Tag: anti-war

Music festival puts a smiley face on killing (Updated)

Peace Action-Wisconsin has launched a campaign to get Milwaukee’s Summerfest, which bills itself as the world’s largest music festival, to shut down an Army recruiting exhibit allowing festival-goers as young as 13 to shoot at life-size targets from a real Humvee.  Summerfest’s logo is a big smiley face.

Peace Action says:

This year’s Milwaukee Summerfest (June 26-July 6) features a “Virtual Army Experience Exhibit”  at the north end of the grounds.  The tent contains a real Humvee mounted with 4 machine guns that interacts with a huge screen.  The screen projects the virtual experience of traveling through a town.  You can shoot the machine guns at people on the street as you pass through. The people are generic-looking – could be from anywhere.  You must be at least 13  years old to enter the exhibit and identification is asked.  They take down that information and it will likely be used for recruitment purposes. They also give away a free DVD video game of a similar virtual experience when you leave the tent.

Call the Summerfest office and demand that the exhibit be shut down now.   414-273-2690

Points to make:

War games should NOT be presented as entertainment.  War is NOT a game.  

Summerfest is meant to bring people together for a good time in peace, not to present opportunities to practice shooting people. The exhibit is totally inappropriate and offensive and should be removed immediately.

The person you talk with will fill out a form with your concerns and will ask for your name and phone number.  You do not have to give your phone number but they will want your zip code.

Please act now.  The more calls of complaint they receive the better. (Please remember to be pleasant to the person on the phone – the exhibit is not her fault.)

While that seems unlikely that the exhibit will be shut down, one activist, Kristina Paris,  who called the festival reports some progress already:

I just got through to a person: they reviewed the situation, have upped the age to 18 years with an ID, stopped handing out free DVD’s but are still allowing the virtual killing.  When I asked if a peace and social justice group could be there with an alternative to killing, they said they would be very open to most groups who pay for the booth space.

Michael Mathias at Pundit Nation writes:

I can’t imagine what the management of Summerfest was thinking in allowing this horror show of death and violence onto the grounds, or how it would help their image as a family-friendly event to let anyone set up something in such obvious poor taste.

The fact that participants are invited to stand aboard a Humvee while playing the game is particularly galling. Scores of US soldiers in Iraq have died riding on Humvees that critics have derided as poorly designed and ill equipped. Among them is Cedarburg native Stephen Castner, whose family, aided by US. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, has been searching for conclusive answers about how he died since 2006.

A small battle in the context of the global war?  Perhaps.  Worth waging?  Absolutely.

UPDATE: Veterans for Peace is involved, too, with this message to its Milwaukee chapter members:

The military has a clear and dangerous presence at Milwaukee’s Summerfest (June 26 ? July 6, 2008).  One exhibit is especially offensive: kids as young as 13 years old can aim automatic weapons from atop a humvee at a large screen to virtually kill people.

We do not want to desensitize our youth to the violence of “war,” nor cultivate the twisted  reality that our aggression in the Middle East is “war,” when the truth is that the overwhelmingly casualties are innocent civilians.  The setting for this bloodshed is a residential area with “targets” of uncertain identity moving through the streets.  This aggrandizement of violence and glorification of our illegal invasions abroad is xenophobic, profane, and undermines the basic values we strive to live by in America.

This Army atrocity is located next to a rock stage as it targets youth; while they ask for an ID to prove age 13 or older, they willingly accept a child’s word and collect their name, age, address, etc.; no doubt for future recruitment.

Summerfest representative Dan Minahan barks that the festival is a place to “forget about the war” where one can “enjoy real high entertainment value.”  War is NOT a game, and this exhibit needs to be shut down immediately.

From California to Connecticut, a stand for peace

More Iraq Moratorium #10 reports.  Meg Oldman of Point Arena CA checks in:

Friday, June 20, 2008  was a warm, sunny day; the best kind for protest.  

I represented Iraq Moratorium, and Women in Black by myself, this time.  A good number of people stopped and talked with me about the war, elections coming up later in the fall, and the economy. Drivers going by(more than usual due to being the first day of Summer) honked, whistled and raised their fists high in solidarity.

