Thursday, July 05, 2007

And the war drags on . . .

The other day I came out of my short retirement due to yet another Bush flagrant abuse of power. We decided that we would walk from Atlanta to DC to gather a people's movement for humanity. The longer BushCo are in office the less chance we have of recovering the heart and soul of our nation, saving our soldiers and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, and saving the planet from corporate and individual waste and pollution. Impeachment, removal from office, and in a perfect world: incarceration for the criminals against humanity, are urgent and necessary steps that need to be taken today.
Since the announcement of the Walk, circumstances have changed. Rev. Lennox Yearwood is not going to have his hearing for Conduct Unbecoming until the end of August, and we were going to begin our walk after his hearing on July 12th in Macon, GA. So consequently, we are going to begin our Journey on July 10th in Crawford, Texas.
Our Journey will take us through places such as Ft. Benning, GA, and New Orleans where Bush Crimes have had such a deeply detrimental affect on people. Torture and the continued criminal lack of help for the people of the Gulf States are two of BushCo’s more heinous crimes.
Our Journey will also take us to House Judiciary committee members' offices where we will sit-in and demand that they institute Articles of Impeachment against Bush and Cheney immediately. On July 23rd, we will be in Congressman John Conyers' office to encourage him to take the lead on impeachment. A sit-in in his office is possible and likely.
The US part of our Journey will end in New York City where on July 27th we will stage a demonstration in front of the UN to highlight the refugee crisis in the Middle East caused by the Bush High Crime Cabal. There are millions of people displaced by the atrocity in Iraq and, no matter what former US Ambassador and leading neo-con war criminal, John Bolton says: the US does owe the people of Iraq more than we can ever repay. The very least we owe them, though, is a relatively safe country to live in and basic human rights like: homes, food, clean water and medical care.
On July 29th, we will be re-creating the Summer of Love and hold a "Gather-in of Hearts" in Central Park with leading activists and musical entertainment. Proceeds will go to Iraqi Refugees and for medical supplies for Iraqi hospitals.

[. . .]
Our route and flyer for the "Gather-in of Hearts" is posted at Camp Casey Peace Institute. Donations can also be made there. Visit our MySpace page and be our friend!

Melissa noted the above. It's from Cindy Sheehan's "Summer of Love ‘07: On a Journey for Humanity" (Common Dreams) and it's more than fair use allowed but it's hard to note the above otherwise. (It should also be noted that we do not link to MySpace and have made that exception only for Sheehan.) (MySpace is a Murdoch property.) Melissa's highlight actually moves nicely to the gina & krista round-robin. Be sure to check out that out in your inboxes tomorrow.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 3571. Tonight? 3591 with 13 for the month of July thus far. Their number for Iraqis killed so far this month? 160.

There was so much e-mail from members (males as well females) who were of age during Vietnam saying the issue touched on at the end of the snapshot needed to be addressed more that it's going to be the entry tonight. I'm still worn out from the feature that went up Wednesday, so I'll gladly grab the topic (and I'm also supposed to speak on it -- actually on the obstacles present today -- tomorrow so I'll use this as a rehearsal to figure out what the main points are and boil them down to five minutes).

The draft. How much did it effect the country turning against the illegal war? A great deal. Which is why the draft was ended. (Registration was brought back under Jimmy Carter. In 1980, Ronald Reagan campaigned on ending registration. Then he got into the White House.)
We usually refer to what happens today as "the poverty draft." Most of us have used the phrase (I know I have) but the reality is the draft during Vietnam was always the poverty draft. If you had money, you could go to college and get a deferment.

You could sit out four years of draft eligiblity or, if you went beyond your bachelors, even more.
College kept Dick Cheney's number low and avoiding being called out to serve in the illegal war (Cheney doesn't have the guts to resist, he would have served or shot himself in the foot to avoid serving).

As noted, women, despite the lies in the Los Angeles Times, were not draft eligible. They were not galvanized to protest the war because they might be drafted or because they had to have a physical for the military. Did the writer not know that? I'm sure he knew it. It was a case of one more male blow hard trying to sell a (limited) male experience off as everyone's experience.
A visitor e-mailed saying he wasn't disagreeing with me about the draft but what about women in college whose brothers would be drafted because they wouldn't go to college?

The visitor may be thinking of scholarships won by working class and poverty females. In which case, yes, they had that concern. However, the bulk of college students (male or female) were from middle class and upper class homes. And, most importantly, back in the day, if you could only see one child to college (as might be the case for some working class families), sending the female wasn't the norm. Women were still largely expected to marry. (And some were sent to college for no other reason.) Sons, not daughters, were sent when money was tight.

That generation of young people reshaped the world. It's why the right-wing hates the '60s' so much.

