Bob Fest 11 put a spotlight on crucial issues too often ignored or forgotten.
Fighting Bob Fest No. 11 is finished and I can report it was a treat from beginning to end. This was our most diverse Bob Fest. We had Buddy Roemer, who ran for president as a Republican but was never allowed to participate in the Republican debates. Earlier in his career he was elected governor of Louisiana and to Congress as a Democrat. We also heard from Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president.
Phil Donahue got people on their feet with the showing of his Body of War at the Friday night kickoff for Bob Fest at the Goodman Community Center. That award-winning film was all about the way one soldier’s life changed after a bullet through his spinal cord left this Iraqi veteran paralyzed from the upper chest down. (If your tears don’t flow watching this movie there’s something wrong with you.) Then on Saturday at the Coliseum, Phil focused on why we must be critics of government when our leaders are wrong. He reminded the audience that drones kill children and asked: Would a moral nation kill children?
Anti-war activist and media critic Norman Solomon explained how easy it is for any president to go to war even though framers of the Constitution said only Congress can declare war.
Talk show radio host Mike Papantonio was, to say the least, well received. He talked about our role as citizens — the cavalry is not going to ride in to save us, we have to save ourselves.
Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, got the audience on their feet with her criticism of the GOP war on women. She detailed the impact of anti-female discrimination.
Environmentalist Bill McKibben, a Fighting Bob Fest veteran, urged the audience to get involved in saving the planet. And this hero of ours spoke passionately about the possible death of the planet.
While there was plenty of spirit in the Coliseum, the Solidarity Singers got the joint rocking. Governor Scott Walker wants the Solidarity Singers out of the state Capitol. The problem for Walker? It is not his building, it is ours. And it is not his First Amendment, it is ours. The Raging Grannies, with their high energy, humor and enthusiasm, get better every year. We could get along without one of the speakers but we could not get along without the Raging Grannies.
Congresswoman Gwen Moore challenged the audience to fight against Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney’s budget. Jim Hightower was witty as always and led a small group discussion on the possibility to taking our show to other states. Former Wisconsin legislator Stan Gruszynski talked about citizenship and our obligations to fight for social and economic justice.
There were numerous break-out sessions: Climate Change, ALEC Exposed, The Real War on Women, The Destructive Force of Citizens United, Resisting Open Pit Strip Mining, and The La Follette Legacy. Additionally, there was an exhibit of Art in Protest. All in all, it was a great event.
(A version of this article originally appeared in the opinion section of the Capital Times.)
September 18, 2012
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Ed Garvey is editor and publisher of FightingBob.com.