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August, 2007, Volume 14 Nr. 12, Issue 231

Reel Mowing As Protest.  
Twisting Panties And Squeezing Gonads.

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

On May 1, 2006, we (Jozef, JeanneE and Dylan Hand-Boniakowski, Southern Vermont Veterans For Peace Chapter 88 members) declared our lawn a War Dead Free Zone.  A little over an acre in size, the lawn is situated on a 16 acre homestead in the hills of Vermont.  We cut it by pushing a mechanical reel mower that uses no petroleum products to run.  Other than the cost of the mower (about $90.00) there is no expense in cutting our lawn, except, perhaps, for the occasional part, i.e., a handle, that may break.  Since we use no oil nor petroleum products to cut the grass there are no war casualties as a result.  Our lawn is not part of the blood for oil exchange so deeply embedded within our culture and economy.

The benefits of manually cutting the lawn include a good aerobic workout contributing to better health.  There is no exhaust other than huffing and puffing.  There is no smell other than that of various mint and other aromatic plants.  There is no noise other than the slight rattle of the reels, the gears, the songbirds and the wind.  There is the time outdoors savored as we catch our breath and notice the garter snakes, other fauna and flora with which we share our land.  There is the gratitude of the grand mountain views and the great fortune of living at the northern end of the Taconic mountain range.  There is the savings of not buying gasoline for a power mower, nor oil, nor tune up parts.  The best benefit of manually cutting the grass, however, is not contributing to the Iraq war dead by not using petroleum products on the lawn.

Push mowing an acre of a hay field is hard work especially in May and June when the growth is faster than one can keep up with it.  It takes 3 hours per day in 3 shifts over a period of 3 days to complete one cutting.  Things get a bit easier around the 4th of July.  The same area can be then cut in 2 days at 3 hours or less per day.  Walking along at a fast pace, quickly clipping the tops of the grass provides plenty of time for thinking.  
Why Bother? Because I Have To.
Once in while as I struggle pushing and sweating I ask myself, "Why bother?  Why do I go to all the trouble and time of cutting an acre of grass by hand and foot when an old 1964 Cub Cadet tractor with its 42-inch mower can do it in just under an hour-and-a-half?  Surely, the impact of one person push mowing their lawn in protest of the illegal and immoral war in Iraq is not going to make that much difference.  Or, does it?  It does to me.

On July 17, 2007, George W. Bush signed the executive order entitled, "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq".  Bush by imperial fiat declared,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, find that, due to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, it is in the interests of the United States to take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003, and expanded in Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, and relied upon for additional steps taken in Executive Order 13350 of July 29, 2004, and Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004.

As a consequence of his majesty's declaration, our little "War Dead Free Zone" is illegal whenever the government chooses it so!  The Ultimate Leader has given himself the power to declare any act by anyone as being against the Iraqi war and thus, supporting the "enemy".  If one protester pushing a lawn mower in opposition to the illegal and immoral Iraq war can elicit the wrath of fascists in the White House, then there is hope still that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights can be defended and protected.  Evidently, one protester with a push mower can twist the panties of the powerful.  This is good.  Tens of millions, however, would put their gonads of corruption in a vice grip called impeachment.  

The August 12 - 18, 2005, issue of "Downtown Express", reported on Hala Faisal, who was arrested after walking nude in a Washington DC park protesting the war in Iraq.  Ronda Keysen, writing in "The naked truth about the power of protest today" discusses whether one person's protest can make a difference?  Hala Faisal's lawyer, Daniel Perez, making reference to another solitary protester, Cindy Sheehan, believes it can.  Perez said,

Yesterday it was one woman sitting in front of the president’s ranch, today it is one woman taking off her clothes...and tomorrow it will be somebody else.  Ultimately, it is going to force the Bush administration to cut its losses and get the hell out.

Ronda Keysen ends her article with the validation of the power of the lone protestor.  She quotes Hala Faisal and draws a defining conclusion as why Faisal stood alone and naked protesting the Iraq war.

"I was feeling very shocked when they took my hands and put it in the metal things,” she said of the handcuffs. The police officer seated beside her in the patrol car, however, confided that he too opposed the war.

