Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 2, Number 47 January 5 - 11, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
to War!" Is Anyone Listening?
peace activist says today's peace movement is stronger than that before Vietnam
has not clambered onto a bus, headed off to a protest demonstration and stood
amid sparse company in the rain, thinking, "What's the use?" Who has
not listened to some plucky orator rasping through a bullhorn, "Let our
message go forth..." and thought privately, "Forth to whom? Who's
listening? Who cares?"
days, there's a spirited movement growing across the United States opposing a
war against Iraq. There have been some big events, like the rallies in
Washington, D.C., and San Francisco, attended by vast throngs. But there have
also been rallies and vigils by the score in small towns.
they making a difference?
course they are, just like the demonstrations in Europe, the Middle East,
Australia and elsewhere. U.S. ambassadors and CIA heads of station may deprecate
and downplay the world protests in their reports, but they cannot dismiss them,
any more than can the White House. How can you ignore a turnout of 500,000 in
short, protests count, just as they did in the very earliest days of organizing
against the war in Vietnam. This organizing was undertaken by far-left groups,
small Trotskyist and Maoist groups moving far ahead of
did these efforts begin? Back in 1963 and even earlier, half a decade before the
huge throngs began to muster in Washington, D.C. In the past few weeks, many
veterans of these early marches have been pooling their memories. Here's a
recollection to me of one of the earliest, from Lawrence Reichard, who these
days works as an organizer in Stockton, Calif., defending rural workers.
the spring of 1962," Reichard says, "when I was 3 years old, my mother
dragged me to a demonstration against the U.S. war in Laos in Cedar Rapids,
Iowa. There were five people at that demo. My mom, my older brother, me and two
others." Then, "In 1969, I rode in a VW bus from Charlotte, N.C., to
Washington, D.C., for an anti-war demo that drew 500,000. According to Daniel
Ellsberg, that demo made President Nixon reconsider the madman recommendation of
his Joints Chiefs of Staff to nuke Vietnam within a few miles of the Chinese
trip was especially memorable for him, Reichard continues, because he made it
with the family of Norman Morrison, who immolated himself in front of the
Pentagon in protest over the war. Reichard recalls that he read later that
Lyndon B. Johnson's aides cut mention of Morrison's death out of his newspapers
so he wouldn't see it.
the rare occasion that I'm asked to speak at a demo, and the turnout is
low," Reichard concludes, "I speak about the turnout in Cedar Rapids
and the turnout in D.C. years later, as a way to rally the troops and lift
spirits. Imperialism and colonialism are not stopped in a day!" He points
out that "it is also noteworthy that in 1954 or 1955 the American Friends
Service Committee wrote a letter to the Eisenhower administration warning
against U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Needless to say, the anti-war movement of
today is way ahead of the movement that brought out five demonstrators in Cedar
Rapids in the early '60s."
ended thus, "The anti-war movement has much to be proud of. To the absolute
fury of the right wing, the anti-war movement of yesterday and today still, to
this day, shackles this country's ability to wage unfettered war. Right off the
bat, they have to forget about any war that might last more than six months or
cost more than a few hundred U.S. lives. For this, you can thank the peace
movement and the Vietnamese, who, at tremendous cost, beat us militarily. The
entire world owes a tremendous debt to the Vietnamese."
2003 Creators Syndicate
January 9, 2003