Overall, I feel that one person DOES make a difference, as witnessed above.  I am excited to sense the populace taking a deep breath and preparing to change the paradigm from one of fear and apathy, to one of focus and and unity.  I am fulfilling my role to facilitate standing together, all over the world, one the same day, at the same time.

From Lutz, Florida:

MD#10--Lutz, FL--vet

The Veterans For Peace contingent was led by retired USAF Maj. Debra Hedding, who controlled combat aircraft over Laos and Cambodia during Vietnam and served as a Public Affairs Officer under Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf during Operation Desert Storm. (She is also a Political Action Coordinator for MoveOn.org’s Tampa Council.) My own father, Commander U.S.N. (Ret.) John W. Palm wore his “USS Yorktown CV-5” hat–as communications watch officer aboard the carrier USS Yorktown on December 7, 1941, he relayed the devastating news of Pearl Harbor to the ship’s crew.

From Cornwall, Connecticut:

In addition to attending the Iraq Moratorium observation in Cornwall, CT, I wore two buttons all day–the big white-on-black Iraq Moratorium pin and one that has two soldiers comforting on another and says “Support the Troops. Bring Them Home Now,” and got in one or two brief discussions as a result.

I woke up on Saturday and put them on again and headed for a lovely outdoor wedding.

Right before the ceremony, the grandfather of the bride, a tall lean Jewish gent in his 90s who is not too mobile, spotted the Iraq Moratorium pin as I walked past the front row of chairs. “What’s that about?” he asked. When I explained, he propelled himself to his feet and thanked me, grabbing my hand and shaking it vigorously.

I resolved on the spot to wear an anti-war button every time I go out until the next Moratorium and have put a couple hanging on a cloth strip by my front door to remind me.

Every month the Moratorium learns about other events across the country that have never been listed on the national website, which had 110 events posted for June.  The latest to surface is in Silverton, Oregon:

The Silverton People for Peace have been holding monthly vigils since the invasion. These were on the third Mondays, but we switched to Third Fridays last winter to be part of the Iraq Moratorium. Our turnout varies from several people to dozens depending on schedules, weather and other factors. But we ALWAYS have someone on the side of the street. The vigil is at 6 p.m. at Town Square Park on West Main Street, Silverton,OR. The Silverton group is affiliated with the Oregon Fellowship of Reconciliation.

So it goes, and so it grows. More reports here.

It’s only three weeks until the next Moratorium observance, on July 18.  Do something.

Moratorium Day vignettes: Shoveling with a teaspoon

Every month’s Iraq Moratorium action in Milwaukee seems to have a special moment. In May it was a thumbs-up from a passing Army recruiter. This month, it was when a woman stopped to tell a leafleter handing out information about the Moratorium that her son is in Iraq. So tearful and emotional she had difficulty speaking, she said he was on his second tour there as a National Guardsman. “Thank you for what you’re doing,” she said. “I just want him home.”

MD#10--Cornwall, CT--combo

Cornwall, Connecticut held its first outdoor vigil and reported an “overwhelmingly positive response from people driving by, with at least one local resident, Suzanne, who hadn’t heard about the doings on the Green in advance pulling her car over and jumping aboard for the rest of the vigil.”  Maybe it was the horn trio (two trombones and a sax) that got her attention. (Photo above.)

Once again, Washington, DC SDS and a mass of young activists hit the pavement in a “Funk the War 4” action. A major destination for the raucous street action with mobile musical backing was a military Recruiting Center.

You’ll find more reports, still coming in from around the country after Friday’s action, at the Moratorium website.

Does it all matter?

The NY Times asked Pete Seeger, who stands with his banjo, a sign and a small group of antiwar protesters every Saturday in the Hudson Valley:

Asked whether he thought that protesting by the side of the road would help end the war, he said: “I don’t think that big things are as effective as people think they are. The last time there was an antiwar demonstration in New York City I said, ‘Why not have a hundred little ones?’ ”

He said that working for peace was like adding sand to a basket on one side of a large scale, trying to tip it one way despite enormous weight on the opposite side.

