Ohio Protests Open National Debate on War

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.

In peace,
Mar­tin Kel­ley
Non­vi­o­lence Web

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!