Quantcast

Peter Rothberg | The Nation

  •  
Peter Rothberg

Peter Rothberg

Opposing war, racism, sexism, climate change, economic injustice and high-stakes testing.

Who in 2004?

With Al Gore bowing out of the 2004 presidential race, the field for Democratic contenders is wide open. In a mock people's primary, WorkingForChange is asking the public who it would like to see running for president in 2004. Is Nader a spoiler or a savior? Can Kerry beat the Bush machine? Does Dean have a chance? Can Daschle ever redeem himself? Tell the Presidential hopefuls themselves what you think. It's easy to email your favorite candidate, urging him or her to run or, more importantly, in the case of someone like Lieberman, not to run. There's even a way to draft your own candidate, be it Michael Moore, Bill Moyers, Oprah Winfrey or Ann Richards. And, after that, check out the Center for Voting and Democracy for ways to get involved in the fight for instant run-off voting, a long overdue electoral reform that would open up the US's two-party system and help allow people outside of the world of moneyed politics to mount legitimate electoral challenges.

Thank You, Philip Berrigan

Thousands of mourners braved sub-freezing temperatures in West Baltimore on Monday to say farewell to an infantry lieutenant turned Roman Catholic priest, remembered as a father, peace activist and prisoner of conscience. For a fitting appreciation of the life and legacy of legendary social justice activist Philip Berrigan, check out this moving tribute by James Carroll from yesterday's Boston Globe.

Winning Without War

President Bush has agreed that war with Iraq should be the very last resort. But, as weapons inspectors move into high-gear, senior members of the White House seem off-message in their public determination to invade Iraq regardless of the inspection's outcome. And though it's difficult to believe Bush is sincere, it's still worth trying to hold his Administration accountable to his words.

Toward that end, MoveOn.org is sponsoring a nationwide petition drive calling for the Administration to give inspections and diplomacy a chance. The call is picking up steam with close to 100,000 signatures in little more than four days.

The petition will be presented to President Bush, Secretaries Powell and Rumsfeld and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. It'll also be publicized via national newspaper ads starting with one in The New York Times this week. Sign the petition today. You can also help Move.On place more ads with a donation or volunteer to help out in a variety of ways.

*****

All respect to legendary antiwar and social justice activist Philip Berrigan , who passed away Friday in Baltimore, MD, surrounded by thirty friends and family-members. During his forty years of activism , eleven of them spent in prison, all for non-violent civil disobedience, Berrigan focused on building an actual community as a model for the sustainable world he was working to create. His legacy can best be seen in the continuing work of Jonah House , the community he co-founded in 1973 as a haven and resource for Vietnam War protesters.

Protesting an Attack on Iraq

The Republican landslide on November 5 was a sobering reality for progressives, but this GOP ascendance has done nothing to tamp down the enthusiasm and energy of the emerging antiwar movement.

On November 17, a coalition of prominent women's groups began a peace vigil and fast at Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. The idea, organizers say, is to issue an urgent call that our safety and well-being as a nation will not be served by war but by focusing on non-violent resolution of conflicts, and by using our nation's wealth, energy and skills for social programs such as schools, health care and affordable housing for the world's poor. This will ultimately provide the seeds of a safer, more stable world order in a way that military might never can.

The goal of the vigil is to continue the protest through March 8, International Women's Day, when the action will culminate in a peace march along the Mall in DC. The coalition is sponsoring a simultaneous online women's peace petition, "Listen to the Women," which organizers hope will contain at least one million signatures by March 8, 2003, when it will be presented to its recipients in the White House. Sign the petition and/or download a copy and help distribute it in your communities.

There are numerous other ways you can assist this effort:

--Join the vigil in Washington for as much time as you can--an hour, a day, a week, a month. You can fast or not fast, as you wish. While this action is initiated by women, men are welcome too.

--Initiate a solidarity vigil in your own community.

--Convince as many people as possible to come to the DC Women's Peace March on March 8, 2003.

--Make a contribution to sustain this peace vigil and build the rally. Send your checks--large and small--to Women's Vigil, c/o Global Exchange, 2017 Mission St #303, San Francisco, CA 94110.

You can email Kristi Laughlin at women@unitedforpeace.org with questions, suggestions or ideas.

You can also find more info at United For Peace, a new website representing a national network of more than 70 peace and justice organizations working to prevent war with Iraq.

Featuring a close-to-comprehensive collection of peace event listings nationwide, UFP is also coordinating a day of local actions--rallies, marches, protests, teach-ins--on Tuesday, December 10th, International Human Rights Day. Check out planned events in your area. And, if you're involved in organizing something yourself, please post the details, using United For Peace's easy-to-use submission page.

