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Speaking out at Representative Emanuel Cleaver’s (D) town hall on military intervention in Syria – Kansas City – September 5, 2013.

On Thursday evening in Kansas City Representative Emanuel Cleaver (D) held an open town hall on military intervention in Syria. After brief introductory remarks Congressman Cleaver opened up the microphone to anyone who wanted to speak on the subject. People did so, one after another, for almost two hours.

….Thank you. I’m the mother of two really beautiful children. And, this feels good, Democracy. And I’d appreciate it if you’d do more of these town halls because it’s the first time we’ve felt like anybody really cared about our opinion.

Um, there’s a commercial that’s coming on TV, and my daughters and I are talking about it, in which an assassin is asked if she can’t find more nonviolent ways to achieve her objectives. And she replies, when you’re a hammer everything looks like a nail.

My concern is I went to one of the best scientific institutions in the United States, MIT, and I know that we have some of the greatest minds in the United States. And I’m wondering why our first response is violence and not looking at all of the other amazing strategies that we could use first.

The second is, we are terribly bad at taking out bad regime and not thinking about who’s going to  fill that vacuum. [applause]  We’ve been there, we’ve done that.

The, the last point is, I don’t understand why we talk about nonviolence in our own country, why Congress couldn’t do something to protect schools and children that get shot up every day. But our first response is to go out and do a surgical strike?

So, I think we should do something. I know enough of my history and I’m as old as I look, so I do understand the War Powers Act [laughter]. But I think we should do something because people are dying. But there will be more people dying when we go over.

So, I’m saying as a voter and a taxpayer, no unilateral action without a call of the [United Nations] General Assembly. We will not act alone. We will act, but we will act responsibly. So as our representative we’re asking you to hear us. This is a very difficult situation. We know that. But, our answer for right now is no. [applause]


Suppose they gave a town hall before rushing off to war and everybody came (September 5, 2013)

Norman Rockwell ain’t got nothin’ on the real Kansas City (September 5, 2013)

Norman Rockwell ain’t got nothin’ on the real Kansas City – part 2 (September 6, 2013)

A short interview with Rep. Cleaver after last night’s town hall (September 6, 2013)