Michaela Anang, a 21-year-old intern with liberal anti-war group CodePink, says she confronted former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday to counter criticism of the Iran nuclear deal with calls for peace and diplomacy. Instead, she was greeted with a physical struggle, in which she held off an audience member as he unsuccessfully tried to rip a banner out of her hands.
Anang undoubtedly got the best of her assailant. But many of those who watched the confrontation -- and then probably re-watched it a few more times -- were most delighted by the way she did it: maintaining a tight grip on the sign as she calmly watched the man thrash back and forth. In a fitting end to the spat, the man finally accepted defeat and awkwardly plopped back down in his seat.In an interview with The Huffington Post, Anang, a student at Northeastern University who will return for her fourth year in November, said it shouldn't come as a surprise that she outmatched a man who appeared to have the size advantage. But more importantly, Anang said, she didn't want her tug-of-war victory to overshadow the larger message she delivered at the event.
Why did you attend Tuesday's event? What message were you hoping to send to Cheney and other attendees?
Dick Cheney is a notorious warmonger, a proponent of torture and a war criminal. If he was going to suggest that a room full of people should listen to him on foreign policy issues, then of course CodePink was going to be there to suggest otherwise. I went as a representative to remind them that Cheney was so wrong on Iraq, and he's wrong on Iran. We need to support the Iran deal. We need diplomacy now, it's time for my generation to demand it.
Were you surprised that you got as close to Cheney as you did? Apparently security isn't that tight for the former vice president.
Not really. It's not easy to be surprised by those sort of things since being with CodePink for the past couple of months. You know what surprises me? That Cheney was up there at all and not in jail as a war criminal.
Did you have any idea who the guy on the losing end of this tug of war was?
No. You don't really have time for introductions when someone is forcefully trying to pull private property out of your hands! I was really taken off guard by his aggression.
Did he say anything to you during the altercation?
No, but actions speak louder than words. I heard his message loud and clear; he'd rather promote violence over peace, it's unfortunate.
To me there is no explanation for supporting war. We should be supporting the Iran deal to prevent just that! Also I don't see the need for theft when confronted with a truth you're not willing to hear.
People have been asking what your workout routine looks like. You didn't even seem like you were trying, yet this guy was putting up the fight of his life.
Workout routine? Smash the system, lift up the people.
Haha I mean honestly, if that's the question that's on everyone's mind, I hope they didn't miss the point of the action. I was there to promote peace, not tug of war! Regardless, I think it can be a great metaphor for peace. Hold on to your ideals as tightly as I did that banner. No matter how hard they pull, remember that there's no need to engage the way they do. Choose composure, peace, dialogue and diplomacy instead.
So you're saying you don't have superhuman strength? Was this guy super weak?
I definitely wouldn't say that I have superhuman strength, although I appreciate what everyone's been saying. I would encourage people to remember that I don't have to have superhuman strength to be any stronger than a man though! Also, calling a man super weak just because a woman happens to be stronger than him promotes binary gender norms that I don't agree with and we should be wary of.
What was that banner made out of? What happens to it now?
The banner was made from an old pink sheet by the amazing Tighe Barry of CodePink. I don't know what happens next. ... Put it in the attic? It's a banner. The real question is what happens to the message written on it? "Cheney: Wrong on Iraq, Wrong on Iran." Let's ask for some accountability here and not forget what Cheney has done. We want peace and not war!
Some people have also suggested that this is some sort of metaphor for neo-conservatives, who may be quick to rush into un-winnable wars that they themselves won't -- and if this is any example, can't -- fight. Is there a broader parallel to draw here, or is that just wishful thinking?
I think you'd have to ask the man who started the tug-of-war for that one. Do I think that his actions were representative of a broader way of thinking? In a way. But it's not exclusive to neo-cons, it extends to anyone who would choose violence over words, war over peace. I went to a rally today where people chose to be outright mean, hostile, insulting; calling CodePink, me and my generation stupid, without even listening to our point of view.
There is no winner in war. It's time for my generation to make that known. We need to be engaging in dialogue, questioning each other, but also hearing each other out. Don't try to rip banners (metaphorical or not) from each other, and try to seek truth and peace!