A crowd gathered in Lafayette Park in front of the White House Tuesday to protest the Iran nuclear deal. Speakers placed special emphasis on four Americans detained in Iran.
Many members of CODEPINK showed up in support of the deal. CODEPINK activist Alli McCracken told the Washington Examiner that the left-wing peace activist group wants the prisoners freed, "but we think that should be done with diplomacy."
The event featured several speakers, but the one that drew the most attention was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. "There is nothing more pressing right now than that Americans all across this country come together to stop this catastrophic Iran nuclear deal," the presidential candidate began, to loud applause.
But Cruz couldn't get past those first few words before CODEPINK activists began interrupting him with shouts of "We want a peace president" and "We want diplomacy not war." Cruz supporters countered with a "We want Ted" chant.
"You know, it is very interesting to see those who profess to believe in free speech, who are afraid of speech," Cruz responded.
Protesters kept yelling, so Cruz invited a few forward to make their cases, provided that they did not interrupt him anymore.
CODEPINK co-founder Madea Benjamin told Cruz, "What you have been pushing for is going to lead us to war." Cruz responded that curbing Iran's power could prevent a conflict. "It is a catastrophic mistake to send over a hundred billion dollars to a radical, theocratic regime that will send much of that money to radical Islamic terrorists that will murder American citizens," he said. "Weakness and appeasement only invites war."
Cruz cited examples, such as British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Nazi Germany and President Jimmy Carter's response to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. A CODEPINK leader asked why the senator was bringing up old history.
"There's an old adage, 'Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,'" Cruz said, to cheers.
Joshua Farrar of Vermont also interrupted Cruz. When the senator began talking about the four Americans detainees, Farrar yelled, "Mr. Cruz, these are political prisoners. These are not hostages." Cruz claimed one captive, Pastor Saeed Abedini, was imprisoned for "sharing his Christian faith," to which Farrar yelled "for violating Iranian law."
Cruz addressed Farrar, saying, "Sir, I recognize that your find the truth very offensive, but under the First Amendment, debate means you have to listen to things you disagree with."
"I'm here today because I believe calling the Iranian political prisoners 'hostages' distorts…the message," Farrar told the Examiner. He believes that the four American prisoners are "solely American interests" while the nuclear deal is of worldwide interest.
Aside from shouting, people surrounding Cruz shoved and poked each other with signs throughout the speech. The anti-nuclear deal and CODEPINK protesters argued among themselves to have their signs shown throughout the speech. At one time, a woman tore two CODEPINK signs.
Holding a pro-Israel sign, Diane Conocchioli of Washington, D.C. argued, "We've entered into a deal while we're silent to the number of Christians being slaughtered in the Middle East." Eventually, frustrated with the CODEPINK protesters, she moved away from them.
The White House was not the only setting of an Iran nuclear deal protest. Thousands gathered in Times Square in New York City Wednesday to urge Congress to vote down the deal.
Emily Leayman is an intern at the Washington Examiner