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March 20, 2005

War Protests - What Are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

Forgive me for riffing on a classic anti-war song in my title.

Consider this quote from Robert McFadden's article in the NYT on yesterday's protests:

President Bush did not comment on the protests, which seemed unlikely to have any significant effect on national policy or on the glacial movement of public opinion in America.
Charles Duhigg in the LAT was slightly more positive about the protests' effect, while Aamer Madhani with contributions from freelance reporters Gary Gibula, Jody Paige and Sean D. Hamill in the Chicago Tribune echoed the NYT's dismissive viewpoint.

Personally, I am frustrated and desperate. Desperate to participate in strategic action that changes the world. Desperate to get American troops out of Iraq and allow Iraqis - including and especially women - to engage in the process of rebuilding their country. I'd like American military leaders to stop lying on Sunday morning talk shows; stop saying that the only major problem in Afghanistan is poppy production and recognize that the war lords we support are the primary problem. Progressive voices must be taken seriously and we must be part of the decision-making process in the government, in nonprofits, and in corporations around the world. Simply gathering and holding signs and marching clearly aint getting us anywhere.

So what should we do? I don't think Common Cause or MoveOn is the answer. Internet activism is important - up to a point. Personally, I am not interested in holding a house party to support the work of professional activists; I'd rather work through an international, grassroots organization designed to give individual members a voice in local, national, and international action. That's why I joined Women's International League for Peace and Freedom while I was in college; that's why I'm on WILPF's national board as the At Large Membership Represenative, and that's why I'm running for Program Chair on the next national board. In my many years as an activist - I've been involved in the movement at least fifteen years - I have found no other organization that places so much emphasis on understanding the root causes of injustice and working on many levels: from the streets, to city hall, to the US Congress, to the UN to create the world we want to see.

Like most of the progressive world, WILPF suffers from lack of recognition. Not many people realize that the Hague Conference for Peace written about in many history books as an example of first wave feminism created WILPF. Nor do they understand that WILPF is still alive and active in the US and around the world. Some people who know this don't think we're interested in new members. Here's the deal: WILPF, like the world, is not perfect. We've had a lot of success in our 90 year history and we've sparked a lot of feminist, social justice, and anti-war work. The International WILPF's UN office does amazing work to hasten the full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security and creating a space for citizen action on nuclear disarmament. The US Section currently has four national campaigns and just voted in two new campaigns for our next three year cycle. We're eager for new members and we love involving people in progressive activism. I urge you to join WILPF, regardless of your gender, because frankly how long do you want to continue to be dismissed by the mainstream news and government as a fringe actor whose political voice can be drowned by grandstanding by Congressmen who believe "a culture of life" has nothing to do with international cooperation and shifting our budgetary priorities from war to societal health and everything to do with denying a person's choice when she chooses death with dignity?

Posted by cj at March 20, 2005 3:17 PM

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