An Open Letter to MoveOn.org

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As one of MoveOn’s 3.2 million members and a participant of some years’ standing in MoveOn vigils, living room events, online activities, etc., I opened yesterday’s MoveOn email from Nita Chaudhary with considerable interest. It was entitled, simply, “Iraq.”

My interest quickly turned to shock and then anger.

Your letter does a grave, grave disservice to the anti-war movement in this country. And it does so just when the movement, already fatigued after six years of protest, is facing a whole new set of challenges and not having an easy time adjusting.

One big problem with your letter is that it treats a Presidential promise to have all troops out of Iraq by the beginning of 2012 (almost three years from now) as a clear sign that the war is all but over, even though not a single soldier has been withdrawn yet and the killing and dying continue apace. Accompanied by a slide show of images of anti-war protest, it is valedictory in tone:

We wanted to take a moment to reflect on the work that you’ve done over the last six, dark years–trying first to prevent the war before it happened and then working tirelessly to end it–to thank you, sincerely, for all you have done.

This moment is possible because of you, and millions of people like you across our movement.

The email immediately goes on to urge us to contribute to a fund to help injured veterans, as if that was the main thing left to worry about. Yes, there’s a vague cautionary note further in: “Of course our troops aren’t home yet” and a grudging recognition that Congress is right to “raise questions” about the pace of withdrawal.

Which brings me to the other big problem. One reason the troops won’t, in fact, be coming home any time soon is because a lot of them are being shipped to Afghanistan, 17,000 deploying directly. That’s on top of the 34,000 soldiers and Marines already there. And the additional 17,000 look to be only a down payment on an expanded occupation for which no one in the government can identify a strategy. Or goals. Or an exit plan.

And this letter says not one mumbling word about it!

I don’t know enough to speculate on the whys of this all. I simply observe that encouraging your millions of members to act as though the US is no longer is no longer at war, or as though there is no longer a crying need for anti-war protest, is worse than irresponsible.

The anti-war movement will continue, of course, and adjust. There are groups and projects at the national, regional and local levels that will keep up the fight until these unjust and unjustifiable occupations are ended. Just the locally-based, grassroots project I spend most of my time on, the Iraq Moratorium, will sponsor scores of events this month around the sixth anniversary of the war, mostly in rural areas, suburbs and smaller cities.

I am certain that I am not alone in hoping that MoveOn will come around and put its shoulder to the wheel. Soon. There is work to do.

Dennis O’Neil

New York City



Crossposted at DailyKos, and soon, OOIBC.

10 comments

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    • dennis on March 3, 2009 at 10:11 pm
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    you were to send them a cranky note about this too.

    • Viet71 on March 4, 2009 at 12:16 am

    Obama is a coward.

  1. Most of us have been screaming our heads off about war crimes, torture, domestic spying, murder, corporate theft and lies for over five years.

    We’re lucky if there’s a noise about it in the mainstream press. We get the same old “human interest story” level coverage – Jeanne Moos reporting about “those wacky CodePink people!” in a fruity ha-ha voice, or Saturday Night Live making us look like recalcitrant five year olds for 15 seconds.

    Enough bullshit. Enough “Give us more money and time that you don’t really have to give”. Enough marching, enough sign making, enough investing in clothing and pins and bumper stickers.

    ENOUGH! The Peace Lack-of-Movement is a CON JOB! There are conventions to hold and meetings to fly to and web pages to wave hands over and MONEY to make doing all of this! It’s a goddamned busy box and we are kept in thrall to it like a nursery full of infants, pacified by the constant intonation of those who claim we need to do this nonviolently.

    We’ve tried nonviolently.

    It’s not working, is it? IS IT?

    Rove, Cheney and Bush are still walking around scot free.

    We’re supposed to believe that it’s “progress” that the CIA admitted that it DESTROYED EVIDENCE on torture and war crimes.

    Corrupt corporations are STILL getting ridiculous bailouts. Bailouts WE will be made to ultimately pay for.

    Unemployment is through the roof, with no relief or end in sight.

    And Obama just committed 17,000 more troops to the war in Afghanistan – a war which is causing our local streets to flood with heroin.

    Between the drugs and the unemployment, crime is up too, of course. So the fascist police state put in place by the Bush regime is having a field day pretending that it’s still got a reason to exist.

    NONVIOLENTLY ISN’T WORKING.

    Anyone got any other good ideas?

    Because right now, Kumbaya Kids, I’m planning on checking out the price of NATO rounds; to make sure that when the shit DOES hit the fan, and it’s surely looking like it very well might, I can do the job this government apparently stopped doing a long time ago and see to the protection of me and mine.

    • RUKind on March 4, 2009 at 4:35 am

    I get the same e-mail from them. I quick scanned it down to the inevitable “can you donate” and mentally tossed MoveOn into the past. I moved on from MoveOn a long time ago. Then I found blogs and DailyKos. That was a really cool eclectic place for a while. Until this election cycle. Then the place became a political version of American Idol and the Obama ‘droids took over and totally ruined it as Markos ascended into the pundit-sphere.

    MoveOn and DKos have become large fund-gathering machines for progressive causes. The Iraq War was the centerpiece until September of last year. Then the economy cratered. The Uhmerican people shifted focus to their own survival.

    The biggest problem with keeping the Wars and Torture front and center is the astounding lack of visuals over the last six years. Once and only once did the returning coffins slip into the media. You never see on the street footage, dead, dying or wounded Americans or Iraqis. The media has failed utterly to inform us. We have to find our own truth.

    Tell me how when every man and woman over there has a cell phone with a camera that we don’t get footage here. How? Where are the visuals? Iraq is down to an acceptable level of background noise in the Uhmerican consciousness now. Enough so that MoveOn can declare victory and move on to tending the vets because once again the government deliberately chooses to forget them and hide them along with the coffins.

    Like Noam Chomsky says, “We’re all brainwashed.” MoveOn is in the puberty phase and slipping into the mainstream. God Bless the Child. Stay forever young. Do not buy into the bullshit America. It’ll chew you up and shit you out.

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