It is my understanding that seven women, including Elaine Brower, were arrested during the protest. Kagiso, Max
Published on Friday, September 18, 2009 by Politico.com
Activists Protest War Simulator
by Jen DiMascio
PHILADELPHIA - Located across from an indoor skateboarding park in a Northeast Philadelphia outlet mall, the
Teens "killing" at the
One simulator is a model Humvee in which a handful of people can pick up model M-16 rifles and play an interactive video game that simulates a real battle in Iraq or rounding up illegal immigrants who have just crossed the border from Mexico. There's also a model Apache helicopter.
To 300 anti-war protesters who showed up here last weekend, shouting, "Shut it down, shut it down!" the games and the theme park are simply tools in marketing death to children - with taxpayer dollars - in service of wars the activists oppose in Iraq and Afghanistan. To members of a veterans group called Gathering of Eagles, who confronted the protesters, it's not possible to support the troops without supporting the wars they fight.
During the election, President Barack Obama soothed voters who demanded national security by promising to continue fighting terrorists in
Recruiting is one way to ease the strain, and that's why places like the
Even if the economic crisis has eased recruiting concerns somewhat by making the Army more attractive to unemployed youths, the Army competes with businesses and colleges for about 25 percent of 17-to-24-year-olds. The remaining 75 percent aren't the kind of people the Army wants: They're usually not recruitable because they lack a diploma, weigh too much or have a criminal past, according to Saif Khan, the deputy director of Mission: Readiness, an organization that promotes early childhood education to expand the future recruiting base.
To capture the highly competitive demographic, the Army contracted with the "marketing innovations" firm IgnitedUSA, which touts the
The center, which cost $12 million to design and build and has an annual budget of $5 million, is a sort of marketing lab to test techniques for recruiting teenagers for service. It has no official recruiting mission but stands ready to sign up people who want to join, according to the Army. IgnitedUSA spokeswoman Amy Lindstrom said the center has signed up 141 recruits since opening a year ago.
"In a time of unpopular wars, negative press and falling recruitment rates, the
Although other services may have considered replicating the recruitment tool in other malls, Maj. Larry Dillard, the
Activists are horrified by the simulator.
They say they've seen teenagers taking part in the
The protest Saturday pitted veterans against veterans.
Dillard would not allow some veterans who oppose the war to enter the center.
Kevin Quigley, who served in the 101st Airborne Division, was wearing an anti-war T-shirt under his fatigues. Jesse Hamilton, another 101st veteran, pinned military medals to a suit jacket. They've experienced the war and its aftermath and think it's time to leave
Phil Aliff saw
Joseph Henwood, an Eagle and a Vietnam veteran who was allowed into the center for a ceremony commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks, said his love for the troops brought him to help the Army counter the protest.
"We were there to protect the center," said Henwood. "We weren't going to allow them to shut it down."
A group calling itself Shut Down the AEC was formed to focus solely on closing the center, and it will continue to schedule monthly protests on this single issue, organizers said, even as the anti-war sentiment is picking up steam more broadly.
"We will see an escalation in protests," said Elaine Brower, one of the organizers.
Seizing on a recent CNN poll showing 57 percent of Americans now oppose the war in Afghanistan, CodePink, United for Justice and Peace Action West are planning massive protests on Oct. 7, the day force was first authorized in Afghanistan.
"The tide has turned on the war in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs