Reprinted from The Rant (September 2002)
Despite the generally hostile climate towards people opposing the Bush administration’s war on terror immediately after September eleventh, and indeed the medias continued hostility towards and failure to report dissenting views, there is growing evidence that a successful opposition movement can be built. Shortly after the attacks, many activists felt they were in an extreme minority, a feeling largely shaped by the media that has not reported on dissenting views.
In the months since September eleventh, the media has not adequately covered the growing movement against the war. If you get most of your news from one of the major US news outlets, you would see little coverage of a movement which has staged two major demonstrations in Washington DC and countless smaller actions across the country. On September 29th, 2001, just two weeks after the attacks, there was a demonstration with several thousand people on the National Mall, showing that mass dissent was possible and would not result in immediate arrest, public ridicule, or any number of other concerns raised by people who argued it was too soon to begin organizing against the poorly defined war on terror. While media coverage was limited, the rally was televised nationally on CSPAN and was not subject to police repression. A larger demonstration, involving a diverse coalitions of groups and participants numbers in the tens of thousands was held on April 20th, 2002, with thousands of demonstrators staging a simultaneous demonstration in San Francisco. In the year since the attacks, there have been a number of teach-ins on campuses, video screenings, marches, and other actions. Recently there have been an increasing number of protests against administration policy, gearing up for an October 26th national day of action against the potential invasion of Iraq. The most dramatic of these recent protests was on August 22nd in Portland, where 3,000 non-violent protestors were assaulted by police with pepper spray and rubber bullets for voicing their dissent, while the police department has come under scrutiny for their handling of the protests.
Clearly, those opposing the war administration policy are not alone and while the media may help the Bush administration by minimizing dissent and espousing their belief that it is the patriotic duty of Americans not to question administration policy, they are increasingly unable to hide the fact that public approval for the war on terror is not nearly as unanimous as was once believed. While statistics are not the best way to gauge public opinion, it is worth noting that a recent survey of Michigan voters indicated that 47% of people believe Bush has not made a convincing case for invading Iraq with 44% of people said that they opposed an invasion of Iraq. While approximately 60% of people support military action against Iraq on the national scale, at the current time there is no poll indicating how people feel about military action now that Iraq has agreed to allow inspectors to return. Ironically, as the Bush administration seeks to expand their war they are simultaneously strengthening the opposition.
It is of utmost importance that those who are opposed to the war take advantage of the current climate and begin organizing against the potential invasion of Iraq. We need to continue making coalitions, doing outreach, and most importantly engaging in highly visible actions designed to influence the United States government. At the present, the public is divided, which can be used to the advantage of dissenting groups who should experience a more positive response to their actions and resulting in more participation. Not only will there be more participation, but it should be more diverse as more groups being to oppose military action in Iraq. A successful movement could be effective in pushing public opinion against an invasion of Iraq and if that opinion threatens the politicians reelection prospects, they will listen. Aside from the increase in numbers, we know the Bush administration has not made a case that justifies the invasion, that 5,000 Iraqi children die each month as a result of the sanctions, and that an attack will serve to motivate future terrorism. Organize!