Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Veterans mobilize to end war

On December 16, approximately 500 anti-war activists, including veterans and other concerned Americans, calling for an end to war, gathered for a rally in front of the White House.

Following the rally, they held a nonviolent protest in front of the White House where some protestors chained themselves to the fence. Those who refused to disperse were arrested. Among 131 arrested were Pulitzer Prize journalist Chris Hedges, National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition Brian Becker, March Forward! Organizers Mike Prysner and Ryan Endicott, president of Veterans for Peace Mike Ferner, and Daniel Ellsburg of Pentagon Papers fame.

One protester, Ron Kovic, Vietnam War veteran, co-writer of the film and author of the autobiography “Born on the Fourth of July,” on December 12, made an appeal, “Raise Your Voices, Protest, Stop These Wars,” requesting veterans to join the anti-war struggle and to support the work of March Forward!

It’s notable that around the holiday period when the news media is usually scrambling for stories, the most significant anti-war protest in quite awhile received scant attention. Not even a piece on Ron Kovic’s passionate appeal. Peace is not sexy, provocative, or sensationally lurid enough to draw readers and viewers in sufficient numbers to satisfy advertisers. Its blatancy looks like a corporate media blackout of the event.

This is important to the peace movement because we create our understanding of events and our place in the world primarily through the news media. Trustworthy news sources are a crucial factor in providing information from which we form our perspectives. Beyond reporting, news media have the potential of making or breaking politicians, driving particular legislation, forming public understanding of the issues, and rallying public will toward social change. Without this vital resource, it’s difficult to mobilize any meaningful grassroots action for peace.

The problem is Americans want to be entertained rather than informed. This is apparent with news outlets such as Fox News, MSNBC news, and the popularity of folks like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. If, at the rally, there was participation by some diva, other celebrity, or if the demonstration was a bloody police confrontation, the news outlets would be all over it.

Most Americans, other than veterans and their families, go about their lives without any thought to the folly of these wars. They have paid no price, they have made on sacrifice. Unlike the transparency of the Vietnam War, thanks to vivid reporting and photography, where the atrocities of that war were in our living rooms day and night, driving support for its end, the atrocities of the Iraq and Afghan wars, because of restrictions put on journalist and photographers, have been pretty much hidden.

Despite polls, indicating Americans are becoming weary with these wars, in actuality, with nonchalance to the killing being done in their name, Americans in essence continue to support war and deny peace.

Disappointingly, we cannot expect any effort to end war from our Nobel Peace Prize winning President, either. On the very day of this protest, President Obama was making his annual review statement on Afghanistan-Pakistan, saying in conclusion: “We’re going to have to continue to stand up. We’ll continue to give our brave troops and civilians the strategy and resources they need to succeed. We will never waver from our goal of disrupting, dismantling, and ultimately defeating al Qaeda.”

March Forward predicts, “Through all the rhetoric of ‘progress’ in the country, one fact was made crystal clear: the war will rage on, with heavy combat and increasing casualties, for many years to come.”


Various authors, The War Crimes Times,

Ron Kovic, Raise Your Voices, Protest, Stop These Wars,

Dan Froomkin, Ellsberg, Other Anti-War Protesters To Chain Themselves To White House Fence, The Huffington Post

Veterans lead dramatic act of civil resistance at White House,

Michael Prysner, One drop in a sea of blood,

Hope Is Action’: Hedges and Ellsberg Arrested at White House Protest,

President Barack Obama, Statement by the President on the Afghanistan-Pakistan Annual Review,