Eyes Wide Open

I went to the ProtestWarrior counter-protest to the Eyes Wide Open event at Dallas City Hall today. Darrell Ankarlo had also organized a counter-protest, so the numbers were pretty lopsided. As near as I could tell, it broke down like this:

  • 10-15 Event Staff
  • About 5 EWS supporters
  • About 15 Police and Safety Patrol
  • 20-30 Media
  • 40-50 Protest Warriors and Ankarlo listeners

The police officer that I talked to agreed that it seemed to be about 100 people overall, and that is roughly what my numbers add up to. It was hard to tell who was PW and media at some points, but it was obvious that the numbers were lopsided.

The event was pretty trite. It was obviously well funded, but that is about it. The majority of the people around the EWO event were wearing event staff badges, so I’m assuming they were paid employees. There were a handful of other usual suspects, but no one was foaming at the mouth. (They might have just been short of critical mass.)

Some of our people were a little over the top, but no one got violent. The PW moved over to the podium when they had their hand picked fallen serviceman’s mother speak. When she was done, the PW demanded that the fallen serviceman’s mother on our side be allowed to speak. When they refused, a chant of “Let Her Speak” went up, but they were having none of that.

I was standing beside some of the event staff, and I could hear the guy talking to the guy on the podium. “They are trying to take over our event. They don’t have a permit. Don’t let them on the mic. This is our event. They need to go make their own event.” Gee. I thought it was the soldiers’ event, guys. Thanks for clarifying that for me.

Some of our people stood up and crowded the podium and blocked them from the cameras, and the police did the right thing and stepped in and moved our people back. (I think that it was counterproductive for people on our side to do that, and was glad that it was nipped in the bud.) From that point on, the police maintained a division, and they did so in a fair and professional manner. If you are them or know them, thank you for your service and professionalism.

It didn’t matter what he wanted, because as soon as our people gathered to speak, all the media came to us anyway. We said our part on the side, and they continued their program.

Overall, the thing that I remember most is what a production the whole thing was. There was a sizable amount of funding behind this. They transport all these boots, they have a lot of staff, they had a podium and mic and professional signs, and whole list of credits on the website. They spent a lot of money on this, while we spent almost nothing on it. I have to wonder: how much more good could have been done with this money if they had used it to buy all these shoes and send them to Iraqi children?

17 Comments

  1. guy in the UNLV jacket says:

    I like the Protest Warrior guys, those guys are alright by me. I wonder if they have a Phoenix chapter. I would love to go protest some protesters with them….

  2. MiAn says:

    I have to wonder: how much more good could have been done with this money if they had used it to buy all these shoes and send them to Iraqi children?

    Why did I just check to make sure I still had my wallet?

  3. Phelps says:

    Oh, I’m not calling for government money — I’m calling for the private charity (which this is and which I support whole-heartedly in general) to be better directed.

    Charity is great. Charity at the point of a gun is evil.

  4. Just checkin out yer blog, dude.

    I lived in Dallas for 15 years and took part in a lot of demonstrations/protests there. Most of the stuff I was involved with took place in front of the George Allen(?) court house.

    I do remember Desert One though. A bunch of hippie freaks had been doing a sit-in at City Hall. A guy on a loud speaker that you could hear all over downtown called everyone to City Hall one day and we ran them off.

  5. Phelps says:

    CQ, I wish you had an RSS feed. I want to keep up with your blog, but you are under my radar until you have a feed.

