Code Pink (Women for Peace) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that describes itself as a "grassroots peace and social justice movement working to end US-funded wars and occupations, to challenge militarism globally, and to redirect our resources into health care, education, green jobs and other life-affirming activities," according to its Wikipedia entry.
From its inception, Code Pink's main focus has been on anti-war matters. However, it has also protested matters relating to gun proliferation in the US, Israel's treatment of Palestinians, environmentalism. It has stood for health care issues and all manner social justice concerns generally.
Code Pink is a women-centric organization, although it is open to male members. It has offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, and Washington, D.C., as well as in several other countries.
Code Pink has conducted marches, protests, and dramatic, attention-grabbing publicity stunts in order to highlight its concerns.
Code Pink was founded in 2002 by Jodie Evans, Medea Benjamin and other activists. The moniker “Code Pink” derives from the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded alert system. That was the means by which the Bush Administration regularly raised the “fear factor” among the American populace. Code Orange and Code Red signified the highest levels of danger – the terrorists are coming. There was no Code Pink until Benjamin and her friends invented it.
According to Reuters, and as witnessed worldwide, Code Pink staged another of its signature demonstrations on Wednesday at the televised congressional hearings on Syria.
About 10 Code Pink demonstrators were led by Benjamin into the House of Representatives Foreign Relations Committee hearing room. They carried small signs and their hands were covered with a red substance meant to mimic blood. Later, they told Reuters that the red represented the blood that would be on Secretary of State John Kerry's hands when Congress approves military attacks against Bashar Assad's government in Syria for his suspected use of chemical weapons against civilians.
"John Kerry - diplomacy not war," read a sign held by Benjamin.
Benjamin said that at an earlier hearing in the Senate's corresponding hearing on just yesterday, she was actually arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. She and others disrupted that meeting with shouts that the American people are opposed to yet another Middle East war.
At Wednesday's hearing before the House of Representatives Benjamin and her compatriots remained dead silent as they waved their “bloody” hands above Secretary of State John Kerry's head and before the all-seeing cameras.
For his part, John Kerry actually referred to the protesters during his testimony before the committee.
"When I walked into this room," he said, "a person of conscience stood up behind me, as is the ability of people in our country, and that person said, 'Please, don't take us to war. Don't take us to another war.'
"Let me be clear. We are not asking America to go to war," said Kerry, who has "guaranteed" that US military efforts in Syria would involve absolutely, positively no "boots on the ground."
Benjamin responded, according to Reuters thusly:
"I would have liked to have told him, 'When you lob missiles into another country, that is war,'" said Benjamin, who along with other demonstrators, sat a few rows behind Kerry and other members of the administration.
Another Code Pinker, Diane Wilson, who had served as an Army medic during the Vietnam War, allowed that Wednesday's hearing took her back to 2002, when she and others protested before Congress against the George W. Bush administration's unrelenting push for war against Iraq.
At that time, Benjamin said, she sat directly behind then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. For her, and in the words of the late, great Yogi Berra, Wednesday's event was “deja vu – all over again”:
"Rumsfeld talked about all the evidence of 'the weapons of mass destruction,' about how little money their war would cost and how little time it would last," Wilson said.
The sad irony here is that John Kerry was in another lifetime more likely than not to have been a member of Code Pink. In fact, as a member of Vietnam Veterans against the War back in the '70s, Kerry actually testified before congress in opposition to that abominable, illegal, and immoral war.
It was that appearance, that testimony, which propelled Kerry onto the national stage and into the national spotlight. Indeed, in 1985 he was elected to the Senate from Massachusetts, and remained there until this very year – after his appointment by President Obama to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.
One of the Republican House members of the committee today asked Kerry had he become so comfortable with the perks of the executive branch of government that he had forgotten his anti-war and legislative roots. Kerry's ducked the question. He skillfully re-directed it to the pressing need to attack Syria in order to destroy and/or deter Assad's chemical weapons capabilities.
Whatever Kerry's motivation is here, however, is not particularly important. What matters is that Code Pink refuses to go away quietly (pun very much intended). Since the beginning of the Iraq War, they have been steadfast in their opposition to all manner of injustice. They may be counted upon to be “there,” to provide an alternative voice and choice for those of us who simply refuse to accept the same-old/same-old, status quo.
It is protests like this which will slowly but surely revivify a heretofore moribund “left” in this nation-state.