Gays join protest of Bush library groundbreaking

Rick Vanderslice

About 100 people gathered to protest the groundbreaking of the George Bush Library on the Southern Methodist University campus this morning.

Members of the LGBT community were among the organizers. Other protesters came to Dallas from around the country.

Among the protesters was Cindy Sheehan, who became the face of the anti-war movement after the death of her son Casey in Iraq in 2004.

A march began at about 9:30 a.m. at Mockingbird Station and ended on the SMU campus outside Ford Stadium near Mockingbird Lane and Airline Drive. Many were dressed in black with white masks representing soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush administration.

Five different police forces kept protesters and counter-protesters apart. The march began in Dallas, crossed into Highland Park and ended on campus in University Park. SMU campus police also were on hand.

The groundbreaking was held several blocks away and protesters were not allowed anywhere near the dignitaries, who included  the Bushes and Cheneys. Sheriff’s department officers guarded that ceremony in riot gear with shields and batons. Only pre-approved guests and media were allowed near the library site.

However, pro-Bush counter-protesters were allowed to mingle on the outskirts of the anti-Bush crowd.

Local speakers were mostly from the LGBT community.

Aaron Rathbun dressed in a graduation cap and gown and held a sign on stage that read, “Bush failed us.”

Radio host and Queer LiberAction activist Rick Vanderslice led some of the chanting and was one of the speakers. He echoed the event’s “Arrest Bush” theme.

Vanderslice said the policy institute is being built to justify the policies of the Bush administration. He said this can’t be allowed to happen and called them war criminals who should be arrested and brought to justice.

“We can get them,” he said.

“Millions of lives have been ruined because of irresponsible foreign policy,” said Charles Grand, a speaker from the Socialist Workers Party.

Grand said he was happy with the number of people attending since the protest took place during a workday.

Sheehan explained why she had traveled to Dallas from her home in California for the event.

“You can’t put a bloom on that lily,” she said. “He wasn’t a good person. He wasn’t a good president. We can’t let him rewrite history.”

Other speakers included Time magazine 2002 person of the year Colleen Rowley, Code Pink founder Medea Benjamin and Col. Ann Wright, who spent 29 years in the military followed by 16 years as a diplomat and resigned her post to protest Bush administration policy.

State Rep. Lon Burnham from Tarrant County was scheduled to speak but was held up by an airline delay.

The museum and library will open in 2013. The policy center is already operating in offices in Preston Center.

Dressed as death, a number of protesters, including Time person of the year Colleen Rowley, marched to the groundbreaking but were turned back

—  David Taffet

What price diversity?

Arizona law highlights the level of fear, anger surrounding immigration. But can we survive without the diversity immigrants bring?

Diane Holbert Special Contributor

The immigration debate is a sign of how difficult it is for us to live in diversity. The Arizona government recently ruled that city police forces must ask for proper documentation of citizenship if they have reason to believe that those they are stopping or arresting have no papers for being in that state legally.

The federal government and several Arizona city police forces have sued the state over the law.

So what is Arizona afraid of?

Some say a limited amount of space, others say a limited amount of resources/jobs, and others claim that continuing to keep the status quo will bring in more crime.

Yet many people think this Arizona rule is racist. I believe it may be all four reasons, but today I am most concerned about profiling, discrimination, racism — essentially, the fear of diversity.

The U.S. is currently attempting the greatest experiment in diversity in the history of the world. We’re asking an enormous amount of ourselves to live in such diversity.

Our country is growing rich, not poor, in diversity: Hindus and Muslims, gays and straights, Protestants and Catholics, Russians and Vietnamese.

The list shows our wealth as a nation.

I have a friend who hired an undocumented worker several years ago. For “Pedro,” being hired by my friend meant he could send money to his family back in Mexico on a regular basis. He also knew that the longer he stayed to work with my friend, the higher was his risk of being caught.

It has now been four years since he has seen his family. He knows that if he returns home, he will probably never be able to come back to the place where he is making a steady wage.

Pedro is a reliable man who works diligently.

My heart says to welcome the stranger, like Pedro, and to be unafraid of what he brings to us. I welcome diversity and its wealth.
But my head says that it’s important to be a nation of order. So, what to do? How do we live in profound diversity?

There needs to be a clear pathway to citizenship for all people who are willing to contribute to our society. We need to be able to tax all workers to broaden the base of our infrastructure. Increased attempts to police the border will be no more successful than “The War on Drugs.”

We must honor and respect all persons among us and offer channels to become partners with us.

The way we deal with the question of immigration will say a great deal about our commitment to diversity or our rejection of it.

Diana Holbert is senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens