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Sunday, March 22, 2009


 

How long has this been going on?


Back in 1974, a group named Ace released a song called "How Long," more commonly known as "How Long Has This Been Going On?" It's a great song (you can listen to it here) although it had nothing to do with the Vietnam War.

The phrase was in my mind this weekend, though, as we marked the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with demonstrations here in San Francisco and elsewhere across the country (the one in San Francisco "featured" what can only be described as a police riot, about which I may have more to write later). And the phrase was in my mind for a particular reason. As an outgrowth of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, a brand-new chapter of the ANSWER Coalition was formed here in the South Bay (San Jose, CA area). Take a look at the members of the group:

ANSWER 3-21-09 So Bay youth Web

Most of these young people are in high school. Only one is in college. Three of them are in eighth grade! We all got together Friday night to paint the banner in this photo, and then most of us rode to and from the demonstration on a bus from San Jose. And, if you haven't figured it out yet, this really brought home to me, in a way that no simple numbers ("6th anniversary") could ever do, the reality of what's happening. The eighth graders? They were in second grade when the U.S. invaded Iraq! They were in kindergarten when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan! And you know what? By the time they graduate high school, and are of "military age," the chances are quite high that one or both of those wars will still be going on and some of their classmates will be heading off to fight them.

And if you think these are just "kids," think again. Better yet, watch this video. It's the representative of the group, Sarah O'Neal, speaking at the San Francisco demonstration, and delivering one of the best-received speeches of the day. Sarah is one of those eighth graders. Sarah is, one can only hope, the future. Yesterday, as it turns out, was my birthday. Listening to Sarah give this speech was one of the best birthday presents I have ever received.


How long has this been going on? Way, way too long. Six and eight years too long, to be precise. And, in the case of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, much, much longer.


Why stop here? There's more...

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