In the wake of Sept.11, 2001, and the rightward shift in the 2002 elections, few in the Bush inner circle could have predicted that in the bitter winter of 2003, from Miami to Anchorage, millions of Americans would march; lobby; pray; teach-in; hold neighborhood pot luck suppers; display lawn signs; light candles; petition; conduct weekly vigils; research; raise money for TV peace commercials; join demonstrations in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Denver, Pittsburgh and New York; pay for, fill and travel for hours on buses and trains; take out full page newspaper ads; create and maintain scores of new websites; pass city council resolutions and introduce resolutions into state legislatures; discuss, debate and pass resolutions in central labor councils; line up Hollywood stars, artists, former military officers, Nobel prize winning scientists, religious leaders and elected officials to speak out; organize block-wide, campus-wide, city-wide, county-wide and state-wide coalitions and e-mail, fax, phone call and hand write millions of messages to Washington demanding peace, not war with Iraq.

The administration could not have dreamed that some Republican corporate leaders would take out an ad in the Wall Street Journal calling for time to allow the UN inspection process to work. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, yes. But Goldman Sachs, the financial house?

This U.S. peace movement – the arousal, determination, independent energy and creativity of the American people – is a force to be reckoned with. For President Bush to disregard all this and launch a war against Iraq shows a crude corporate mentality at work in this administration. Acting just like their ultra-right CEO cronies, it’s “the public be damned” for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell. How out of the mainstream they are!

To capture all expressions by Americans for peace would require the World to be measured in pounds, not pages. Below is a sampling of recent actions, followed by a list of U.S. cities and towns where residents are marching on their own streets in solidarity with peace-loving peoples in New York and San Francisco and around the world.

The month of February kicked off with 5,000 jamming the streets around the Palo Alto, Calif., City Hall, answering the call of the Peninsula Peace and Justice Center for action. Calling the Bush administration’s unilateral approach “misguided,” a representative of Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) told the crowd that Eshoo stands in solidarity with all those in the streets for peace. A hush came over the assembly in a moment of silence for the seven astronauts killed on the Columbia shuttle.

The same day, Feb. 1, in Aspen, Colo., thousands filled Paepcke Park to “Make Snow, Not War.” The Roaring Fork Peace Coalition gave out all 1,000 peace bibs in the first half an hour as the rally assembled. Elected officials from Aspen, Klanderud, Basalt, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs addressed residents.

According to reports, the coalition is the first to have to raise money for “terrorism insurance,” a new provision for large gatherings under the “Patriot Act.”

In the past two weeks, peace demonstrators confronted President Bush in supposedly “safe” cities like Grand Rapids, Mich., and Nashville, Tenn. In Nashville on Feb. 10, Bush was on his way to address the Religious Broadcasters’ convention, when signs seemed to sprout up from the streets: “No War for Oil” and “Let the Inspectors Work.”

“We’re out here to tell President Bush the people of Nashville do not want war in Iraq,” said Matt Leber of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center. “We want the inspections to work.”
Leber added that with the economy in a nosedive, war against Iraq would only increase poverty in the Capital of Country Music. Speaking on behalf of the protesters, he predicted that war would increase the likelihood of another terrorist attack on the U.S.

Peace was on the minds of labor leaders Feb. 5 when the Harrisburg (Penn.) Region Central Labor Council passed a resolution calling for continuation of the weapons inspection without time limits, supporting UN diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute between the U.S. and Iraq, the use of “our superior technical assets to locate, track and eliminate the relatively small group of terrorists who are the actual threat to our country rather than destroying the entire Iraqi society,” and if Iraq is proven to have weapons of mass destruction, destruction of those weapons alone.

The workers’ elected leaders met hours after Secretary of State Colin Powell made his presentation justifying war to the UN.

Central Pennsylvania union leaders are especially concerned about the state of democracy in the U.S. “Those who would label a citizen unpatriotic when faced with demands for justification and accountability are eroding the essential foundations and greatness of America,” the labor leaders declared. “The Harrisburg Region Central Labor Council stands against those who would use rhetoric and intimidation to avoid a democratic decision regarding war on Iraq.”

