I have concerns about the Asheville Holiday Parade. In the past, I have seen ROTC and military veterans with a float that had a large missile on it in the parade. No holiday cheer for me in those displays. But I believe in free speech. I really wish they were not in the parade, but I know that if we want free speech, it has to apply to everyone.
But what really inspired me to write this letter was the fact that the group Only One Earth is being denied entry into the parade because we were too “political.” There are many groups in Only One Earth, but they all stand for protecting our environment, nonviolence, health care for all, stopping our military-industrial complex and working for peace in our world. I was in the parade last year and helped hand out tiny origami peace doves. They were very, very small compared to the fake missile.
What I am having trouble understanding is how standing for peace and against environmental destruction, including by military industries, is too “political,” but having the ROTC and a fake missile in the parade is not too “political.”
If the holiday parade can tolerate military trainees and floats with fake missiles on them, surely the holiday parade can tolerate signs and T-shirts that promote peace, disarmament, health care and protecting the environment.
— Susan Oehler