Though you didn’t see it on the news and read almost nothing about it in print, there were protesters in Roswell confronting George Bush. We were there.
My friend Jas. proposed the trip to Roswell. He could not stand Bush bringing his fear & lies to New Mexico without any opposition. Bush, in a move taken from Cheney’s agenda, spoke to a stacked audience of military cadets bused into one of the most conservative towns in New Mexico — no worries about dissent or open opposition (isn’t the bully brave).
So, we took to the road in my camper the night before. The drive down was surreal as we passed through dense fog, past trees white with frost. A Trupact container drove by, loaded with radioactive waste (our own Pete Domenici, who introduced the president the next day, supports weaker containers, fewer inspections, more shipments).
We arrived outside of Roswell after midnight and camped off a dirt road. We snuggled in sleeping bags and set the alarm.
The next morning, we drove into town. The main street was barricaded a few blocks either side of the convention center, but the side streets were open. We picked a spot a block east of the convention center, not far from the media vehicles and just below the sightline of a half a dozen snipers. Out of the camper, we pulled Jas’ creation: a Mylar banner suspended from helium balloons painted with the message “Send Bush to Mars.” We had considered stronger messages but we both believe that humor will strip the tyrant of his veneer. It was a timely message fitting Roswell, New Mexico.
As the balloons warmed, the banner lifted slowly and began to drift to the south, paralleling the main drag. We know some people on the street saw it. There can be no doubt the snipers saw it as did the helicopter pilot. We took a couple of pictures and started to leave town.
Ah, but we couldn’t just go, we had to turn back and relish sticking our thumb in Bush’s eye. We watched the banner at about sniper height drift a couple of blocks before catching on a tree. There it hung, the balloons tugging, sparkling in the sunlight.
What happened next was more serendipitous.
As we headed out of town, we stopped at the UFO Museum. All through the museum, Bush’s speech blared, much like small-town Germany 65 years ago. It was ironic to wander through a ‘museum’ that documents people’s gullibility and mistrust of government while listening to Bush. In the gift shop, a patron spoke of ”incredible things spoken of by credible people” — what, ”aliens” or ”the war on terrorism”?
It turns out we were in the museum exactly the right amount of time. As we headed out 380, we stopped at a gas station. While we gassed up, a state trooper blocked the intersection and people began to line up along what proved to be the president’s route to the airport. We never could have planned to be sitting so close. What to do? Too big a gesture, too early, would bring the cops or Bush loyalists down on us. If only we had another banner — though the materials were close at hand (and, ironically, we ended up having more time than we realized). The best I could do was draw a small sign: Patriot Act is UnAmerican.
So, after braying to the young men he will send off to die, after phoning the fanatic anti-choice crowd who powers him, after laughing with the restaurant workers and patrons he is robbing, POTUS drove past hundreds of waving loyalists and probably never saw the man in the yellow shirt holding his sign high with a tear in his eye.
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you speak out, that you protest the direction this president is dragging the entire world. No one can stop him but all of us. Get active! mjh