The Harrisburg Labor Council is in good company, joining the growing list of labor organizations (currently more than 130) that have acted for peace. That list includes the national organizations of American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Postal Workers Union, Canadian United Auto Workers, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Communication Workers of America (CWA), National Writers Union, Pride at Work, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), United Electrical Workers (UE) and United Farmworkers (UFW). State AFL-CIO Federations of Labor in Hawaii and Washington are on record opposing war with Iraq. At the city or county union federation level, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Cleveland, King (Seattle) lead a list currently at 17.

Regional unions like the Flight Attendants for both Alaska Airlines and United Airlines voted for peace. Two of the planes hijacked Sept. 11, were United Airlines flights.
Teachers, pipefitters, painters, hotel workers, nurses, carpenters, millwrights, machinists, plumbers, longshoremen and hospital workers have marched in the streets behind their union banners.

The drive to halt an Iraq war has united religious denominations across the country. U.S. Catholic bishops went on record opposing war, while Pope John Paul II has been relentless in efforts to stop the war before it starts. The National Council of Churches, an umbrella of Protestant and evangelical congregations, has been on full alert for peace since Bush first announced the “axis of evil” a year ago. The Methodist Church, President Bush’s home church, has been in the front lines opposing the war, in public disagreement with the President. Methodist women, one million strong, are organizing an April demonstration in Washington for peace.

One of the biggest surprises for the Bush administration has to be the 72 (as of 2/10/03) cities and towns in 21 states that have placed peace resolutions on their agendas and passed them. Those actions alone represent 13 million Americans, according to the Institute for Policy Studies. In Hawaii the state House of Representatives resolved to stop the war and the Maine State Senate agrees the Bush administration did not make its case for war.

In California, 13 cities are on record for peace with another 10, including Los Angeles, debating the issue.

Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Cleveland, Detroit, Seattle, Milwaukee and San Francisco are not listings for Bush campaign stops – they are city councils voting for peace. New York City is considering an anti-war resolution.

Fairfax, Alaska, and Key West, Fla.; Charlottesville, Va., and Des Moines, Iowa; Burlington, Vt., and York, Penn.; Austin, Tex., and Jersey City, N.J.; Gary, Ind., and Santa Fe, N. Mex.; Danby, Ithaca, New Paltz, Rochester, Syracuse and Woodstock, N.Y., and Blaine County, Idaho; Kalamazoo, Ferndale, Ann Arbor and Traverse City, Mich., and Cornwall, New Haven and Salisbury, Conn. – these city and town councils are miles apart but share a similar experience. They looked out in their council chambers and saw a sea of residents, considered powerful testimony and listened to their constituents. The city councils voted to stop war on Iraq.

Once the debate gets into the public arena, Americans can be stubborn. On Feb. 15, actions for peace are taking place in at least 67 cities in 30 states. The outpouring in New York and San Francisco is just the first wave of the growing tide of a peace majority in the U.S.

For the International Day of Peace, Savannah, Ga., ‘rocked’; Tampa, Fla., held a “die-in”; grannies, students and other folks lined the streets of Melbourne, Naples, Sarasota and Miami, Fla.; students from Mississippi State University in Starkville marched; there was a rally in front of the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.; residents in St. Louis, Jefferson City, Columbia, Rolla and Cape Girardeau, Mo., showed up for rallies.

The Harrisburg Labor Council is right. The vibrancy and health of democracy depends on the people being able to conduct a debate, express their opinions, respect and listen, demonstrate, discuss, research, ask questions, get the facts and reach a conclusion. The Bush administration is isolated from this mainstream, confused by the public’s dogged questioning and hostile to this democratic process. Millions of Americans want peace and are standing up to the Bush corporate machine, determined to stop his runaway war train.

The author is a Pittsburgh-based reporter for the People’s Weekly World and member of the Wilkinsburg Borough Council. She can be reached at DWinebr696@aol.com

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Call Congress

Contact your Congressional representative urging her or him to support Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill, H. Con. Res. 2, for the repeal of the “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002.” The resolution already has 11 co-sponsors. You can reach the Congressional switchboard by calling (212) 224-3121. To find out who your representative is and to get their email address go to www.house.gov

PDF version of ‘Aroused, determined, mobilized: Americans say no war on Iraq’

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CONTRIBUTOR

Conn Hallinan
Conn Hallinan

Conn Hallinan is a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus. A retired journalism professor, he previously was an editor of People's World when it was a West Coast publication.

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