16 April 2007

Fifth Tuesday Topic

When asked about the anti-war movement during Vietnam and at the time, during 2003, Kurt Vonnegut (who passed away last week) said the following:

"When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high.

And so it is with anti-war protests in the present day. Then as now, TV did not like anti-war protesters, nor any other sort of protesters, unless they rioted. Now, as then, on account of TV, the right of citizens to peaceably assemble, and petition their government for a redress of grievances, 'ain't worth a pitcher of warm spit,' as the saying goes."

What do you think of this quotation?

How do you think the modern anti-war movement can rise above the value of a pitcher of warm spit?



At 17 April, 2007 04:34 , Anonymous said...

The problem with being "against" something is that it is a negative value.

The anti war movement should attempt to do positive things to gain more attention and supporters.

Like host parties in recognition of pacifist senators.

(That's about all I can think of, short of everyone working together at soup kitchens.

Reporter: Why have a group of people against the war in Iraq decided to work at this soup kitchen?

Volunteer: So that you would ask us that question, and we could tell you, on television, that we are against the war in Iraq.)

At 17 April, 2007 06:14 , Humboldt resident said...

"What do you think of this quotation?

Kurt Vonnegut was right on.

"How do you think the modern anti-war movement can rise above the value of a pitcher of warm spit?"

We have to do something effective. Marching in the streets is obviously not effective, by itself. Violence is not effective -- that's exactly what the police state wants, to justify further repression. Voting is not effective. It's a joke.

Where does that leave us? What power do We The People really have? There is only one, as far as I can see -- the power of nonviolent, non-cooperation with evil.

How are we cooperating with evil? We're giving money to it. We're feeding it. We're paying taxes to the U.S. military-government -- which uses our money to murder children in Iraq.

If enough people stopped giving their money away in support of this evil, that would be effective.

The war machine would collapse without our financial support.

At 18 April, 2007 01:36 , Sholom said...

Ummm, haven't you heard of FNB?

We reject the basis of a system that focuses more efforts on creating death than preserving life. If governments and corporations around the world spent as much time and energy on feeding people as they do on war, no one would go hungry.

At 18 April, 2007 04:28 , niCk (Mem Beth) said...

I posted my Tuesday topic today, it is off the current topic.

At 18 April, 2007 08:09 , Red Valley said...

The peace movement against the Vietnam War was invaluable. It was because of the efforts of those brave people that the war was ultimately ended for the U.S. And by proxy, the movement was also therefore partially responsible for the subsequent liberation of South Vietnam and the consequential final peace that was achieved. There is no devaluing the work of that generation...unless you are or were with the mainstream press corps. In that event, the idea of peace hurt your company's sponsors and advertisers in the pocketbook. To that point, it was pragmatic of these monied interests to ignore the peace movement for as long as it remained nonviolent. After all, if people don't realize a movement exists, how can they join it and make it stronger? And more importantly, how then can peace be achieved? But once rioting started to ensue, the movement could no longer be ignored by the press -- now their sponsors' and advertisers' property was in physical danger. Now the job of the media turned from ignoring the peace movement to promoting its active suppression.

Today, we see the same hollow chorus echoing in the press corps with relation to the War on Iraq. So long as it remains nonviolent, it is devalued and made out to be weak, consisting of only fringe groups. We consistently see the Associated Press underreporting the turnouts for mass demonstrations against the war. In January, they reported "tens of thousands" at the United for Peace and Justice rally and march. 150,000 turned out in reality. Other media outlets who primarily get their information from the AP similarly reported of the DC protest on the war's fourth anniversary that but "20,000" turned out. In reality, 50,000 were there. And that was completely ignoring (as the press did) the other 90,000 who turned out in California the same day for a grand total of 140,000 participating in ANSWER-sponsored peace events simultaneously in America. And even that is ignoring the more than 1,000 other events across the country on or around the war's fifth anniversary to protest it, which were also scarcely mentioned in the media. These turnout statistics can be located on ANSWER's website. We're constantly bombarded with reasons why the movement is supposedly weak: there is no draft, the movement's gone all-Online, and all this sort of thing. None of these things are true in the most literal sense. There is a backdoor draft in place today and people do physically turn out for in-person peace-related events by the hundreds of thousands. If the movement were to turn to resistance instead of merely protest (as it beginning to), then it would start to get more press attention...with calls for its suppression.

The question then is how can we make the same sort of difference today that the peace movement did in the Vietnam era to end that war? Looking back at history, we can note that the anti-Vietnam War movement came to embrace more than just peace in Vietnam. The movement broadened its horizons to extend far beyond that limited cause and went on to include and champion the causes of women's liberation, racial equality for African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, etc., environmental justice, workplace democracy, an end to the military draft, participatory democracy, addressing drug issues, free love, and so much more. In advocating all these things, the movement came to attract the co-advocates of each of these smaller movements. Thus, peace became the central uniting issue around a whole plethora of broader issues. It served to transform the movement into one with comprehensive goals for either the reform or revolution for society. As time went on and frustration with the status quo grew, the sentiment gradually drifted more toward revolution. And with revolutionary aims came the revolutionary means of achieving them: resistance. First civil disobedience, then active force. And that's what ultimately forced the war to a close. Only the threat of the overthrow of the government and the revolutionizing of society was sufficient to produce results. On March 17th (the war's fourth anniversary), ANSWER formally declared its intention to move from protest to resistance. Thus, the movement is already entering that stage; the stage of civil disobedience.

In conclusion, in order for today's peace and progressive movement to continue to go forward and ultimately succeed in getting us out of Iraq, it needs to more widely embrace civil disobedience as a legitimate means of defeating an illegal war. If that does not produce results, then it is time to consider more forceful options. It also need to emphasize progressive goals other than just an end to the war. It needs to emphasize the importance of social justice broadly. Specifically, it needs to promote womens' rights, workers' rights (including choice for women), immigrant rights, an end to global warming and the development of alternative lifestyles to adjust to life without environmental destruction, participatory government and economic systems, gay rights, and opposition to imperialism and militarism broadly.

At 18 April, 2007 18:36 , Guerrilla Blogger said...

I have two words for anyone that truly wants to push the anti-war agenda; interactive entertainment.


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