The new patriots

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[Perils-of-a-one-man-operation: Yesterday, in typical haste, I attributed some very interesting comments on the falling Bush poll numbers to Mark Crispin Miller when, in fact, they came from Bob Fertik, who runs the energetic and enjoyable website Sorry, Bob. I’ll try to do better next time — and meanwhile, readers, go take a look at for yourself.]

The other day I got one of those generic “You America basher, you” e-mails. The only thing they can’t say anymore is, “Go back to Russia!” and, of course, it was signed by someone who grabbed “patriotism” for himself. I actually stopped and thought about his e-mail for a few minutes, or rather, once I had gotten over my own knee-jerk reactions, I stopped and thought to myself, of all the knee-jerk reactions… After all, who exactly are the America bashers today? Well, not me, that’s a start. It’s this administration, its acolytes, its think tanks, its corporate backers, who are the America bashers of the moment. Literally so.

Who, then, are we? Well, modestly, I would say that we are the America-savers, the ones who would prefer not to see a world — our world — plundered or in ruins. We are the new patriots and we should be proud of it, especially since “we” are, increasingly, a startling range of voices, occupations, desires and opinions. “We the people…” It’s still not a bad phrase. Or how about just, “We the historians…,” because we can draw the obvious conclusions from history — that no one should be heading in this direction.

If we want to know what loosing force as a principle on the world does, we need look no farther than Israel, which is really, painfully, like a local or regional laboratory for what we’re likely to experience if the Bush preemptive foreign policy is fully loosed on the world. Ariel Sharon let loose his local version of brute force at a critical moment — it was the equivalent of that shout of fire in the crowded theater — and the result, at least from here, seems clear enough: A coarsening and numbing in Israeli society, catastrophe in the occupied territories, an unending increase in violence and hatred, an openness to ever more extreme solutions on all sides, initial popular support for the policies as ensuring “security,” support which turns out to be less deep than anyone imagined.

With that in mind, let’s turn to the antiwar movement and the demonstrations this weekend. I’m staggered by the information pouring through the Internet and filling the op-ed and opinion columns of papers, mainstream and alternative. I’ve chosen three offerings almost randomly as merely representative today of the breadth of what’s developing: The first, “Signs of Hope,” is a useful sampling of the antiwar opposition at the moment, a send-out reprinted by permission of Frida Berrigan of the The Arms Trade Resource Center and World Policy Institute. To visit the site click here Then you’ll find a column from the Seattle Times on Philip Gold, military analyst for the right-wing newspaper the Washington Times, who has nonetheless come out against an Iraq war. It’s important for us to hear the arguments on the right, since this antiwar (and I hope in the future anti-imperial) coalition will be broad. Finally, the second column of the week from Ruth Rosen of the San Francisco Chronicle on the antiwar movement, and a remembrance of the moment Martin Luther King came out against the Vietnam War. You might also take a look at a recent piece (picked up off, by the way) on the growing antiwar sentiment in the labor movement that appeared in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. To read click here

I think we patriots have a future here. Tom

SIGNS OF HOPEHollywood, Unions, Republicans and Veterans Are All

Frida Berrigan


Even a casual perusal of regional newspapers turns up countless
articles on the peace movement. Read these headlines for a jolt of hope
and energy:

Los Angeles: Thousands Rally Against War in Iraq, Push Peace…
Minneapolis: Demonstrators Rally to Protest Possible War with Iraq…
Hundreds in San Francisco Protest INS Registration
81-Year-Old Picketer: ‘The Time to Act is Now’
Sept. 11 Victims’ Kin Protest in Iraq
“Human Shield” Peace Activists Mobilize for Iraq
Highway Protests: Citizens with Signs Stand Up for Peace
Pacifist Hopes Human Shield Will Halt US March to War
On the Coast of Maine a Peace Sign Shines Bright in the Night
Anti-War Organizers Welcome ‘New Spirit’ of Dissent
Nude Women Protest War Again; Men Also Demonstrate

…. And that is just a sampling.

Even Hollywood is getting in on the criticism of the war. “Artists for
Winning Without War,” a project of MoveOn.Org, pulled together an
unlikely list of supporters for a strong antiwar statement. While
Brittany Spears has yet to figure out where she stands, other mainstream
actors and performers** are standing behind the statement that war
against Iraq, “will increase human suffering, arouse animosity toward
our country, increase the likelihood of terrorist attacks, damage the
economy, and undermine our moral standing in the world.” Now let’s see
who wears an anti-war button on their haute couture at the Grammys.

**Partial List of Signers
Don Cheadle
Matt Damon
Laurence Fishburne
Jeananne Garafalo
Danny Glover
Ethan Hawke
Samuel L. Jackson
Tony Shalhoub
Michael Stipe
Blair Underwood
(to name just a few)

Viggo Mortensen, the actor who plays Aragon (a.k.a. Strider) in the
blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy, drew an analogy between the evil
he battled on celluloid and the evil emanating from Washington in an
interview with Bob Campbell of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. He
remarked that, “[Henry] Kissinger and [John] Ashcroft are servants of
Sauron.” We tend to agree. For those who have not read the trilogy or
seen the movie, Sauron is the embodiment of evil and the creator of the
all-powerful ring, that the characters are trying to destroy.