“Some of us try to add more sand by teaspoons,” he explained. “It’s leaking out as fast as it goes in and they’re all laughing at us. But we’re still getting people with teaspoons. I get letters from people saying, ‘I’m still on the teaspoon brigade.’ “

Paging Deb from Wausau; are you out there?

This report from Judy Miner of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice (WNPJ):

WNPJ and People for Peace in Waupaca promoted the Iraq Moratorium at their PANCAKES for PEACE breakfast June 20 in Custer, WI. Black Iraq Moratorium ribbons were handed out to 350 exhibitors and visitors to the largest Renewable Energy Fair in the country, as they came through the pancake line and visited the WNPJ table in the exhibition hall. That's Louise Pease of People for Peace in Waupaca  pictured, greeting people and offering Iraq Moratorium ribbons at the pancake breakfast.

Deb from Wausau had never heard of the Iraq Moratorium – and was thrilled to put on her black ribbon – asking then for 10 extra ribbons and information sheets about the Moratorium to take back to her workplace in Wausau. [Note to Deb: If you read this, please email bill@iraqmoratorium.org your contact information so we can help with your efforts.]

So many of the 20,000 participants at the MREA Fair understand the message that “War is NOT the Answer” and that “The Answer….is Blowing in the Wind”….and how the use of clean, renewable solar and wind energy promotes peace by ending wars for oil. And they are taking this path to peace, putting up their own wind turbines – solar panels – living off the grid – insulating – conserving……

The first dozen reports from last Friday's actions, including some from Milwaukee and Hayward, are now on the Iraq Moratorium website. Some are inspirational.  Check it out.  

Happy Moratorium Day! Another $162-billion for war

Another cave-in by Congressional Democrats.  Another deal to keep the war going, in exchange for a few crumbs.

Today is Iraq Moratorium day.  Do something to let them know what you think.

It’s true that 151 Democrats voted against the war funding.  So, if you want to thank them, go ahead — but don’t thank them too much, David Swanson  says.  Here’s the roll call.

“Not a single one of them did a damned thing more than vote no,” Swanson (left), of Democrats.com, ImpeachCheney.org and , AfterDowningStreet.org said in a Milwaukee appearance Thursday night.  They didn’t issue public statements to the media, write their colleagues, or do anything to press to defeat the bill.  “They voted no, knowing it would pass.”

That’s not why Americans elected a new Congressional majority in 2006, Swanson said.  We elected them to end the war in Iraq.  Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Dems like David Obey are happy to have negotiated a bill that the Republicans would vote for and pass. “They are hiding behind the troops,” Swanson said, when a majority of Americans in a Democrats.com poll said they would stop funding the war and bring the troops home within six months.

Democrats say we have to keep funding the occupation because it’s dangerous “to do what the majority wants” in an election year, Swanson said. They want us to elect them again so that they can do what they didn’t do last time we elected them.  But by spring, it will be only 18 months until the next election, so it will be dangerous again to vote to end the war, he said.

The fact that the House also voted for money for new veterans benefits, for unemployment benefits, and for flood relief is no consolation for funding the war.

Who wouldn’t support those items if they came up as separate bills, Swanson asked.

Instead, the veterans benefits are attached as an amendment to a bill that will result in many more deaths, physical and psychological injuries to American troops and Iraqis, and damage the US economy.  

The longest day: Make it count

This Friday, June 20th, marks the Summer Solstice, the longest day in the year.

Unfortunately, it will be just one more grueling day in what is already the third longest war in US history.

June 20th is also the tenth monthly observance of the Iraq Moratorium, held on the Third Friday of each and every month until this horrific war is over.

“It’s got to stop! We’ve got to stop it!” has been the watchword of the Iraq Moratorium from Day One. The majority of this country’s people want this war over, pronto. But the politicians keep hedging, media coverage keeps shrinking, and US troops and Iraq men, women and children keep dying.

It really will take all of us, acting together, to force an end to the tragedy. On Friday, please break your daily routine and take some step to end the war. You can act with others-there are around 100 scheduled events taking place from coast to coast listed for Moratorium Day #10 at the Iraq Moratorium website website. You can act on your own – there’s a list of things you might want to do linked from the home page as well. Or use your imagination, but do something.

A ‘get out of jail free card’ for lame ducks?