  6. Thank you. I am working on it.

  7. Teri Krause says:

    I’d like to set the record straight on a couple of points, if for nothing else than the sheer fact that so many accounts of the EWO protest in Dallas are so incredibly wrong. First, the protest was not exactly organized by Darrell Ankarlo. As many of you may know, Darrell’s son Adam is a Marine who is at this moment, on his way home from Iraq. Darrell’s wife is a very active member of DFW Marine Corps Families. A local non-profit organization that supports Marines and their families. I happen to be co-founder of the group and serve on the board of directors. Darrell was first alerted to the EWO exhibit and the AFSC from our group’s discussion forum. We very much wanted to support two Marine mothers who had lost their sons in Iraq and were adamently against the EWO exhibit and the use of their son’s names in such. After doing some reseach on their web site, and it didn’t take long, we realized this organization had a very different agenda than what they might have you believe by this so-called “memorial” to honor fallen troops. All it took was one person to say “let’s go” and we were on a mission. Darrell did an excellent job of getting the word out to his listeners, to inform them about the exhibit, and to ask them to join us in our “protest”. I think it’s important to make this fact clear because so many people are “blaming” Darrell Ankarlo for inciting anger and encouraging people to protest EWO and the AFSC on grounds that he has somehow misled his listeners about who the AFSC is and what they stand for. I want to set the record straight and perhaps can do so with this statement taken from my latest Marine t-shirt purchase, “Ain’t Nothin Meaner Than A Marine……Cept His Momma!”. In other words, it would be a great mistake to think you can dishonor a Marine and get away with it. Or for that matter, any US Serviceperson who has given the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of his or her country. Military families, perhaps more than anyone, know the good and the bad of this war. We have it on great authority, from firsthand accounts rather than a biased news media, what is really going on in Iraq. Don’t insult our intelligence by trying to convince us otherwise. We don’t take anything having to do with this war on face value. We do our homework and come to our own conclusions. We have far too much at stake to act otherwise.

  8. Phelps says:

    Well, I’ve heard Ankarlo dealing with the accusations, and I can say that he is handling them just fine — he’s a big boy. I don’t think that the accounts that I have seen are “wrong.” They may be incomplete, but Ankarlo and his soapbox are what got the word out, so I think we should give credit where credit is due — and you both deserve credit for it.

  9. Helen Cariotis says:

    As a Marine mom who was at the Friends’ exhibit on 2/28, I would like to agree with ALL that Mrs Krause has said. I tried to count the pro-military supporters who were there, and other than the PW, I knew practically everyone and they were Marine moms. It is very incorrect to say that Darrell Ankarlo organized our appearance or brought many people out for it. Quite the contrary, he heard about it from us, and other than attending himself, did not bring out his “supporters.” Because Darrell is also a Marine parent, he understands FIRST HAND what our guys have done over there, and stands behind our military and Marine parents all the way. I think the Friends make a mistake to lump us all into one category; what binds us is that we have a son, daughter, or husband in the Marine Corps, we support them 100% in what they have accomplished and what they are doing in this war against Muslim extremists, and only want to counter the misleading writings of groups like AFSC who have such an obvious anti-American agenda. We are certainly able to think for ourselves, and do not need to be lead to any conclusions on this war and our loved-ones’ part in it. Our reasons for attending the EWO exhibit were to show support for our Gold Star Mothers who did not wish their sons’ names to be associated with the “memorial,” and to hopefully educate the Friends and the public about what has really happened in Iraq.

    Helen Cariotis

  10. Phelps says:

    Uh, point of order — I was there, and Ankarlo brought me out.

  11. Linda says:

    I am the mom of three who serve this country in the military. I went to the exhibit in Dallas. I knew about it and planned to attend BEFORE Ankarlo spoke about it on his show. I went to show my support for the Gold Star Families that did not want their son/daughter’s names exploited by this organization. I found the AFSC members to be arrogant and unwilling to cooperate with the wishes of the families I represented. I think they have had a free ride long enough and I hope they come up against this type of opposition every place they show their exhibit. They do not “honor” our military. They believe they are criminals that should be brought up on charges. How, as a parent of Marines/soldier, could I possibly NOT protest the AFSC?

  12. Misterscribner says:

    I was also at the Eyes Wide Open Exhibit, though on the opposite side: I was one of the Quaker volunteers.

    Let me begin by saying how much I appreciate the civility of the postings on this site. All the others that I have visited have been virulently one-sided (on http://www.freerepublic.com, I was barred from posting twenty minutes after my first message, which was neither inflammatory or disrespectful), so I am really hoping that this posting can lead to some kind of thoughtful dialogue.

    I understand the ethical issues surrounding the “Eyes Wide Open,” and certainly support anyone’s right to protest it, but only on points of merit. I do not accept bullying protests based on gross misrepresentations of the AFSC and its mission–which from my point of view is what happened, and for which KLIF radio host Darrell Ankarlo bears primary responsibility.

    Quakers have always professed that war is inhumane and unChristian (Matthew 5:7-9, 5:38-39, 22:39; Luke 22:50-52, etc.), an immoral act regardless of who undertakes it or what their intentions. The AFSC holds the United States government responsible for the violence in Iraq, and has formally requested that the government end military operations there. However, the organization has never maligned the US troops serving in Iraq, called them “war criminals,” or anything else. (This was a common accusation by “Eyes Wide Open” protesters.) Rather, the AFSC has repeatedly expressed sympathy for the troops’ sacrifices, and feels that everyone would be better served by bringing them home.

