OK, that headline is only true in my dreams.
But on a per capita basis, the equivalent happened on Iraq Moratorium #3 last Friday in Hayward, Wisconsin.
Hayward, a city of 2,129 in northwestern Wisconsin, is better know as the Musky Capital of the World than as a center of antiwar activism.
But 40 people turned out for a vigil to call for an ending the war and bringing our troops home.
If people in Milwaukee turned out in equal numbers, as a percentage of the population, there would have been 12,000 at the downtown rush hour vigil Friday night. Instead, there were perhaps 100 at most.
In New York City, there would have been 160,000 in the streets. In Houston, 42,000. In San Jose, 18,000. And that’s without including any suburban populations.
This inspiring photo, which graces the Iraq Moratorium website, is not from Hayward, but from Sewanee, Tennessee, with a population of 2,335. You can count about 30 people in that small community at last month’s Moratorium. Its turnout is almost on a par with Hayward’s.
Those kinds of successes, in small town America, are what inspire activists in the antiwar movement and help to keep hope alive as the senseless, endless war continues.
They are evidence, on a small scale, that the silent antiwar majority which expresses itself in every public opinion poll, really exists — and that with a lot of effort and a lot of patience it can be activated and mobilized.
Even the Hayward turnout is only on the order of two per cent. At least 60 per cent of Americans say the war was a mistake, and that they want to end the war and bring the troops home.
But two per cent of the people could turn this country around.
If six million people – a mere two per cent of the population — were in the streets on Moratorium Day, the politicians would do more than notice. They would react, because they would be afraid not to.
I’d settle for one per cent.
So what’s the secret to making that happen?
One of the members of Peace North , which organized the Hayward event, said, “We worked very hard one to one to convince people to come out.”
That’s harder to do, of course, in a bigger city. But when you consider how many people already are at least loosely-affiliated members of some organization which opposes the war – ranging from churches to labor to veterans groups to more traditional peace groups – a good base already exists. Many of those organizations, including the biggest peace coalition in the country, United for Peace and Justice, have endorsed the Moratorium.
Collectively, their membership probably doesn’t reach the two per cent level. But if, somehow, they all could miraculously motivate all of their members to do something at the same time, on the same day, it could move the Congress.
How do we make that happen? I wish I knew. People who have been at it far longer than I have been trying to put together the strategy and tactics to end this war.
These musings aren’t meant to offer a solution, but to say that it is not a time to become disheartened, even as the President and the Congress seem unwilling and/or unable to accede to the will of the majority and stop this bloody war. The people are on our side.
Peace North isn’t giving up in Hayward.
The goal there for Iraq Moratorium #4, on December 21, is to turn out 75 people, even though the weather will be colder and the holidays only a few days away. It’s an ambitious goal.
That translates to 22,500 in Milwaukee, and 280,000 in New York City.
Ready to get started?