If you were a male in college who flunked out, you were then eligible for the draft so that could happen. But "I'm about to be drafted!" wasn't a cry you heard on most campuses from male students. Go to law school or work on your masters or doctorate and you had more years to gather those deferments. If you define a successful marriage by whether or not it lasts until the death of one spouse, or both if they die together (I don't define it that way), it would be interesting to have the data on deferments from children born at the end of or quickly after the college career of a male during Vietnam. (Such as, again, Dick Cheney. Whose marriage is still going.)

There were groups that worked with the working class and the poor, SDS was one such group, but for the bulk of college actions going on during Vietnam, you were dealing with a middle class and upper class population that, if they were male, really weren't in danger of being drafted. Now they liked to strut and pose. They'd pull that card out when nothing else was winning their argument and think it might end whatever discussion was going on.

The draft had a big impact on turning the population at large against the illegal war. It was a concern to parents. Less so to upper class parents but even they could worry. Parents from working class and poverty backgrounds had more reason to worry.

The injustice of who got drafted and who didn't certainly did make a difference for all segments of the population (including college students).

Middle school students were active, especially at the end of the illegal war. The males were not in danger of the draft near the end and they would have had to have been extremely forethinking middle school males to have the fear of being drafted themselves be the overriding reason for their actions.

Women were at least half the peace movement (even if, until Bernardine Dohrn, the media annointed leaders were predominately male). They can also be found in some of the most talked about events. Joan Baez, Pauline Baez and Mimi Farina (all sisters for anyone not around during that period) participated in what is still one of the most talked about posters of the era. I believe Jim Marshall took the photograph of the three of them for the poster that read "GIRLS SAY YES to boys who say NO." Some objected to the poster as reinforcing sexist notions. ("This is your reward, fellas!") I don't discount anyone's feelings if they were offended by the poster but, myself, I always found the poster hilarious. They were not making like Playboy centerfolds and I saw it as humor. (I didn't, for instance, think the poster was supposed to read "Call me, guys, and I'll put out if you say no!") Again, I'm not discounting people who were offended by the poster. I can see their point of view but the solemn expressions on Joan and Pauline's faces (I'm remembering Mimi smiling, but I could be wrong) made me see it as a send up/response to the recruiting posters put out by the US government. (What I saw would not necessarily be what others saw and I'm sure some males saw it and thought, "Hot damn! Joan for a night!" Again, I'm not discounting the feelings of feminists who were offended by the poster. But not all feminists were offended.) (It also needs to be noted that the poster came about as many women had reached their breaking point on the notions that being in the movement to end the war meant, as more than a few males at the time expected, enlisting to serve a man. Or, in some cases, to serve men. And at the worst extreme was sexually -- worst because when anyone, regardless of gender, feels it is a duty, sex isn't taking place for the right reason.)

Another visitor wrote in, very angry, about the comments earlier today and noted that he was sure (he wasn't around then) that the draft did effect "all girls going to college" because of the men they were involved with. Girls? Does he think thirteen-year-olds and fourteen-year-olds were storming freshman orientation?

More importantly all women could not have been effected because, hate to shock you, lesbians didn't emerge after Ellen said "Yep, I'm Gay." Lesbians were around in the '60s' and they were around well before the '60s.'

But straight college females involved with males (sleeping with or regularly dating) were, generally speaking, dating or sleeping with someone on campus (student or professor) or someone older. A few might have boyfriends back home (or have started off with boyfriends back home) and they could have been eligible for the draft (regardless of the woman's parent's economic class) but, overall, the norm was to be dating someone on campus or someone older (and beyond draft age). The angry e-mailer wanted to note soldiers. Yes, some did date soldiers but if they were already soldiers then they couldn't, think about it, be drafted. Some also dated vets and they couldn't be drafted after being discharged either.

As I stated earlier, on college campuses, men liked to play the draft card when they were losing an argument. (Or, as Rebecca notes, to get to bed with some woman. Probably to get to bed with some men as well.)

The younger you were, the more likely you were to be drafted (the way the pool worked) and if you could postpone via college (and children and other steps), you probably weren't going to Vietnam. The young people at the most risk of being drafted were men and they were men from working class and poverty backgrounds -- most of whom would not be able to attend college due to the fees (but would be able to after serving due to the benefits). That parenthetical is added because I'm not saying they were less smart or less talented. I am saying that their economic classification (and, many would argue and I would agree, their race) made them more likely to be drafted.

The injustice of the draft, in many forms, was certainly a motivating factor across the age groups population wise. We still have the same injustice with regards to economics. Many are from rural areas, many serving in Iraq today, and saw the GI benefits as a trade off for a future or saw the military as a way to have a chance at a solid future.

For any (visitor or member) trying to test this, make a list of college campus (male) movement leaders during the '60s' and see how many ended up in Vietnam?

The draft is an easy cop out (to use a term of the day). If we had the draft, the thinking goes, this illegal war would be over now!