I've been skeptical of the calls to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney, fearful that acting this late in their terms will create a circus that overshadows the question of who will succeed them in January.

David Swanson, of Democrats.com, ImpeachCheney.org, and AfterDowningStreet.org, will surely disagree when he speaks in Milwaukee Thursday, sponsored by Iraq Moratorium and others. His topic is, "Peace, Impeachment and Election Day: Which Comes First." Swanson's own writings make a strong case for impeachment.

Dennis Kucinich, who read his 35 articles of impeachment against Bush into the record on C-Span the other night, clearly thinks there are more than enough grounds to impeach.

But the person who may convince me that it's time to act is a conservative Bush backer, a Marquette University professor and blogger named John McAdams.

McAdams lives in fear that a Barack Obama administration might prosecute Bush or others for crimes they may have committed while in office, based on this statement from Obama:

What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.

You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law — and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.

That seems pretty straightforward. If someone "knowingly, consciously broke existing laws" they should be prosecuted. You'd think a law and order Republican would have no trouble with that concept.  

Another chance Friday to speak up against the war

They’ll be flipping pancakes for peace Friday at the Midwest Renewable Energy Expo in Wisconsin.

They’ll hold a teach-in on torture on the train to San Jose, where a picket and vigil will target a Boeing subsidiary accused of providing logistics for those “extraordinary rendition” flights.

Church bells will ring in Massachusetts. Activists will leaflet commuters in San Francisco Bay area, Brooklyn, and Takoma Park MD. Street corner vigils are planned in dozens of communities across the country, large and small.

It’s all part of the Iraq Moratorium , a monthly event that asks people to break their daily routines and do something to show that they want to Iraq war and occupation to end.

Nearly 100 events in 82 communities are listed on the Moratorium website, bringing the total to more than 1000 since the Moratorium began last September.

The Iraq Moratorium does not believe that one size fits all.  It asks people to act, but in whatever way they choose.

The whole idea is to do something — anything — to show your opposition to the war, whether it’s wearing an armband or writing your members of Congress or donating to a peace group working to end the war and occupation.  All it takes to have an action is two people and a sign.  

Friday’s the day.  Please do something.

Peace activists, common sense win a round

Common sense has prevailed, at least momentarily, in Madison, Wisconsin’s municipal court.

Trespassing charges were dropped today against three peace activists who had entered an Army recruiting station to discuss the Iraq war with recruiters.

The Army apparently decided to cut its public relations losses.  When the officer who was to testify on the Army’s behalf failed to show up (was AWOL, in other words), the judge dismissed the charges against the trio.

They were arrested on March 19, the fifth anniversary of the war.  Bonnie Block, David Nordstrom, and Joy First  went in to talk to recruiters while other activists outside the recruiting station were reading names of the war dead.  They were arrested and charged with trespassing, which carried a $424 fine.

They were to appear Monday before Judge Dan Koval in Madison Municipal Court on the charge, which carried a possible $424 fine.  

The activists said they were ready to argue that a recruiting station is a government office and therefore public property paid for by taxpayers.  As their press release put it:

The activists were engaging the recruiters in a dialogue that made the recruiters very uncomfortable, but the activists were not disruptive and they planned to argue that they had every right to be there.

Nordstrom noted, “In the 5 years of American occupation, about 1 million Iraqi men, women, and children have died. That’s a death rate of about 1 per 25 people. Much of the country’s infrastructure is destroyed. The occupation has spawned an armed resistance which has attracted foreign fighters from several countries.”

Block used the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to justify her actions, stating, “I am a dissenter and claim that right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 states: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression: this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’ Even if that frontier is a military recruiter’s office.”

First said that they will return to the military recruiting station in the future, explaining, “As long as we have a war criminal in the White House, it is the responsibility of concerned citizens to speak out in resistance as our government breaks the law. We must continue to take action to try to do everything we can to stop the unbelievable carnage and suffering that is taking place in Iraq – that we feel deeply compelled to follow our conscience in this matter.”

The action was organized by Madison Pledge of Resistance, a member group of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance.

