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Jeremy Hogan

“You are a guest … Bush is our neighbor”

“You are a guest … Bush is our neighbor” - Story, Pix and Clips by Jeremy Hogan.

Week 1

George W. Bush and Laura waved at me again from a billboard as I rolled into Crawford, Texas for week two of my quest to document the Cindy Sheehan vigil. I was here last weekend too. I’d booked my plane ticket an hour before finding out Cindy was going to decamp because her mother had a stroke.

I said, “fuck it, I’m going anyway, maybe she’ll be back in time for me to get an interview." Arriving was like many things in life … there is no preparation for the actual experience.

I landed at the Austin airport and my only knowledge of the place was from the movie Slacker. The movie depicts the lives of losers in Austin and jumps from one person to the next. I feel like the guy in the bus in the movie’s opening scene … well if I stayed in Indiana I wouldn’t be here. I guess there are really multiple realities. One reality is that I read the mainstream media and I don’t have a clue what’s going on here … but I am here now and will find out what’s going on from my own perspective. Somewhere out in the universe my twin is still clueless but that’s his problem.

Before I came here the first time it had even been suggested that I was a political activist who could no longer be trusted for taking time off from my job at a newspaper to head down here. Someone joked that I obviously must “hate freedom.” Someone else suggested I was only covering this because my own father is a Vietnam Vet …so I am obviously crazy. But who hates Freedom? WHO???

I hit Austin with two hours of sleep on Hunter S. Thompson’s funeral blastoff day. I knew there was no way he’d be up there in Woody Creek with all those sycophants and wannabes. Fuck them and all their stupid money. Gonzo police … I read later they had Gonzo police … what the fuck is that? Ha! Johnny Depp and John Kerry should get their asses down here to Texas is what I am thinking.

Driving to Crawford I listened to right wing radio. Some of the right wingers are on Cindy Sheehan’s side … this is when I know Crawford, Texas is the place to be and the whole world is fucked. I sleep15 minutes in a rest stop with semis roaring past and the sun taunting me … telling me … “boy, you’re in Texas now … what the fuck have you gotten yourself into?!”

Yes, welcome to Texas … drive friendly.

And I finally arrive … but not before stopping for Mexican food where I get a lecture from a woman who has a relative in the military. “I’m a Republican,” she says, “and I support her Freedom of speech but she’s made her point … now why doesn’t she just leave. We’re all sick of her.”

But Cindy had left, her mother had a stroke and the movement they said would die when Cindy jumped on that plane was very much alive. Later in the evening a rumor about Joan Baez showing up comes true.

Joan Baez at Camp Casey - Click Pix to View VidClip of "Joe Hill"
Joan Baez at Camp Casey - Click Pix to View VidClip of "Joe Hill"

The movement is in three places. The first is in Crawford. It’s called the Peace House. The second place is Camp Casey I, a sprawling series of tents in a ditch. On up the road is Camp Casey II – that’s where most of the action is.

Click The Pix To View VidClip of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone."
Click The Pix To View VidClip of "Where Have All The Flowers Gone."

It was a little surreal for me … Joan Baez was at Woodstock. She was one of the major influences on the 1960s. And here she was … She sang, “Where have all the flowers gone?” Later the right-winger s on the radio made fun of her.

Later, I headed back to Crawford; I was still in a daze. About 2 a.m. an angry vet showed up at the Peace House (the main convergence point for the movement) … he wanted to speak with Bush too. I gave him bad directions to the ranch because he was so angry I was worried the Secret Service would shoot him. He ended up at Camp Casey 1 and woke everyone up.

He reminded me of my own father. Someone who believed he was fighting for his country, defending his country … only to be cast aside with injuries both physical and psychic on his return home. After all we do live in a consumer society and events like wars are quickly forgotten in the daily maelstrom of advertising and pop culture. But the injuries of vets do not go away.

The next day I am across the street from the ditch where Cindy Sheehan made her stand and right-wingers have shown up … there is a soldier who’d nearly had his feet blown off. He said he disagrees with Cindy Sheehan … so I asked him if he supports the first amendment. His face changes. Well I fought for it in Iraq. I nearly got killed for it. I’ll fight for her right to free speech. I’ll die for it. If someone said there is no more free speech in America I’d pick up a gun.

This was not the reaction I expected after reading all the reactionary rhetoric from defenders of civil liberties on the left … but I came away from week one thinking what I’ve been thinking …the people here in America don’t hate freedom, nobody wants anything bad for the troops and nobody is a terrorist here … people just have different ways of interpreting the world here. But the only interpretation that seems to be approved is what comes from the White House and that isn’t freedom.

And one of the right-wingers says to me … yeah if Bush lied … deal with it …but don’t make our troops suffer. One man tells me he knows where the weapons of mass destruction are: Syria.

Now I don’t know what Bush and his White House staff is really thinking … and I don’t know what some war planners or the neo-cons think about all this. But the people have spoken … will they listen? Or will they continue to have their goons in the right wing media lie and spin the truth about what’s really going on here?




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