Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Serious efforts

Zoltan Grossman has a new piece entitled "Speaking Different Languages" (ZNet) and we're linking to it and noting it in the first entry, the first sentence of the first entry, and we don't link to trash. I think it's worth reading, I think it's worth thinking about.

I don't think it is gospel.

It may end up being something we explore at The Third Estate Sunday Review so I'll use that as my out to just make a few comments. (I'm not summarizing it. If you want to read it, read it.)

1) He names someone who doesn't feel he got enough support. I'll agree with that (and defended the person in a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review). But let's be real here, when you piss people off, you don't get a lot of support. When you are seen to publicly sneer at family's losses, you don't get a lot of support. In one speech (posted online), the person's image cratered around the country. Was that fair? In the roundtable, I pointed out the person was in pain, dealing with a lot and finding their way. I stand by that, but I'm not unaware (believe me, I heard the complaints loudly, the first time on a high school campus in Florida) that when you're comments are seen as sneering (and he was saracastic and cracking jokes) about the very real losses of others, families who've lost loved ones in the illegal war, your problems in terms of support go beyond, "They don't support me!"

2) I don't ridicule the 9-11 truth movement. I say, I wasn't there, I don't know what happened. But when you align yourself with them, people are going to step back. That's not "they should."
That is knowing the reality. When you do that and videos of speeches you've given show up online and you're looking like you need a shave about a month ago and you are hopefully speaking passionately but it can be twisted into "He sounds insane!" -- you don't need to blame the peace movement.

3) The peace movement is not the "public relations movement." A lot of people have that confused. They think the peace movement's behind them so that means coverage. When the coverage isn't there, feelings can get hurt. In this instance, staying on the one example, you had the wife of the man taking to mainstream message boards trying to get coverage for her husband. It didn't happen. That's shameful but that has to do with the media, it doesn't have to do with the peace movement. In 2006 (and this year as well), The Nation magazine has refused to cover war resisters in print (if they're feeling generous they toss out an "online exclusive"). The Nation magazine is not the peace movement. They have not been a part of the peace movement. They have not covered the peace movement, they have not provided a roundtable of various people in the peace movement. When the peace movement has been mentioned by the magazine (online exclusives, of course, except for the "HOW DARE CODEPINK BIRDDOG HILLARY CLINTON!" nonsense of 2006), it's been to insult it. Do not confuse The Nation with the peace movement. They are not the peace movement. Matthew Rothschild, with a monthly magazine, has done a better job covering resistance and peace than has The Nation. The MSM has done a better job covering the peace movement and war resisters than has The Nation.

It would be wonderful if that's not the case. But the magazine has made it very clear, they don't give a damn about war resistance. (You only need look at their overly praised, bad article last month to see how they misportray Camilo Mejia to grasp how little they care.) Yeah, they do a firey editorial when everyone else is weighing in -- against the war -- and then they go back to doing nothing. They'd rather cover elections (even in an off year) than cover the illegal war. That's the reality.

It's not pretty. It's not noble. It's nothing to be proud of. But everyone should grasp that.

When Ehren Watada's name finally made it into print (January, 2007 issue), it was as a sidebar after he'd been called a coward in the main article. That's the reality of The Nation.

If you're doing a speaking tour, you need to be aware of that reality and you do not need to confuse the media with the peace movement.

4) Zoltan sees a split between the peace movement and veterans against the war. The split he's speaking of exists in the latter category as well. I've heard about that repeatedly from veterans who are committed to ending the illegal war. Zoltan sees it as happening between veterans and the peace movement -- it's also within those opposed to illegal war within veterans groups.

5) There's also the very real tension over the issue of "Who should be leading?" No one's handed leadership. Nor should they be. From any camp in the resistance to the illegal war. You carve out your role. New groups are emerging constantly and new leaders are emerging constantly. The monolythic nature that the article appears to present in needs further exploration. And it's true (and been noted here many times), this is nothing new. It happened during Vietnam as well and that's why new groups emerge. When they no longer speak to people, new groups will come about.

6) Dropping back to within the veterans opposing the illegal war because I will hear about that in phone calls from friends saying, "You really passed over that topic." They'll call because they are veterans resisting the illegal war and the problems Zoltan sees between them and the peace movement are actually, for them, problems they have with different veterans trying to end the illegal war. The sidelining Zoltan seems to be addressing is an issue within veterans groups where veterans -- in those groups -- feel they are sidelined. So let me be very clear that a very real feeling he is writing of exists not only between some vets and the peace movement but also between some (a lot in fact) vets and veterans organization.

I'm glad Zoltan Grossman has addressed so many issues. I think they need to discussed and not swept under the rug. I recommend his article (and applaud him for writing it) but he's seeing a split between A and B and the reality is there's a whole alphabet split going on.

I don't believe he's attacking anyone. I think he's trying to seriously get the discussion going. That is needed. And you'll note it comes from ZNet (and will probably reappear at CounterPunch). It's not coming from The Nation. They've shown no leadership, only cowardice.

I think everyone can benefit from reading Zoltan's article. Some parts may ring true for you, some parts might not. All parts may ring true for you, or none of them may. But he's addressing it seriously and reading it (and exploring it) will not be a waste of your time. He deserves a lot of credit for raising issues and trying to keep a dialogue going (one that very few have engaged in). I've sketched that out above, that's not "in full" or "end of story." Hopefully, we can address the article in a roundtable at The Third Estate Sunday Review. And hopefully, you'll address it yourself (whether you agree with it or disagree with it -- in part or whole) because it is a serious contribution that needed to be made and he deserves credit for doing so.

The above is not a summary of the article. It's not footnotes or additional points. I've raised the issues I know I will hear about to try to cut down on phone calls because I am on the road speaking and also because I know one group especially (those who are veterans and who have the issues he's writing about but with other veterans trying to end the illegal war) will call if I don't make certain points.

Leila Fadel (McClatchy Newspapers) is making a serious effort to report. Not a lot ever do. (That's our transition.) And this is from her "U.S. military leaders: Iraq security effort hampered by lack of political progress:"

Despite U.S. claims that violence is down in the Iraqi capital, U.S. military officers are offering a bleak picture of Iraq’s future, saying they’ve yet to see any signs of reconciliation between Sunni and Shiite Muslims despite the drop in violence.
Without reconciliation, the military officers say, any decline in violence will be temporary and bloodshed could return to previous levels as soon as the U.S. military cuts back its campaign against insurgent attacks.
That downbeat assessment comes despite a buildup of U.S. troops that began five months ago Wednesday and has seen U.S. casualties reach the highest sustained levels since the United States invaded Iraq nearly four and a half years ago.
Violence remains endemic, with truck bombs on Tuesday claiming as many as 175 lives in northern Iraq and destroying a key bridge near Baghdad, the first successful bridge attack since June.

We'll focus on that and save the waves of Operation Happy Talk meant to lull a nation (and the world) for the snapshot later today. The e-mail address for this site is