On Saturday night, as demonstrators gathered outside, five CODEPINK women protested the war in Iraq during Hillary Clinton's speech at the Bar Association fundraiser in the San Francisco Masonic Auditorium. In two separate disruptions, banners were draped over the balcony followed by chants, "Hillary, stop supporting the war. Listen to the people!" The first pair of protesters were peacefully escorted out of the auditorium. The second pair were forcefully wrestled to the ground, cuffed, choked, and led out by the hair while the fifth activist tried to intercede. The two of us writing this letter were hauled into jail, where we remained until released at around 3 a.m. with a citation for trespassing, though we were ticket-holding members of the audience.
The big question many people are asking us is: why Hillary? Why not focus on the Bush administration? Though Hillary finally admitted that if she had known that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, she wouldn't have voted to authorize the war, she does not address a timeline for an end to the occupation. Last July she called for an increase in the size of the army by 80,000, and she recently characterized Congressman Murtha's call for Iraq withdrawal as "a big mistake." Hillary is quick to criticize the state of our Union, but she seems reticent to attend to the state of our foreign policy in Iraq.
Hillary was presented by the Bar Association as a viable candidate for the 2008 presidential race. If she would stand up and lead us out of this war, we could look to her as an example of a courageous politician. After all, courage is in standing up for what you believe in and being honest with your constituency, not standing by and watching as the young people you are representing are shipped off to an illegal war.
Hillary has stated that part of her job is "to listen." And that's precisely what we want. We want her to listen to the majority of the people of the United States who are calling for an end to the war in Iraq, specifically, to 62% of our nation's women, who believe the U.S. should bring the troops home from Iraq within one year (Gallup poll, Dec. 2005). We want her to listen to the over 30,000 women around the world who have signed onto our Global Women's Call for Peace, calling for an end to the occupation and the violence in Iraq (see www.womensaynotowar.org). We want her to stop funding the war, and to start talking about a real exit strategy.
And you can bet that as long as she continues to turn a deaf ear, we'll continue to speak out for what we believe in: a more peaceful and just world, a true democracy, and an end to the violent conflict in Iraq.
Rae Abileah (firstname.lastname@example.org)
is a local and youth organizer for CODEPINK Women for Peace. Nancy Mancias (email@example.com) is their
San Francisco coordinator.