By David Swanson
Simple acts and a little courage have worked wonders in the world. Nonviolent people’s movements won democratic reforms in Russia, booted the British out of India, resisted the Nazi occupation in Denmark, drove a dictator out of El Salvador and another out of the Philippines, ended Jim Crow, crushed Soviet power in Poland, toppled military regimes in Argentina and Chile, ended Apartheid, and brought democracy to the Ukraine. George W. is no match for a force this powerful.
As powerless as we may feel in the United States right now, we have at our disposal the tools needed to end the war in Iraq and to impeach the criminals who began it. The impeachment may have to precede the peace, but, in one order or the other, we can achieve these two goals.
There is a multitude of ways in which each of us can alter our daily habits to help make this happen. While there may be a value to picking one or two angles of attack and focusing our collective energies there (and while I will recommend some priorities), it is also worthwhile to pursue the many avenues of resistance to the war machine in which every little bit of pressure will help. Different tactics appeal to different individuals and groups, and it is a multifarious movement that will restore the rule of law to the United States and the world.
Most of the tactics I’ll mention are easy and legal. Some are hard. Some involve civil disobedience.
The war in Iraq is a war fought – among other reasons — for profits of oil and gas companies. Do what you can to avoid buying those products. If you must buy gas, buy it from CITGO or another company not profiting from the war. Organize and pressure your local and state governments to promote renewable energies and conservation. If you can figure out how to avoid patronizing telecom companies that participated in illegal spying, let everyone know.
Boycott war profiteers and funders of Bush and his allies, Republican and Democrat. And work with allies overseas to make these boycotts international or to apply labor pressure in countries with strong unions.
That means boycotting every branch of General Electric, including NBC. It also means boycotting every other major U.S. media corporation, with the possible exception of Knight Ridder, because they have not just profited from the war but have collaborated in producing it.
And by boycott, I mean not only that you should cancel subscriptions to newspapers that helped sell the war, but also that you should not give a dime to place an advertisement – no matter how brilliant an advertisement – on television or in the New York Times. Give your money to responsible media outlets that report the truth for free every day. Support Independent World Television, Free Speech TV, Link TV, Pacifica, Air America, the Nation, In These Times, Truth Out, and the thousands of progressive print, radio, and internet outlets struggling to report the news.
How many times have we seen an outlet with no budget like RawStory.com break a story that eventually shows up in watered-down form in corporate newspapers, next to a full-page ad paid for by people like us. That has to end.
Advertising is fine, but place it on outlets that are not part of the problem. And place it on freeways. Hold up posters at televised events. Shout. Disrupt. Wear your message on your body, on your car, on your house, in your yard, in your Email signature, on your phone answering machine. Place toy soldiers with "Bring me home" messages everywhere.
And talk to your neighbors, colleagues, and family. Nothing is more effective or efficient than talking to individuals.
My Email signature, which I stole from someone else’s and many have in turn taken from me, reads: "NOTICE: Due to Presidential Executive Orders, the National Security Agency may have read this email without warning, warrant, or notice. They may do this without any judicial or legislative oversight. You have no recourse nor protection save to call for the impeachment of the current President."
Do you have any dollar bills in your wallet? Write "Impeach Bush and Cheney" on each one. Do that with any new ones that pass through your hands.
Do all of these little acts. But also become the media in a more serious way. Create a blog, which costs nothing , and report on what you do and what you learn. Or make a website. Videotape your events and upload the videos for free to Indy media or another website. Send your news to us at www.afterdowningstreet.org and to other sites that will promote it.
Phone talk shows. Write letters to the editor. Write op-eds. Try to earn free media coverage. Create a radio show or a radio station. Create or participate in a show on cable access. Create a newsletter. And make use of local media, labor union newsletters, church bulletins, store bulletin boards, and store windows: ask businesses to post Impeach Bush and End the War signs in their windows.
And do what those on the far right in this country do far too much of and the rest of us far too little of: pressure the corporate media and hold Bush propagandists accountable. Become a media monitor and rapid responder.
And don’t restrict this to letter writing, phone calling, Emailing, and blogging. Organize protests outside and inside media outlets that spread lies and refuse to report truths. Include as a target of these actions polling companies that refuse to conduct or report polls on important issues, such as impeachment.
And don’t restrict these efforts to this country. Thank the international media outlets that do a good job. Go after those that do not. Write to media outlets in those countries still left in the so-called coalition of the willing and let them know that Americans would appreciate them withdrawing their symbolic forces.
Write to the media in Iraq and let them know that the majority of Americans agree with the majority of Iraqis in supporting an end to the occupation. Read blogs and independent and international reports from Iraq, and spread that news in this country.
Write to Iranian media outlets and let them know that we do not see them as a threat and that they should not see us that way. Let them know that we share their concern over the bellicose rhetoric and the lies coming from Washington.
