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If demonstrators appear at all on TV, it is as a curiosity relegated to the local news.

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Tens of thousands of anti-war demonstrators gather in New York's Central Park protesting the United States' possible war on Iraq, October 6, 2002. Shannon Stapleton

The Invisible Opposition to Bush's War

by Kelly Cogswell

OCTOBER 23, 2002. Almost every day in the U.S. there are large and small protests against attacking Iraq. You won't see them on prime-time national news. There, the latest Bush exhortation to war generally goes unchallenged. If anti-war demonstrators appear at all on TV, it is as a curiosity relegated to the local news.

Saturday, October 26, will be the biggest march so far, with huge masses gathering in Washington, D.C., tens of thousands in San Francisco, and with smaller events being held from Alaska to Michigan. If they stay true to form, the mainstream media will treat it like Inauguration Day 2001 when they somehow managed to ignore the questionable Florida vote along with the thousands of pro-democracy, anti-Bush protesters lining his route to the ceremony.

It's not just the firebrands that have been erased. In this most Christian administration, short shrift has been given to the Christian leaders that have questioned a preemptive strike against Iraq. Bush critics include the leadership of the United Methodist Church, Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Orthodox Church in America, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the Christian Church, and the United Church of Christ. The National Council of Churches, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have also asked whether even a "regime change" in the name of democracy will not do more harm than good.

Reflecting the national trend, the first national gay group to speak out against the war was the Board of Elders of Metropolitan Community Churches, a predominantly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christian denomination. They were followed by the lgbt union group, Pride At Work, AFL-CIO, and by the lgbt Muslim group Al-Fatiha. John Sweeney, President of the AFL-CIO, came out against unilateral action a few days after Pride At Work made their statement.

The U.S. media blackout is almost absolute against anti-war protests abroad. Most people in the United States heard nothing about the London protest on September 29th that had as many as 400,000 demonstrators, or the estimated 1.5 million nationwide in Italy that marched against a U.S. war on Iraq on October 5th. Smaller protests happen daily from Japan to Jakarta.

The question is, can protesters be effective if they don't get media attention? Despite the media silence, there are signs that the U.S. Congress has been paying attention to the demonstrations, emails, letters, faxes, and phone calls.

Against all expectations, 23 Senators and 133 Representatives refused to back the resolution approved earlier this month giving Bush carte-blanche to make war on Hussein or anyone else.

Despite the resolution, Congress still has the power to slow the machine. The more marchers, the more weight on the brakes. Congressional aides and interns will be at the October 26 march in Washington counting heads even if CNN isn't. Perhaps more importantly, protesters invisible to the world at large will be able to see each other, and see in the faces near them the multitude of invisible, silent Americans, and gain courage.

Related links:

Out Against the War

Metropolitan Community Churches
Pride At Work

Anti-War Organizations
Campaign To Stop The War Against Iraq
Not in Our Name
International A.N.S.W.E.R.(Act Now to Stop War & End Racism)

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