    Please copy the following link to read the AFSC’s official position on the conflict:
    http://www.afsc.org/iraq/guide/board-statement.htm

    In addition to distorted and incendiary comments on the air, Mr. Ankarlo released a written statement in which he made the following statements:

    1) The AFSC thinks that American troops should be subject to international law. The AFSC has made this assertion, and presumably everyone agrees that American troops should not be engaging in activities that violate international law or the Geneva Conventions (Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, etc.). However, in Ankarlo’s words, this position is no different than allegations of “crimes against humanity and/or war crimes” against the troops, as if the AFSC put American soldiers in “the same class as the Saddam Husseins, Pol Pots and Slobodan Milosevics of the world.”

    2) “The men and women who wore the boots you will see at Dallas City Hall…” Several protesters said that our organization “lied” because the boots were not actually from Iraq. Again, we never claimed that they were, this was one of Ankarlo’s statements. (Although it seems beside the point where the boots came from; the meaning is unchanged.)

    3) He mocks the inclusion of Iraqi citizens in the memorial, calling it “pussified” and pointing out that some of them might have been in “the opposition.” Thinking about the thousands of Iraqis killed, and listening to the number of those deaths under the age of five and over the age of 65, might lead one to question the ethical arithmetic of that statement. Of the thousand shoes we displayed, some might have symbolized insurgents. Is it worth ignoring every life lost to exclude them?

    4) He says that soldiers’ names are being exploited without their families’ knowledge. The AFSC notifies support groups in every city that it visits, and will remove any soldier’s name at the request of his/her next of kin. Many parents support the exhibit, and have left pictures, flowers, and messages for their lost loved ones. The AFSC’s practice seems no more exploitative than those pro-war groups who use soldiers’ names–in fact, far less so than those who use them at rallies, etc. for political ends.

    Armed with this misinformation, multiple groups came to protest what seemed like an “anti-American,” “anti-troops” exhibit, when in fact it was neither. Moreover, the demonstrators were so loud and confrontational that we could not explain the purpose of the exhibit; we could not clearly explain its purpose to the press, because our speakers were shouted down or blocked from the cameras; several protesters shouted racial insults at two Muslim teenagers who read the names of dead Iraqi families. From 8:00-12:00 the event was a whirl of hatred, confrontation, and bigotry. (Several of the exhibit’s supporters-though none of its staff-got engaged in this as well, and are equally guilty.) Many protesters shouted obscenities and cynical political statements, grandstanding in the middle of a metaphorical graveyard. Yet, after the television cameras left, so did the protesters, leaving a peaceful, somber, and reflective vigil for the next two days.

    In closing, there are to questions that I would like answered. I ask them openly and in good faith, and would appreciate someone else’s perspective on them:

    1) Without the distortions and lies about the exhibit’s purpose, why would anyone so venemously oppose a religious group acting consistently on its conscience and the teachings of the Bible?

    2) Is it more decorous to obscure the soldiers’ deaths (the president avoiding military funerals, barring photographs of returning coffins, etc.) than to honor them with frank acknowledgement? “Eyes Wide Open” is not a protest exhibit; it is merely a memorial. Every visitor is welcome, no matter what their feelings on the war, and after taking account of its human cost, can leave with their views unchanged. The AFSC is not manipulating the numbers of dead (other than to grossly under-represent the Iraqis killed), and is offering Americans a chance to really connect with the nation’s loss, which many of them apathetically ignore. Given the disconnect between front-line suffering and home-front complacency, I don’t understand why military members or their families would suffer from that candor.

    The “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit has been welcomed and appreciated in over 40 cities. Dallas gave it by far the worst reception. Whether you agree or disagree with the exhibit, why is it so difficult to approach it lucidly and honestly?

    Thank you,
    Cam Scribner
    Dallas, TX

  13. Phelps says:

    4) He says that soldiers’ names are being exploited without their families’ knowledge. The AFSC notifies support groups in every city that it visits, and will remove any soldier’s name at the request of his/her next of kin. Many parents support the exhibit, and have left pictures, flowers, and messages for their lost loved ones. The AFSC’s practice seems no more exploitative than those pro-war groups who use soldiers’ names–in fact, far less so than those who use them at rallies, etc. for political ends.

