Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of the activist group CODEPINK, recently returned from Pakistan, where she traveled with families of the victims of U.S. drone strikes. Speaking at Sunday night’s Peace Ball in Washington, D.C., Benjamin urged progressives to remember the plight of U.S. victims abroad. "Let’s make sure that we force our congress and our president to represent the policies of kindness and compassion that we, as Americans, hold dear," Benjamin said. [includes rush transcript]
AMY GOODMAN: There are many protests that are planned for today. Three activist groups have received permission to protest President Obama along the route of the inaugural parade, including the antiwar group ANSWER, which says it expects thousands. Another group is called the Arc of Justice Coalition. It estimates about 400 protesters will gather in a park close to the White House and march towards the parade route during the ceremony, objecting to the use of drones in military operations and social injustice.
Last night, another of the people who spoke at the Peace Ball: Voices of Hope and Resistance was Medea Benjamin, co-founder of CODEPINK. She recently returned from Pakistan, where she traveled with families of drone victims.
MEDEA BENJAMIN: Just remember, the drone policy is one where the U.S. is telling the world we can go anywhere in the world we want, kill anyone we want, on the basis of secret information. It is a policy that is inhumane. It is a policy that is counterproductive. And it is a policy that is totally illegal according to international law. And it’s something that must be stopped.
So we were recently in Pakistan, a group of 34 very brave Americans, not only from CODEPINK, but groups like Veterans for Peace, that went to say to the Pakistanis, "We do not support the drone program, and we care about you and your lives. Your lives are as precious as our lives." And when we were in a meeting with hundreds and hundreds of Pashtun men, one of them stood up, and he said—put his hand on his heart, and he said, "If you have come here to win our hearts and minds, you have done so." And it showed us that if we go around the world showing we care about other people’s lives, if we go around the world spreading compassion and kindness, we will get love back in return. So let’s go out spreading a lot of love, and let’s make sure that we force our Congress and our president to represent the policies of kindness and compassion that we, as Americans, hold dear.
AMY GOODMAN: Medea Benjamin speaking last night at the Peace Ball. Last week, when the National Rifle Association held its first news conference after the Newtown massacre, she was there holding a sign saying the NRA had blood on its hands. She was taken out by security as Wayne LaPierre, one of the heads of the NRA, spoke. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report.