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.