    Everything I have heard is that this is patently untrue; the very genesis of the counter-event was that ASFC was refusing to remove names at the request of next of kin, and had done so multiple times to multiple, independent people. Until I see an affirmative statement denying this allegation from AFSC, I am going to take that as a tacit admission that they indeed use the names without permission and refuse to remove them.

    1) Without the distortions and lies about the exhibit’s purpose, why would anyone so venemously oppose a religious group acting consistently on its conscience and the teachings of the Bible?

    First, this assumes that there are “distortions and lies”, a claim which continues to be made and which the EWO supporters have, in my opinion, failed to substantiate, as I have shown in part in another post. Saying it doesn’t make it true; it may be true that you as an individual don’t share that views alleged, it is undeniable that there are people that the organization chooses to give voice to in an official capacity that do espouse those views.

    Setting that aside, I will oppose any group that I think is acting in a way that I think harms my kin and countrymen, and I think that this does. It is irrelevant to me why someone does something to harm my kin and countrymen, or whether it is in good conscience or by religious decree. As the saying goes, the road to Hell is often paved with good intentions. Good people are often, with no malice, simply wrong.

    2) Is it more decorous to obscure the soldiers’ deaths (the president avoiding military funerals, barring photographs of returning coffins, etc.) than to honor them with frank acknowledgement? “Eyes Wide Open” is not a protest exhibit; it is merely a memorial.

    I would disagree wholeheartedly with this statement; the AFSC description flatly refutes this. The purpose is not to “honor” the soldiers — it is to show the “human cost of the Iraq War“. The disgrace goes deeper than that. By placing empty boots out there, AFSC is giving the impression that this is all the soldiers are — empty leather shells, lined up in ranks to be used to make a point. That is the true nature of this exhibition: the soldiers are not honored — they are used to try to make a point, and a wrong-headed one at that.

    Given the disconnect between front-line suffering and home-front complacency, I don’t understand why military members or their families would suffer from that candor.

    Given the disconnect between the small cost in American lives given gladly to restore the freedom that God gives every person born, and the horrendous cost of not removing the thugs and criminals that were in power expressed by the AFSC, I don’t understand why anyone would give them any support whatsoever.

    The “Eyes Wide Open” exhibit has been welcomed and appreciated in over 40 cities. Dallas gave it by far the worst reception. Whether you agree or disagree with the exhibit, why is it so difficult to approach it lucidly and honestly?

    I think that this is because Dallas is the first city that was shown the AFSC and the exhibit as a whole, rather than having the packaged spin dropped in their lap without context. In context, the AFSC is woefully lacking, and in my opinion, deserving of the (mild) treatment it got in Dallas.

    Why is it so difficult to accept that good, moral, intelligent people can honestly disagree with you?

  14. Helen Cariotis says:

    Hi Cam–

    I would like to try to answer your questions.

    1) “Without the distortions and lies about the exhibit’s purpose, why would anyone so venemously oppose a religious group acting consistently on its conscience and the teachings of the Bible?”

    I think the AFSC resembles a PAC, or a charity, but not a church or religion. But even if it were the Church of Wicca out there on City Hall Plaza, it would have every right to put up an exhibit. The Marine moms came to support our Gold Star Mothers who did not want their sons’ names on the boots, did not want their names read, and had not been accomodated on these points even after asking the AFSC to stop. These are moms whose sons died for what they believed, and died so that you and the AFSC can continue to live in a country which allows free speech, freedom of assembly, and polite dissent. The decent thing to do would be to take their names off the boots.

    2) “Is it more decorous to obscure the soldiers’ deaths (the president avoiding military funerals, barring photographs of returning coffins, etc.) than to honor them with frank acknowledgement? “Eyes Wide Open” is not a protest exhibit; it is merely a memorial. Every visitor is welcome, no matter what their feelings on the war, and after taking account of its human cost, can leave with their views unchanged. The AFSC is not manipulating the numbers of dead (other than to grossly under-represent the Iraqis killed), and is offering Americans a chance to really connect with the nation’s loss, which many of them apathetically ignore. Given the disconnect between front-line suffering and home-front complacency, I don’t understand why military members or their families would suffer from that candor.”

