue.
The star of the movie is a young man named Tomas Young.
He's an Iraq war vet.
Young had been on duty in Iraq a mere five days when he was hit by a bullet under his collar bone.
The bullet shattered his spine.
And now he's paralyzed from the chest down.
The movie is about his daily struggle to live.
It's about his wife and mother, who care for him.
And its about the politicians who sent him to Iraq.
I watched the movie last night at home in West Virginia with my wife and my two boys - aged 10 and 13.
I'm not sure what effect the movie had on the boys.
It held their attention for the full 87 minutes.
The bottom line lesson from Tomas Young - don't make impetuous decisions - about attacking another country or signing up for the military.
The boys were quiet afterwards. The older one picked up a book and read into the night. The younger one went straight to bed.
In the past, we have talked about Iraq war. We have talked about the possibility of a draft.
The boys see the pictures of dead American soldiers in the newspaper.
But this is the first time they've seen a documentary on the real life effects of the Iraq war.
And it wasn't easy for anyone.
This movie links the suffering of this one young man - 25-year old Tomas Young of Kansas City, Missouri - directly to the votes of our politicians.
The Senators who voted for it - including John Kerry, John Edwards, and Hillary Clinton - come off as scripted stooges for President Bush.
Mr. Kerry - aye.
Mrs. Clinton - aye.
Mr. Edwards - aye.
One of the heros of the movie is our own Senator, Robert Byrd, who opposed the war from the beginning.
He was one of 23 Senators who voted against the war resolution in October 2002.
Thousands have died since.
Tens of thousands have been wounded.
It means not being able to walk.
It means not being able to cough, because you have lost control of your stomach muscles.
It means having your mother shove a catheter into your penis so that you can pee.
"Don't worry, Tomas, I've had your pee on my hands before," the mother says to Tomas.
It means taking a slew of medications every day - anti-nausea drugs, painkillers, blood thinners, anti-depressants - that's just the beginning of the list.
It means struggling against incredible odds to keep together your marriage.
It means traveling across the country to speak out against the illegal war that put you in the wheelchair.
It means holding accountable those who put us in this mess.
On January 22, 2008, Donahue will find out whether or not his movie will be nominated for an Academy Award.
If it is nominated, this will help Donahue line up a distribution deal.
Right now, he's traveling the country showing the film to college audiences.
"I discovered a great American in Tomas Young, a warrior turned anti-warrior, a voice of courage rising above the war drums," Donahue writes on his web site. "To all the main-streamers in the press who supported the invasion of Iraq, to the pundits who continue to talk tough while other people's kids die, to all the merry warriors who recruited Jesus to assist them in this massive foreign policy blunder - I have a soldier for you."
Eddie Vedder wrote two original songs for the movie. As the credits roll, we hear Vedder's voice:
I speak for a man who gave for this land took a bullet in the back for his pay spilled his blood in the dirt and the dust and he's come back to say
That what he has seen is hard to believe and it does no good to just pray he asks of us to stand, and we must end this war today
Which brings me to this Friday, January 11, 2008 at 12 noon.
In honor of Tomas Young, there will be a protest in front of the New York Times Washington office at 1627 I St NW (Farragut West Metro stop).
Why the New York Times?
Because the Times recently signed on William Kristol as a columnist.
Kristol was the lead pundit cheerleader for war - with Iraq, with Lebanon and now with Iran.
As Donahue said - to the pundits who continue to talk tough while other people's kids die - I have a soldier for you.
(To join with us at the Friday protest, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter.