Protesters in Columbus, Ohio upset a pro-war program with top Clinton Administration officials Wednesday afternoon, asking them tough questions at a live CNN “Town Hall” meeting and giving the antiwar movement its first serious national publicity.
Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright and Defense Secretary William S. Cohen were in Columbus to gain popular support for the war and to build the myth of a national consensus for a U.S. attack on Iraq. They were both surprised and embarrassed by the jeers and tough questions they received from audience members. Some audience members held up signs and chanted “We Don’t Want Your Racist War” while one questioner asked why the U.S. wasn’t considering force against other countries violating human rights such as Indonesia in it’s slaughter of East Timorese (when Albright started hemming and hawing, her accuser shot back “You’re not answering my question, Madame Albright.”)
The Columbus dissenters are the top story in the major newspapers and media pundits are starting to publicly doubt polls showing overwhelming support for military action.
Sample Letter to Media
To the Editors,
With today’s story about an Ohio audience jeering Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, it’s time for MS-NBC to give some coverage to the groundswell of grassroots opposition to another Gulf War. If you had been monitoring the “Iraq Crisis Antiwar Homepage,” the events in Columbus would not have been a surprise. In fact, 82 other demonstrations are currently listed here.
In addition to events listings, the Antiwar Homepage has analysis, action alerts, ideas for organizing and links to major nonviolence groups. A project of the Nonviolence Web, home to dozens of U.S.-based peace groups, it is a central source for antiwar organizing.
Please consider profiling all the great work being done around the country to stop another senseless war.
Reporters visiting the “Iraq Crisis Antiwar Homepage” would not have been surprised by the turnout in Columbus. A huge grassroots antiwar movement has grown in the past month. The Nonviolence Web’s email box is being flooded with great statements, letters to Clinton, action ideas and just plain worry about another war. The Antiwar Homepage’s list of upcoming protests spans the world, listing the Columbus event along with over seventy others.
But little of this organizing has gotten the national media. Most of the online media have put together sections promising “complete coverage,” and sporting bravura titles like “Showdown with Saddam.” But look at the coverage and you’ll see only fluff pieces about the brave boys on the aircraft carriers or furrow-browed analysis of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan’s doomed search for a diplomatic settlement.
fter Ohio, the national media will have to start recognizing the widespread dissent among Americans. Some progress is being made. YAHOO, the most popular site on the net, has listed the Antiwar Homepage in its list of Iraq Crisis resources. And a top news organization is working on a profile of the Nonviolence Web to appear within a few days (keeping looking for an announcement).
But we must all do more. Write and email the national media to include coverage of antiwar actions. Demand that a link to the Iraq Crisis Antiwar Homepage be included in their “Complete Coverage” of the crisis. A sample letter to MS-NBC is included here, but please write your own and show them that dissent has spread past the Columbus auditorium and is following them across the internet!