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(DV) Jacobs: Marching on the Pentagon, March 17th, 2007







Marching On the Pentagon March 17th, 2007 
by Ron Jacobs
February 24, 2007

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The first time I remember going inside the Pentagon was in 1969 when I was 14. My dad was coming back from Vietnam and his next assignment was Germany. For some reason we had to go to the Pentagon for something having to do with our upcoming trip. The thing I remember most was its vastness. It was the largest building I had ever been in. In fact, it remains the largest building I have ever been in. A year or two earlier, I was in the locker room at the junior high I attended in suburban Maryland getting ready for gym class. A friend of mine was talking about his sister coming home from college for the weekend. Apparently, his parents were a little upset because the real reason she was leaving her school in New York was to attend the October 27, 1967 protest against the war in Vietnam at the Pentagon. I asked him what he thought and all he said was that he wished he could go. So did I.

History tells us that that march in 1967 made a bit of a difference, if not to the warmakers, at least to the war protesters. One could easily argue that the October 1967 March on the Pentagon was a quantum leap forward for that movement. The publicity it garnered created a situation that pushed the numbers and the credibility of the movement into the mainstream of US society. If one wants to read about that march, they should read Norman Mailer's Armies of the Night. This book is not only some of the best reportage of the 1960s, it is some of the best reportage ever. In my mind, there are three or four journalistic scrolls that encompass the essence of the 1960s: Mailer's Armies of the Night, Tom Wolfe's The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972, and Raymond Mungo's Famous Long Ago. These books stand out not only because they describe essential events, personalities and consciousnesses of that period of time, but because they extract the intrinsic properties of the period's zeitgeist.

But, let's get back to the Pentagon. For those unfamiliar with the 1967 march, let me provide a few fundamentals. The march was originally called by the New Mobe (New Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam), a loose coalition of 150 groups ranging from pacifists to socialists. The march was sure to become something more when David Dellinger, Mobe coordinator and radical pacifist, asked future Yippie Jerry Rubin to be project director. From there, it became something more. Rubin, originally a relatively straight New Leftist influenced by the Berkley-San Francisco counterculture picked up on an idea being spread by folks like Beat poet and leader of the iconoclastic New York rock band the Fugs Ed Sanders, included in the permit request a request to surround the Pentagon. The reason for this was because, according to various legends of the occult, the ultimate demon -- the demon of war -- lived inside a pentagon and the only way to exorcise that demon was by completing a circle around the pentagon the demon was enclosed. Only then would the demon be released and leave the earth. Whether one believes this or not, it is interesting to note that the government refused to grant a permit to encircle the Pentagon.

All that being as it is, my intention here is not history, but to encourage those opposed to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan (and the looming war in Iran) to attend the March on the Pentagon this March 17, 2007. There are other protests planned around the country that weekend being championed by UFPJ, but this march on the Pentagon is the most important of them all. If there is nothing physically preventing you from attending this march, then you should attend. Without going into the petty squabbles (and genuine ideological differences) between the two organizations calling for the protests on the weekend of March 17th (ANSWER and UFPJ), let it suffice to say that the Pentagon -- the ultimate symptom of Washington's warmaking power -- must be confronted by as many people as possible. After all, when it comes to the sponsorship of antiwar events, who cares who gets the permits, which is really the primary function of these top-down coalitions?

The military leadership has been able to avoid its complicity in the mass murder occurring in Iraq and Afghanistan for too long. Unlike their troops, the military and civilian leadership that work in the Pentagon are not just following orders. They are calling the shots. It is their computer programs that plan wars and send troops off to kill and die. It is their planning sessions and contingency plans that determine how, where and when the men and women enlisted in the military for whatever reason will be deployed to carry out their design for conquest. It is their callous disregard for the individual humanity of not only their designated enemies but their own troops that has created the rising death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are as complicit as the civilians they conspire with. It is time that they be called to task for their complicity. The demon of war still resides within that edifice.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way the Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground  (Verso 1997). His first novel, Short Order Frame Up, is forthcoming from Mainstay Press. He can be reached at: rjacobs3625@charter.net.

Other Articles by Ron Jacobs

* One Man's Truth, Another Man's Lies: A Review of Richard North Patterson's Exile
* An Interview With Christina Cowger of North Carolina Stop Torture Now
* Nothing is More Important This Moment in History
* The Dialectics of Love
* Further Along the Dead-End Road We Call the Iraq War
* Trying to Create the Next World War
* The Sigh of the Oppressed: Abraham and His Progeny
* Making Stones Weep: A Review of Susan Abulhawa's Novel, The Scar of David
* A Review of Elizabeth Laird's A Little Piece of Ground
* Back in the Aether Again: Thomas Pynchon's Against the Day
* Veteran's Day, 2006
* Who is Hamas?
* The Boom Heard Around the World?
* With Friends Like These" A Review of Giuliana Sgrena's Friendly Fire
* We Can See Through Your Masks: War and the Power of Words
* Chewing Khat and Thinkin' A Lot-A Satire of Sorts
* Publicity Stunts and Public Policy
* One, Two, Three Many Olympias
* Undoing a History of Robbery
* Neil Young Kicks Out the Jams!
* How Does One Convince The Occupied That This Mayhem Is For Their Own Good?
* Resistance: The Rx for Fear
* Why Leaving Iraq Now is the Only Sensible Step to Take
* Capital is Not God
* This Ain't No Video Game: A Review of Jeffrey St. Clair's Grand Theft Pentagon