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Rallying Points - Hundreds from both sides of war effort attend Jonesborough event

By Rex Barber, Johnson City Press

Several hundred activists showed up at Mill Spring Park in Jonesborough Saturday to raise awareness of depleted uranium weapons and demand an end to the war in Iraq.
The rally, sponsored by United for Peace and Justice, was one of 11 other rallies that were held around the country in major cities like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Jonesborough police had set up checkpoints to get into the park and searched everyone who entered.

Washington County sheriff’s deputies, Johnson City police officers and troopers with the Tennessee Highway Patrol provided security throughout the event, which began at noon and ended with a march and protest outside the gates of Aerojet Ordnance.

The activists were opposed by the local chapter of Rolling Thunder, who stood outside the park’s perimeter and yelled at the activists things like “You’re aiding the enemy” and chanted the slogan “USA” over and over again. Many held up signs with the words “Support the troops.”

Some of the activists responded with “Let’s bring the troops home” but were told by organizers not to engage Rolling Thunder in an exchange of words.

As the “USA.” chant was being shouted behind him, activist David Swanson spoke to the crowd and told them the surest way for the war in Iraq to end was for Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to stop supporting legislation to fund the war.

He said that would not work because President George W. Bush would find ways to fund it in a round about way.

“Impeachment is the one thing the president cannot stop,” he told the crowd. “All he can do is crawl back to Crawford (Texas) with (Vice President) Dick Cheney to await their criminal trials.”

Another aspect of the rally, and what separated it from the other rallies across the country Saturday, was its focus on depleted uranium (DU) weapons, which the activists allege are made at Aeorojet Ordnance about four miles away from where the rally was held.

“I know guys who fought in Iraq who are convinced that they have DU poisoning,” Swanson said.

Several speakers at the rally said that depleted uranium shells, once they strike their target release radioactive material that has a half-life of 4.5 billion years.

Rolling Thunder representatives, who wanted to make clear that they had no affiliation with United for Peace or other anti-war and anti-Bush administration groups, thought the activists were committing a sin.

Vietnam veteran John Andes was at the rally and remembers well the disrespectful way veterans were treated upon returning from Southeast Asia in the 1960s and ’70s.

“This is a sacrilege,” he said of the rally. “You don’t hold rallies like this when our people are fighting. As Vietnam veterans we made a vow not to let what happened to us happen to these veterans.”

Andes recalled being spit upon and called a baby killer during his time in the service and worries about what today’s veterans will face.

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He's a goddamn lier.

Mr. John Andes remembers being spit on and being called a baby killer. This is the first actual case of such an event being remember by a living human being. Many, many Vietnam War vets, like vets today, came home to realize that they had been lied to by their leaders. Many had terrible memories of baby killing and other terrible things that happen in war. It is hard not to blame the perpetrators of crimes. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do." I suppose that would apply to Mr. Andes.

His war, like the present one, was a horrible crime and a disservice to the American people. United for Peace and Justice speaks truth to the powerful and their dupes.

Maybe but not many. Most Vets were treated fairly when returning home. We knew they had a job and weren't to blame. The spit on thing was propaganda. I bet the propaganda people were there.

I was in Vietnam in the jungles, no one in my unit wanted to be there. We all wanted to come home, we knew we had no business there. I can't understand where these Rolling Thunder Neanderthals are coming from - they are a disgrace to our soldiers who know the difference between defending our country and being sent on a scavenger hunt for oil to benefit multi-national corporations. To all you Rolling Thunder bullshitters - really support the troops, fight to bring them home!

This article is an extremely unfortunate abuse of the use of media.

Let us begin with the headline, "Rallying Points - Hundreds from both sides of war effort attend Jonesborough event". This leads one to believe that the turnout was fairly equal. There were hundreds of anti-war protestors. There were only about 20 Rolling Thunder pro-war protestors.

If one clicks on the link for the article in the Johnson City press, you will see the majority of photos taken of the minority Rolling Thunder people, and the minority number of photos taken of the majority of anti-war protestors. Is the Johnson City Press owned by Fox News where there is no truth in reporting?

How kind of Rex Barber to soften the insults hurled by the small group of Rolling Thunder members. Let me give some more examples that not only more thoroughly represent the spectrum of insults flung by the members of Rolling Thunder, but these were also the majority of comments, not the USA chanting:

1) You're a damn yankee. (comment: which I find laughable in this century that people in the South still find this to be an insult.)
2) You're a traitor.
3) You're all terrorists.
4) You're fat.
5) You're stupid.
6) If you are what represents the next generation, we are all going to hell.
7) You're too young to even know what war is about.
8) You should go live in Iran.
9) You should go live in Iraq.
10) Get out of this country. You are not Americans.
11) You're evil.

To a woman holding a sign which read, "Love Thy Neighbor" a female member of Rolling Thunder shouted, "You're not my neighbor and I don't love you. You don't know what love is."

Rex Barber needs his hearing checked, in addition to learning about reporting in an unbiased manner. Perhaps Rex Barber is also a member of Rolling Thunder. This would explain this botched attempt at reporting something truthfully and accurately.

I will address one other issue, because it is yet another example of Rex Barber's shoddy reporting. In his article he writes, "Another aspect of the rally, and what separated it from the other rallies across the country Saturday, was its focus on depleted uranium (DU) weapons, which the activists allege are made at Aeorojet Ordnance about four miles away from where the rally was held."

Earlier in the rally, a speaker asked the crowd to boycott FedEx, since FedEx transports the Depleted Uranium (DU) that Aerojet produces. In fact, a FedEx employee was one of the first infected. Rex Barber uses the word "allege", as though he is unable to verify that Aerojet produces DU. This is glaringly shoddy reporting that panders to a regional base of political leanings, rather than reporting the truth. It is unfortunate that the residents of Johnson City are treated with the disrespect that this kind of fake reporting puts forth.

but i used to be a reporter and can assure you it's at least half the editor. The reporter certainly does not write the headline or pick the photos, and probably has half his sentences rewritten.

Well David, you have illustrated here yet another point about what has gone dismally wrong with American media. It hasn't always been this way.

Reporters need to be aware that when they select reporting as a profession, they are merely puppetry, used as a cog in the elite's machinery, and they are thus complicit with all that is published in their name, even if it appears they are being scapegoated by editors and publishers. A good friend of mine teaches college journalism in California. Journalism used to be an admired and even noble professsion; reporters provided safeguards and were the watchdogs over the freedoms and rights of the citizenry. Propoganda is the order of the day, it seems, these days.

All reporters should rebel and rise up against this corrupted system of "reporting" -- or find other work and uses for their talents until some semblance of truth and justice can be restored.

You have found a new and useful place where you are educating the masses and reporting what actually happens. May other journalists, perhaps even Rex Barber, continue to follow your example.

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