No, it wouldn't. The fact that the people have turned against the illegal war so quickly (compared to Vietnam, this is quickly) negates the idea that the draft could be an educational tool/factor. Could it motivate more actions by parents? Possibly.

But we've already had one Democrat (since the 2006 elections) advocate a return of the draft and, if for no other reason than that, it's important for those of us who lived through it to speak honestly.

Looking to college campuses, there are many reasons for the level of activity (which has always been higher than anyone's given it credit for in the press).

One reason is things have changed in the way we live our lives. I had my own TV from an early age (as long as I can remember, before I started school, I was -- am -- an insomniac and it was thought that would keep me in my bedroom). I can remember, in school, other kids coming over to watch. TV was, for many, a communal experience originally. (Now we all have our individual TVs.) We were, especially young people, a more active generation in terms of any physical activity. (Though many forms of physical activity were frowned on for females during that period.) In the decades since, we've, as a society, gotten used to our little boxes. (And the fact that adults are working more hours -- and more adults are working -- today means many do just want to go back to that box because they're wiped out.)

The fact that we work longer hours, and more of us work, factors into involvement at all levels (as does the box). College students today (even those of what's seen as the traditional age for college students) are more likely to work in addition to attending classes and more likely to have children. That factors in.

The media factors in. Not in one way, but in many.

You've got the issue of coverage which is, first of all, more limited in what can be reported. Unilateral Western journalists aren't parading through Iraq. Most Western journalists are in the Green Zone and leave only when embedded with the military. They and others who stay are very limited in what they can report. Journalists are not exploring Iraq the way they did Vietnam (Western journalists or otherwise -- and we should note I'm not saying "Cowards!" -- more journalists have died in this war than in covering Vietnam). An incident happens in, for instance, Ramadi. They write up a report and unless they were in Ramadi (as an embed), they are totally dependent upon others. So they give weight to the US military's official statements. (I'm not defending that.) They include a few details a stringer may have told them. That is not what you had in Vietnam.

It's not just that Iraq is physically removed, it's that the reporting is physically removed and coming out of the heavily fortified (but not safe) Green Zone. You did have reporters who covered the briefings during Vietnam, you also had Western reporters who went around Vietnam. (And I am not saying the Vietnam coverage was perfect. I am saying reporters could report on what was going on -- some chose not to -- better when they had mobility.)

Along with the twice removed physical distance of reporting coming out of Iraq, you have the distance created by media in this country by refusing to cover the illegal war. The Nation announced their upcoming issue devoted to Iraq. Long, long overdue.

There are whole issues that never address Iraq. The first mention of Abeer (Ellen Knickmeyer, of the Washington Post, was writing about Abeer in June of 2006) came in April of 2007 (in a column by Alexander Cockburn). The peace movement hasn't been seriously addressed. War resisters of this war have not been seriously addressed unless you're willing to go back beyond 2006. I'm referring to the print edition. That's what people pay for. That's what college libraries stock. And on college libraries, let me drop back to 'back in the day.' You read something in the college library against the illegal war, you left it on the table open. Someone coming along after might read it. Today, if you read one of The Nation's online exclusives, you can't get the word out by leaving the computer on that page. Each student logs in and logs out and there's a time limit at most (if not all campus libraries) so if you leave the page up without logging out, the computer will time out on you automatically.

Students have talked of leaving magazines open this year at many of the colleges we've visited and that's The Progressive, etc. The Nation has not been mentioned in that regard and, among students focused on the illegal war, it has the worst campus reputation.

Early on Clear Channel and Cox saw that censorship would take place. Would it still today? Who knows but the lesson was sent out. (Or the orders were sent out, if you prefer.) So forget about the popular station that can spin the tunes and have a dee jay speaking against the war.

Pacifica? Have they ever sat out a war so much? I'm not remembering this inaction during Vietnam and certainly not since. The undeclared, illegal wars in Latin America prompted programs such as UnderCurrents. The first Gulf War got its own program. We're past the four year mark on this illegal war and Pacifica has still not offered a program devoted to the war.

The Nation's the magazine with the highest circulation which is one reason they're noted here (negatively these days). But I didn't create their image on campuses and I long ago gave up trying to defend it. Students are very angry about that magazine and very insulted with what passes as a student left webpage (StudentNation) -- they're quite aware that's a Democratic cheerleading page (well look at who they partnered with). They're very aware that if their campus paper prints a strong article on the illegal war, it's not getting linked to at StudentNation. The Nation is now the left's last weekly. (If you know of another magazine that's a weekly, feel free to note it. I don't.) As a result, they have more opportunities to cover the illegal war so, when they don't, it is noted by students. It becomes "Another issue where the magazine does nothing."