*****

"If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in bed with a mosquito." This is the War Resisters League's arresting way of refuting the hopelessness so many of us sometimes experience. In the face of the mass media, big government, multinational corporations, mega-military machines, and a flood of information too great to handle, it's easy to sometimes feel helpless. But we're not. See the WRL's list of ways one individual can make a difference.

Other things one person can do include signing and promoting the Pledge of Resistance and the MoveOn.org antiwar petition, downloading and displaying antiwar window signs, joining Cities for Peace, a growing effort to get City Councils and other representative bodies to pass resolutions against an invasion of Iraq, distributing Stephen Zunes' Nation article rebutting the Bush Administration's eight central arguments in favor of war and calling or faxing the White House's opinion poll hotline to politely express your opposition to a preemptive attack against Iraq: 202-456-1111 (tel) or 202-456-2461 (fax).

Finally, for background material, see The Nation's special antiwar page featuring a collection of articles, a set of links and a series of organizing resources.

Death Row Roll Call

As Robert Sherrill made clear in his award-winning Nation essay of January 8, 2001, the death penalty is a bad deal all around. Not only is it ineffective in deterring crime, it's also considered cruel and unusual punishment in most of the rest of the world, not helping the US image abroad.

To highlight and combat the growing use of capital punishment in America, The Nation recently re-launched Death Row Roll Call with new and improved activist tools.

A monthly calendar compilation of those slated for execution, Death Row Roll Call allows you to email informed letters of protest on behalf of inmates to the appropriate governors and officials presiding over executions nationwide. There are six inmates scheduled for execution in the remainder of November alone.

In addition, find out how you can help work toward a national moratorium on capital punishment, being promoted by many groups and organizations. And stay tuned for more ways you can register your voice in the growing movement to abolish the death penalty in the United States.

Election Day Matters!

If everyone out there who's worried about the Bush agenda votes on November 5, we can engage in a little regime change of our own. http://www.moveon.org/PAC_regimechange2/ ">Download , print, post and distribute MoveOn's free Regime Change Begins at Home poster. MoveOn has also identified numerous http://www.moveonpac.org/moveonpac/ ">Congressional candidates nationwide involved in hotly contested races who by virtue of their antiwar voting record deserve progressive support. The http://www.progressivemajority.org ">ProgressiveMajority has assembled a similar http://www.progressivemajority.org/candidates/ ">list .

*****

There are many good ideas for improving the flawed way that US elections are conducted. Chief among these are Instant Runoff Voting proposals, which would increase voter choice and widen the electorate.

Instant Runoff Voting is a way of deciding elections that ensures that a winning candidate receives a majority of votes rather than a simple plurality. http://www.fairvote.org/ ">The Center for Voting and Democracy offers all the arguments. And check out the http://www.fairvote.org/kit.htm ">IRV activist kit for tips on how you can get involved.

California's http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20020819&s=cooper2 ">Proposition 52 is also worthy of support. The Election Day Voter Registration iniative (EDVR) is a concrete reform which would allow people to both register and vote on election day. With voter participation at an all-time low (24.6 percent of eligible voters took part in California's March primaries), Prop 52 should be a no-brainer but its passage is still far from assured.

There are numerous ways you can help http://www.electiondayreg.com/join.cfm ">make Prop 52 a success : Staffing a phone bank, helping out at campaign headquarters, walking precincts, and, of course, contributing funds, can all make a difference in the last days before the vote.

*****

Another state ballot iniative that deserves national attention and support is Oregon's Measure 23 which would ensure access to affordable quality health carefor all Oregon residents through a comprehensive plan providing payment for medically necessary health services. This would be a nice model for the rest of the country if passed.

*****

New Yorkers: Despite the lackluster gubernatorial campaign, there is a choice this Election Day. Your vote can help build a progressive, multiracial, worker-led movement. How? By voting for Democrat Carl McCall for governor on the http://www.workingfamiliesparty.org/ ">Working Families Party line. Read http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20021118&s=editors3 ">Pull That WFP Lever , from the most recent issue of The Nation for the full argument.

Hundreds of Thousands March for Peace

It's difficult to tell given what seems to be a mainstream media brownout of the emerging US peace movement, but this past Saturday saw the largest day of antiwar protests in this country since the Vietnam War era.

Hundreds of thousands of people came out nationwide to register their voices against an invasion of Iraq. Approximately 100,000 people turned out in Washington, DC, according to the Washington Post, with organizers putting the estimate closer to 200,000.

