Monday, July 21, 2008

The Antiwar vs Pro-Peace debate

During the organizing for the DNC protests here in Denver there's been a lot of practical and political debates between activists. These points I originally wrote as an email in a list serve debate over messaging. I think they're good points and I'm sharing them here with all of you.




The Antiwar vs Pro-Peace debate

How should the antiwar movement position it's messaging? Should be be as direct as possible, or is this "negative" and does it turn people off?

During the Vietnam antiwar movement, and in the contemporary movement against the war in Iraq, this has been an ongoing debate. Most notably it has revolved around whether or not we should say we are "Anti-war", or "for peace".

I think in order to stand out and really counter the euphemistic, fluff talk of so many politicians, we can't just say that we're "for peace". "Peace" is the double speak behind which militarists cloak their intentions. John McCain says he's for peace- he just thinks we have to kill all the "terrorists" first to get it. Barak Obama is also "for peace"- but he doesn't see that being contradicted by giving Israel $3 billion in military aid every year, or advocating that Jerusalem, where thousands of Palestinians live, ought to be the capital of Israel proper, or that we can't withdraw from Iraq to "hastily".

As if in any other burglary, property owners are concerned with using too much "haste" to arrest or expel the thief in their home! The same leaders of public opinion would castigate you as well with "withdrawing" too quickly after stepping on a nail. Surely, the flow of blood would follow! Better not to move, and remain impailed for a few more months!

From watching network TV, you'd hardly know a war was going on at all. According the editors of the big networks, in Iraq and Afganistan there are never any bodies, or blood, or buildings being blown up, or children with missing limbs, or dead American soldiers, or veterans with PTSD and substance abuse problems, or outraged protests of Iraqi civillians. Our job is to fight this censorship, and impatiently point out the fact that there actually IS a nasty, bloody, and terrifying war going on!

All the stalling crap (what else can you call it?) Democrats say about how "we can't leave *yet*", isn't undercut too well by just saying we're "for peace". After all, according to the advocates of the "surge" strategy, aren't our soldiers the ones keeping the peace in Iraq, and preventing all these violent Arabs from killing each other? Isn't it to "keep the peace", that Democrats don't want to "withdraw" too hastily?

What does really undercut the fluff is telling the truth plain like it is. If you haven't seen any of IVAW's Winter Soldier footage yet check it out ( ). It is incredibly moving, and cuts through the BS in a way that polite signs and gatherings of good will simply cannot.

For these reasons, I'm in favor of activists consciously employing "ANTI-WAR" messaging.


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