This wasn’t your typical anti-war march. No one shouted anti-Bush slogans and no one waved signs with pictures of dead Iraqi civilians.
When the Brooklyn Parents for Peace gathered in Downtown Brooklyn on March 10, it wasn’t to scream invective at the military recruitment post across the street, but to show teenagers walking around the Fulton Mall that the military isn’t their only option when they get out of high school.
The march was completely silent (aside from a samba band, that is), and volunteers handed out “How to go to college without joining the military” pamphlets and “Cost of war” flyers.
So many people asked for pamphlets that volunteers ran out before the march ended.
“Thank you for doing this,” said one elderly woman. “My 23-year-old granddaughter just came back from this war, and she hasn’t been right in the head since she got home.”
Peace, love and education, man. But let’s face it, hundreds of protest marches have been held since before the war began haven’t made the slightest difference.
Instead, more groups might want to follow Brooklyn Parents’ lead and focus on the tactics of military recruiters.
Not only are military recruiters allowed on school grounds — schools are legally obliged to let them, thanks to No Child Left Behind, which requires schools to provide military recruiters with students’ contact information without telling students or parents.
Students can opt out, but few know it — and besides, the recruiters are still allowed in.
And where do those recruiters seek the next generation of cannon fodder? Many reports have documented a pattern of aggressive recruiting in communities of color — poor neighborhoods where kids face bleak options and little hope of going to college or getting a good job without a boost from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines.
Councilman Charles Barron (D-Canarsie) tried to do something about aggressive recruiters in 2005 — but his bill to ban recruiters from public schools didn’t go anywhere. Hence, the peace march.
“We’re trying to give young people who are targeted by military recruiters information about their choices,” said Charlotte Phillips, chairwoman of Brooklyn Parents for Peace. “We want them to come to their own conclusions.”
Here’s some additional data the kids might want to consider: On March 18, the United States enters its fifth year in Iraq. More than 3,000 American soldiers have been slaughtered since the Bush-league invasion began, and an estimated 200,000 to 650,000 Iraqi civilians are dead.
So if the president won’t stop the war, we have to stop it for him, from the ground up. We have to ensure that recruiters stop targeting poor kids and promising them money for college and a trade they can use later in life.
All too often, there is no later in their lives.
As for the march — it was finished barely one hour after it had begun. But despite the short duration, Phillips was pleased.
“As a way of disseminating information, I think we were very successful,” she said. “In terms of stopping the war, it’s only a small step.”
The Kitchen Sink
The US Postal Service has scheduled a “Postal Solutions Day” at the Times Plaza branch on Atlantic Avenue on March 21 to teach people how to use the USPS Web site so you can buy postage and mail packages from home. Just imagine never again having to go postal (literally and figuratively) again. …
We hear that Two Trees Management has a new team topping its commercial leasing department. Louise Ehrmann and Caroline Thebaud are in charge of businesses leases at Two Trees properties in DUMBO. Seems they’re the ones responsible for putting Bo Concept down the street from West Elm. …
Borough President Markowitz entertained some important guests in Brooklyn Heights this week. Marty hosted a swank dinner at Turkish restaurant Taze for such luminaries as the Polytech President Jerry Hultin and Brooklyn Historical Society President Deborah Schwartz. The roasted eggplant dip was divine. …
Artists and DUMBO go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows, and the DUMBO Arts Center wants to keep it that way. The DAC wants artists and curators to submit original proposals for exhibitions in their 3,000-square-foot space in 2008. Go to www.dumboartscenter.org to learn how.