May 11, 2006

May 11, 2006
The Lone Protestor

by Mark A. Goldman
This commentary was published in the Vashon Island local newspaper, The Loop, on 5/10/06.

Last week my picture was on the front page of this newspaper. I am the lone protestor. At least I was that morning. Standing on the corner with my "PROTEST" sign, people gave me this quizzical look as if to say…"Duh, don't you think it would make more sense to say what it is you're protesting." Others came right out and asked. Finally, I was able to shorten my answer to one word: "Apathy."
In other words, I was protesting you… on Easter Sunday and during Passover. Well, what can I do?" doesn't cut it anymore. Silence is not an excuse. Silence is not neutral. Silence is betrayal. I was protesting because you aren't; because you don't feel responsible for the injustice… enough to care. "Oh, but I do care!" Oh, but you don't care!Last year I tried to have the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council endorse a resolution demanding the impeachment of Bush and his Bush league players. I was denied the right even to have the resolution put up for a vote. (
I was given reasons why it was inappropriate for the VMICC to allow it. I was told that the VMICC has no authority; is here only to make recommendations; is missing the by-laws. Cute. Where were you?Recently two state legislatures, (not city, not county), had resolutions submitted, which if passed, will be sent to the U.S. House of Representatives demanding Bush's impeachment. And on Vashon Island there is still silence. Are you waiting for me to offer up the resolution again? Me? What about you? (
This is not just about war. It is about injustice, though, and the destruction of the rule of law. It's about negligence, incompetence, and malfeasance, the destruction and disintegration of a way of life… a disintegration that has already found its way into your life even if you can't see it… yet. The truth is I don't want you to protest on a street corner. I want you to protest in your heart. I want you to open the space for other people to protest. I want you to want people to protest. I want you to want ideas about what you can do… enough to become honestly informed. I want you to acknowledge the hypocrisy and the injustice and I want the hypocrisy and injustice to disturb your life. What hypocrisy and injustice? Look at the pictures… read the commentary… the hypocrisy and injustice you refuse to know about or acknowledge because you're afraid to look for it—or at it—even though people are screaming in your ear to look.
One young person said to me as I was standing on the corner, "It's hopeless." It was an intelligent and honest thing he said to me. He felt the hopelessness, and he acknowledged the despair… because he was coming awake. It takes courage. One woman came up to tell me she was afraid… Why should these beautiful people have to experience that kind of hopelessness or fear—in America? Well, is it hopeless? It's your call. Think of yourself as an American Indian in the early days. It was hopeless… and all the fighting and the sorrow and the tears could not hold back the tide. Or think of yourself as an African recently caught in a net, now tied and bound for shipment in the belly of a boat.
If you think that the bitterness and tears that followed in the footsteps of that Indian or that African has wiped out the scourge of hypocrisy and injustice in your homeland… well just you wait. What goes around, comes around. What are you going to say when your child or grandchild gets his or her notice that they want to put a gun in those hands to be sent off to kill? You will worry and the tears will come, and the tears will come.

Mark A. Goldman is an activist and author. Email:

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