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Making Peace With the War in Iraq?
S adly, two years after the invasion of Iraq, the online powerhouse MoveOn.org—which built most of its member base with a strong antiwar message—is not pushing for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. With a network of more than three million “online activists,” the MoveOn leadership the MoveOn website has continued to bypass the issue—even after Rep. Lynn Woolsey and two dozen cosponsors in the House of Representatives introduced a resolution in late January calling for swift removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq.
That resolution would seem to be a natural peg for the kind of kinetic activism that established MoveOn’s reputation. A movement serious about ending U.S. military activities in Iraq could use the resolution as a way to cut through political tap dances and pressure members of Congress to take a stand.
But in recent weeks, the word “Iraq” appeared on the MoveOn. org home page only in a plug for a documentary released last year. Inches away, a blurb has been telling the website’s visitors: “Support Our Troops: Contribute your frequent-flyer miles so that American troops can get home.”
Why won’t MoveOn support a pullout of our troops from Iraq? “We believe that there are no good options in Iraq,” MoveOn.org’s executive director, Eli Pariser, told me. “We’re seeing a broad difference of opinion among our members on how quickly the U.S. should get out of Iraq. As a grassroots-directed organization, we won’t be taking any position which a large portion of our members disagree with.”
In sharp contrast, early in the 2004 primary campaign, MoveOn committed itself to endorsing any Democratic presidential candidate receiving more than 50 percent of the Internet ballots cast by its activists. (Howard Dean fell shy of a majority, so there was no MoveOn endorsement.) But now, evidently, a majority of MoveOn members in favor of swift withdrawal from Iraq would be insufficient if a “large portion” disagreed.
When I asked Pariser for clarification, he replied: “We’ve been talking with our members continuously on this issue. We’ve surveyed slices of our membership in January and in December and surveyed our whole membership last spring. That’s how we know there’s a breadth of opinion out there.” But any surveying of “slices of our membership in January and in December” came before the Woolsey resolution offered an opportunity to find out how the MoveOn base views the measure. If MoveOn leaders were willing to submit the House get-out-of-Iraq resolution to MoveOn’s rank-and- file in an up-or-down vote, the chances of a substantial majority would be excellent.
The 29 members of the House now sponsoring the resolution are hardly radicals. They recognize the kind of grisly consequences of equivocation that occurred during the Vietnam War: Refusal to speak forthrightly about the urgent need to end military involvement only fuels the war’s deadly momentum.
It’s very helpful to excoriate President Bush for his many big lies in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. But such activities don’t make up for going along with the basics of the present-day Iraq war. Ironically, a group that became an Internet phenom by recognizing and filling a void is now creating one. Other groups are bound to emerge to fill it.
A mong the emerging organizations is Progressive Democrats of America (www.pdamerica.org), a fledgling national group with an activist focus on the Iraq war. “We’re organizing a new campaign in every Congressional District we can to call for the end of funding for war and occupation, and for the transfer of reconstruction assistance to Iraqis themselves,” says Tim Carpenter of PDA. He contends that “public pressure can awaken Congress to an opposition role.”
War in Iraq requires continual funding and Bush’s new supplemental boost of $80 billion in war appropriations has been moving through Congress in recent days. Tacitly accepting the war’s continuation, MoveOn declined to take a stand against the essence of congressional backing for the war—the money that keeps paying for it. Meanwhile, PDA launched an effort against the $80 billion; the organizing included a National Call- In Day to members of Congress on March 10.
Peace advocates do a lot more than shrug when an antiwar organization starts to get lost. If MoveOn continues to abandon its antiwar base, that base will get the picture—and move on.
Norman Solomon’s latest book, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death , will be published in early summer.
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.