Protest Stand Up

I both laughed and wept when I heard Genevieve Van Cleve read some of her poetry at Camp Casey, so I asked her if I could perform two of her pieces in settings that would be for protest and consciousness raising not for entertainment or profit.  I was delighted when she agreed to allow me to.

Today I took my little PA system and just stood up and performed on Union Square in the late afternoon, after work for many people. 

There was always a quiet intensity among the spectators at the parts about eight hour voting lines for black voters while white ones don’t wait to vote, about empty FEMA trailers, and about Guantanamo Bay.  I was deeply affected by those sections when I heard Genevieve at Camp Casey.

I am not sure that all of the young people on Union Square even know what the references to intelligent design mean.  I don’t know if they were able to grasp allusions to the Christian right or to extremism.  Older people listened intently but did not respond vocally to these things. 

Again there is evidence of the effectiveness of the neoconservative agenda being implemented with such speed and efficiency by the Bush administration.  Many Americans are not well informed.  Unless one is very tenacious and vigilant, the truth about our world is hidden, not told.  And there was something fearful about people’s response, too.  Are they cowed even when they are not ignorant?

A wonderful woman heard me perform and then talked to me later.  She wondered what has happened to Union Square.  She kept saying that it used to be the place for protest, it was always so lively.  Today, it was mostly subdued and quiet.  Maybe cowed. 

This woman carried with her a flyer for the October 5th march and plans to attend.  She had missed the September 19th one because of all the machinations that meant the time and place were not announced till very late.  How many more people did also? 

I am doing lots of these little performances in places where I am likely to encounter people: Washington Square, Times Square, in front of the Metropolitan Museum and in the Park.  Certainly, nothing will “turn me round,” in Genevieve’s words.  I see that there is so much more work to be done.  


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