“We’ve worn handmade peace shirts every Thursday since the first week of school, without fail,” Skylar said.
But what started out as a light-hearted gesture soon started to be taken out of context.
Students started approaching the group members, yelling obscene things at them, said Lauren.
“People just turned on us like that,” she said. “At least 10 boys stood up and yelled things at me at once, and we couldn’t even walk through the halls without a harsh comment being made.”
The heckling began early in the school year, according to group members. They said they were putting small posters promoting peace on friends’ lockers with their permission.
They thought it was OK, because the cheerleaders and football players had signs on theirs. Eventually, though, group members said they were told by the school’s administration they could no longer hang up the posters.
“People tore them down and drew swastikas and ‘white power’ stuff on them,” Lauren said.
Skylar had similar things written on her posters.
“Someone taped an ‘I Love Bush’ sign over my ‘Wage Peace’ sign,” she said. “So I tore it down, threw it away, and the whole commons starting booing. I walk by later and find that someone has completely tore my sign down and placed an ‘I Love America, Because America Loves War’ sign up.”
—Students Wear Confederate Flag Shirts To Oppose Peace-Shirt Group, commondreams.org | sombrero tip to C&L
IT SAYS SOMETHING very revealing that there are young people who think that symbols made immortal by Adolf Hitler are a valid response to a peace sign today. Who see the confederate flag (and it is not being used here to represent "heritage," if you don't mind) as a sane response to a peace symbol. Who feel that White Supremacy is the counter-argument to those who ask to live without war between nations. And maybe those pundits who entertain the notion that the USA is engaged in wars of "Liberation" and such should look to the children, who so often lead the way. When we care to pay attention, that is. Because clearly, the kids are not misled. Not by our equivocating fairNBalanced frenzies. When they go crazy it is because of the binds we provide, a series of traps to which we've often long been blind. But those newer, more naive, less compromised and cluttered minds always suss out the truth behind our apathy-weighted sighs and rationalized diatribes. And they know what these wars are about. No, not about Freedom, or Peace, or Liberty, or Democracy, of course. Those are soundbytes for Fox-Watchers, para-citizens on brain vacation. The wars of our dear United States of America are about that dark desire that moves mobs to cheer a lynching; they are about about colonialism and imperialism and genocidal impulse and an all-too-human lust for dominance and violence and power at any cost.
The saddest part is not even our present day destruction. It is the future our present is perpetuating. The saddest part is what "America" means to those kids who are repulsed by the Peace Shirt Group. They have absorbed the insidious doctrine spoken in between the lines and by the behaviors of those in la Casa Blanca and our ever-stalwart mainstream media and so many history books: USA = White Dominance. Patriotism = War. Humanity = Treason. It is not the fault of the children that they learn well. They simply have not become sophisticated enough to sublimate and decorate the lessons provided. This is the part, as Kahlil Gibran preached, where we now learn about our world from them and the shapes they have taken under our tutelage.
The hopeful part is that the story was written at all because there are young people willing to stand up to those voices that would threaten violence in the face of those who want only peace. When I see this, I think of the citizens of Oaxaca, those who stood up to the Mexican government's repression. I think of the Monks of Myanmar, who filled the streets with their silent protest. I think of Code Pink, who refuses to relax into tyranny, and I think, too, of those days in NYC when they arrested almost two thousand of us at once. I think to myself that the United States of America is now and has always been made of fierce people quite ready to fight. The division we see in the story of this school is one carefully orchestrated by today's loudest public voices and is a result of all the confusion and misdirection and deception they sow. They need our heads turned about while they gut the land and rout the people and talk about mass murder as if it exists only on screens. They know that if such confusion and well-maintained division didn't occupy so many of us, we'd focus upon the most important chasm chiseled deep by our own governmental elite, the border wall erected between the People and the Truth. And if we scaled that fearsome fence, we might all join forces. And then, there might truly be change. And even more terrifying: there might be Peace.
nezua limón xolagrafik-jonez blogs as the unapologetic mexican, and thinks today you are looking quite dovely.
Crossposted at The Unapologetic Mexican, Culture Kitchen, and Corrente.