By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Gut feelings: Why would two Plano women decide to spend July Fourth fasting? The likely answers seem obvious enough: swimsuit season, too many mochafatass lattes at Starbucks, an anorexia relapse. But to protest the Iraq war? Looks like we've found the progressive contingent in Plano. Their names are Julie Cuniglioand Brooke Beasley, Cuniglio's daughter.
They headed to Washington, D.C., this week to join others for a Troops Home Fast protest. It's a nationwide thing, with the usual celebs--Ed Asner, Susan Sarandon, etc. --lending their names to the cause. Writer-activist Dick Gregory was scheduled to appear in Washington and, organizers say, has committed to a longer fast, but that's hardly news. That guy hasn't had a square meal since 1968. He's like a human Chia Pet. Everybody's favorite gold-star mom, Cindy Sheehan, was going to be there too. Could we possibly throw any more names out there this July Fourth week to get your red-state blood boiling, war supporters? Say it slowly--Ciiiiindy Sheeeeehan.
On the other hand, maybe you fans of George W. Bush just don't care. After all, what possible good could skipping a few meals do? Change minds? Hell, let 'em starve, you say. Is Dubya going to say "Wait, you mean they're not eating for a day?" and order the troops home? What do these protesters hope to accomplish?
Possibly not much, Cungilio says, but maybe they'll at least keep the national conversation about the war going--or get it started. "If it's all I can do...and if nothing we can do can come to fruition, at least maybe [the troops] will look back someday and see someone cared enough to sit down one day and fast." (Think of it as a form of Christian witnessing.) Cuniglio has been involved in the anti-war movement for a while, largely inspired by the death of her nephew Aaron Dean White, a Marine staff sergeant killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq in 2003. She's traveled with Sheehan, Gold Star Families for Peace and CODEPINK: Women for Peace across the U.S. and Europe.
Cuniglio laughs when we ask her what such a pinko is doing living in Plano. "I'm exactly the sort of person you'd look at and say 'soccer mom,'" she says, but that's the point. She's not needed in Berkley. "It you want to change minds...stand where minds need changing," she says.
Good idea, but watch for oncoming traffic.