This week's letter of the week goes to Phillip Randall. Thanks for the hyperbole-free letter, Phil. You can pick up your $25 gift certificate to Dinner's Ready this week at our offices, 704 NW Georgia. For all the rest of you, the woodshed if officially open for business.
After all the polarizing letters about the ongoing wars and recruiting it is nice to see a letter like Stephanie Bearse's (letters 2-27). Since she seems to be listening, I'm replying in the same spirit of reconciliation.
We in the peace movement have spent the last five years protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and though there has been a dramatic shift in popular opinion against the wars this work has been at times dangerous and frustrating.
I would like to address her point about talking to our representatives. And I'm going to give Rep. Greg Walden, Sen. Gordon Smith and Sen. Ron Wyden grades based on their listening skill. We have really tried to lobby our three representatives, and to be perfectly honest I'm disappointed by their responses.
Rep. Walden first: After years of talking to his aides in the Bend office we planned a town hall meeting in Redmond last February with the express purpose of inviting Greg Walden to listen to his constituents. Two hundred people showed up from around the state, some driving for four hours one way to talk to the congressman. Walden's office didn't honor our presence with even an aide to answer our questions. The occupation of his office in Bend the following month by the Wise Older Women of CODEPINK was simply a direct result of his consistent dodging of the peace movement in his district. All the CODEPINK women wanted was a simple phone call. They waited 12 hours and were arrested for the call that never came. Congressman Walden gets an F.
We have also tried to meet with Sen. Smith's aides, and I remember one rather farcical occasion was when his aide refused to invite us into the office and instead spoke to our peaceful group through a partially open door. Sen. Smith's position on the war has been rather schizophrenic; he has made statements critical of the war, but then voted with his Republican colleagues for the war. Sen. Smith gets a C-minus.
Sen. Wyden's aides have been pleasant, inviting us into their office when it snowing outside and giving us coffee. Sen. Wyden scheduled a meeting at the church that I attend, and around 25 of us had direct conversations with him. He has even been in the minority of those senators who voted to cut off war funding. Our problem with Sen. Wyden's position on the war is that when he talks about the "withdrawal" of troops from Iraq he actually means a drawing down of troops. Sen. Wyden gets a B-minus.
Our presence outside the recruiting office was peaceful, and we exchanged pleasantries with the recruiters. Remember that many of us who are working for peace served honorably in the military and simply believe the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are morally wrong and unjust from a religious viewpoint.
Members of the Central Oregon CODEPINK community good friends of mine, and I believe that their actions are honorable and just. The leaders of CODEPINK here are also the ones who have organized the campaign to help the homeless community and assist low-income Bend residents hurt by skyrocketing rents.
We are not war protesters; our movement is intent on working for peace to restore morality to our nation and to stop the diversion of essential services to the $500,000-a-minute wars. We invite serious dialogue with the pro-war crowd and would hope that those of us on different sides of this war could simply talk to one another. - Philip H. Randall