Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Street heat: nationwide antiwar actions this coming Saturday, Oct. 27

The United for Peace and Justice (UPJ) coalition is sponsoring antiwar events on Saturday, Oct. 27, including "regional demonstrations" in Boston, Chicago, Jonesborough, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and Seattle. They are calling it a National Mobilization to End the War in Iraq. Check out their Web site for more details. They plan other "solidarity events", as well.

This is a video by Robert Greenwald promoting the UPJ action:

Tom Hayden endorses the UPJ action in Neocons Surge Against Antiwar Movement 10/22/07. Hayden is scheduled as a featured speaker in San Francisco. His article is particularly interesting in that he looks at the focused effort right now by the prowar crowd to demonize and marginalize groups and individuals prominently identified with opposition to the Iraq War.

Hayden is still a living horror to the culture war crowd. Not only was he a very visible national leader of the student movement in the 1960s. He was a defendant in the Chicago 8 show trial staged after the police riot in Chicago around the 1968 Democratic National Convention that became an iconic moment to the law-and-order conservatives. (Iconic and ironic, because the demonstrators that the culture war crowd loved to hate were protesting against the Democrats at that convention.) And if that weren't enough, he was married for years to (gasp, choke) Jane Fonda!!!

Since he also served as a California state legislator, he has an unusual breadth of experience in politics informed as well by a lifetime of research. So I find his perspective well worth paying attention to, even when I don't agree with him on particular points. He has a book out, Ending the War in Iraq (2007) that, among other things, discusses the role that the antiwar movement has played in shaping public opinion on the Iraq War.

I'll probably post more about his discussion on that point - especially since he agrees with me on the flawed analysis of political scientist John Mueller about antiwar sentiment in the US :):) - but he's particularly good in describing what he calls the "inside/outside" dynamic of public opinion on major issues. Even politicians who tend to opposed the war in Iraq still need continuous pressure from the base on those issues to get them to do the right thing. That's just how representative democracy functions.

That pressure is also called "street heat", though the term shouldn't be restricted to literal marches in the streets. It just means public pressure.

We've seen an excellent example of street heat at work just this week. Prowar partisans have been eagerly trying to discredit because they dared to blaspheme against the sacred person of our Saviour-General David Petraeus. But this week, MoveOn announced that it would encourage grassroots pressure on Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to support Sen. Christopher Dodd's filibuster against the telecom immunity bill. Within hours, both had signed on for the filibuster.

The Dick Cheneys of the world haven't turned our entire government into a Potemkin democracy yet. And public opinion matters. Especially when it generates the right amount of street heat on politicians and elected officials.

For those who follow the sectarian politics around such things, International ANSWER and the "World Can't Wait" group are apparently encouraging parallel events, though they don't seem to be formal participants in the UPJ coalition. UPJ's Web site provides a list of its participating organizations.

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"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."

-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


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