The labor movement is mobilizing against the war. In the United States,
labor unions have formed
U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW), bringing together 76 labor
organizations that represent over 2 million members. Their founding
document is excerpted below:
“Whereas, we have no quarrel with the ordinary working class men,
women and children of Iraq, or any other country; and
Whereas, the billions of dollars spent to stage and execute this war
being taken away from our schools, hospitals, housing and Social
Security; and
Whereas, Bush’s drive for war serves as a cover and distraction for
sinking economy, corporate corruption and layoffs; and
Whereas, labor has had an historic role in fighting for justice;
… We resolve that U.S. Labor Against the War stands firmly against
Bush’s war
drive.” For more information email: [email protected]

And in the UK, two railroad operators have refused to drive a train
loaded with ammunition destined for British forces being deployed in the
Persian Gulf. The drivers, who seem to be the only ones at that location
trained to move the freight along that route, have gummed up the whole
works and their anti-war union Aslef, is 100% behind them.

C. ANTI-WAR REPUBLICANS? Yes, Anti War Republicans
Republicans are also getting in on the anti-war act (or at least, the
anti-this-war-act). The Wall Street Journal featured a full page ad
entitled “A Republican Dissent on Iraq” on Monday, January 13th. The
signers supported the Gulf War, military action against Afghanistan, and
accept the “logic of a just war,” but warn that “a billion bitter
enemies will rise out of this war.” The ad, organized by Business
Leaders for Sensible Priorities, is signed by over two dozen Republicans
who gave financial support and votes to Candidate Bush. The ad should be
online soon at

And perhaps most importantly, those who will be most affected by war
against Iraq– military personnel– are mobilizing against it. To
commemorate the 12th anniversary of the beginning of the Gulf War,
January 17, 1991, veterans and military families are holding a press
conference this week to voice their opposition to war in Iraq.

Two organizations, Veterans for Common Sense (VCS) and Military
Families Speak Out (MFSO), will highlight critical questions the Bush
administration has failed to address regarding Iraq. They are asking
President George W. Bush to reassure them that his administration is not
hell bent on conflict. They assert that absent a “smoking gun” or “clear
and present danger,” war with Iraq is neither necessary nor inevitable.
The groups are encouraging Bush to “win without war by adhering to the
UN process.”

Veterans for Common Sense

Military Families Speak Out

Of course, not everyone is against war in Iraq. As the buses chug into
Washington this weekend for the Anti-War protests, they will be met by a
small group of counter-protestors who despite their abhorrent politics,
have come up with this year’s greatest acronym so far. MOVE-OUT (Marines
And Other Veterans Engaging Outrageous Un-American Traitors).

For more information on the protests, visit:

United for Peace, a national coalition, is planning a huge anti-war
march in New York City on February 15th, to coincide with anti-war
demonstrations planned in 11 European cities. Details are still being
worked out and will be posted on In the
meantime, start getting the word out by handing out these spiffy palms

Education for Peace in Iraq,
War Times

Questions about war that can’t be ignored
By Bruce Ramsey
The Seattle Times
January 15, 2003

In antiwar circles, Philip Gold was the man of the week: the military analyst, formerly of the Washington Times, splitting with conservatives over war with Iraq. This month, Gold severed formal ties with Seattle’s Discovery Institute, where he had been a senior fellow in national-security affairs.

His allies on the Internet hailed him. One Web site called him “The Heroic Phil Gold.”

He does not look the part. With his short stature, dark beard and soft voice, Gold looks more like a university professor than a U. S. Marine. Actually, he has been both, with no apologies. He is no pacifist.

Gold comes to his arguments loaded with historical facts. He asks: What was the last time U.S. forces took a major city that was seriously defended?

Manila, in 1944.

When was the last time the United States lost a major Navy ship?

World War II, 1945.

To read more Ramsey click here

March — but bring your own sign
By Ruth Rosen
January 16, 2003
San Francisco Chronicle

MY 89-YEAR-OLD friend Alicia is angry because she can’t march in San Francisco this Saturday. All her life, she has fought for civil rights and against unjust wars. Now, bound to a wheelchair, she is unable to walk. “If I were well and young,” she says, her voice rising in indignation, “I would be there. So go tell all those young and able people that this war on Iraq is wrong.”

Alicia is hardly alone in wanting to express her opposition to a possible invasion of Iraq. The pope has called such a war “a defeat for humanity.” During the next week, anti-war demonstrations will take place in at least 23 countries, including Argentina, Canada, France, South Korea, Germany and Russia.

On Saturday, this country will witness two large “National Marches in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco.”

To read more Rosen click here