Friday, July 07, 2006

Movies and Fasting

I watched the riveting HBO movie Iron Jawed Angels last night. It begins in 1912 with Alice Paul and Lucy Burns leading the next generation of suffragettes through 8 years of activism that finally leads to the ratification of the 19th amendment on August 20th, 1920.

This is a powerful, important movie. While a fictionalized version of events, it stays true to the heart of those infamous events led by a group of dedicated activists determined to gain the right of voting for everyone. It's horrifying to actually see activists stoned for quietly, and peacefully, picketing in front of the White House. Women are egged, stoned, attacked and spat upon by spectators.

Inside those hallowed halls, politicans are plotting how to get rid of them. One telling scene has one man saying they ought to be jailed for treason because of the remarks stitched onto the women's banners. The other man in the room points out that the women are quoting President Woodrow Wilson himself.

The most inspiring, yet most terrifying, scenes are the ones set in Occoquan, a Virginia women's "workhouse." This is where the hunger strikes come in. Alice Paul refuses to eat. When taken out of solitary and returned to the general population, she still refuses to eat and inspires the rest of the suffragettes at Occoquan to join the hunger strike. Paul is force fed in the most horrifying ways and the story does not flinch from this horror.

It is not hard to draw parallels between a movement that happened not quite 100 years ago to a movement that is happening now. Especially when things like this happen.
Geoffrey Millard, 25, an Iraq War veteran who served on active combat duty for 13 months, walked into a break in the parade with a sign that read: “Support the Troops, Bring Them Home Now.” He was dressed in his military jacket with “Iraq Veterans Against the War” on the back and his many medals pinned to the front. He was stopped by the police, and when he tried again to enter the parade with his anti-war message and was subsequently arrested.
Also arrested was Chloe Jon-Paul, 71, of CODEPINK: Women for Peace. She attempted to enter the march with her sign after Millard, and was also arrested by the police.

While she was being arrested, Jon-Paul said to the police, “I’m a 71-year-old woman. I don’t want to be arrested. But if you’re preventing our veterans from speaking for peace by arresting them, well, you’ll have to arrest me too.”
GW isn't the first to have people arrested for exercising their 1st amendment rights and disagreeing with him. But he should learn from the history books, Wilson changed his position and supported the 19th amendment, called the Susan B. Anthony amendment.

The current administration needs to learn that you can't keep the discontent quiet and the energy of dedicated activists is not a power to be fooled with.


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