The largest protest outside of DC was in San Francisco, where roughly 75,000 folks participated in a march and rally featuring US Rep Barbara Lee, actor Amy Brenneman and folksinger Utah Phillips. Elsewhere around the country, 12,000 marched in St. Paul, Minn., 5,000 in Seattle, WA, 4,000 in Denver, CO, 2,000 in Spokane, WA, 2,000 in Augusta, Maine, 1,500 in both Madison, WI, and Kingston, NY, and 1,000 in Montpelier, Vermont--a town of 8,000--while 2,500 people in Taos, NM joined a march that ended up at the doorsteps of Donald Rumsfeld's summer house. This is in addition to countless smaller events in cities, towns and villages across America.

You can read reports on many of these events at the online progressive news service http://www.CommonDreams.org ">CommonDreams . And stay tuned for info on upcoming antiwar organizing .

Show That the Public Supports Peace

Help prove that the public supports peace by donating money to the campaigns of members of Congress who voted against the war and now face tough re-election campaigns. And let the pols know exactly why you're supporting them. Chief among these, according to MoveOn.org, are Paul Wellstone, who faces a brutal Senate race in Minnesota, and Rick Larsen, Rush Holt and Jay Inslee, all running for re-election in hotly contested House districts.

Regardless of who's in office, though, it's critical to build up the grassroots. A national movement will give decent legislators the backbone to stand up to the hawks and will serve notice to less enlightened members of Congress that there will be political costs to their support for war. And the notion of peace is gaining traction. As the Washington Post reported yesterday--a week after The Nation's Liza Featherstone wrote about a nascent peace movement--people are seeing a "rising tide of student activism, of protesting by people who have never protested before and of an engagement on the issue that was absent prior to US involvement in Vietnam."

There are big marches being planned in Washington, DC, and San Francisco for October 26, as well as smaller events happening almost continously nationwide. The country is clearly not united behind Bush's policy of regime change in Iraq. The larger the protests, the more difficult this will be to ignore.

Protesting Bush's War

You couldn't tell from press accounts, but more than 90,000 people massed last Sunday in nationwide protests against Bush's plans to invade Iraq. The New York Times reported "several thousand people" filling the East Meadow in New York City's Central Park for an afternoon rally. But organizers, and numerous Nation eyewitnesses, put the number much closer to 20,000.

Staged by Not In Our Name, an ad hoc coalition of groups and individuals, the day's efforts were largely focused around the Pledge of Resistance, a set of principles laying down a philosophical foundation for political and social activism. And the momentum is building. The Institute for Policy Studies has compiled a list of more than 250 events planned in the coming weeks on college campuses, in churches and in Congressional offices. This number could jump dramatically after today's Congressional vote in favor of Bush's war resolution. Check out UnitedForPeace, a new site recently launched by Global Exchange, for a close-to-comprehensive collection of event listings coast to coast.

Even after today's 296-133 House vote supporting the Administration's resolution, there's still time to make Iraq a key campaign issue in next month's elections. Get tips from the National Network to End the War Against Iraq, a nationwide coalition of more than 140 peace and justice, student and faith-based organizations. And after this week's votes in support of war, you might be tempted to consider Michael Moore's pledge to never again vote for any Democratic member of Congress who supports George W. Bush's war against Iraq.

Conversely, it's important to show support for those legislators who've been fighting the good fight on this issue. Robert Byrd has been one of the few courageous voices in the Senate. Yesterday on the Senate floor he made every effort to interject sanity into the proceedings by protesting what he called a heedless rush toward bloodshed. Ted Kennedy, Barbara Boxer and Paul Sarbanes all spoke strongly in support of Byrd. Write and let them know that you appreciate their efforts and that you hope they'll continue speaking out against an invasion. Congress.org is a good resource for finding contact info and sending messages directly to members of the House and Senate. The site is currently a hotbed of antiwar letter-writing.

Other useful actions include calling the White House's opinion poll hotline at 202-456-1111 to politely express your outrage, organizing a Teach-In, signing the MoveOn petition and the Campaign of Conscience's Peace Pledge to Stop the Spread of War to Iraq and displaying a bumper sticker.

ActNow! Launches

ActNow is aimed at helping people act on their beliefs. We hope to put readers in touch with projects and campaigns they may want to support as we feature creative ways for people to register informed dissent. Whether it's another rightwing Court appointment, a rush to war by a reckless Administration, a Governor with his finger on the switch, a Congress intent on pushing fast-track legislation, a corporate takeover of a public water concern or the steady erosion of unbranded public space, we'll help you find activists and organizers mobilizing effective opposition.

Syndicate content