March For Peace On Saturday

This Saturday, Oct. 26, tens of thousands of students, peaceniks, priests, union members, war veterans and working moms and dads will gather in Washington D.C. and San Francisco to protest the war on Iraq. It will be the latest and biggest in a series of protests that have been spontaneously emerging across the nation over the past few weeks.

The Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal Washington think-tank that compiles a list of anti-war events planned throughout the country over the next two weeks, says it can barely keep up. "People are organizing at all levels," co-director Amy Quinn told the Washington Post. "I'm not surprised that people are coming out against the war. I am surprised at how organized and vocal people are."

And organizers predict that the Oct. 26 march will be huge. The vote in Congress authorizing Bush to attack Iraq may have been the tipping point for an anti-war movement that has been steadily gaining momentum with each passing week.

"The vote closed all doors. The only real option left for people in terms of stopping the war is to take to the streets," says Global Exchange peace coordinator Kristi Laughlin. The International ANSWER Coalition, a broad-based alliance of activist groups organizing the protest, says it is "confidently expecting" up to a hundred thousand people to show up and be counted.

Many of the marchers will not be lifelong activists, but ordinary Americans who are tired of being ignored by D.C. politicos more interested in expediency than in the nation's welfare. With help from local groups, ANSWER is organizing 250 buses to transport people from around the country to Washington and San Francisco. A demonstration that large should serve as a richly deserved wake-up call to the Bush administration and the Democrats who scurried to join the war effort.

Some recent articles, for example, have raised questions about the participation of fringe groups in organizing these demonstrations. But as many point out, what matters is not the presence of a few radical groups but the remarkable diversity of the participants from all walks of life and every political stripe, both seasoned activists and first-time marchers -- veterans, concerned parents, religious leaders, people of color, teenagers and women. Even Bush's own United Methodist church has launched a scathing attack on his plans for war, saying it is "without any justification according to the teachings of Christ." "It is hard to dismiss these people as just kooks," Laughlin says.

The escalating anti-war movement is well aware that Bush's new war will make the world a more dangerous place. If the U.S. makes war on Iraq, we all stand to lose whatever peace and security we now have. Some of the demonstrators may have differing political beliefs, but they are united in their conviction that war with Iraq is not the answer and dissent is democratic. If you, your family, friends and colleagues share this conviction, please join the demonstrators and march for peace this Saturday.

For more information on how you can participate in the protests, visit the website.


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