A Moratorium Wired to Stop the War
Though Americans disapprove of President Bush's handling of the situation in Iraq by more than two to one, they don't seem to be expressing that disapproval to anyone but pollsters. A plan to establish a monthly Iraq Moratorium Day may provide a way for them to do so.
Refitting an idea from the Vietnam era to the age of the Internet, organizers of the Iraq Moratorium Day are inviting ordinary Americans to demand an end to the war in targeted activities in their local communities and viral activities online. The goal is a "monthly expression of determination to end the war."
The initiators, a handful of individuals from different corners of the antiwar movement, are asking people to make a simple pledge:
"I hereby make a commitment that on Friday, September 21, 2007, and the third Friday of every subsequent month I will break my daily routine and take some action, by myself or with others, to end the War in Iraq."
US Labor Against the War and Progressive Democrats of America have already signed on to the Moratorium effort. Individual supporters include some of the usual suspects in the antiwar movement--Susan Sarandon, Howard Zinn, Anne Wright, Tom Hayden and Eve Ensler, as well as Edwidge Danticat, Danny Glover and Gold Star dad Fernando Suarez de Solar. But the movement is also tapping unusual suspects like Adam Neiman, CEO of the fair-trade fashion house No Sweat, actress Mercedes Ruehl and the antiwar Freeway Blogger.
"We felt that it was critical to move beyond the periodic national demonstrations in Washington, DC, New York and/or San Francisco, and instead develop and advance an approach that encourages increasingly massive local actions that suggests, more than anything else, no more business-as-usual," said Bill Fletcher Jr., a Moratorium organizer who is former president of TransAfrica Forum. "The Iraq Moratorium will allow local actions integrally connected at a national level such that each effort is understood and felt to be part of a national movement without at the same time creating a new organization or coalition."
Moratorium activities will range from wearing black armbands to not buying gas; from writing letters to politicians and the media to vigils, rallies and teach-ins; from special religious services to music, art and cultural events; from film showings and lectures to student-initiated alternative classes.
Organizers will work with netroots activists to post video of Moratorium activities on the site and on YouTube and similar sites. Poetry about the war will be solicited, and website visitors will be asked to help choose the best to be included in an anthology. Working groups have been formed to spread the word in the blogosphere.
Poised to participate is Joseph DeLappe, an art professor at the University of Nevada who has become a minor sensation on YouTube for Dead in Iraq, an online memorial and protest. For the past fourteen months he has periodically logged on to America's Army, a Pentagon-funded online video game designed to lure new young recruits to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. But he refuses to play the game according to Pentagon rules.
Once online, DeLappe's avatar immediately drops his weapon and waits to die by the hand of one of the more than 10 million "virtual warriors" who play regularly. After he is killed, DeLappe begins typing in the name, age, service branch and the date of death of soldiers who have died in Iraq. His goal is to record each of the more than 3,500 US military deaths to date. DeLappe views the Internet as a logical place for Moratorium protests to unfold.
"The Moratorium project is important in that it creates an opportunity to involve individuals in actions, however small, in bringing an end to this war," DeLappe told The Nation. "I sense that people want to be involved yet are frustrated by traditional modes of protest that are more often than not ignored by the media and politicians. We must find creative ways to utilize the new modes of communication made possible through the Internet. The fact that so much of what is new and interesting on the net is, in fact, user-created (YouTube, flickr, etc.) provides a wellspring of unique opportunities for protest."