From Across the Pond – Step forward George Bush

Keep your eyes and ears peaked for this coming week, when the whittle prince makes the rounds of his final goodbyes to Old Europe, many, my guess would be, will not enthused with welcoming his horror, whoops sorry, his honor.

Coming to Cleveland? Let’s try to connect

Are you coming to Cleveland June 27-28 for the National Assembly of antiwar activists, to talk strategy to end this senseless slaughter?

It looks like a lot of people are.  There are 482 endorsers of the session,including many of the nation’s most active peace groups.

The Iraq Moratorium, with which I’m affiliated, will have a number of people there to take part in the discussions, present a workshop, and, we hope, make some personal connections with people from around the country who participate in the monthly Iraq Moratorium or would like to know more about it.

If that describes you, we’d like to hear from you in advance so we can look you up in Cleveland or plan to get together while we’re there.

Iraq Moratorium #10 is on Friday, June 20, and already some 55 events are listed, with more being added every day for the next two weeks.  Check the listings for one near you, or add your own if it’s not already listed.  

There have already been more than 1,000 actions under the Moratorium umbrella, ranging from street corner vigils to direct action against warmakers.

That’s one of the unique things about the Moratorium.  It’s not “one size fits all.”  People and groups are free to do their own thing.  All the Moratorium asks is that they all do it on the Third Friday of every month, so coordinated action can have a bigger impact.

The focus in Cleveland is likely to be on building big national or regional protests, and we need to do that.

But the Moratorium, mobilizing people every month, can help to build the kind of network that will turn people out for bigger actions later.  The Moratorium’s goal is to get many more of the vast majority of Americans who oppose the war to act — to get the silent majority to speak up.

But I digress.

If you’re going to be in Cleveland and would like to get together with some of the national core group working on the Moratorium, please e-mail us and let us know.

In the meantime, do something on June 20 to end the war and occupation.  

What have YOU done lately to stop the war?

This may sound a tad familiar if you’re a regular here, but for once it’s not me saying it.  

This article by Julie Byrnes Enslow, director of Peace Action-Wisconsin, is featured on the front page of the June issue of The Mobilizer, Peace Action-Wisconsin's newsletter.

Iraq Moratorium – Friday, June 20

What Have YOU Done Lately to Stop the War?

By Julie Byrnes Enslow

Sometimes we need a good push to get off our duffs and act. The Iraq Moratorium Day on the third Friday of each month gives us the challenge and the opportunity to take creative actions to end the US occupation in Iraq.

Friday, June 20, will be the tenth Iraq Moratorium. What are YOU going to do? People in small towns and cities across the country are taking action together every third Friday. For many it may be an individual act such as a call to their Congressperson, wearing a black armband or peace button to work, writing a letter to the editor of their local paper, flying a peace flag or talking to a neighbor about the war. Others organize a small group of people to act together – a vigil on a street corner, a visit to their Congressperson's office, a prayer service for peace in their church, synagogue or mosque.

In one town the church bells toll for peace each Moratorium Day. In another, women in black sit in folding chairs outside their Congressperson's office for the day with signs and leaflet people going by. Other folks vigil outside military recruitment centers. High school students have joined the Iraq Moratorium by giving out black armbands at school or staging die-ins near the cafeteria at lunchtime.

Wisconsin is a leader in national moratorium events, exceeded only by California. In May, over 12 towns and cities had officially organized vigils, walks, prayer services and events, from Hayward and Woodruff in the far north to Dodgeville and Viroqua in the southwest. The little town of Hayward continues month after month to have the biggest turnout per capita in the United States. They routinely turn out 70-80 people in a town of 2,100. If every town and city in the US matched Hayward's performance, more than 12 million people would be in the streets protesting the war each month!

People in the Milwaukee area can join the Iraq Moratorium Vigil at 5pm on the corner of Water and Wisconsin, the city's busiest central intersection. For people in other areas of the state, check out the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice website for a listing of events at www.wnpj.org. (And if you don’t live in Wisconsin, look here. )

If you have been participating in the Moratorium, let me challenge you to do one additional thing on June 20. If you have never taken an action on a third Friday this is your chance to join with people in your community and around the country on that day. Start a vigil in your own town. Be creative – be bold.

Silence will not stop the occupation of Iraq.

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