Disproving Monsters Under the Bed: Why The Peace Movement Won't Stop The Occupation of Iraq
by sallykohn, Tue Nov 13, 2007 at 10:00:28 AM EST
In this great post on the Movement Vision Lab blog, grassroots activist Dan Horowitz Garcia argues that if there is a peace movement (and he doubts it...) it needs to change its tactics. According to Dan, marches don't end wars --- and never have.
Dan Horowitz Garcia says that history repeats itself, and so do movements.
Contrary to many beliefs, the peace movement didn't end the war in Vietnam. Three things ended the war in Vietnam. They were, in order of importance, the Vietnamese, the tanking economy, and the resistance of U.S. soldiers. If I extended this list by 100 more items, I still wouldn't include marches on the U.S. capitol or attempts to raise the Pentagon. It is beyond doubt that popular resistance in the U.S. had success in restricting the scope of the war, but it didn't end it. If public opinion alone could stop a war, then the Iraq occupation would have ended back in November 2004 when public support dropped under 50%. Majority opinion may hold sway in a democracy, but not in the U.S.
Dan also details how marches against WWII in the United States didn't really stop that war, either. So what makes us think they'll stop this one?
Instead, Dan says the anti-war movement has to stop being merely anti-war --- and offer a clear alternative instead. Here, Dan argues for a peace movement that is challenging hegemony and violence much more broadly:
I believe we also have to expand the conversation from Iraq to the so-called war on terror. This is the elites' latest framework for empire, and we have to challenge it. The "peace movement" (it still doesn't feel right to say that) can learn a lot from organizers fighting the criminal justice system. The parallels between the rhetoric justifying the war on terror and the war on crime are plain to see, if you look at them. In the war on crime, bad people are coming into your neighborhood or even your house to do you harm. (These people just happen to have dark skin.) To keep you safe, we need to be tough on these criminals. We need more cops with more equipment (i.e. guns), and we need places where we can put the bad people far away from the good people. In the war on terror, bad people are coming to your country to do you harm. (These people also happen to have dark skin. Coincidence?) To keep you safe, we need to be tough on these terrorists. We need more troops with more equipment (i.e. big guns), and we need to kill the bad people in places far away from the good people.
In a comment on the blog, another community organizer Gabe Gonzalez talks about how his daughter is convinced there are monsters under the bed. So he has to spend his energy convincing her otherwise. In other words, even if progressives were to take up the agenda that the "war on terror" and its ever-present threats are false, why should we have to convince the public? Shoudn't we be forcing the Right wing hawk fear mongerers to prove their point?
Otherwise, we're in the position of proving that the invisible threat doesn't exist. Which is sort of like disproving monsters under the bed.
We should be fighting the "war on terror" by making THEM defend it!
Sally Kohn is the Director of the Movement Vision Lab.