Roll Call for the Choir

After nearly four years of war I’d wager that a few million Americans have held a candle at a vigil, carried a sign at a rally, passed out a flyer, forwarded an email to friends, or gone to a demonstration in a distant city. If you, Dear Reader, are one of these stout souls, this letter is to you.

But first, may I ask a favor? For the rest of this letter please forget that at least once during these years of protest you no doubt mourned that “only the choir” participated. The choir — people who actually do something for peace — is precisely who I’m writing to.

No doubt it’s frustrating that, except for a few grand occasions, “only the choir” shows up. But consider this: of the millions of women in the U.S. at the time, relatively few became active suffragists with the staying power to eventually get votes for women. Of the millions of workers suffering from the Great Depression, relatively few answered the call to sit down in the auto factories to win recognition for unions. Of the millions of blacks bearing the weight of segregation, relatively few sat down at lunch counters.

In their day they were “the choir.” When they were the only ones who showed up for vigils and rallies, they no doubt bemoaned that “only the choir” had come again. They came to action after action, moving things forward imperceptibly each time. But when conditions were right, they acted one more time. And then they made history.

Several indicators confirm that conditions are right again.

The November elections clearly proved the public wants to end the war. That sentiment will surely grow in the months ahead.

This spring, likely in March, Congress will vote whether to continue the war with another $160,000,000,000 “supplemental appropriation.”

This February, the peace movement’s choir, of which you are one, will up the ante of protest. Voices for Creative Nonviolence, joined by Veterans For Peace, have initiated the “Occupation Project” to occupy the hometown offices of Representatives and Senators who have voted money for the war.

If we miss this opportunity to greatly hasten peace, the war will still eventually end. “Eventually,” however, will be measured in additional thousands of lives lost, even more thousands suffering horrific injuries, and the world becoming more dangerous.

All this clearly adds up to a historic opportunity.

You have already done something for peace. Now will you consider taking a giant step that will mean so much more?

Last week I spoke in Marietta, Ohio to 35 people, and announced the Occupation Project. I asked who among them would consider occupying their local congressional offices. Without a moment’s hesitation, six hands went up. You could hear the choir start to harmonize!

We talked about practical concerns: having to work, how much will it cost, what will the charge be? We talked about taking a vacation day and the modest fines involved for a misdemeanor — all compared to the enormous suffering Iraqis and soldiers now endure in this war.

We could have talked about how much less frightening this is compared to the suffragists who were arrested, manhandled, and force-fed while they served long jail terms; how unionists struck in the face of company goon squads; how civil rights activists tolerated untold abuses from screaming racists — and still they carried on. They persevered. They stepped into the gap when they were needed most. They won justice and made history.

The Democratic Party now controls Congress because the grassroots peace movement turned public opinion against the Bush administration’s war. These new elected officials must see that the time to end this war is now.

Many incumbents, including my own Congressperson, talk for peace — even join the “Out of Iraq” Congressional Caucus — but vote for war. They must now be told in no uncertain terms the jig is up. We will no longer tolerate platitudes for peace and votes for blood. This is where we draw the line. They either vote to end the occupation of Iraq or they will be occupied.

Below are links to roll calls for votes that Rep. Dennis Kucinich listed as the record of war funding. Check and see how you elected officials voted. A very few voted against each appropriation, and a call to their office will confirm if they will continue voting against the war. Several others have voted against one or two appropriations but in favor of the rest. These members, and those who consistently vote money for this war, are our targets.

We will go to their offices with a pledge for them to sign, confirming they will not vote for any more death and suffering in this war. If they do not sign, they will be occupied. A considerably more benign occupation than they are imposing, but uncomfortable for them nonetheless.

See how your Representatives and Senators have voted. Talk with other members of the choir where you live. Get ready to sing a glorious song to end this war!

MIKE FERNER is a freelance writer from Ohio and author of “Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from Iraq


Roll Calls for Key Congressional Votes on Iraq War

House Joint Resolution 114 Authorizing Use of Military Force Against Iraq

Final House Vote October 10, 2002: 296-133

Final Senate Vote October 10, 2002: 77-23


House Joint Resolution 2

Final House Vote Feb. 13, 2003: 338-83

Final Senate Vote: Feb. 13, 2003: 76-20


HR 1559

Final House and Senate Vote April 12, 2003: (both voice votes)


HR 3289

Final House Vote October 31, 2003: 298-121

Final Senate Vote November 3, 2003: voice vote


HR 4613

Final House Vote July 22, 2004: 410-12

Final Senate Vote July 22, 2004: 96-0


HR 1268

Final House Vote May 5, 2005: 368-58

Final Senate Vote May 10, 2005: 100-0


HR 2863

Final House Vote December 19, 2005: 308-106

Final Senate Vote December 21, 2005: 93-0


HR 4939

Final House Vote June 13, 2006: 351-67

Final Senate Vote June 15, 2006: 98-1


HR 5631

Final House Vote September 26, 2006: 394-22

Final Senate Vote September 29, 2006: 100-0



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

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It