Peace Activists Encouraged in Oklahoma


For more than an hour, as people drove through the Oklahoma City intersection on their way home at the end of the workday, the honking was incessant, Prescott says. (Photo: MainstreamBaptist.Blogspot.com)
News reports for the last few months have been filled with dire accounts about Iran's growing capacity for enriching uranium, the United States' exertion of greater pressure on Iran by strengthening sanctions and tightening an embargo on Iranian oil, and Israel's preparation to launch "a preventive war" against Iran.

News reports say the United States is preparing to defend Israel should Iran counterattack.

War drums are beating again, and the Israelis are marking the time.

Iran claims they are enriching uranium for peaceful energy production. Israel contends they are developing nuclear weapons.

Both sides expect the United States to trust them. Neither side has proven themselves to be paragons of trustworthiness.

In Oklahoma, reports about impending war with Iran fill the pages of the daily newspapers and local broadcast news – alongside reports of casualties in Afghanistan.

In this reddest of the red states (not a single county voted Democratic in the last presidential election), anything that affects the military leads the news. Anything, that is, except for the efforts of local peace activists.

On Feb. 2, a group of peace activists – including Vietnam and Iraq war veterans – stood on a street corner near downtown Oklahoma City waving signs saying "Honk for Peace," "War is not the Answer" and "No War with Iran."

For more than an hour, as people drove through the intersection on their way home at the end of the workday, the honking was incessant.

The only reporter to take note of the rally worked for The City Sentinel, a weekly neighborhood newspaper.

I took my camcorder to the rally and asked the activists why they were motivated to stand on a street corner in this very conservative city and wave anti-war signs.

I was surprised at how difficult it often was to hear their remarks over all the horns that were honking for peace.

Several of the activists were pleasantly surprised at the response they were getting from the public that day. A number of them commented about how different it was from the rallies they held nine years ago.

In 2003, as our nation was preparing to launch "a preventive war" of our own against Iraq, some of these same activists faced obscene gestures and had to dodge apples and tomatoes as the cars rolled by.

On Feb. 2, they received approving nods, friendly waves and repeated honks.

When asked how they explained the difference in response between their rallies in 2003 and this one in 2012, one man said, "Our nation is broke."

An elderly lady said, "Oklahomans are weary of war."

As much as anything, they probably expressed the sentiments of many of those honking their horns as they drove through the intersection.

Those sentiments, however, are not finding expression in the mainstream media in Oklahoma.

Bruce Prescott is executive director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, and president of the Norman, Okla., chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He blogs at Mainstream Baptist. 

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