Rosa Parks was a lone protester when she refused to give up her seat.  The lone protester may refuse to yield a seat, to leave a lunch counter, to vigil for peace on a street corner, to walk naked in a park, etc., even to push a lawn mower.  They do so because they have to.  They do so to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution so shredded by this regime. The lone protester is driven by a sense of urgency that compels some action.  They exists an internal sense of obligation to do something, often anything, that gets others thinking about why they are protesting.  Sometimes, as in the case of Rosa Parks, this leads to drawing attention to and making right some ill within society.  With that in mind, let us protest!  

The Great Mandela

In 2006, USAToday reported that at least 8,000 members of the all-volunteer U.S. military have deserted since the Iraq war began."  Today, that figure may well be in the tens of thousands.  Perhaps as many as 40,000 have deserted.  Many of them have gone to Canada.  One lone protester who refused to deploy to Iraq is Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to do so.  Watada's second trial is scheduled to take place on October 9, 2007. The first trail ended in a mistrial.  Watada maintains that his first obligation by the oath of office that he took when he accepted his commission is to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.  Going to Iraq would violate that oath as the war is illegal.  Watada's "refusal to deploy to Iraq is based on his belief that participation in any manner in a criminal war would be equal to aiding and abetting a crime" [Talking Points]. 

In the 1960s, the musical folk group, "Peter, Paul and Mary", recorded the song, "The Great Mandela".  Perhaps, the unknown author of this moving lyric writing as a lone protester of the insanity of war.  Whenever I hear the song, "The Great Mandela", I am called to contemplate the many lone protesters throughout history who refuse to kill.  It is difficult to listen to "The Great Mandela" and not lament the sorry state of humanity.


So I told him that he'd better
Shut his mouth and do his job like a man
And he answered, Listen, Father, I will never kill another
He thinks he's better than his brother that died
What the hell does he think he's doing
To his father who brought him up right

Take your place on the great Mandela

As it moves through your brief moment of time
And if you lose, you're only losing your life
Win or lose now, you must choose now
With his meal of bread and water today
Tell the jailer not to bother
He is fasting till the killing's over
He thinks he's a prophet, but he's a coward
He's just playing a game, he can't do it, he can't change it
He lies still in his cell

It's been going on for ten thousand years
Tell the people they are safe now: hunger stopped him
We can hate now, we can end the world
Death had gagged his accusation
We are free now, we can kill now
We're not guilty: he was crazy
And it's been going on for ten thousand years

recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary

And what is the net result of the lone protester?  And what of the protester where "death had gagged his accusations"?  The result is that in time, the lone protester will no longer be alone.  And that is why the criminal Bush administration finds it necessary to put the mechanisms in place making protest against the illegal Iraq war illegal.  They know that they are liable high crimes and misdemeanors.  They know that the people are demanding that they be made accountable and that justice be served. 
Impeach the.....
On July 10, 2007, the Reuters news agency reported that

Opposition to the Iraq war has climbed to a record high and President George W. Bush's approval rating dropped to a new low amid growing dissent from members of his own Republican party over his war strategy, according to a new USAToday/Gallup poll....More than seven in 10 Americans favor withdrawing nearly all U.S troops from Iraq by April (2008).

On July 6, 2007, a survey by the American Research Group showed that over half of the US public wants to impeach George W. Bush.  Even more want to impeach Dick Cheney.  And the thug, Alberto Gonzalez, will be the first to go.  So let the lone protester continue.  Let the naked war protester walk through the park.  Let the war dead free lawns be cut.  Let the vigils continue.  And then let them look over their shoulders and see that tens of millions have joined them.  Let the protests continue until the fascists that have taken over the government are kicked out of office and the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights restored.

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all. I like a little rebellion now and then.  -- Thomas Jefferson

Southern Vermont Veterans For Peace Chapter 88 invites you to participate by declaring and making your lawn, no matter how small or big a "War Dead Free Zone".  Or, may you protest in any way you deem necessary to stop the insanity.  As my old timer, World War II veteran and Veteran For Peace, Gene, says, "Impeach the sons of bitches".

©2007 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD
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