    You don’t understand, and I guess never will understand, the desire of our Marines to serve, fight, and yes die for a cause. Some things are worth that, and have to be fought for over and over in every generation. My son is in Iraq. He wanted to go, in fact volunteered several times before he was picked up (he is a reservist). While he lives and fights in the most spartan of environments, I don’t think he would tell you he is suffering. Quite the contrary, he is doing what he wants to do. The Marines in his unit work long days with little sleep, are highly motivated, and confident in the knowledge that they are making history. As far as home-front complacency, I can’t find it anywhere I live! Americans are behind our guys and understand that it is far better to take the fight to the terrorists than allow them to (again) bring it here. In the America in which I live, there is daily concern and prayers for our men who are deployed overseas, and those of us with sons in harm’s way every single day understand this far better than the AFSC. I could write thousands of words about how that feels; I don’t need to see empty boots to understand the loss of any one of our guys. I have written 12 letters to the 12 moms of the fallen in my son’s unit.

    I have to repeat again…the Marine moms were there at the exhibit to support the Gold Star Mothers and their wishes. We also hoped to be able to show and tell people about what this war is accomplishing. Much good is coming from our being there, but the mainstream media in this country is reluctant to tell Americans that. The Marine moms were not a part of the Protest Warriors; I had never even heard of them before that day. I was not recruited or a “follower” of Darrell Ankarlo; I knew about the exhibit before he did. I am no way responsible for anything Darrell may have said on his show, or written on his site, and he didn’t help me make my sign. If you have a quarrel with him over these issues, perhaps you should take it up with him, not the Marine moms. We were respectful, and were not loud or foul-mouthed. I KNOW because I was there. I would never do anything to bring dishonor on my son or the US Marine Corps.

    Helen Cariotis

  15. jut says:

    i’ll repeat the appreciation that this is a rather civil exchange thus far.

    i was not at the event, but am familiar with the afsc’s anti-recruitment campaign insofar as it’s materials and talking-points have been applied in the chicago area by the rcyb, nion and assorted anarchist groups here, who’s events the afsc consistently and publicly endorse.

    the numerous direct misrepresentations of the truth integral to afsc’s anti-recruitment campaign are enough to discredit the afsc as a good-faith participant in the national discussion. that the afsc guilessly makes coalition with groups who are expessedly not pacifist, but rather themselves millitantly anti-american, draws a bold line through whatever claims of high-minded motivations they may claim to possess.

    the anti-recruitment campaign has incited violence and vandalism against recruitment facilities, and mob intimidation of recruiting officers.

    against this background of hatred and mob incitement, the afsc has endeavored to exploit the corpses of the very volunteers whos volunteerism they condemn as props in a crass political travelling show called eyes wide open.

    i’m not certain how many sons and daughters of quakers are enlisted. my brother in law is. he and i each are and have been principalled and vigorously informed supporters of our nation’s current foreign policy. the afsc somehow has the temerity and depth of disrespect to discount he, i, the mother who was denied her right to speak and the three-quarters of american millitary personell who ratified our nation’s foreign policy with their votes this past november as “apathetic” towards and “ignorant” of the human cost of this war?

    a military family’s loss is not for you to memorialize. indeed, ewo is no such thing, but rather a political statement. by placing the names of the fallen in your display, you are asserting that they speak to your side of the case posthumously. this is misrepresenting the numbers, and it is deeply unethical. a fallen troop’s inclusion should not be an “opt-out” issue. you have no right to claim the right to speak from behind anyone’s image other than your own. let those military families who agree with your message opt into your exhibit. anything aside from that dishonest to the point of being crass and exploitative.

    finally, you ask, “…why would anyone so venemously oppose a religious group acting consistently on its conscience and the teachings of the Bible?”

    i am not religious myself, but i consider it to have been my privelege to have known a great many who are from all faiths and all denonminations. i cannot personally debate scripture with you — i leave that to those who are better versed than i — but i can say one thing affirmatively and with absolute confidence: you are not THE church, as you triumphantly proclaim in your domain name. you are A church, and it is precisely to that degree and no more that you can claim to be representing the teachings of the bible.

    expect a similar gathering of principalled opposition (sans the alleged racist comments, the accounts of which i’m not inclined to believe anyway) when your charade reaches chicago.

    –jrobertfleming

  16. jut says:

    my closing comments regarding the “wearethechurch” url seem to be mistaken. that group appears to be a catholic sect simply promoting this particular whistle-stop on the ewo road-show. the sentiment remains the same; your particular interpretation of the bible is not immune from rebuttle or critism, nor is it the final word on anything.