four years of war I'd wager that a few million Americans have
held a candle at a vigil, carried a sign at a rally, passed out
a flyer, forwarded an email to friends, or gone to a demonstration
in a distant city. If you, Dear Reader, are one of these stout
souls, this letter is to you.
may I ask a favor? For the rest of this letter please forget that
at least once during these years of protest you no doubt mourned
that "only the choir" participated. The choir
- people who actually do something for peace - is precisely who
I'm writing to.
it's frustrating that, except for a few grand occasions, "only
the choir" shows up. But consider this: of the millions of
women in the U.S. at the time, relatively few became active suffragists
with the staying power to eventually get votes for women. Of the
millions of workers suffering from the Great Depression, relatively
few answered the call to sit down in the auto factories to win
recognition for unions. Of the millions of blacks bearing the
weight of segregation, relatively few sat down at lunch counters.
day they were "the choir." When they were the only ones
who showed up for vigils and rallies, they no doubt bemoaned that
"only the choir" had come again. They came to action
after action, moving things forward imperceptibly each time. But
when conditions were right, they acted one more time. And then
they made history.
confirm that conditions are right again.
elections clearly proved the public wants to end the war. That
sentiment will surely grow in the months ahead.
likely in March, Congress will vote whether to continue the war
with another US$160,000,000,000 "supplemental appropriation."
the peace movement's choir, of which you are one, will up the
ante of protest. Voices for Creative Nonviolence, joined by Veterans
For Peace, have initiated the Occupation
Project to occupy the hometown offices of Representatives
and Senators who have voted money for the war.
If we miss
this opportunity to greatly hasten peace, the war will still eventually
end. "Eventually," however, will be measured in additional
thousands of lives lost, even more thousands suffering horrific
injuries, and the world becoming more dangerous.
clearly adds up to a historic opportunity.
already done something for peace. Now will you consider taking
a giant step that will mean so much more?
I spoke in Marietta, Ohio to 35 people, and announced the Occupation
Project. I asked who among them would consider occupying their
local congressional offices. Without a moment's hesitation, six
hands went up. You could hear the choir start to harmonize!
about practical concerns: having to work, how much will it cost,
what will the charge be? We talked about taking a vacation day
and the modest fines involved for a misdemeanor - all compared
to the enormous suffering Iraqis and soldiers now endure in this
have talked about how much less frightening this is compared to
the suffragists who were arrested, manhandled, and force-fed while
they served long jail terms; how unionists struck in the face
of company goon squads; how civil rights activists tolerated untold
abuses from screaming racists - and still they carried on. They
persevered. They stepped into the gap when they were needed most.
They won justice and made history.
Party now controls Congress because the grassroots peace movement
turned public opinion against the Bush administration's war. These
new elected officials must see that the time to end this war is
including my own Congressperson, talked for peace - even joined
the "Out of Iraq" Congressional Caucus - but voted for
war. They must now be told in no uncertain terms the jig
is up. We will no longer tolerate platitudes for peace and votes
for blood. This is where we draw the line. They either vote to
end the occupation of Iraq or they will be occupied.
links to roll calls for votes that Rep. Dennis Kucinich listed
as the record of war funding. Check and see how your elected officials
voted. A very few voted against each appropriation, and a call
to their office will confirm if they will continue voting against
the war. Several others have voted against one or two appropriations
but in favor of the rest. These members, and those who consistently
vote money for this war, are our targets.
We will go
to their offices with a pledge for them to sign, confirming they
will not vote for any more death and suffering in this war. If
they do not sign, they will be occupied. A considerably more benign
occupation than they are imposing, but uncomfortable for them
See how your
Representatives and Senators have voted. Talk with other members
of the choir where you live. Get ready to sing a glorious
song to end this war!
House Of Representative Voting Records:
Iraq War Resolution & Iraq War Funding
Roll Calls for Key Congressional Votes on Iraq War
House Joint Resolution 114 Authorizing Use of Military Force
House Vote October 10, 2002: 296-133
Senate Vote October 10, 2002: 77-23
House Joint Resolution 2
House Vote Feb. 13, 2003: 338-83
Senate Vote: Feb. 13, 2003: 76-20
Final House and Senate Vote April 12, 2003: (both voice votes)
House Vote October 31, 2003: 298-121
Senate Vote November 3, 2003: voice vote
House Vote July 22, 2004: 410-12
Senate Vote July 22, 2004: 96-0
House Vote May 5, 2005: 368-58
Senate Vote May 10, 2005: 100-0
House Vote December 19, 2005: 308-106
Senate Vote December 21, 2005: 93-0
House Vote June 13, 2006: 351-67
Senate Vote June 15, 2006: 98-1
House Vote September 26, 2006: 394-22
Senate Vote September 29, 2006: 100-0
Mike Ferner is a freelance
writer and a former member of Toledo City Council. He served as
a Navy Corpsman during Vietnam and is a member of Veterans
His book, Inside the Red Zone: A Veteran For Peace Reports from
Iraq (Praeger), has just been published. You can keep up with
the latest addition to America's burgeoning criminal population
Click here for other articles by Mike Ferner:
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Let Humanity's Mutiny Begin
What It Takes To Defy Authority In A Non-Violent Way
Haditha Is Not An Aberration
Movements: From Antiwar, To Peace, To Democracy
Speaker Of House Not Responsible For War Funding
Seven Arrested At White House Protest Against Iraq War
There Are Lives In The Balance
Getting Jailed For Peace