Buy books, which is where the best reporting is now, even by people employed by, but censored by, newspapers. Hold book club and film parties. Hold discussion forums. Invite speakers from varying points of view. Videotape those events and put them on a website.
When you turn 18, do not register for Selective Service, and publicize your reasons. If you are in the military, when you are ordered to Iraq, refuse to go, and publicize your reasons.
Do not pay the portion of your taxes that goes to the war, and publicize your action.
Assist returning veterans and help them to speak out. Assist suffering Gold Star Families, and help them to speak out.
Speak to students about military recruitment and the lies that are such a common part of it. Disrupt the work of military recruiters.
Reach out to Muslim groups. Organize community and other religious and activist groups to hold events to support Muslims and protect their rights. This is far more important than might at first be apparent. This directly confronts the Bush Administration’s strategy for making us afraid.
Reach out to the United Nations. Call and write. Let them know that John Bolton does not speak for Americans.
Above all else, pressure Congress to impeach Bush and Cheney and to cut off funding for the war. Ask your Representative to cosponsor HR 4232 to cut off funding. Ask them to cosponsor H Res 635 to create an investigation that will make recommendations on impeachment. And ask them to introduce articles of impeachment against Cheney and Bush.
Ask your Senators to do anything – produce some sign of life, draft a bill, record a pulse, anything.
Do this lobbying by means of phone, Email, and in-person visits. Be a pest. They work for you. Phone every day. But steadily increase the pressure. Stage sit-ins in offices, and hold pickets in front of their homes and through their neighborhoods. Watch for a huge campaign in this regard to be announced by several groups this week.
Also focus on those governments where the bribes are smaller: our state and local legislatures. Push for bills to bring the National Guard home and to test veterans for depleted uranium. And push state legislatures to send impeachment charges to the House of Representatives.
Work with cities and counties, as well as political parties, to pass resolutions supporting impeachment.
Support whistleblowers and remember that we have friends and potential friends throughout the Bush Administration. Encourage resistance from within and truthtelling.
And if you work for the administration and can resign, do so. And if you know something, speak out.
Similarly, if you are a reporter and your editor kills a story that is important to our democracy, blog it or leak it to a blogger.
A lot of organizations that should be opposing this war and demanding impeachment are not yet doing so. We must pressure them to join the movement. We need to pressure activist organizations, including unions to oppose the war. We also need to encourage peace organizations to work for economic justice, and vice versa.
In some parts of the country most of these campaigns are well advanced. The most useful thing people can do in those areas is to support efforts elsewhere. Reach out to nearby redder areas of your state. Share your lessons. Back anti-war and pro-impeachment Congressional candidates in other districts who need the help.
Support activist groups with volunteer work – most of the work is brainless and boring but crucial – and with money; forego buying something you do not need and, instead, make a contribution to a peace or impeachment organization.
Support or – better – participate in upcoming important events.
Winter Of Our Discontent
February 15 to March 19
Voices for Creative Nonviolence is organizing this campaign to help strengthen grassroots opposition and nonviolent resistance to the continued war against the people of Iraq. A core group will journey to Washington, D.C. to organize a 33 day fast, vigils, lobbying and nonviolent civil disobedience during this period. Others will join the core group in D.C. for shorter periods of time. Still others will organize local actions in their home communities. VCNV invites you to join them in D.C. for part or all of the Winter of Our Discontent. If you are not able to travel to D.C., you are encouraged to organize actions in your local community.
Women Say No to War
March 8, International Women’s Day
At White House and around the world
Students Say No to War in Iraq
March 13-17 on campuses everywhere, marking three years of war.
Veterans’ and Survivors’ March from Mobile to New Orleans
March 14-19, 2006
Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Families for Peace, and hurricane survivors’ organizations are organizing a five-day march along Gulf Coast Highway 90 to demand the immediate return of our troops from Iraq, and to call for U.S. tax dollars to be spent on human priorities and rebuilding of the devastated Gulf Coast, instead of the illegal occupation of Iraq.
UFPJ Anti-War Events Everywhere
March 15 to 22, marking three years of war.
National Campaign of Nonviolent Actions Planned at Congressional Offices
Now through March 20, marking three years of war.
March to the Pentagon
Iraq Pledge of Resistance
Peace March in New York
World Peace Forum in Vancouver
And, perhaps above all, plan to spend Easter and the Summer – what days you can – at Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas.
This movement requires a lot of work and some serious risk, but it can also be – and must be to succeed – a great deal of fun, of comfort and solidarity and good times.
It’s a good thing we have songs!
This movement also requires that we keep in mind at all times a clear understanding of our goals: ending the killing and restoring the rule of law, domestic and international. This is not a partisan fight. This is not vengeance. No one is evil. No one is stupid. There are those who have broken the law and need to be held accountable for it. Control of our government needs to be put in the hands of the people and those who honestly represent our interests. Checks and balances need to be restored between the branches of our federal government. But violence in our actions or in our thoughts will not help our cause.