Paradigm Pink We all know both the Republicans and Democrats are on a perpetual quest for the pot of gold, but these days it feels like they’ve stolen away with the whole damn rainbow. Between the post-911 ubiquity of red white and blue, and the terror alerts vacillating between green, yellow and orange with every new Bush popularity poll, Crayolas seem to have lost their childlike innocence. But CodePink’s Women Against War Concert at Riverside Church reclaimed at least one color. From the cardboard cutouts decked out in pink slips demarcating each aisle, to the row of pink doves stretched across the stage, performers and organizers roundly rejected both the terror alerts and the red white and blue, in favor of pink, for peace. CodePink was founded in November 2002 by a coalition of women who were fed up with the Bush administration’s relentless warmongering. They held a daily vigil in front of the White House for four months, demanding that the U.S. refrain from preemptive strikes against Iraq. The vigil culminated with a 10,000 woman-strong march against war on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2003. Bush went to war anyway, but the women of CodePink continued to fight for peace. “We went to Iraq before the war to tell the women and men and children of Iraq that we were opposed to the war, and then when the bombs started falling we went back again and again and again,†said Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CodePink and one of the emcees of Saturday’s event. The evening of performances followed CodePink’s formula of combining arts and vaudeville with serious political analysis. Most speakers focused on the inadequacy and unwillingness of both political parties to pursue peace and justice with any measure of sincerity, and the need to keep fighting to build a global peace movement structured around feminist principles of equality and connectedness. “We will do what we have to do on November 2nd, and we all know what that is,†said Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler, who has raised money for programs in dozens of countries aimed at eliminating violence against women, “but that is simply not good enough.†Stating that significant differences do exist between Bush and Kerry, Ensler acknowledged that nonetheless, both men’s platforms are built around “oppression and domination.†“We know in our minds, in our bodies, in our spirits, that there is another paradigm that is desperate to emerge in the world,†said Ensler. “What does that paradigm look like? First, it recognizes that you cannot bomb people into trust and democracy and hope.†Speakers and performers seamlessly swayed the tenor in the chapel between solemn respect and raucous laughter. Hip hop poet and performance artist Aya de Leon initially bemused older members of the mostly white audience with a vigorous call and response, but the crowd slowly rose to the occasion. The audience chimed in with callbacks and applause as de Leon addressed a broad range of topics, from sex education and same sex marriage to the U.S. bombing of Vieques, in a performance centered around a trenchant analysis of the U.S. governments’ “dysfunctional relationship patterns†with other countries, from Panama to Russia to Iraq. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! spoke on the media’s role in blinding North Americans to the realities of U.S. empire and the importance of challenging corporate media. Singer/ songwriter Pamela Means joined forces with spoken word artist Alix Olson, rocking out on songs about the Patriot Act and the power of the people to reclaim our rights; one song queried, “What’s the matter with the brains of the big boys with the big money?†The evening took on a graver tone as CodePink honored recipients of the “Pink Badge of Courage,†including the father of the first U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, a young woman who returned from Baghdad to form Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Camilo Mejia and his mother Maritza Castillo, among others. “[The war] was a wake-up call,†said Castillo, whose son is serving a one-year prison sentence in Oklahoma for refusing to return to duty in Iraq. “I was working, trying to survive, while the politicians of this country wove the destruction of the world.†Fernando Suarez added, speaking of his son Jesus and the more than 150 other Latino/a soldiers killed in Iraq, “I demand that Mr. Bush no more use my people for empire in other parts of the world.†While ranging between levity and sobriety, the overarching mood of Women Against War was positive and inspirational. “Everything was great,†said audience member Edith Pearlman, an elderly woman leaving the event with her daughter. “I agreed with what everybody said.†She showed me her newly purchased “Lick Bush†T-shirt, then turned and said scoldingly to her daughter, “You’re turning me into a feminist.†The jury will be out for some time on whether the women of CodePink can help bring about a new paradigm, based on generosity and common humanity, adverse to war as a means to solve problems. But no matter who wins the election, CodePink’s infectious energy and drive for change seem unlikely to wane. Referring to the battles in Najaf, Medea Benjamin observed, “The fact that we destroyed that holy city will be a shame that we will have to bear for our whole lives-- but what we need to do is turn that shame into change.†She continued, “We need to make sure we get that guy out of the White House-- and then make sure that other guy who will be in the White House will end the occupation.†Ann Wright, a former U.S. ambassador who was awarded the Pink Badge of Courage for resigning her post in protest of the war, picked up a red, white and blue Uncle Sam hat that Aya de Leon had thrown to the floor during her performance piece. “We don’t want these colors right now, though someday they’ll come back,†she said, tossing the hat back onto the floor. “What we need now is pink for peace.†CodePink will be present at the RNC protests this week, and will host future anti-war events around the country. Forget the orange alerts, throw on a vibrant pink T-shirt (or a pink slip, to represent the people’s firing of Bush) and join them in the streets in their attempts to reclaim the rainbow. For more info: www.codepink4peace.org