We were not able to stop the war, but we have not given in. The peace movement, in the United States and internationally, is standing strong.
Yesterday in Manhattan was the latest in a series of inspiring showings on the part of our movement. A quarter of a million people completely jammed up midtown Manhattan with a huge march down Broadway that stretched for 40 blocks.
This follows upon the amazing actions in San Francisco from Thursday through Saturday, a multi-faceted showing of resistance that brought back memories of Seattle in 1999.
And throughout the country, in many hundreds and hundreds of localities, other actions against this illegal, immoral, unjust and unnecessary war—this criminal war—have sent a loud and clear message. We have shown the American people and people all over the world that the United States is not just George Bush and his band of bombers; for that matter, we have shown that many millions of us are not represented by Congressional Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and House who, a few days ago, voted something like 500-11, with 22 in the House voting “not present,” in support of a so-called “support the troops” resolution which was really a “support the war” resolution.
We are the ones who support the troops! We are the ones who want them all brought home alive, not in body bags or without body parts!
So what do we do now? A few thoughts:
-Our overall demands must be along the lines of: Stop the War! Bring the Troops Home Now! Don’t Bomb Iraq! We must emphasize the human costs to both the people of Iraq and the U.S. soldiers who have been put in harm’s way by the Washington warmongers. A clear majority of the U.S. American people are not supportive of a war with large numbers of casualties. If Iraqi resistance stiffens as U.S. troops get close to or move into Baghdad, the call for a ceasefire and United Nations intervention, already made yesterday by Prince Saud al Faisal, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, will likely multiply.
-There continues to be significant energy on the part of large numbers of people to keep coming out for anti-war protests. It makes sense, it seems to me, for local peace coalitions to put out calls for regular, weekly mass demonstrations on Saturday or Sunday at particular locations. In many places this has already been happening for months, with weekly peace vigils. Let’s respond to the obvious anger, sadness and frustration that tens of millions of people are feeling with this basic form of action that anybody can tap into.
-At the same time we need to continue stepping up our campaign of nonviolent direct action and civil disobedience, a campaign that was successfully launched on a nationwide basis over the past week. We should conceive of this campaign as a complement to all of the other forms of action. Local affinity groups already organized, and those that get themselves organized in the next several days, have plenty of options as far as targets: Congressional offices, federal buildings, the offices of corporations that are tied into the war, the homes or workplaces of pro-war government officials, downtown business districts. Our message must be, loud and clear, No Business As Usual!
-We should be raising the call and helping to organizationally strengthen the Impeach Bush campaign. An impeachment campaign makes sense from a number of standpoints.
*It is a demand that can be defended, given the widespread illegal activity engaged in by the Bushites leading up to and because of the war.
*It is a demand that is rooted in our U.S. traditions as a way that people who feel strongly about what their government is doing can support an action that is commensurate to those feelings.
*It gives us a tool to do organized outreach in communities or in workplaces to talk to our neighbors and co-workers about the war and about the Bushites and then give them something they can do by signing a petition. For new people who have never engaged in activism before, the simple act of signing an impeach Bush petition can be the act that gets them moving on a road towards more demonstrative action, over time.
*The “Impeach Bush” demand allows for wide latitude for groups from different constituencies to put forward educational materials, or to emphasize particular points in discussion, that are particular for those constituencies. The points emphasized to back up the impeachment demand may be different, for example, in low-income communities of color as compared to among white middle-class people and professionals.
We’re all tired. We’re all emotionally on edge. The last many months of building our resistance movement have taken a personal toll. But we can’t stop now. People should take what time off they need but only what we need to get right back into the work. We need to consciously create a culture of support to one another so that we don’t burn out.
Let’s show ourselves and the world that our strong and mature peace movement knows how to stand up to the warmongers while offering up a new culture, a new way of working for peace, that inspires others to join us.
A new world is not just possible, it is happening right now, as we do all we can on behalf of our sisters and brothers in Iraq and the cause of peace and justice.