When I first started speaking on campuses (in Feb. 2003 before the illegal war broke out), I could cite many publications and programs. These days, if I want boos and hisses, I will. I'm not there as the advance team for any publication or program. I'm there to speak with students about the illegal war. Long before we started noting the problems with The Nation here, they were popping up at campuses across the nation. In the early days of noting the problems with the magazine (here), I offered it as a warning with the hope that the magazine would get serious (usually presented by me as a belief that serious was just around the corner). It hasn't. I've been speaking on campuses about Iraq for a month longer than the illegal war has lasted. Every month, at least two weeks. (November 2004 may have been only one week, I'm not sure.) I don't go in and give a prepared speech. I don't go in an monopolize the time. I say my bit, depending upon what's going on at that time (and I always work in war resisters). Then, if anyone's with me, they speak. The bulk of the speaking is done by students attending. I'm more interested in hearing what their take on it is, what the issues about the war that they're focusing on are. I have been to every state repeatedly except Alaska (I still haven't gone to Alaska, maybe I should've booked that Nation cruise!).

(That's no offense to anyone who lives in Alaska. I hate the cold and the time for travel -- both to and within -- is just too long. Although the cold is the primary reason.)

Before we began noting the problems with The Nation here, it was already being called out on campus. It goes to media issues.

Iraq gets picked up and then dropped over and over. There is no leadership on the issue (a once a year editorial is not leadership). Students were looking for leadership in the early period of the illegal war (this is probably the middle period of the war, though it would be nice if it turned out to be the ending period). They gave up on that some time ago (which may not be a bad thing) and are becoming their own leaders.

But by failing to cover the peace movement and activism, they created a huge hole in a generation that did not have the organization skills that were part of the peace movement in the '60s.' Back then, you were not only coming off the Civil Rights movement, you also had movement leaders from earlier movements (including labor). And you could read about them easily as well as encounter them personally. Very few student movements since Vietnam have gotten serious attention. (Students activism in the No Nukes movement is not widely covered, etc.) What is covered? The actions that you see today -- actions for disinvestment. Mass mobilization?

Along with organization skills, modeled behavior is important.

But when The Nation elected to write about 'war resistance' in 2007, what did they write about? A petition. Sign a petition. The student movement in Seattle around Ehren Watada didn't get noted. That is a huge and growing movement that can close ports and will be doing a great deal more. You could feel the energy if you were there during the February court-martial of Ehren Watada. I didn't see anyone from The Nation there. We regularly spoke in the Tacoma and Seattle area during that half-a-week. There was passion and interest and independent media covering that could have sparked it elsewhere.

That is what happened throughout Vietnam. A campus did what? Why aren't we doing that? Can we do more than that?

When independent media doesn't cover the illegal war like it matters, it sends a message. (The message these days results not in apathy on the part of students, it results in them turning away from independent media.)

The start and stop coverage is one of the biggest obstacles to this day. But students are becoming their own leaders. (Have been becoming.) And the most covered 'activism' that involves people being out and about remains those nonsense bits by Silent vigils?
We've had enough silence over the last four years and counting. "Light a candle and march silently. Don't call the illegal war out." And then some want to wonder why students aren't doing more? (Without ever giving them credit for what they are doing!) All the support for's meaningless actions (and they are meaningless in terms of activism, it's a memorial, not a demonstration) sends a message.

Students are ticked off now. They're no longer taking their cues from independent media (and haven't been for some time). The Nation is the best known publication. It's not the only one failing. But week after week, it has refused to cover Watada (in print -- a sidebar on Watada after he's called a coward in the main article is not covering Watada), they've refused to write about the US military going into Canada (when Salon's article went up, I thought for sure Democracy Now! would invite the author on, they didn't -- again, it's not just The Nation -- though, in fairness, Goodman has interviewed war resisters -- it should also be noted that
Iraq Veterans Against the War could have used attention to their bus tour via an interview, one may come tomorrow, as it winds down, or after, but it could have used the attention while it was going on). And it's long been noted on campuses, if you're a student working on a campaign for a political candidate you stand a better chance of being covered than any student working to end the illegal war.

Those are the realities and they are realities about many in independent media. If it's a surprise to anyone in independent media, try getting out more.

At this point, the main issue is modeled behaviors, organization skills and leadership. Students are no longer waiting for independent media to provide any of that. They grew impatient, as anyone did those of us no longer young America should be able to remember our impatience, and as much as Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A'Changing" continues to be quoted today, you'd think the older adults could grasp it (and grasp that they have gone from the ones who wished those not lending a hand would get out of the way to becoming the ones very much in the way). That's become the reality of today.

The draft? An easy cop out that really doesn't address the realities of what's going on in the ground in this country today.

The e-mail address for this site is (The Nation didn't e-mail an appeal about the rate hikes in postage. This was noted in the original opening which included six paragraphs after the Sheehan excerpt. Had they sent one, it would have been noted. That may be noted elsewhere in what remains, I'm too tired to go back over it.)