Doing something beats doing nothing every time

(An op ed column from Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal, in Madison.)

The fifth Christmas with U.S. troops in Iraq is upon us, with no end in sight.

It’s a time to remember those families who are missing a loved one this season, especially those who are facing the first holiday of the rest of their lives without their loved ones. It’s a time to remember and honor the troops who are away from home.

It ‘s also a time to ask: How can we stop the war? And it’s a time to do something — even if it ‘s something small — to say we want it to end.

President Bush will not be moved, despite the fact that every poll says a solid majority, perhaps two-thirds, of the American people want to end the war and bring our troops home.

The Democratic Congress, elected a year ago with a mandate to end the war, is too chicken-hearted to confront the bull-headed president. Next year’s presidential election offers precious little hope, as the leading candidates refuse to commit to having our troops out by 2013.

Opponents of the Iraq war have become the new Silent Majority. They tell the pollsters they ‘re against the war, but do nothing — perhaps because it seems fruitless.

It is understandable if they are disheartened. They spoke out in huge numbers before the war began, and were ignored. Four years of beating their heads against the wall may have worn them out.

But it’s not a time to give up. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

That’s why I have joined many who have signed on with the Iraq Moratorium, a decentralized but growing national grassroots effort that asks individuals to take personal responsibility to do something — anything — to show their opposition to the war.

The moratorium asks people to take some action, individually or collectively, on the third Friday of every month, from wearing a black armband or button to participating in a large-scale protest, or many things in between.

The group’s website, ,has ideas, information and reports on past and upcoming actions.

The fourth monthly Moratorium Day is Dec. 21, four days before Christmas. It is guaranteed to be ignored by the media, George Bush and the Congress.

The cynics say nothing we do matters, so why do anything?

The answer is obvious: Doing something is infinitely more likely to have an impact than doing nothing. That’s what the Iraq Moratorium is all about.

Buttons and armbands won’t stop the war by themselves. Neither will rallies and marches, or letters to the editor, or phone calls to Congress, or speeches or civil disobedience. There ‘s no single magic solution.

Those who want to end this war need to do everything to keep the flame alive until the silent majority catches fire and demands an end to this senseless war.

That’s why I will do something for Iraq Moratorium No. 4 on Dec. 21. And you?


  1. What are you going to do on Friday, individually or in a group? I’ll be at a Milwaukee downtown vigil, and talk about the Moratorium on an afternoon radio show.

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