Monday, May 07, 2007

NYT: Rubin forgets to note 3 of 11 US troops who died

A series of particularly deadly attacks across Iraq on Sunday took the lives of more than 50 Iraqis, and the American military said eight soldiers and a journalist were killed. In addition, 25 bodies were found across Baghdad.

The above is from Alissa J. Rubin's "Market Attack Tops a Deadly Day in Iraq" in this morning's New York Times and for the paper, it's rather amazing that they're only two off on what Reutuers reported yesterday (number of Iraqis who died or were found dead). Possibly we should also be grateful that Rubin can note 8 announced deaths of US service members? No. The US military announced those deaths on Sunday and they also announced the deaths of other 3 others -- two that died on Saturday, one that died on Friday. Yes, 8 died on Sunday but 11 deaths were announced.

I'm not in the mood for Rubin this morning. I'm on the phone yelling at someone that their (adult) child has no excuse to stay silent on the issue of war resistance considering that they went to Canada during Vietnam.

Not everyone stays silent. Ron Jacobs' "Sitting In On Senator Kohl and the War-A Conversation With Antiwar Students" (ZNet) takes a look at students who are using their voices and owning their power:

On April 18, 2007, a protest against the war in Iraq at the University of Wisconsin campus in Madison turned into an overnight occupation of Senator Herb Kohl's office by approximately 100 citizens. Kohl is one of several Democratic Senators who claims he opposes the occupation of Iraq yet firmly supports the continued funding of that occupation and war through such mechanisms as the currently contested bill that sets a rather loose deadline for the withdrawal of some US troops from Iraq by March 31, 2008. Kohl's office had been the target of antiwar sit-ins before, but never before had there been as many participants nor had anyone been arrested. As most readers probably know, Kohl is but one of several legislators who have seen sit-ins in their offices because of their refusal to support bills demanding immediate withdrawal of forces form Iraq. The Madison action was unique in that it was organized primarily by antiwar students at the university and will most likely go down in the history of the current antiwar movement as the first large action of its kind.
I had the opportunity to connect with some of the participants/organizers of this action. We had an informed and stimulating exchange. I reprint it here in the hopes that others will be inspired to act similarly, especially in the light of the current attempts by Congress to rewrite the aforementioned legislation so that there are no timetables or deadlines for withdrawal whatsoever, only so-called benchmarks that do nothing but blame the Green Zone government for the occupation's failure to assume control of Iraq and its resources while simultaneously tying non-military aid to the Green Zone government's continuing the transformation of Iraq into another neoliberal colony of Washington. The elected representatives of the people must be made to understand that we want the troops home now. As the students below make clear, only mass protest will bring this home to them.
Ron:Tell me what happened. How did this protest turn into a sit in?
Josh Brielmaier: About 100 of us crammed into Kohl's office to make our demands. Somebody suggested staying the night and by show of hands around forty of us were willing to stay the night.
Chris Dols: The visit to Kohl's became an overnight office occupation when Kohl refused to meet our demand for an in-person meeting. Kohl has never met publicly with antiwar constituents in Madison since the war began. Further, he has supported and funded the war since the beginning.
Zach Heise: The original intention of the protest was for it to be a sit-in. We were informed that Wednesday afternoons were a time when a regular sit-in group was in Kohl's office, so we thought that we would bolster their group and show our support. We had hoped that we wouldn't need to do a sit-in, at least some of us - Campus Antiwar Network's (CAN) reasons for being there were clearly stated and taped within moments of our arrival: we wanted to meet with Kohl, or at the VERY least, arrange with him personally via phone for a time that he could meet with our group. We didn't want any secondhand heresy from aides or notes - we wanted to hear his voice on the phone to arrange a meeting with us, and then we would have, as far as I believe was our intention, left peacefully. That was our mission.
Todd Dennis: Like Zach said, The plan from the start was to go to Herb Kohl's office and make our demands and request a public meeting where we could get Herb Kohl's response to our demands for the troops to come home from Iraq. Following the run-around from his staff, as the folks from The Network have been getting since they have been conducting their sit-ins, we stayed in the office while waiting on when Kohl would come back to speak with his constituents in his home state. The staff told us they would give us a teleconference in the next couple days but wouldn't give us an exact time as they had to work out to find some open time the senator had. After "granting" the conference call, they said okay here you go, will you leave now. Of course since we wanted a public meeting in Wisconsin we said no. As previously understood by those of us who planned the event we staying in the Senators office waiting to hear he would come to Wisconsin for the public meeting. However, overnight upon the realization that we meant business we were given several demands and when they told us we couldn't make anymore demands and also made it clear that we would get neither the conference call nor the public meeting we took back the entire office from the 10 X 20 part we were corralled in overnight. Following our taking over fo the entire office, the police were called and we had to leave the building.

[. . .]
Ron: In terms of the protest movement against the war, do you think it has been effective? If so, how? If not, why?
Bernadette: Yes, I think we’ve been effective. Movements don’t happen over night. They take a while to grow and the campus anti war network is doing just that. The walkout demonstrated the power of numbers standing up in community. It offered hope for people that change is possible, if not over night.
Chris: Our goal is to build a movement that can stop the war. We haven't done that yet, obviously. But we have expanded the core of organizers significantly. (four months ago our CAN meetings were attended by 4 of us. Today it's over 20 regularly) Further, activists are learning from experience. The struggle itself is our greatest class room. The classes are getting bigger and the discussions are ahead, politically, of where they were several years ago. For example, racism against Arabs and Muslims is discussed as regularly as "What would happen if the US left Iraq today?" and the America's broader goals in the Middle East, etc. These discussions are not only welcomed in the movement, but necessary for our growth. Our goal - and we've begun to achieve this - is to make antiwar activism more educational and fulfilling than school. Given the misery of schoolwork and the terrible job market for graduates, we're operating on fertile ground.
Todd: A large part of the current antiwar movement are Democrats. This fact makes the numbers in the movement fluctuate as they work to get Democrats elected instead of focusing on ending the occupation. The movement however has been growing rapidly both here in Madison and nationally. We had a handful of members in CAN last semester but the lack of support for prowar Democrats has led to an increase in our membership and we have found a number of dedicated people to help us out. Another positive indication that the movement is growing is IVAW getting about 10 new member applications per week in its office, along with our first chapter on an active duty military base.
Zach: I think that the more press coverage that we can get showing us involved in peaceful, organized, well-coordinated action, the more effective we'll be able to be. Unfortunately, we're still very small. After watching the well-known documentary The War At Home, I have been fighting as hard as I can to get people interested in joining the antiwar movement. When we have 6000 people flooding the streets of Madison, sitting on the steps of the capitol building, then we can truly be effective. However, I do think that currently, we aren't being noticed enough by those in power to be truly effective. As mentioned though; our classmates and friends are taking notice of our actions, and, like Chris said, the size of CAN has quintupled in number. They started with 4 before I joined in January, and I'm proud to be with them.

Actions like that take place around the country. They frequently receive little to no attention. The lack of press attention doesn't excuse gas bags (who often decry media silences in other instances) for putting forward the falsehood that students today are apathetic. Students are active and they have been active. If a gas bag desk jockey doesn't know that, it just goes to how little they know the world beyond their desks.

In an e-mail this morning, Bonnie reminds me to note what went up this weekend for those who only have computer access during the (regular) work week: Ruth's Report went up Sunday, Kat's "Kat's Korner: Patti from the Mount" went up late Saturday and Isaiah for "The World Today Just Nuts 'Bully Mama'" went up Sunday.