Another round of anti-war protests coming

Eddie Vedder. Antiwar protest L.A. Spring 2003.

ANSWER plans anti-war protests in multiple cities on March 21, 2009. Again. United for Peace and ANSWER have not been able to agree on terms and thus will studiously ignore each other. Again. There will be the usual spirited march followed by two hours of interminable speeches often not related to stopping the war. Again. Tell me, how does this help end the war?

The anti-war movement needs new ideas, strategies, and approaches. Because what it is doing now at the mass level isn’t working and hasn’t been for some time. I used to volunteer with ANSWER in Los Angeles and helped organize many antiwar marches and rallies, even to the point of driving the truck that led the march on multiple occasions. So, I have been there.

Trying to get a big turnout for an anti-war protest in DC barely two months after Obama takes office seems an exercise in futility. He will have done something to end the wars by then and enthusiasm for him will still be high. Has the anti-war movement factored any of this in or will it be just the same old lockstep march-and-rally routine again with no new ideas?

Try something different. Get well-known musicians to record anti-war songs, then get them on commercial radio, and all over the net with downloadable audio and video. Build some buzz for it. Not just in the usual leftie circles, but everywhere. Have poets, musicians, comedians perform at the rally as well as speakers. Get their videos out ahead of time too. Make it an event that everyone who opposes the war wants to go to.

There’s a zillion social networking sites that can be used to spread the buzz, like Facebook, Twitter. MySpace, Flickr, FriendFeed, Wetpaint and Digg. The anti-war movement is conspicuous by its absence on these sites. Why is this? The Obama campaign used social networking sites to huge advantage, as did recent No on Prop 8 protests. But the anti-war movement has yet to take advantage of them in any meaningful way.

I took the photo of Eddie Vedder at a street demo in L.A in Spring 20083. He just walked up and asked if he could play. Well, sure. We need rallies with people like him on the stage, talking and playing about why he opposes the war. Even if his views don’t jibe completely with those of the usually hardline organizers. Trying to only have speakers who agree with your line totally is no way to build a mass movement.

The platform is important too. saying ‘Troops out now’ won’t play with the mainstream. They’ll want to know how you’ll do it without destabilizing things further. so, have a plan.

Knock down the doors, let everyone in, use the Net to spread buzz, and have a solid platform. Then you’ll have huge antiwar rallies and a revitalized movement as well.