FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

What Else Shall We Do?

Having publicly raised the idea of turning the September 24 anti-war march in Washington into a sit-down, I feel obliged to report on what happened last weekend and ask what more will we do?

The column I wrote on that idea a couple days before the demonstration (“Will We Use the Power We Have on September 24th?”) generated several email replies. All but one were supportive, generally along the lines that “the horrors we are perpetrating in Iraq call for the strongest non-violent response possible.” Keeping in mind the unscientific nature of my polling process, here’s what I learned from talking with as many people as I could on the way to Washington and while waiting in line for the march to begin the morning of the 24th.

A sizable majority of those whose opinion I solicited were opposed to the idea. The most common reasons were:

1) What would a sit-down accomplish?

2) First-time protesters expecting a completely legal march would be surprised/angry to see it include civil disobedience.

3) Cops could get out of hand and people unprepared for it could get hurt.

4) News media would focus on the arrests, obscuring the message that hundreds of thousands marched for peace.

Those in favor of sitting down, except for two longtime activists, were generally younger. Their reasons were the same as those who responded to the column, with the addition of “the peace movement is much too polite. People are being killed every day. We have to up the ante.”

As for what actually happened in the street that day: I didn’t realize it until afterwards, but the beginning of the march was so disorganized that the veterans’ contingent I was in, initially planned to be at the front, ended up well behind. Nevertheless, as we neared the end of the route, my wife and I held up signs with the words “Sit For Peace” inside the outline of a STOP sign. Most of the march had already gone past that point, and the momentum of those yet to come who had waited hours to move, was definitely in a forward motion. Beginning with a brave couple from Albany, perhaps 25 or 30 people accepted our invitation to sit down.

A guitar player joined and did a few impromptu sit down songs. Nearly every one who saw us gave enthusiastic, positive responses. Many stopped to say what a good idea it was. When invited to join in, the response was usually “I’ve got a bus to catch,” or “dogs to feed,” or “a job to get to Monday.”

If I can surmise what came of this idea, it is this: it caused hundreds of activists those who read the column and those who saw us sitting in Pennsylvania Avenue to think about what the peace movement is doing and question what more we need to do. Considering what is at stake for the U.S. and Iraqi victims of this criminal war, that question must be uppermost on our minds.

On the prescribed civil disobedience day, Monday the 26th, 41 people including yours truly, arrived at the Pentagon as people went to work in pre-dawn darkness, and got arrested for leafleting or blocking workers walking up to security checkpoints. Later that day, 370 people were arrested at the White House for sitting down or hanging memorial messages on the fence.

I say “congratulations” to every one of those arrested and to the good people who served roles in support. But what else can we do? Where is the planning for a national day of action in which we block the streets of Washington and as many other cities as possible? When will we organize massive sit-ins at congressional offices, with wave after wave of protesters refusing to leave until we create a crisis that must be addressed? When will we do what the Danes did under the Nazis and simply stop all activity for two minutes every day at an appointed time until the idea spreads and the nation becomes ungovernable? When will we do what our own ancestors did when whole towns turned out to defy the immoral Fugitive Slave Act by rescuing runaway slaves from Federal Marshals and then sent those marshals packing? When will thousands more of us join the list of modern day patriots who refuse to pay war taxes? We are blessed with many creative minds that can generate plenty of good ideaswhere is the leadership?

Historian Howard Zinn provides a moral imperative if more is needed:

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of their leaders and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

The words of a village sheik I spoke with in Iraq last year haunt me every day. Even as he assured me that he recognized the difference between the government and the people of the United States, he asked, “But you say you live in a democracy. How can this be happening to us?”

We must do more than march a prescribed route in Washington and go home with a new bumper sticker. We must do more than we’ve already done; more than we think we can do. We can no longer afford to limit our protests to what Good Americans are allowed in these terrible days. We must stop this administration’s crimes against humanity. We must delegitimate, disobey and disrupt this war and this system. Morality demands it. History demands it. Our common humanity demands it.

MIKE FERNER is a freelance writer from Ohio, writing a book about his trips to Iraq before and after the U.S. invasion. In addition to participating in the civildisobedience action at the Pentagon, he joined nearlya half-million peace activists in Washington,September 24. He can be reached at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005

 

More articles by:

Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and former president of Veterans For Peace.  You can reach him at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail