After the invasion of Afghanistan and in the run-up to the war in Iraq, a number of national anti-war protests featured a list of additional secondary demands, from farm issues to welfare groups to prison reform to an anti-corporate agenda to freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Some say the anti-war movement’s openness made it better: some issues are connected to others and bring in a diverse group of protesters. Some say the movement’s lack of focus made it worse, with people staying away rather than appear to be supporting claims they found distasteful.
This year, the shoe is on the other foot, with economic progressives organizing a One Nation March on Washington October 2. The march isn’t a laundry list; it issues only three demands:
1. Jobs for Americans, better working conditions and assistance for the jobless
2. More investment in more affordable education
3. Improve consumer protection, bankruptcy standards and the social safety net
There’s a lot that isn’t included within those demands: lgbt equality, the environment and the constitution are off the list. Nothing having to do with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is mentioned, either. If your main focus is on economic progressivism, this is an advantage, giving your protest a laserlike focus and control over message. If you’re part of the peace movement, it’s a sign of how marginal you’ve become.
United for Peace and Justice issued an appeal this week asking everyone on its e-mail list to attend the October 2 March, an appeal with a not-so-subtle subtext:
The last 18 months have been tough for the anti-war/peace movement. Progressive activism has been muffled and the hundreds of thousands we were able to turn out in the past have stayed home. All of that is about to change!
The effort will kick off on October 2nd with a march in Washington, DC demanding that Congress and the Obama Administration adopt a peoples’ agenda for jobs and economic renewal. The mobilization is intended to be the beginning of an ongoing progressive coalition. With the reach, size and political breadth of the organizing partners, the 10.2.10 mobilization has potential to be huge and the continuing efforts very powerful.
The peace and anti-war movements must take advantage of this unique opportunity to work closely with allies to demand “Money for Jobs, Not For War”, and “Jobs, Peace and Justice”. Our work over the past 8 years has set the table for this unprecedented broad coalition to gather and work together.
Our participation in 10.2.10 deepens the antiwar and peace content of the demonstration and ultimately of the coalition that emerges from it. Our signs and voices will make more visible the connections between U.S. militarism, war spending and our nation’s lack of resources to resolve the current economic crisis. This strengthens the message of the mobilization and will help make continued efforts to push for real change successful.
The 10.2.10 mobilization affords us an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.
United for Peace and Justice’s participation in the 10.2.10 march doesn’t so much “deepen the antiwar and peace content of the demonstration”; it creates it. The American peace movement has moved off center stage, now occupying the peripheral hanger-on role previously occupied by Free Mumia activists.