Friday, May 02, 2008

Payback's a Mother!

Mother of a soldier, that is:

When peace activist Medea Benjamin stepped to the podium at the annual New Jersey Peace Action dinner yesterday, she already was known as co-founder of the human rights organization Global Exchange and the women's anti-war group CODEPINK.

Yesterday, Benjamin received another title: terrorist.

"The original Medea murdered her children," read one protest sign outside The Regency House hotel on Route 23 in Pompton Plains, where the dinner was held. "Medea Benjamin is murdering ours."

Some 18 people from groups that oppose anti-war protests as "anti-American" hoisted signs condemning CODEPINK as supporting terrorism.

"I'm here to support our soldiers," said Beverly Perlson, founder of the group Band of Mothers. Perlson, whose son served four tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, flew in from Chicago to attend the rally in Morris County. She said CODEPINK protesters, who have agitated for the closure of a military recruitment center in Berkeley, Calif., are not just "anti-victory," they are "pro-defeat."

"They want to see us lose. I don't understand this," Perlson said, after a heated exchange with CODEPINK supporters. "I've been referred to as the mother of a terrorist. ... My son isn't a terrorist."

"They are a very virulent anti-American group," Carolyn Van Zorge, of North Bergen, state coordinator for the group Gathering of Eagles, said of CODEPINK, which has regional offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and New York.

A driver entering the hotel told the protesters, "I feel sorry for you." A protester spat back, "Go to hell!" Another remarked, "Keep driving, communist!"

Seated at a table in the hotel, Medea Benjamin, a San Francisco resident dressed in pink, listened to the list of accusations from protesters outside.

An issue frequently raised by protesters was $650,000 raised by CODEPINK for humanitarian aid in Iraq. Protesters maintain the money made its way to Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. Benjamin said the donations were used for medicine and goods given to Fallujah refugees, especially women and children.

You've got to love the Band of Mother's Motto: "Warriors come from Warriors".


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